Archive for '2012'

    Trustees; Train Hard or Go Home!

    April 5, 2012 7:59 PM by Art Goodrich
    You heard me!
     
    Don't come here expecting accommodations or special considerations.
     
    You're a grunt just like the rest of us. Time to pay your dues.
     
    You can't be on top of your game if you don't train.
     
    You can't extend your reach or maximize your effectiveness, unless you are willing to put your blood and sweat into it.
     
    You don't have the first idea of what I'm talking about, do you?
     
    You were never a firefighter, were you?
     
    Were you 'appointed' by your buddies on the city council or the county board?
     
    Oh; you are one of those whose ego has to be fed by 'new challenges'.
     
    You don't mind making decisions that affects other peoples' lives, as long as you have tort immunity, huh?
     
    I'll let you in on a little secret, Braveheart; I came up through a department that was run by your kind.
     
    Your playbook, 'How to Say No to Everything Except Free Meals' has served you and your cronies well, but it has left your fire departments underfunded, under-prepared,under-manned and has left you 'under-educated'.
     
    You have spent all of the tax money on real estate for a fire station that will never be built in your lifetime, paid attorney fees for 'expert' advice that cost more than the entire fire department was paid for calls last year and the hotel bill at the conference where trustees are supposed to attend seminars while the wives go to 'luncheons'; except the 'seminars were hospitality rooms with an open bar.
     
    So; what did you learn? What knuggets (sic) of knowledge did you take back to share?
     
    Let me bring you up to speed.
     
    First of all; if it were up to me, ALL trustees in the state of Illinois(you got to start small) would be elected.
     
    Why?
     
    Because, when I ran our department as chief, I had way too many problems with our appointed trustees. None of the three knew anything about firefighters kill sets, the training required, the laws governing fire districts or of the funding needed.
     
    They only knew how to say 'NO' and that cost me hundreds of dollars of my own money on top of the taxes that I paid. It wasn't enough that I volunteered, but I had to pay for the privilege!
     
    Don't worry, though; there were plenty of firefighters just like me.
     
    The strangle-hold that gripped our department was finally broken in the early 1990's when we petitioned to have our trustees elected and then elected three, new trustees. The survival skills that we learned as firefighters served us well, in that it taught us to mitigate even the toughest hazards, which in our case was ending the reign of the Good Ole Boys, who wouldn't raise the tax rate, even though we didn't have enough turnout gear to outfit everyone, kept the thermostat at the fire station on 50 degrees in the winter, refused to pay for training, went into debt for a new fire station that would house trucks that were all at least 20 years old-plus with no new money saved to buy a new one, paid for bad advice and threaten to kick us off if we dared to question them!
     
    If I sound bitter, I'm not.
     
    I'm BETTER.                                                          
     
    Why is it that, as firefighters, you accept that you may have to risk your lives to serve the public, but are afraid to stand up to tyrannical trustees-mere mortals?
     
    I realized early on that our trustees did not have the same commitment,goals or attitudes of their fire department. They thought that the fire department and fire trustees were somehow separate and 'different'. What's wrong with that picture?
     
    When I go to trustee seminars and conferences, the conversation will usually gravitate to 'issues'. You should see the looks on the faces of the other trustees when I tell them that I'm elected. Their eyes will actually cross when I tell them that I was the fire chief and started the petition to have our trustees elected rather than appointed. You see; they threatened me one too many times. It was literally them or me and I knew I wasn't going anywhere.
     
    And now?
     
    I'm president of the board of trustees and am totally committed to being the best trustee that I can be; just like I was committed to being the best firefighter and chief that I could be. There is that same commitment to training.
     
    And though I don't always agree with the other trustees or firefighters,they at least know that I will give everything its due regard, research it if I have questions and make an informed decision.
    I will continue to learn more about finding additional revenue streams,the ever-changing laws that govern fire protection districts, the newest life-saving equipment that is available, the Freedom of Information Act, the Open Meetings Act and find new ways to attract and to retain firefighters.Money will ALWAYS be spent protecting the firefighters first and that means training and equipment that they need to keep them safe when they are called upon.
     
    And if you are a trustee and you aren't doing the same, then you need to come into the 21st
    century, buy a computer with Internet service, a cell phone and learn to lead by example. Lose the entitlement attitude and serve your firefighters and community with the same selfless attitude as your firefighters.
     
    If not, then go home!
     
    TCSS.
     

    Firefighters in Dresses Hailed as Heroes?

    March 21, 2012 7:41 PM by Art Goodrich


    By now, youhave undoubtedly seen the video.

