Tag Archive | truth

That’s Just Your Opinion, Man.

Solving the problems of the world has long been a favorite activity at the firehouse kitchen table. Now that we are in the “Facebook Age”, the discussions have expanded on to a national, online forum. This change has resulted in some great benefits through exposure to new ideas and methods. However, the instant and impersonal communication can also create stubborn stances and impolite responses that would likely be avoided in a face-to-face encounter.

Social media discussions allow one to reply instantly, but anonymously, and without the accountability found during direct conversations. The most obvious consequence of this is the decline or lack of manners between participants. In addition, internet arguers often become staunch and immovable supporters of their positions. The comfort of remote debates makes it too easy for one to dismiss all differing ideas without any consideration. A discussion over the use of radio straps versus a radio pocket turns into a repetitive chorus chanting, “I’m right; you’re wrong!” The most zealous will go beyond just disagreeing and declare all differing methods to be idiotic or deadly. Threads spool on for dozens, or hundreds, of comments with proponents of all sides screaming, “Your way will get you killed!” like two walls talking to each other. The truth of the matter is that ANY way will get you killed if you are unfamiliar with it.

The benefit of the online forum is that we can hear these new ideas, push back from the desk for a minute, and physically try them for ourselves. Rather than arguing perpetually, put the method in question to a real life test. By setting aside your preconceived notions, you might learn something new, or you may just prove your point. Either way, you will accomplish more than if you had continued to angrily slap your keyboard. Regardless of the outcome, remember that just because a method doesn’t work for you and your department, it doesn’t mean that it is automatically a “death trap”. You must accept that it may work very well for another department with different staffing, different equipment, or a different mindset.

In the end, we must often learn to just agree to disagree. Whether you like it or not, there is “more than one way to skin a giraffe”(and some of the best methods aren’t listed in the “red book”). Perhaps it would be best to limit our Facebook activity to clicking “like” and “share”. Leave the big debates to the tailboard, the kitchen table, or a bar in Indianapolis. The next time you find yourself sucked into the vortex of misunderstanding and hate that is a Facebook debate, have an open mind and remember the words of the Dude, “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”

-Pete

Reading Assignment – 7 21 13

It’s been a long week at ELAFF HQ and the list is a little late going out, but here it is:

  1. We Are Not Cyborgs – Gea Leigh Haff, Fire Service Warrior
    We had an especially tough fire in the “ELAFF Local” last weekend. This post went up on the FSW main site within 48 hours, just in time to read it prior to heading to the CISD myself. A fine article and excellent reminder.
  2. 35′ of Getting the Job DoneFirefighter Basics
    “There is hardly a reason to have more than 2 members raising the 35′ ladder.  The job does go quicker with 3 people but usually the 3rd person gets in the way.”
  3. That Idea Would Never Work Here! - Craig Nelson & Dane Carley, Fire Engineering 
    “Why are new ideas important to the fire service and, more specifically, to your department? Ideas turn into innovation, and innovation is how departments adapt to a changing environment.”
  4. Tactical Nozzle Considerations – Dan Doyle, Fire Engineering

-Pete

Reading Assignment – 7 12 13

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Here’s the list:

  1. Around Here - Mark vonAppen, Fire Service Warrior
    “Cuts to training budgets can no longer be an excuse. We have to invest in ourselves. In order to win the fight, we have to be in the fight. Being in the fight means doing it on your own and leading from everywhere.”
  2. An Honest Look at Training – Ryan Royal, Irons and Ladders
    One from the archives of Irons and Ladders.
    “Focus on practical training with street value. Each time you set up a drill ask yourself what can I do to make this more realistic, how can I add practical teaching points to this, and then when we get this step right, how can I make it more challenging?”
  3. These Firefighters Who Are ‘aging out’ Are Still the Bravest - Denis Hamil, New York Daily News
    A mainstream media look at the age-mandated retirement of two FDNY members, including the Rescue 1′s Capt. Morris, a name that you should be familiar with.
    “Capt. Robert Morris of Rescue 1 and Firefighter Kenny Ruane of Ladder 16, both in Manhattan, will ‘age out’ at 65 this weekend, but after all they’ve been through they still want to work with FDNY, among the city’s bravest.”
  4. A video from the NY Daily News covering Capt. Morris’ final tour on Rescue 1.

