Tag Archive | ELAFF

Reading Assignment – June 14 2013


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.”


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.


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.


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

Fully Charged

Back from FDIC 2013. A mental recharge and a motivational springboard. A short, visual review.

Panoramic shot of Opening Ceremony.

Panoramic shot of Opening Ceremony.

Opening Ceremony - FDIC 2013

Opening Ceremony – FDIC 2013

Downtown Indianapolis morning.

Downtown Indianapolis morning.

FF Vincent Kane - FF John Kevin McAvoy

FF Vincent Kane – FF John Kevin McAvoy

Heading up.

Heading up.

"...honor enough."

“…honor enough.”



Guest Post: “Smoke…is it a loaded gun?”

The following is a guest post which was submitted by an ELAFF Local. Hopefully it will not be the last guest post here on ELAFFHQ.com. If you’d like to submit a post, you can find more info HERE. This post was submitted by Christopher Bullins, who wanted to share some quick thoughts on smoke. As always, feel free to comment and discuss below.


“I just watched the video “Smoke is a Loaded Gun” by Chief Halton of Fire Engineering which is of part of the Fire Smoke Coalition . It got me thinking, do we fully understand and respect smoke, or do we focus more on the fire? I feel we as firefighters focus more on the fire, because that’s where the glory is. Putting the fire out is a great thrill, but we forget what smoke is. What is smoke made of once we break it all down? We put the fire out and the first thing we do is take off our airpacks…we all do it. As we overhaul we breathe in toxic traces of smoke. We fail to pull out the gas meter and test what we may be breathing.

Many have seen Dave Dodson’s “Art of Reading Smoke”. This is an excellent program, which helps teach location, size, and the potential of dangerous fire events. And he does touch on what smoke is, and that it is fuel. So, if it is fuel why do firefighters not treat it as such? Is it poor education in the firehouse or a case of monkey see, monkey do? If you see a senior firefighter or officer overhauling without an airpack and has not tested the air he is breathing, does that make it ok? Smoke is full of different gases and particles, such as carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, benzene, acrolein, carbon soot, and oil droplets to just name a few. This all adds up to us breathing it in and which could lead to toxic blood levels when exposed over long periods of time or due to accumulation over time, or cancer in the long run. We need to be better educating our brothers and sisters in the fire service about poor practices such as overhauling while breathing in remaining toxic air, or just not wearing an airpack at all.

We have firefighters dropping from cyanide toxicity. We teach that with light weight building construction, buildings do not last as long before collapse. We teach new firefighter survival skills, how to fight the fire better and easier with better hose handling or ventilation tactics. But we fail to teach the dangers of the smoke during the fire attack and after the fire is out. During overhaul the fire load is now in the decay phase and is still off gassing. And we are breathing in this smoke, if we know it or not.”

Got Words?

It’s been a while since I wrote a legitimate article here. I’ve been focusing more on self-improvement and handling local business and have slightly neglected this site. Those of you that follow ELAFF on Facebook know that I continue to share the good works of other minds on a regular basis, and that’s the point. There are an overwhelming number of brilliant minds writing and teaching in the fire service today. With this in mind, I raised the level of scrutiny regarding what I deemed worth posting for the world to see. I’ve never even written a “training” article, anyway. I’ve simply scribbled down the random musings and odd opinions of my mind. Rest assured, I will continue to write, however it may not always be hosted here and I can’t guarantee the frequency.

So with that in mind, I’d like to try something new here…by ADDING to the many voices out there. Sort of hypocritical, but stick with me.

