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Detroit Shields & Step Up and Lead Author Frank Viscuso Recap from Nov. Politics & Tactics Radio Show

By Peter Callan, Jason Balletto & Frank Ricci.

Helmet shields have been a long standing tradition in the fire service. They instill a sense of pride. We all remember our first shield. These helmet shields also play a critical role at a fire scene in determining accountability of the firefighters operating at an incident.

Last night New Haven had a 2nd alarm fire. Our probationary firefighters wear orange shields and preformed admirably. Being able to identify someones experience is helpful when assigning tasks.

In my business of restoring leather fire helmets, more often than not the customer requests a new helmet shield. I’m very particular of the outside products I endorse and recommend. When deciding on a helmet shield, you need clear identification and quality.

Let’s take a look at quality: Most helmet shields are primarily made of leather as tradition dictates. Leather is not just leather though and careful consideration needs to be used when putting a new front shield into service. Over the course of time leather front shields will shrivel, blacken and become hard to read, making identifying yourself and/or company nearly impossible on the fire ground.

While researching front shields for a project, I came across Detroit helmet shields and was very intrigued by what I saw. A quality front shield with large bright identification markings and a finish that can’t seem to be worn out.  They are made by firefighters for firefighters.

Identifying ourselves during an incident is of primary concern as we need to be aware of who is where and we may only have a quick glance to get that.  As you can see in the pictures provided no matter the color/design choice your identification markings are clear and concise. Not only on the fire ground is this of importance, but shields have a large importance in the training ground as well.

Instructor’s helmets typically take much more abuse and end up becoming a sooty mess. Students need to be able to quickly and clearly identify their instructors in the event of an actual emergency during the training evolution.

Detroit shields meet all the check marks for an effective front shield in today’s fire service. They also can provide large shields for presentations, signs and plaques. They also offer key chains. Check out their website to learn more:


Next We Moved on to Preparing for Promotions With Frank Viscuso

Oral Promotional Preparation

Many fire departments across the country are preparing for promotional exams.  The preparation process for a promotional exam is a very difficult and time consuming for any potential candidate. Equal focus should be on preparing for tactical and administrative questions. Many candidates    struggle with handling insubordinate member on the oral portion of the test.

On Novembers Politics and Tactics show, we were able to talk to Deputy Chief Frank Viscuso the author of Step Up and Lead. 

Chief Viscuso discussed how to use a systematic process to handle each question and he stressed that these methods work in the real word as well.

The first step is to identify the problem with the insubordinate.  Once the problem is identified, the Commanding Officer must obtain all the facts of the incident and to also review the file of the insubordinate. This allows the Officer to see if the insubordinate firefighter has any previous history with this problem.  After this is determined, the Officer must use the 3U’s with the firefighter.  The 3U’s will determine if the firefighter is unaware of the problem, unable to recognize the problem they committed, or unwilling to fix the problem that they committed.  Once the members state of mind is obtained then  Commanding Officer must determine the basis of handling the issue with the insubordinate. 

These steps and other gems are all on the show from you to learn from and share. He provides us with the building blocks to handle any insubordinate issues and must be built on to mitigate the problem that was presented. To listen to the show:


Peter Callan has owned and operated RagTop Fire Helmets & Restoration since 2010. Peter is currently a Firefighter for the City of New Haven, CT and is an OIF/OEF US. Air Force Fire Protection Veteran. 

Jason Balletto: Is a co-host of Politics & Tactics, New Haven Firefighter assigned to a Squad and past Assistant Drillmaster.


Frank Ricci: Drillmaster for New Haven Fire

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