Black Sheep Rebel Club Rule #28
You can spend twenty years progressively improving or you can repeat your first-year twenty times. The difference depends on your attitude and self-motivation. Make the most of your time on the job. Work to improve yourself daily, regardless of agency requirements. Don’t be content with mediocre performance; push toward mastery of skills.
Black Sheep Rebel Club Rule #27
Officers must recognize that, at some point, a member of their crew may know more than them in some subject. Good officers recognize the strengths of their crew and allow them to shine. Lead, direct, and focus the various abilities of your crew and they will excel in any situation. Smother them with micro-management and suppress their strengths in fear of revealing your own weaknesses and your entire company will fall short.
Black Sheep Rebel Club Rule #2
If it is efficient, relatively safe, and effective; then it is the “right” method. So, the “book” only shows one way or your last class only taught you one method? That doesn’t mean it is the end-all, fix-all, works-everytime procedure. There are many “right” methods to solve fireground problems and which one is “best” depends on the circumstances. Learning many solutions to the same problem allows you to quickly adapt, overcome, and succeed when the first-choice, “best” method fails.
Black Sheep Rebel Club Rule #22
There is no “Rosetta Stone” for advancing hoselines. No seven day plan for mastering forcible entry. No get-rich-quick scheme to perfecting your ground ladder skills.
Progress is the product of long hours, hard work, and dedicated effort. Get out, get dirty, and get better.
“Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.”
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.
“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:
Go read them now…
The fire service has taken a few hits over the past couple weeks. Asheville Fire Department lost a veteran captain and brother to a fire in a medical building. Dallas Fire lost a brother as well when the roof collapsed below him as he was making the roof in an apartment blaze. Lt. Krodle, and Capt. Bowen along with their families, both blood and fire, are in our hearts and minds. Love you guys. I titled this blog as lessons learned, but the lesson has yet to be taught. I’m not talking about the lesson to be learned from the tragic loss of two brothers in the service we all love. I’m talking about the lesson that needs to be learned from pointing fingers, naming names, and playing the blame game ( or monday morning quarterbacking as I like to call it ). Its time for some hard words my friends. Theres nothing more infuriating to me, when I read other blogs, and listen to other firefighters when they sit back in their chairs and give their assessment on exactly what they feel was the cause of a tragic LODD. How can you sit there and play the blame game? Who the hell do you think you are? I PROMISE you that you’re not all that and a bag of potato chips when it comes to the fire service. Go ahead and listen to the Mayday from Asheville on youtube. Read some of the awful things some of our own brothers are saying about the situation. Can something be learned out of the ashes that we must sift through in order to try to make sense of what and how and why something went wrong? Yes. Can something be learned from pointing your dirty little fat sausage fingers at the men and women who worked that scene and took charge of that scene? Actually yes….. I’ve learned that there are a bunch of sorry ass firefighters out there that need to learn a lesson in humility, or maybe just a lesson in being a decent human being. You know NOTHING of what happened, how it looked, how it felt, smelled, or tasted. The ONLY piece of information you have, is excerpts of radio traffic you listened to over the internet. Its one thing to sit at the kitchen table, or in the watch room or out in the bays and talk about what MIGHT have happened, and what MIGHT we possibly do to adjust our own tactics and strategies incase something like this happened today. Knowing what we now know, what little that might be, what can we take away from this today to make sure that we go back to our home and families tomorrow? To me…. that’s how we make sure that someones tragedy does not go in vain. When you get online and spout ridiculous rhetoric out of your un-educated mouth ( well, typed from your un-educated fingers) for all to see, including im sure from those who actually were THERE, all you’re doing is spitting on the memories of ALL those loved and lost. Imagine the impact of your words on the people who were there. Walk a mile in THEIR bunkers for a while. You Dishonor yourself, and your profession with your filth. You should absolutely be ashamed of yourself, because im ashamed for you. Ashamed to call you brother or sister, and that you’re a member of MY family. Take a lesson from me right here, and right now. Keep your ridiculous assumptions to yourself, hang your head in shame, and get your ass on the rig when the tones go off. This is an honorable service you are being privileged to be a part of, so start acting like it.
R.I.P. Brother Bowen and Brother Krodle
Fraternally, and in Solidarity