    Accordingto wctrib.com, the two Sedan, MN volunteer firefightersoccasionally wear dresses to raise funds for their volunteer fire department.

    ”The groupof volunteers were waiting in line in preparation for Padua’s St. Patrick’s DayParade on Saturday when a fire erupted in a truck and the firefighters went towork”.

    Volunteerfirefighters Ted Aubart and Ben Terhaar, one wearing green and the otherwearing red evening gowns are seen manning the hose to extinguish the vehiclefire.

    Yes; thevideo has gone viral and it has made the rounds at all of the major newsoutlets. This morning on Fox News, the news anchor described the pair as “heroes”.

    Now; backin the day, when I was new to the ways of firefighting, it was not uncommon forus to tackle fires dressed only in our “street clothes”. It was part necessityand part stupidity. I say “part necessity” because back then, we didn’t haveenough bunker gear to outfit everyone. You were lucky to find a pair of bootsthat fit. I say “part stupidity” for obvious reasons. Like most; we learnedfrom our mistakes and lived to tell about it.

    Severalfire service websites and bloggers have taken this story and ran with it. Somehave made light of it, while others have pointed out the obvious safetyconcerns of firefighters not properly attired in full turnout gear with SCBA.Is this a department that believes that it is safe to fight vehicle fires withoutproper gear? Do they believe that smoke and fire from a burning vehicle issomehow different than “other” smoke and fire? What about polyvinylchloride,hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide? Were they wearing heels or pumps? Didthey have matching clutch purses?

    Volunteerfire departments have been battling image problems for how long? I mean; it’sone thing to dress up like Liza Minelli and sing Broadway tunes in the privacyof your own home, but to do it in public? The money would have to be right; Ican tell you that.

    I’m not toofond of circus clowns, but men running around in evening gowns with a big hosein their hands is a nightmare from Hell. The one in the red dress was spot on,but the guy in the green dress clashed big time with the color of the firetruck. So, the guy in the red was completely out of touch with the blarney, butgets kudos for accessorizing with a red fire truck. The guy in the green showedhis Irish, but looked so gauche with the rest of his ensemble.

    And wherewas the chief? Was he standing just off camera in a dazzling, white Versaceevening dress?

    Had theygone strapless, I would have scary images running around inside my head of themtanning nude so as not to get tan lines. However; there would have been noconcern for straps slipping off of the shoulder had they chosen to gostrapless.

    Wear your air and hide your backhair!

    Now, I comeback to my original question: what was so heroic about two guys in eveninggowns squirting water on a burning truck?

    I can tellyou this: you won’t see this kind of “class” at FDIC.

    TCSS.

    The opinions and views expressed arethose of the article’s author, Art Goodrich, who also writes as ChiefReason.They do not reflect the opinions and views of www.fireengineering.com,Fire Engineering Magazine, PennWell Corporation or his dog, Chopper. Allarticles by the author are protected by federal copyright and cannot bereproduced in any form without expressed permission.

    Rescuing the Lady

    March 5, 2012 6:33 PM by Art Goodrich

    Oh, whereto begin.

    As ifthings weren’t already bad enough in Illinois,I read today where my state is the third most corrupt state in the nation. Chicago has thedistinction of being named as the number one most corrupt city in the nation.

    For many ofus who have lived in Illinois our entire lives, this doesn’t exactly come as arevelation, but it is very frustrating after spending so much time in politicswith the idea that we were going to change it.

    I want tosay that our politics in this state isn’t reflective of the people who livehere, but unfortunately, it is people (real and imagined) who vote for thejamokes that get into state politics long enough to muck things up, pleadguilty, serve their sentence and then become lobbyists when they get out. Ourmost recent poster child for Illinoispolitics comes courtesy of the Illinois Department of Transportation, where amob bookie got a $70,000 a year job with the DOT and now, with the help of theunion, continues to work for the state; much to the chagrin of his DOTsupervisor.

    Youprobably never thought that turning a key in a lock could be hazardous to yourhealth, but at Menard State Prison, over $10 million was awarded to prisonguards AND the warden for injuries caused from this innocuous act. Apparently,some of our Illinois Industrial Commissioners had their own workers’compensation claims and were suffering “sympathetic” pain for the guards.

