Archive | March 2012

Weekend Update 3/31/12

The weekend update was a posting format I tried when the ELAFF blog started. It was a weekly post recapping the links posted on the ELAFF FB page, along with other content. In order to boost the posting rate on the blog, and to keep the “Leather-freaks” engaged in the discussion, I’ve decided to give a hearty attempt at reviving the Weekend Update.

*If anyone has an idea for a better name for these posts (preferably more fire-related) leave a comment.*

Gore FD is in need of a tanker

Rhett Fleitz posted on about the Gore (VA) VFD, which is in need of a tanker. The tanker they relied on for rural water supply was totaled in a wreck, in which one of their firefighters was tragically killed in the line of duty.

“If your department is selling or willing to donate your tanker truck to the Gore community, please contact Assistant Chief Kevin Yost at Fire Station 14.  The phone number to contact is (540) 858-2811. If you prefer email, contact the editor of at and I will forward the message. “

Urban Firefighter Magazine released Issue 7

Urban Firefighter Magazine released the long-awaited 7th Issue of their online publication. It is filled with great articles, written and presented in a more modern fashion than other trade publications, and it’s only available online (but that means that it’s FREE).

Urban Firefighter on Facebook

Video Demonstrates the Dangers of “Home Response”

This video (from Long Island, NY) surfaced, showing the dangers associated with “home response”. For those unfamiliar with the term, that’s when volunteer/paid-on call/reserve/etc. firefighters respond from home/work to the station before responding apparatus.

French Company Makes Fire Safety “Fashionable”

I stumbled upon a French company that is making fire safety “fashionable”, and perhaps more common. Fire Design sells fire extinguishers in various designer colors and designs. They also sell smoke detectors, kits with detectors AND an extinguisher in a gift box, and belts, bags, and phone cases made from recycled fire hose. The site says they have distributors in NYC and Hollywood, but you will have to email them in French to locate the exact stores. A neat idea to get life-saving products in more homes.

We’re Closer to Giving Away a Phenix Leather Helmet

In December, I announced that ELAFF had started a Bucket Brigade to raise money for the National Firefighters Endowment. Part of leading a Bucket Brigade is the opportunity to receive a Phenix leather helmet upon raising $1000. I didn’t feel right collecting a helmet that the ELAFF leather-freaks “paid for” (plus I own a leather), so I decided to give it away. Every $1 donated is an entry into the drawing. $100 = 100 entries. Here’s a direct link to the donation page. The fund drive recently received a big boost when 4Factor donated $1 from every product they’ve recently sold. They also have each customer’s information to be entered in the drawing for the helmet. Who is 4Factor?


4Factor is an up-start business project involving Captain Chaos (Matt Ritter) and Steven Sweatt of The Daily Hydrant (also an ELAFF local). They started with Lemon Wedge-inspired “Thin Red Line” wedges and are slowly adding new products. They are very customer oriented and dedicated to helping the fire service. They are committed to donating a portion of ALL sales to different fire service charities.

4Factor website

4Factor Facebook

Check them out and tell them that Lt. Lemon sent you!

ELAFF Contest Prizes Arrive

The ELAFF contest prizes have shipped and have started to be delivered. Check out the “Da’ Travels of Da’ Lemon Wedge” photo album on the ELAFF FB page for photos as prizes arrive…two are up, so far.

The Hose Jockey and the Abilene Paradox

The Hose Jockey posted about the Abilene Paradox:

“It is where everyone agrees to do something out of fear of being different even though no one in the group agrees with it.  To put it in firefighter terms, its where you assume everyone wants to do something, but in reality no one wants any part of it, but for whatever reason everyone agrees to do it.”

Great post, check it out.

Close Call Video in Michigan had a  news post on a close call in Dearborn, Michigan. The video below shows as a roof crew operating at a structure fire nearly goes through the roof. Many things to learn from this one. Be sure to watch and discuss this with your crew. Internet critiquing/quarterbacking is what it is, but the folks on your shift are the one’s who you could potentially be with in this situation. Share it with THEM.