I will be posting a guest post from a Local in the near future. He sent me a draft to look over and I told him that I would just post whatever he wanted to say right here on ELAFFHQ.com. So, perhaps YOU have a few words to say, but you don’t want to create “Fire Blog #1,957,372” just for a single post. Maybe you’d like to rant about transitional ventilation, the 7-9-8 attack line, or retail packaging that’s too hard to open. Maybe you have some witty satire piece that will leave sarcasm-blind readers in a stupor. Maybe you have a piece of motivational messaging that you’d like to share, or some pseudo-hipster slam poetry on budget cuts and plastic helmets. One paragraph or 10, 200 words or 2,000, it doesn’t matter. I’ll take it if you meet the requirements:

  1. You must include your real name, and preferably an email address, too. You may write whatever you want, but you’ll have to stand by it when the wolves come running…or the adoring fans, whichever.
  2. I reserve the right to omit submissions as I please, for any and all reasons. I may also refer to various colleagues for their opinion on your submission prior to posting. The standards won’t be too stringent, though.
  3. Despite the context of #2, I do not have to AGREE with what you write. I asked Matt to write whatever he wanted as Captain Chaos, regardless of my opinion. In fact, I don’t even completely agree with everything that I’ve previously written. Still, my previous posts remain accessible, as will your future posts.

This may become a forum for the fire service “everyman” to share his thoughts. Then again, it may deteriorate into an utter mess of chaotic chest-thumping, the likes of which has never been seen…not even in the comments section of Statter911.com (in which case I will delete everything and we will pretend that this never happened.) Maybe nobody will submit anything. We shall see…

Let the madness ensue…

Send submissions to elaffhq@gmail.com with the subject “Post Submission”.


Good Enough

Today, you can find my latest article, entitled “Good Enough”, published on Fire Service Warrior. This is my first article on FSW, but I don’t plan on it being my last. I am a huge supporter of Fire Service Warrior and I hope to continue my involvement. The site is an excellent resource, bringing together valuable information from many authors nationwide.

For now, I still plan on writing here, as well, and I will post a link to every article, regardless of where it is published, so ELAFF email subscribers will still receive notification. I will also continue to post content on the ELAFF Facebook page, so continue to check it (especially since you may no longer see every post on your News Feed).

“Good Enough” on fireservicewarrior.com

Thanks for reading,

– Pete (Lt. Lemon)

Batman vs. Superman

Disclaimer: My knowledge of comic book canon is extremely limited and skewed greatly by feature film adaptations. Please excuse any incorrect or non-canonical information in my opening analogy and focus on the greater message.

Batman and Superman. Both comic book superheros, but for different reasons. Batman is an average man, except that  he has limitless financial resources and some martial arts training. His advantage over crooks and robbers is found in a state of the art suit, belt full of gadgets, and some exotic vehicles.

Superman is an alien. Due to some kind of gravitational difference between his native planet and Earth, he has a number of superpowers including super strength and being able to jump high/fly. He is also somehow able to deflect bullets. He wears a “uniform” when saving people, but his superpowers are still available when in civilian dress.

How do the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight relate to the fire service? If Batman loses his gadgets and suit, he’s just a rich guy with kung fu moves. If Superman loses his cape and tights, he still has his powers. He can still fly, leap tall buildings, and shoot heat rays from his eyes. Superman doesn’t rely on a technological advantage, but instead has a basic skill set creating a physical advantage.

The fire service is constantly evolving its “tools of the trade”. Every expo debuts a new “game-changer” which promises to revolutionize our trade, and these breakthroughs often involve new technology. This is not a new trend, nor is it isolated to the fire service. Every industry has been undergoing the same pattern of technical advancement for decades, even centuries. Pieces of equipment that were common place when I joined this profession were rare or non-existent when today’s senior members came on the job. Thankfully, the “salty vets” are still around to remind us that the job can be done without the fancy toys. And so, this is my message to my fellow “youths” of the fire service.

The tools we have at our fingertips today are incredible. Read a training manual from just 20-40 years ago and that becomes evident. I can only imagine what will exist when we retire. However, this job was around before today’s technology and was completed without it. Today, we have the advantage of being able to learn from the “seniors” who worked before the time of high-pressure SCBA’s and TIC’s.  They can teach us how to search when the TIC dies, attract attention when our PASS doesn’t work, and how to stay calm and have a chance of survival if our SCBA fails. They know that we need a sound foundation in the basics, or we will be lost when the technology inevitably fails. However, they won’t be around forever.