-Pete

Reading Assignment – July 5 2013

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Here’s the list:

  1. A Hero W.O.D. in honor of the Granite Mountain 19 from Fire Service Warrior:
    19 mountain climbers
    3 mile run
    19 mountain climbers
    45 lb. vest/pack
  2. Study of the Effectiveness of Fire Service Vertical Ventilation and Suppression Tactics in Single Family Homes - Steve Kerber, UL FSRI
    Don’t let the long title scare you. Take some time to read it in pieces, or print out the summary report to look over with your crew. Discuss the findings, how they could potentially affect your department’s operations, and how they might affect your personal considerations. Depending on your department, this may be old news common-sense that has been taught at the academy for decades or it could be some revolutionary information. Either way, it shouldn’t be dismissed or overlooked. Take the data for what it is and work it out for yourself.
  3. The Missing Pieces of Firefighter Survival - Brian Bush, Fire Service Warrior
    “Firefighters must be presented with the true context of situations where lives are being threatened.  The belief that situational awareness can be maintained during chaotic events; that firefighters will be able to function at full capacity, recall and execute training, and communicate in a highly dynamic environment is false (Gasaway, 2012).”
  4. Firefighter PASS Device Study Yields Surprising Results - NFPA Fire Service Today
    “During one experiment a small trash can fire was lit to see what effect a small fire had on the sound of the PASS alarm signal. The sound became muffled and quieter and the fire seemed to merge the multiple tones into one sound.”

*I try to catch as many articles as possible, but I inevitably miss some. If you see anything worth learning from, send me an email at ELAFFHQ@gmail.com.

-Pete

Reading Assignment – June 28 2013

june282013

Here’s the list:

  1. Halliganstreetsmart firefighter
    “Three articles about the most versatile tool in the fire service.  Take the time to get better every day.”
  2. Choices -  Irons and Ladders
    “For all of the new guys, these are CHOICES. It is up to you!    We can tell which one you choose.”
  3. The Most Important 6 Inches – Jason Jefferies, Fire Service Warrior
    From the FSW Archives:
    “Take a good hard look at your gear and how wear it into combat.  Screwdrivers, door chocks, webbing, and various other “add ons” are useful, but where we position the most important items that could save your life is one of the most important decisions you will make.”
  4. MacGruber Bag - Gary Lane, Fire Service Warrior
    Another one from the FSW Archives:
    “This is just one way I’ve been able to stay in a “Warriors mindset” without over burdening myself with an extra 20 pounds of stuff in my pockets.”
  5. Registration is open for the 2013 Colorado 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb. Here’s a video from the event last year, which I was able to participate in. SIGN UP HERE!
  6. Registration is also open for the 2013 Charlotte Stair Climb. I climbed in Charlotte last year and will be climbing there again. SIGN UP HERE!

-Pete

Reading Assignment – June 21 2013

june212013

Here’s your weekend reading assignment:

  1. Mentors – Mark VonAppen, Fully Involved
    “You never know when a mentor will show up, who they will be, or how they are to influence you or your life as a whole.  We might not know how someone has molded us until years later as we hear his or her words echoed in our own.”
  2. Because We Can -  Jonah Smith, Fire Service Warrior
    “As you sit down at the firehouse, you can think about whether to retire to the recliner for the day or find something to train on.  I am sure that there are plenty of fallen firefighters’ families wishing that their loved one could be training with you shoulder-to-shoulder every day you work.”
  3. Developing Door Control Doctrine – Ed Hartin, CFBT-US
    “Fire scene photos go up by the hundreds daily on the Internet. Critiquing them for best in “Equipment Omission” does not solve safety issues. It makes you look petty.”
  4. Focus - Dan Manning, Fire Service Warrior
    A look back in the FSW archives with this Dan Manning post.
    “To be truly great at our business takes a lot of work — a lot of work for the entirety of your career. If you find yourself not working too hard you may have hit a plateau from which you need to keep building and learning.”
  5. Finally, stay up to date on the latest research from the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute by giving their new Facebook page a “like”.
    Also, check out their main site at http://ulfirefightersafety.com/

-Pete

Reading Assignment – June 14 2013

june142013

Here’s your weekend reading assignment:

  1. The Deadload Isn’t Dead – Brian Brush, Fire Service Warrior
    “I personally find beauty in the 2 ½” hose.  The simplicity and efficiency of the line is second to none. A 2 ½” flat loaded, in a static bed is a work of art to a fire nerd like me.  If you are the one other guy out there who agrees then this was easy. If you are the other 99.999% and you need a little more convincing before you flip your 2 ½” hose bed around, put a nozzle on it and toss a double female in your hydrant bag, here we go.”
  2. Conventional Methods for Defeating Window Bars -  Brian Brush, Fire Service Warrior
    Two assignments from Brian Brush this week. Be sure to open, read, save, and print the PDF at the end of the article, or you will miss out on a ton of additional information.
  3. Safety ADHPD (Attention Deficit Hyper Photography Disorder) - Ray McCormack, Urban Firefighter Magazine
    “Fire scene photos go up by the hundreds daily on the Internet. Critiquing them for best in “Equipment Omission” does not solve safety issues. It makes you look petty.”
  4. Absorbent Filled Training Hose - Streetsmart Firefighter
    A quick tip for the training toolbox that might work for you.
  5. Facebook Pharisees Throwing Stones - Bill Carey, Backstep Firefighter
    “Give it rest, will you? We know, we know, but life isn’t perfect and this isn’t a fireground and it may come as a surprise to you but you and your fires aren’t perfect either.”

