Archive | April 2012


“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…

Weekend Update – 4/14/12

Weekend Update time again…here’s what made the ELAFF FB page this week, in the order of posting:

DC Fireman Needs Your Votes

Alex Capece of is a DC Fireman who is in the running to be a sponsored cyclist/brand rep for Foundry Cycles. He needs votes to make it as a finalist. If you feel like supporting a firefighter/athlete, click this link, find the Northeast section, and vote for Alex. You will need to log in using Facebook. Don’t worry, this is just to keep people from voting more than once.

Here’s the link, one more time:

Here’s another link to Alex’s blog:

Here’s a post by Alex about this contest:

Another Danger of Texting While Walking

“We fight what you fear”…sometimes…

Working  the Job posted the following quote from Fireman Ryan Cox:

“We fight what you fear. Until it scares us. Then it becomes a “Close Call.”

This was related to the following video, which made the blog-rounds over the week:

The Fire Critic posted about it HERE, and a decent discussion ensued. The video included the words “Close Call” in the title and the question was, “Is this really a close call?” After hearing responses from many ELAFF followers, the consensus seems to be, no. As a matter of fact, nearly everyone agreed that this is standard truck work. When you cut a hole in the roof, fire comes out…that’s the point of CUTTING THE HOLE. Let the heat OUT.

Ken Scofield (@KenScofield) used the Twitter hashtag #ventedroofsaresupposedtoletheatout. I tried unsuccessfully to make that a “trending” topic. If you’re on Twitter, shoot that one out when you get the chance.

This vent crew earned extra points by venting from the “stick”, therefore avoiding nearly all chance of falling through (as one follower pointed out, there is ALWAYS a chance). The only possibly unsafe action was retracting the aerial while the crew was at the tip. However, the operator may have been communicating with the crew via intercom, so I won’t pick this one apart. I honestly think the “close call” was added by the videographer, who may not have realized what was going on.

The bottom line on this one is: when you vent the roof, fire coming out is a good thing. Don’t be alarmed or surprised, DON’T call for a handline and spray water in on it…consider your objective complete and get off the roof.

(The same goes for when fire is blowing out the window while an interior crew is pushing in on it. This is a GOOD thing, beneficial to the attack crew, DO NOT spray water through the window, no matter how excited you are…you will only make the attack crew’s job MORE DIFFICULT. More on that in an upcoming post…)

 If We Listen to the Stories…

Beneath the Helmet posted a video that you should watch, along with a post that you should read…here’s an excerpt:

“…When you exercise to get and stay fit on- and off-duty…
When you eat, drink, and sleep right…
When you train above and beyond the requirements…
When you make the right decisions on the fireground…
…do it for the brothers that can’t get back on the rig, like the ones we lost in Philadelphia and Tennessee. But do it also for yourself, for your coworkers, for the entire brotherhood, and for the family and friends who want to see you live long and well…”

Read the rest and watch the video here:

“Beaching” the Rescue in DC

The FB page “Beaching the Front Lawn” posted these photos of DC Rescue 3 clearing the road for the companies with a more limited deployment range.

This is My Ladder

Brian Brush discusses balance points, lazy halyards, fly-in ladder placement, and one man throws in a new Fire Service Warrior post.

Great tips and interesting points to consider.

Here’s the link:

Deep Survival

A reflection on survival instincts by The Hose Jockey.

“We may push ourselves that much deeper in the building because we’ve done it before, we may say ohhh we got this, we just had the same fire last week.  Meanwhile the new guy is thinking, WTF, I scared but this guy knows what the hell he is doing.  Then he forms that same bookmark in the same dumb ass spot as the senior man has.  I think you see where I’m going with this.  As a service we have to assert some leadership to realize the way we have always, isn’t always the best.  Maybe our bookmarks are on the wrong page, maybe they are in the last chapter, as we all have seen 100’s of times each year. “

Do you have the right “bookmarks”, and more importantly, what “bookmarks” are you setting for the next generation?

Here’s the link:

I Got Bronchitis…and Auto-tune!

This video popped up over the week:

An Auto-tuned remix popped up last night:

1,500 “likes”

Last night, the ELAFF FB page reached 1,500 “likes”. LET’S GIVE SOME STUFF AWAY!

Oh, right…already did that…

Thanks for liking, reading, and following.

On that note, I noticed that Fire Service Warrior now has less “likes” than ELAFF. The FSW crew is too humble and focused to ever ask for likes. They aren’t concerned with the social media popularity contest. They simply produce high-quality content for the fire service audience.

I know that many of their readers don’t use Facebook, and I’m sure that they receive more hits than ELAFF, but it seems like the universe is off-balance if FSW has less “likes” than ELAFF. My ramblings and re-postings are mediocre at best. The FSW team puts out great content, at a constant pace, on every topic…from keeping the right mindset, to training tips (like the article above), to a daily workout regimen.

Take the time to check out Fire Service Warrior (and “like” them) and read through their posts…you won’t be disappointed.

Here’s the website:

Here’s the FB page:

That’s all for today.

– Lt. Lemon (Pete)

Weekend Update – 4/7/12

It’s time for another Weekend Update(still looking for a better name for these posts)…two weeks in a row, I’m on a roll.

NC Bridge to be Named for Asheville Captain

“A COMMITTEE OF THE NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT of Transportation has voted this morning (Wednesday) to overrule a policy and recommend that a highway bridge be named in honor of Ashville Fire Captain Jeffrey Bowen who died tragically last June while fighting a fire in a mid-rise office building.” – from

The Reality behind the “Reality” Photo

A viral photo began making the rounds of social media this week. Much like the “What Do You Make?” status, it promoted an exaggerated sense of bravado by adding a cliché “Motivational Poster” scheme. Many questioned the photo’s source, and P.J. Norwood posted the truth behind it. Jason Jefferies subsequently wrote about it HERE.

It’s All In the Details

Jonah Smith of The Hose Jockey posted about an on scene video. He avoids the vortex of futile tactical debates and focuses on something we can all agree on. Use your chin strap, SCBA waist belt, and hood properly. They are there for a reason, and those little details could make a huge difference when things go wrong.

“So please my plea to all of you fix these issues if you see them, because the last thing I want to see is someone get hurt because of something they could easily fix on their own.  Control all the things you can all of the time, and have a plan for those things you can’t control.  Be safe out there.”

That’s all that made it on the ELAFF FB page this week, but there are plenty of other great sites to check out. Click the links on the right sidebar and check them out.

Stay safe!

– Lt. Lemon (Pete)

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