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Yeah; it is used to suck the smoke and heat from structures, but it’s also used to suck any promise that many future leaders will offer new perstpective to the old hard-line ways of a traditional fire service.


I read on fire discussion boards about concern that the “old guard” isn’t passing it down to the new guard. Along with that come complaints that the new guard isn’t interested in old stuff. They want new stuff; that is, unless it deals with the same old approach to firefighting.


There is a subculture in the fire service who believes that, since firefighting isn’t an exact science, then it isn’t right to exact a strategy that calculates risk instead of just taking them. I think that there is this fear that, if we contemplate it for too long, we will be overcome by fear and a decision-risky or not-will not be made.


The fact that some departments operate differently from others is simply the opinions of those who are willing to express them. Typically, they say that it’s wrong, because it clashes with THEIR ethos.


Think about this; why would you care about what someone whom you have never met and never worked with has to say about your department’s tactics? You can be anything that you want to be in cyberspace. Validation DOES NOT come from some internet chat group; it comes from the men and women in your area that train together and respond together for any number of emergencies. They don’t have a book deal or are on the lecture circuit. They are people who are absent of ego and they don’t succeed at someone else’s expense. They don’t have an agenda, other than a training agenda.


I found out some time ago that the internet fire service has its bullies; much like our schools and local taverns. Before you know it; you are catching it from all sides by others in service to their communities. A mob mentality takes over. With so many telling you that you are full of crap, you tend to believe it.


Hey; that picture of a DEAD bin Laden that I saw on the internet was REAL; right?


You become so pre-occupied by the pronouncements of these pyro-wizards that you lose your personal perspective and along with it your identity.


Negative pressure from your “peers” can cause us to make bad decisions.


I will only take advice or training from people that I know and trust of which there are several.


You have to ask yourself: do you want to be impressed or do you want to be taught? Many good instructors will make it clear from the beginning that their heart and mind is in the right place. They will limit their words so as not to confuse. They will be positive. They won’t suck the air out of the room to fill their puffed out chests or egos.


Their websites/blogs will be insightful, informative and intrinsically invaluable.


They have taken what they have learned and put their thumb-print on it. The skill set is what it is, but they are looking for more effective teaching methods. They don’t want to mess with the message; just the delivery.


There are too many out there willing to shake and bake their leather lid to accelerate their ascent.


They believe that their crusty lid is in direct proportion to the respect that is enjoyed by a crusty jake.


They want to climb down from their little soapbox and climb up to the big podium, even though their experience doesn’t pass the smell test.


Thermal insult?


Hell; they think that an all out thermal assault is the true test of a firefighters’ mettle.


They wear their “I survived the back draft simulator” T-shirt with pride.


So, are these “legends in their own minds” making the fire service better?


Or are they forcing us to pay them attention while diverting our attention away from more pressing matters?


What could be more important than ferreting out the wannabees and pretenders from the hallowed halls of our legion of mercurial mentors?


There is no question about it; I question their motives, their skills and their commitment to our fire service. Their certificate says that they are qualified to instruct, but it doesn’t say that they are CAPABLE.


Don’t let their negative pressure cause you to make poor decisions.


YOU have to make decisions based upon the intel that you gain at the scene. Many of us love to read about and discuss incidents that have occurred and offer critical insights of the successes or failures. Your closeness to the incident allows you a different vantage point than of those who weren’t there. However; each CAN offer perspective to a discussion. The “you weren’t there so you can’t say anything” argument doesn’t flush with me.


Because the lightweight-constructed structure was under heavy fire-load upon arrival, you couldn’t do a primary search, but did do a defensive search. In the eyes of the internet elites, you didn’t risk enough, so now, they must question your heart; even though they have done the same and have yet to perform a rescue, except in their dreams.


They have built their reputation from bravado; not bravery. They will punctuate their statements with “I, me and mine” to let you know that they are the most important person in the room.


But, it all gets them noticed. It does widen their audience. It creates more opportunities for them to spread a message that is short on substance, but long on lip service. They borrow and steal from others’ hard work to pass it off as their own and without it; they wouldn’t make a pimple on the butt of a good instructor.


Hey; they can TALK a good game.


Before you buy into and adopt their mantra, ethos or philosophy, know what you’re getting. It truly is “buyer beware”.


I’m positive that it’s negatively affecting us.




The views and opinions expressed are those of the author, Art Goodrich, who also writes under the name ChiefReason.  They do not reflect the views and opinions of, Fire Engineering Magazine, PennWell Corporation or his dog, Chopper. Articles written by the author are protected by federal copyright and cannot be reproduced in any form.

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Comment by Art "Chief Reason" Goodrich on May 13, 2011 at 12:57pm


Remember when we were growing up, there was a term used to describe the divide between the older set and youth? It was the "generation gap". It was used to define the difference in clothing, length of hair and societal issues at the time, generally, between parents and their children. My dad would never allow my hair to touch my ears. Otherwise, it was too long. I played sports, so needless to say, it was kept pretty short anyway. But, we were developing our personalities based on our parents' teaching, the teaching in our schools, the political upheaval at the time (Vietnam) and wouldn't you know it; it's gone full circle.

I believe that there IS a generation gap in the fire service, but what concerns me is that there will be an information and instructional gap from the older to the newer firefighters. That's why I think that it is so important to tell those stories that demonstrate to the newbies that; no matter how much you learn and THINK that you know, there is always more to learn. We not only have to teach them how to survive this enviroment, but to thrive as well. And to pass it on in the form of education.

My thoughts, anyway.



Thank you for your comments. You have great insight.

When I look at what is going on, I ask: who will be the next Brannigan, Norman, Dunn, Brennan, Downey, Enright, Mittendorf, Grimwood, Hartin and such. They might very well be out there. But, we all know that you can't throw a book at the fire and it will go out. The training has to be there; it has to be from an instructor that you can trust with your life and that process has to continue uninterrupted. Fire still takes oxygen, heat and fuel. You still have to have knowledge and experience to properly deal with it.

And you are absolutely correct when you say that they walk the talk. Their pride wouldn't have it any other way.

Thanks again, Gonz and Greg for your comments.

Comment by Ron Ayotte on May 13, 2011 at 10:44am

Art... that was a very good post. I have worked for people with the "I, me and mine" syndrome... its funny... when the excremental matter hits the rotating oscillating air movement device, suddenly the "I mean mine" becomes "you screwed up, it's your fault, you didn't follow procedure, yadda yadda yadda.


There are those ""firefighters" and "fire buffs" who have never been on a line, never searched, never opened up a roof, never pulled bodies out of a fire sit back and comment on fire department operations, and I feel that the anonymity of the internet further exacerbates the armchair quarterback syndrome.

Comment by Greg Osborne on May 13, 2011 at 10:21am
ChiefReason, well written article. I enjoy reading your comments and opinions. But remember, just as your words say, 'it's your opinion'. I for one have bought in (hook line and sinker) to many of those folks with the book deals, on the national speaker circuit, those awesome men and women who REALLY WALK THE TALK! (you are included in this group). Also, I have been the victim of those who don't know me but hate me because of where I work. The fire service still needs to come together, train together, and get rid of the mutts!. Thanks for a great article.

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