We will one day be the seniors. We must make certain that we retain and pass on the same values. Don’t let the next generation become reliant on circuit boards and sensors. They fail even under ordinary conditions, and we are firemen, we can find a way to break almost anything. Learn from the senior members. Learn how to function “unplugged”, if necessary. If the knowledge isn’t readily available within your agency, then search it out. There is still valuable information to be found in old training manuals. Just keep in mind that changes in building construction, building contents, and accepted practices have left some old tactics invalid. Continue to gather and store this knowledge in your mental toolbox and dispense it as new faces join the ranks.

Accept, embrace, and utilize new equipment as it is introduced, but don’t rely on it for absolute survival. Remain grounded with a solid base of basic skills that don’t depend on a battery. Be like Superman, and teach future generations to do the same.


Not a lengthy post, but it involves free stuff…

I haven’t posted an article in a while and I’ve slowed down the posting on the Facebook page…and this post isn’t going to be anything extensive, either.  Lately, I’ve refocused my attention into improving myself, and doing more to help improve my department (though it is already great, even “great” can be improved upon). Rest assured, I have a couple of articles in the works, but they aren’t quite ready to be posted for various reasons. When they are ready…and at least half-way worth the time it takes to read them…I will post them.

Until then…


I was able to procure a prize in a recent contest. Box Alarm Leather ran a short notice give-away of a custom leather glove strap (if you aren’t familiar with their work, click the link above or below and check them out). I was the first to correctly answer the question, and therefore won the contest. However, I decided to pass the prize on to a “leather-freak”, instead. So, after receiving the o.k. from Box Alarm Leather, it is up for grabs. This contest is open to EVERYONE…including ELAFF locals. The rules are simple:

  1. Leave a comment on this post (e.g. “I’m in!”, “Show me the leather”, “Shut up and give me free stuff”, etc.)
  2. Use a VALID EMAIL ADDRESS or I won’t be able to contact you and you will not get the prize.
  3. Use your real name…I’m going to post it anyway, if you win, so there’s no need to hide it.
  4. One entry per person
  5. Only entries posted prior to 7pm EST will be eligible.
  6. Check back after 7pm EST on Friday to see if you won.

It is that simple. I will assign each unique entrant a number. I will use a random number generator to pick the winner. The winner gets to order whatever they want on the strap. If nobody enters, then I get a shiny new glove strap. The End.

You may begin…

Pete (Lt. Lemon)



Death, Perspective, and the Garbageman.

“The garbage man doesn’t get excited when he turns the corner and sees trash, because he’s expecting it. Likewise, you should be expecting fire on every run.” – Lt. Andy Fredericks

The above quote by Andy Fredericks is one which permeates the fire service from coast to coast. It is spoken in many a firehouse, usually by an elder fireman to one with less experience, even if the speaker doesn’t know where the quote originated. If you aren’t familiar with the late Andy Fredericks, click the link above for a brief bio.

What Andy was getting at is obvious. The garbageman isn’t reduced to a hyper-ventilating, giddy, screaming maniac at the sight of trash because that’s his job, that’s what he trains for, that’s what he expects when he mounts his rig in the morning. In the same respect, firemen should expect fire. That’s often why people call us. They usually mention something about it in the dispatch. We shouldn’t be surprised, screaming the size-up and jumping around in the front yard, when we roll up and visually confirm the reported fire. Burning property is simply part of this job. Take a breath, make a plan, and execute it. Simple enough, so how else can the garbageman be related to the fireman?