-Pete

Weekend Reading Assignment – June 8 2013

A fresh attempt on a variation of the old (and short-lived) “Weekend Update” posts. This regular post will forgo the random photos and viral videos to recap only articles and training videos posted on the Facebook page throughout the week(often captioned as “today’s reading assignment”), as well as some that I may have missed. As my original articles are less frequent, and may be published elsewhere, I want to continue to use this site to share the work of others. With that in mind, you may share your own work here. Article, rant, photo, poem, drawing, or other…send it in.

Here’s your weekend reading assignment:

  1. Don’t Kill Yourself - Christopher Brennan, Fire Service Warrior
    An honest and timely article from Chris on a topic that is all too common in our community, yet is often avoided in discussion: suicide. Read it, and if you know someone who is in a dark place, talk to them…starting with those three, most important words.
  2. Close the Door! Were You Born in a Barn? -  Ed Hartin, CFBT-US.com
    “Coming and going as a little kid, I frequently would forget to close the door to the house and my mother would say; close the door! Were you born in a barn? What does this have to do with firefighting operations? As it turns out, it has significant impact!”
  3. Throwing Ladders - Jason Jefferies, Fire Service Warrior
    “A good training program should consist of progressive learning so that as a task is learned and then mastered, the difficulty is increased.  We cannot expect a firefighter to see a technique that is new to them and expect perfection in performance right out of the gate.”
  4. Sick Days - Mark vonAppen, Fully Involved
    “The old days are gone.  If we wish for the past, worry for a future that might not happen, the present goes by and we don’t live the days that are right in front of us.”
  5. What Research Tells Us about the Modern Fireground - Steve Kerber and Timothy E. Sendelbach, UL
    “Applying water to the fire as quickly as possible—regardless of where it is emitting from—can make conditions in the entire structure better.”
  6. Finally, two things in the wake of the Houston LODD’s -
    A post on the Fire Service Warrior Facebook page had this to say:

    Risk does not recognize rank. Collapse does not recognize rank. Fire does not recognize rank. Heart attacks don’t recognize rank.

    There is no experience required to access information, no prerequisites to get in the gym. If there is a fire engine in your station you have all the equipment you need to drill. It just takes the will to do and the soul to dare.

    Stop waiting for someone else to take care of you, to show you, to prepare you.

    Your life is your responsibility and has been since the day you were born. The lives of those you serve are your responsibility and have been since your first day in uniform.

    Enough with the dependance, avoidance and laziness. Pride and ownership isn’t a book, it is an internal drive, a different standard and most importantly it is hard work. Dig in and start now.

    You answer to yourself and your duty. The critics will not be there for you at the moment of truth so why let them influence the outcome. We have lost enough this year.

    Put down your phone right now or log off the computer and go to the bay, the gym or the book shelf. When the voice from the lazy boy asks “What are you doing? Don’t you know it is the weekend?”

    Just tell them “unfortunately it is a weekend that too many are missing and I choose not to be one of them.”

  7. Secondly, the following WOD was posted in honor of the fallen in Houston:

    The Houston Hero WOD

    Captain Matthew Renaud, Station 51
    Engineer Robert Bebee, Station 51
    Firefighter Robert Garner, Station 68
    Firefighter Anne Sullivan, Station 68

    1 mile run
    68 Push-Ups
    68 KB swings
    51 Sit-ups
    51 Burpees
    1 mile run

    Many Brothers and Sisters have posted times for the workout over the past week. I completed it on Wednesday with a time of 37:04. Denver area firefighters organized a fundraiser workout at Crossfit Ken Caryl in Littleton, CO this morning. Knock it out and show your work here or on the FSW Facebook page.

    Remember the fallen.

-Pete

Not So Much A Shame

“Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.”

-Benjamin Franklin

There were many excellent classes presented at FDIC 2013. Some presented new, ground-breaking information, while others taught the good-old (but oft forgotten) basics. The following three classes, which feature both new and old information, were recorded and posted online. They all center around UL and NIST research and they all contain valuable information. I was able to attend the live presentation of  “Why ‘That’s the Way We’ve Always Done it’ is NOT Good Enough.” These videos have been circulating around Facebook for a while, but there are still those without Facebook accounts, so I’m posting all three here. Bookmark this post and watch them at your own pace, but please watch them. The information presented may reveal misconceptions held by you or your department, or it may be simply be a refresher of common knowledge. Either way, it is worth your time.

