With the recent firing of six City of Miami firefighters, many have taken notice. Anytime there is a controversial issue that impacts a public-sector employee, it makes headlines! Supervisors and administrators need to take any type of racial, sexual, hazing harassment seriously. There is no place for it in the fire service — period.
One of the things "old school" senior firefighters passed on to me was making sure the everyday hand tools and other items were maintained and presentable. This included our forcible entry tools, axes, pike poles, shovels, etc. Regular maintenance not only makes them look good cosmetically (e.g., public demos), but also assures that they are not going to cause further injury when damage and defects occur from regular use and wear and tear.
There is an old saying that goes, “The best way to kill a snake is to cut off its head.” This “snake” is not that easy to kill. Protecting your people and protecting yourself starts with a complete understanding of how we get contaminated from the snake. It’s a complex problem that requires a complex solution.
One model that has come out of Sweden is the Skelleftea Model.
On Sept. 28, I was up at 0430 listening to the rain fall and feeling winter's warnings. My wife, who gets up at 0330 every morning was off to the gym for her workout/run. The gym is close to home, so she returned to shower and get ready for her 10-hour day at work.
She has a work ethic that rivals anyone I have ever known. I often wonder why some people can push so hard and never miss a beat.
My lifelong dream was to become a pilot, either military or commercial. However, the financial situation in my household — being raised by my mother in a single-parent household with two other siblings -- was not conducive to pay for college or take flying lessons. I looked to achieving something feasible and stable. My uncles had always instilled in me that if I was not going to go to college and seek employment in the private sector or corporate America, then I should get a civil service job.
With the Millennial Age in full swing, there is no reason for your department to “not” have a software program in place that gives instantaneous information and updates for your SCBA and PPE gear for your personnel. Your department needs to invest in such a program.
The advantages are endless. To name a few: regular routine cleaning; maintenance or damage issues that can be immediately resolved (IMPORTANT).
Now more than ever, we must be more diligent about keeping our eyes on other drivers. This is obvious because, unfortunately, other drivers are on mobile devices and not looking at the road. Another factor is that sound systems some people put in their vehicles prevent hearing the sirens and air horns when we are responding on an alarm. As drivers of fire apparatus, we need to be smarter than these people — not only for our safety, but also because the size of our vehicles can cause great harm and destruction.
In my first article, I presented a compelling case for the relationship of cancer and firefighting. The toxic environment in which firefighters work is well known, yet the fact remains that we can do more to save ourselves from this scourge.
It begins with leadership. The days of wearing dirty gear and blackened helmets are gone. Hoods, helmets, gloves, air packs, and bunker gear need to be cleaned and inspected after every exposure. We cannot forget all the other items that have been exposed including anything and everything that has been in the path of the “toxic snake”. This includes equipment, ladder, hoses, and our apparatus. The list would not be complete if we forget the firefighters. Keeping our bodies clean with a hot/cold shower is part of this protocol.
Maintaining and keeping your spare apparatus fleet functioning and assuring that it stays cosmetically respectable is crucial for your department.
One main reason is that during off-duty special events, your spare trucks are the ones seen by masses of tourists, visitors, residents and citizens. The other reason is that it needs to be ready 24/7/365 in case of a disabled front-line apparatus.
In my early days as a young firefighter, not much was known about the relationship of toxic fire gases and the effect it had on our bodies. In fact, our bunker pants and boots sat right next to us in our bunk rooms. Today, it has all changed, and for the better. I cannot remember when and why it began to change, but today, that practice is long gone. Something happened over time, and the fire service began to make many changes regarding our health. Day boots were gone, Nomex® hoods were mandatory, and everyone had their own air packs. All this was a step in the right direction, but it was just the beginning.
The general notion that firefighters are fighting less structure fires these days may be true. However, per National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) data, there is a house fire every 86 seconds in America.