ELAFF Facebook Page and Blog Integration

I’ve integrated the blog into the ELAFF Facebook page. You now have the option of reading posts, sharing posts, and subscribing to the blog…ALL on Facebook. Click the link here, or the “Networked Blogs” tab on the ELAFF Facebook page.

…and finally, a Local post

When the Excessive Leather Accessories for Firefighters Facebook Page first started, I used to post regular messages regarding ELAFF Locals (b-days, accomplishments, etc.). However, I stopped this practice when I realized that it could compromise my anonymity. Well, that doesn’t matter anymore…

Today, ELAFF Local Travis Flinchum is getting hitched, big ears and all. Congratulations, Brother! See you this evening…TIME to PARTY!

That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading.

-Lt. Lemon (Pete)

Being Prepared

I recently had the pleasure of sitting through a wonderful, city-mandated, OSHA compliant safety class. I’m not going to discuss the frivolity of teaching identical blanket courses to every city employee (including chainsaw safety to receptionists). In fact, this post has nothing to do with that class, directly. Rather, it stems from a side comment by the instructor.

He started speaking on the subject of recognizing trends in workplace injuries and acting to prevent them. He mentioned another municipality which had recognized a trend in fire service injuries during training, mostly heart-related problems to be more specific. Some of these incidents occurred at their department, however most occurred at other agencies. This led the municipality’s administrators and safety gurus (as far as I know this was done above the fire department level) to investigate the cause of these incidents. Their investigation led them to determine that many of the cardiac and respiratory issues, which resulted in treatment and/or hospitalization, occurred while training in full turnouts, and that the extra stress from training in full gear was a direct cause of these injuries.

Fair enough. Donning full PPE brings added weight, restricted movement, and limited vision. Its hindrance IS stressful if you aren’t used to wearing it and working in it. So, naturally, the safety gurus brainstormed how they could decrease employee injuries due to the stresses of TRAINING. Their answer was simple. Stop wearing full gear while training, unless absolutely necessary. That’s right. Training in turnouts is stressful, so we shouldn’t do it.

Now, it doesn’t take an expert to realize that this is ridiculous, but I’m going to break it down anyway. The stress and anxiety of working in full gear, whether during training or on the fireground, is mostly due to our being unaccustomed to working in such conditions. Our brains don’t like it when our senses are restricted. The limited movement, vision, and hearing cause anxiety on their own, which elevates pulse and respiratory rates. Add in the sheer physical exertion of WORKING in full gear, and we’re putting a decent strain on our hearts in training alone. Training without gear on will most definitely alleviate the occurrence of training injuries, but it won’t do a thing to help us remain calm while working in full gear. When we do don that gear on the fireground, the stress, the anxiety, and the panic will still be there and it will be elevated because of an even lower frequency of training. The difference is that on the fireground things are real (increasing stress), lives are in danger (increasing stress), and there is no pause button when a Brother falls out because he hasn’t worked in his gear since the last fire. The only impact this policy will have is to move those injuries from the training ground to the fireground.

What needs to be done? I don’t know any members of this department, but PT is always a good idea. If your body is weak, make it stronger. If your body is strong…make it stronger. Secondly, instead of doing less training in full gear, try doing it MORE often. The only way to reduce the anxiety of wearing gear is to become accustomed to it, as though it is the only clothing you ever wear. The more often you suit up and move around, the stronger your mind and body get. Once you take care of the minor stresses of wearing and working in gear (which really shouldn’t be an issue if you are off probation), take it to the next level.

That is the famous “Impact This” video from Ric Jorge, aka Glass Guy. Here’s a link to a longer, but un-embeddable, Facebook video of the training exercise “Impact This…AGAIN!” Watch it, then keep reading.

Intense, but the only way to be prepared for a stressful event (disorientation, collapse, low air, etc.) is to work through it during training. Mind you, the “Impact This” scenario is not one to simply jump in to for your next training. That drill was preceded by hours of lectures on stress-management techniques, followed by hands on training, slowly progressing to the full-blown drill in the video. The drill involved a lot of preparation, and that is what our entire profession is about…being prepared.

Prepared for the worst, prepared for the struggles, prepared for the circumstances that we’ve never encountered before, so that we may overcome, do our job, and survive.

– Lt. Lemon (Pete)

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