-Pete

FDIC 2013 – FDNY, NIST, UL Technical Panel Discussion

 

FDIC 2013 – WHY “That’s the Way We’ve Always Done it” is NOT Good Enough

 

FDIC 2013 – Why Thermal Flowpaths Are Key to Successful Firefighting

Reflection

“Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.”

These words caught my eye in a recent blog post, one of a few which struck me deeply in the past 24 hours, stirring a period of serious reflection. Reflection on myself, my ideas, my actions, and my writing. Reflection on this site and ELAFF as a whole. It has been nearly one year since I moved the ELAFF movement to this standalone site. I used to hesitate to call it a “blog”, as I tried to steer away from the personal posts commonly associated with that term. This was due in part to the anonymous nature of the posts, but it was also an attempt to maintain the universal, ambiguous nature of the topics which any agency or individual could relate to. As you well know, the anonymity is no more. So, the occasional “personal” post can be expected…and this is the first. Stay with me, though. I might stumble on something of use to you.

The removal of the “anonymous” barrier brought a question to my mind. If he isn’t the mythical “Fire God”, who hand-carves door chocks out of oak trees using his Leatherman multi-tool, then who IS Lt. Lemon? Who AM I? I found that it was much easier to answer the inverse question. Who am I NOT?

I am not anyone special. I am not an expert. I am not an instructor, trainer, teacher, nor professor. I am not a philosopher. I am not the definitive voice of reason on all or any topics.

Who am I? I am a guy with a keyboard and an interest in stringing words together into sentences. That’s all any of us(bloggers/writers) are. I am simply sharing opinions and ideas, not undebatable facts. So, how does this relate to you?

This serves as a simple reminder to take everything with a grain of salt. Don’t automatically believe anything you read online or see on t.v. This is not a training site, but a forum for discussion. Read critically and question the material presented. If you disagree, feel free to rebut with your own opinion. If you agree, add your own thoughts to the discussion. I never fully cover any subject which I write on and there is always room to elaborate. I’m sure most other fire service writers would ask that you do the same and I am striving to become more involved in the posts which influence me.

My status as a member of this forum, rather than a teacher, affects me even more. This site isn’t really about spreading my ideas, but more about gathering the ideas of others. ELAFF has allowed me to network with firemen from beyond the county, state, and regional boundaries which usually inhibit growth in the fire service. It exposes me to varying ideas, tactics, theories, and equipment which I might have missed if I remained isolated within the comfort of my home department.

Some don’t realize the potential of these differing ideas and tactics. They immediately jump to bash and scrutinize others for their differences, falsely perceived to be mistakes. They react with the same fear as the townspeople to Frankenstein’s monster. Frankenstein’s “turtleshell” wearing, fireground sprinting, roof cutting monster. However, they are not fearful of the literal differences which they see, but of the theoretical change which those ideas could bring to their department. Oh, “change”. That double-edged sword that we’re all SO scared of..even positive change(a.k.a IMPROVEMENT). Perhaps what scares us most about improvement is that , in order to improve, we must expose our weaknesses. Admitting the need for improvement is admitting that you are doing something wrong or, at the least, not as well as you potentially could.

I try to take a different approach to these “differences”. I’m intrigued by them. I see them as a chance to learn, grow, and improve…and that’s a good thing. Obviously, new tactics must be evaluated, just like online articles. Will it be useful in OUR first due? If not, can we modify it until it IS useful? In this same manner, we should also evaluate our CURRENT tactics, ideas, and equipment to see if there’s a need for improvement.

This is the benefit of the site, and the network it provides, for me. A chance to discover new ideas and re-evaluate my current ones. I get more out of this experience than any of the readers will…and that’s the point. This is an experiment in self-improvement. The cycle of discovery, evaluation, and improvement is both humbling and enlightening. Expanding my knowledge, while shrinking my personal pride.

As much as I enjoy the satire of ELAFF’s roots, I require more accountability in my material. I long wrote as “Lt. Lemon”. Since the “Big Reveal” I’ve simply added my first name, in parentheses, clinging to that alter-ego. However, it’s time to separate that persona from myself and set it on the back-burner. I’m Pete Sulzer…this is my “blog”…and these are my words. Thanks for reading them.

-Pete Sulzer (Lt. Lemon) 

I was driven to write this after reading a number of articles, namely the following:

Working the Job – “Awakening”

Fully Involved – “Stay Hungry”

Engine Co. 22 – “Culture of Self-Improvement”

Go read them now…

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