Tag Archive | truth

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…

The Brotherhood is a Lie

That’s right. The title is referring to the Fire Service Brotherhood. Before you amass a posse and begin an assault on ELAFF HQ, I ask that you read this post to the last word. After that, please share your opinions…positive or negative.

I’ve been working on this post for a few months now. Until recently, it was merely a set of scattered ideas, floating around in my mind without a central focus to tether them all together. This week, I found my focus. A group of firefighters in Georgia uploaded a video to Youtube, showing an outrageous “rookie prank” which they carried out.

Here is the video:

My immediate thought after viewing this video was,”Wow…these guys are crazy!”

I planned on leaving it at that, with no further comment. As usual, I continued to follow the chatter on Statter911. I  enjoy observing the varying opinions of Statter’s readers, and their reactions towards one another. The comments began to follow two, distinct paths.

The overwhelming majority of comments voiced disgust and disapproval. Those are the comments I agree with. The small number of opposing comments accosted the dissenters with accusations of overreaction and over-sensitivity.

I fail to see the supposed “innocence” of this “prank”. Ask any ELAFF Local and they will tell you that I am a supporter of firehouse fun and harmless tom-foolery. This prank, however, crossed the line. It may have caused mental trauma to the recipient, and even more likely, it could have resulted in serious injury or death. Don’t believe it? I’ll explain…

What if an off-duty member, carrying a legal and permitted concealed weapon, stopped by the station for a visit? How about a local law enforcement officer seeking a cup of coffee and some small talk.  The city that this department protects has seen an increase in violent crime in recent years. If an armed firefighter or law officer entered the station to find his comrades being forced to the floor by a masked gunman, they would most likely react quickly. If they had entered the room as the firecrackers exploded, sounding like gunfire and adding to the realism of the mock execution, I’m sure they would have reacted aggressively. The ironic tragedy of a mock gunman being shot by an uninformed hero would have changed the tone of those supportive comments, and silenced any laughter.

Now, back to the Brotherhood and the focus of this post. There was one comment that veered to the extreme end of the supportive spectrum. It immediately struck a nerve and spurred me to tie those scattered ideas into a solid post. Here it is verbatim:

“You guys are such negative nancy’s. What happened to the brotherhood in the fire department? You are all too busy trying to throw them under the bus. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? As far as the prank being dangerous? I hate to tell you but F.D. Doesn’t mean fire department, but rather freaking dangerous.”

What happened to brotherhood? It doesn’t exist…it is a lie. At least, the “brotherhood” of which this comment speaks is a lie. It seems to be increasingly common for newer members of the fire service to EXPECT the brotherhood. They believe that as soon as they get some bunker gear, they are a solid link in the chain of fire service brethren…and that this link can never be severed. Nope. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. The TRUE brotherhood between firefighters must be earned, and to keep it, you must stay true to the profession. You can get your issued t-shirt, or pager, or union decal for your truck…but that doesn’t make you a Brother. Don’t get me wrong. Senior firefighters should be there for the rookies. They should answer their questions, mentor them, even give them a little razzing when they get too cocky. Don’t shun the new guys, but make sure they know that they still have something to prove before they fully become a Brother.

Earning a place in the Brotherhood doesn’t require a working fire and an act of heroism, either. I recall a firehouse visit by a German fireman(feuerwehrmann). He spoke little English and had never stepped foot in our house before. We began to tour the station and apparatus; through broken English, hand signals, and my very basic understanding of German (thanks to my German roots) we began to communicate. His “detailed” questions about hose lays, pump rate, equipment, and tactics shone brightly through the language barrier. This was a Brother. He knew firefighting. He lived it. He didn’t leave it behind like a businessman on vacation. He didn’t ask lame questions about flashing lights and sirens. With less than 50 actual, spoken words…he EARNED my trust…and proved his status as a Brother. I assume that by gladly sharing our house and rigs, and by answering his questions with enthusiasm, pride, and knowledge…we earned HIS trust, as well.

Being a member of the Brotherhood goes beyond joining the department and wearing a t-shirt. It is more complex than simply wearing a pager and has no correlation to the amount of lights on your P.O.V. Being a member of the Brotherhood is about looking out for your Brothers. Putting them, and the civilians you protect, before yourself…and not just on the fireground. Being a Brother requires constant training. Brothers drop the remote and pick up the weights, so that they’ll be prepared for the next call. They take a break from talking about football at the kitchen table, so that they can run through a scenario or critique a previous call. Brothers take part in as much training as possible, even the courses that AREN’T required by the department. They spend spare time going over the rigs, looking for subtle changes which could make the next run flow a bit smoother. To Brothers, the fire service is more than a way to earn a paycheck, or a way to pick up chicks. It takes dedication and commitment to be a Brother. For that reason, not EVERY fire department member is a TRUE Brother Firefighter.

Too often these days, when news of a misbehaving firefighter hits the internet, some whacker-troll jumps out of the shadows screaming about the “brotherhood”. The idiots in Georgia may have been Brothers last week. Then, they pulled this “prank” and posted it on Youtube. They endangered themselves and made their department (and therefore the ENTIRE American fire service) a joke. They disgraced the Brotherhood, and thereby forfeited their privilege as a member. Yes, “privilege”. Not “right”. IF they are allowed to remain in this profession, they will have to EARN that privilege again.

To simply defend their actions because of the “brotherhood” is ridiculous. If a rogue firefighter decides to light a random house on fire for kicks, would you stand behind his actions because he’s a “brother”? What if he inadvertently killed somebody; would you support his act of arson under the veil of “brotherhood”? What if the victim was ALSO a “brother” firefighter?

I’ll stand by my Brothers through a lot, but when they start breaking laws and endangering lives, they go against the very morals that hold the Brotherhood together. I can’t consider someone like that a Brother, and I doubt they were ever one to begin with. If they had time to plan an elaborate stunt like the one above, then they also had time to train or hit the gym. They chose not to, and therefore chose to avoid the Brotherhood.

I have no problem with somebody supporting the “gunman pranksters” above. If you think it was a harmless prank, fair enough. If you think that no harm was done, fine.

Just don’t use the Brotherhood as your default defense. To some of us, it has a meaning which runs deeper than your superficial understanding.

-Lt. Lemon

(Credit to the following blogs for extra motivation and inspiration on this post: Jason Jefferies’ Working the Job, Chris Brennan’s Fire Service Warrior, and Taj Meyers’ QueenCityBurns. Read those posts.)

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