I was recently reminded of this quote as I read an article in a magazine published for government workers. It discussed a 2010 NIOSH study on Solid Waste Collection workers, mainly the occurrence of fatal traumatic injuries in the industry. NIOSH investigates on-duty fatalities in almost every industry, just as they do for the fire service. This report was intriguing as it stated that, on average from 2003-2009, there were 85 on-duty traumatic fatalities per year in the solid waste collection industry. The fire service typically states an average of 100 LODD’s per year, which isn’t far off in itself, but the past three years have seen a decrease in those numbers. In 2010, the USFA counted 87 LODD’s. This number includes 15 post-duty deaths (which must be removed as those deaths are not counted in the solid waste report). Subtracting those incidents leaves us with 72 LODD’s, which was the number reported by the NFPA. This number is meaningful, but not accurately comparative. Taking the average number of NFPA recorded on-duty LODD’s from 2003-2009 gives us a useful result of 97. Just over 10 more LODD’s than trash collectors for the same time period. So, trash collectors experience almost the same number of on-duty deaths per year on average.

These numbers are still not in proper context, so let’s dissect them a bit further. In 2010, the NIOSH  listed 478,000 waste collection employees nationwide. The NFPA listed 1,103,300 firefighters in the nation for the same year. This means that there was a 0.018% fatality rate for the waste collection industry, and a 0.008% fatality rate for the fire service, on average.

Refuse collection is not the safest occupation by any account. They spend nearly their entire shift in traffic. They work around compactors, grinders, shredders, and all sorts of other nasty, destructive equipment. In addition, most areas still allow trash collectors to ride the tailboard. They are “in the hot zone” everyday, where many firefighters hardly see fire on a weekly or monthly basis. However, most in the fire service, and public, would still consider our profession to be more hazardous. The fact remains that the numbers show trash collection to be more dangerous than firefighting in the U.S.

So, what’s the point of all of this? I really don’t know. The numbers and similarities simply caught my eye and I thought that I would share. I’m not pushing an agenda or taking sides. I’m simply passing on some interesting information. It’s worth a thought. We can still cut those numbers down. Wear your seatbelt, maintain your equipment, stay in shape and eat right. Be prepared. Too many of these fatalities were potentially preventable. On the other hand, some of them just weren’t. Plain and simple. If we do the job that we are supposed to, somebody inevitably won’t come home. The garbageman faces the same odds as he collects the trash. We simply can’t eliminate the risk. All that we can do is minimize it, but not by taking shortcuts or making excuses. As of now, we may be better off than we thought…it just depends on your perspective.

I could have cut the post off there, but the topic of perspective stuck with me. Let’s continue with the summertime example of a swimming pool. You’re standing poolside, nice and warm in the sunshine, when someone in the pool encourages you to jump in. “The water’s fine!”, they shout. Of course, you know better. That water feels pleasant to them, but to your sun-warmed skin it will likely feel like diving into the North Atlantic in January. However, once the initial shock wears off, the water begins to lose its frozen bite. Your body begins to acclimate to the new environment and before long you find yourself wondering why you spent so much time allowing the UV rays to cook you on the deck.

The same issue arises when we discover new tactics for the fire service. We hear someone mention “transitional this” or “single-person that” and we wither up in fear. “No way, I’m not jumping in THAT pool. It’s freezing and cannot possibly be capable of sustaining life. It’s not what I’m used to.” At this point we must decide. We can remain outside the pool doing the same old thing as we burn up in the sun’s radiation, applying sunscreen to prolong the effects, but eventually succumbing to the scorching rays; or we can jump in and test the water. We may find that it is much more comfortable than our previous methods, leaving us questioning why we didn’t make the jump earlier.

There will likely be cases where this is not true. You will jump in to find that the few swimmers calling to you are absurd, and the water is truly unbearable (at least to your department). Don’t let this possibility stop you, though. In those cases, the solution is as simple as climbing back onto the deck of your old, tried-and-true methods and carrying on. A lesson learned and no harm done. That’s why we test new tactics during drill time first.

The message here, if there is one at all, is simple. Don’t let your perspective fool you. Take a look at the job from a different angle from time to time, you may be surprised at what you see.

– Pete (Lt. Lemon)


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