    In aneffort to cut our deficit and to bolster our credit rating, the state raised mystate income tax by 67% and they also raised the corporate tax by 47%. Makesyou want to run a business and work there, doesn’t it? Caterpillar recentlytold Governor Quinn the Mighty that they will not increase their business inthis state, as long as the climate is so “anti-business”. Let’s see; we had themoney to bribe Sears and the CBT to keep their business here, but notCaterpillar? I lost my job at Cat when they moved the engine assembly to Texas. Then, at aboutthe same time, they moved the road graders from Decatur,IL to North Little Rock, Arkansas.And now; a new Cat plant is going to Athens, Georgia, butQuinn still thinks that Cat is just “blowing smoke”.

    It wasclear that the Gov was hurt by Oberhelmann’s statements and he could barely mustera reply. He said, “We overhauled the workers’ compensation system in thisstate”. Quinn’s idea of “overhaul” must mean that, when you get your oilchanged, you are having your engine overhauled. The work comp “overhaul” didNOTHING to lower rates in this state.

    So, therehas been no meaningful spending cuts made yet, but Quinn and his bobble headsare still finding ways to RAISE money through the good taxpayers in this state.Now, Quinn and Chicagomayor Rahm Emanual want to charge a $65 “fee” for gun registration in thisstate and as we all know, a “fee” is not a “tax”.

    It wasn’tthat long ago that Rahm the Merciless was President Obama’s Chief of Staff, butRahm couldn’t get everyone on board with doing things the “Chicago way”, so,feeling like a fish out of water, Rahm returned to the familiar waters ofChicago politics, where he has been doing a yeoman’s job of bullying his citycouncil AND our governor.

    So, thatbrings me to Obama. He got his start in politics as a community organizer.There must be a playbook or instruction manual that teaches one to organize.Now; I have to wonder if he was organizing in the most corrupt city in thenation in spite of it. After-all; he is a product of that environment. Did heescape it squeaky clean? I don’t think so. Look at his shadow cabinet of czars,his recess appointments, Obama Care, activists judges, the NLRB, his fast andfurious attorney general’s willingness to sue private citizens and businessesto stop them from exercising their liberties, suing states to keep them fromenforcing immigration laws and then it becomes very clear that President Obamais a by-product of his environment. His hypocrisy has no limits.

    The Houseand the Senate haven’t been much help, either. Many of them still believe that theyare beefing up their re-election victories by pigging out on pork projects fortheir home districts, because they are too chicken to base their chances on themoral and ethical strength of their votes on various pieces of legislation. Andbesides; giving the special interests groups that support and the specialattention that they deserve isn’t “buying” votes in the strict sense is it?

    Sure;everyone wants their taxes to come back home in some way, but it has caused ade facto redistribution of wealth. However; in Illinois, tax money that is taken and issupposed to come back to the school districts isn’t. Instead, Quinn the Mightyis simply telling school districts that they are going to have to take on abigger share at the local level which will most likely cause property taxesacross the state to skyrocket. I wish that I could tell my creditors to eat itin the same way that Illinoisgovernment tells their taxpayers.

    In his“State of the State” address, Quinn offered NOTHING; only get tough talk, butno plans to get tough.

    The 2012elections will be the most important election in my lifetime and I don’texaggerate when I say that. I cannot think of another single election wherethere was so much at stake at the state and federal level. We have an opportunityin Illinoisto flip the entire legislature as ALL of the seats are up for re-election.There are but a very few who deserve the privilege of our vote for them.

    At thefederal level, I can’t wait to pay $5 a gallon for gas, even though we sit onenough oil to truly become energy self-sufficient and cut the cord to Middle East countries that don’t like us very much, butare more than happy to take our money and the lives of our soldiers andcitizens.

    That is notto say that I am for price controls, because I’m not, but why is it that gasprices can go up whenever a sheik farts, but a utilities company must “request”a price increase from the legislature?

    I fullyunderstand a company’s duty to shareholders and yea, though I don’t know what“obscene profits” are or what it is to have “too much money”; I know that ourcountry survives because of capitalism.

    I believethat, in many cases, those who have their hand out because “they can’t help it”are a myth. I have always felt that those in need will receive their help fromcharitable donations from kind-hearted givers. Government is not a charity norshould they determine for us how we should spend our money.

    It’s a factthat not everyone can afford to buy a house, a car or go to college. Those decisionsshould be made by potential purchasers. When I took out the loan for our firsthouse, interest rates were eight percent. I made my payments without the helpof the government. I borrowed money for my vehicles from the bank and nevermissed a payment. Back then, there were no incentives to buy and interest rateswere eight to nine percent. We took out student loans so that our son could goto college and we paid back every dime. We never looked for a bailout from thegovernment. What has changed, other than loan rates have dropped dramatically?

    All of uswho came from poor beginnings know that we had two choices: stay there andwallow in self-pity fueled by government cheese or to change it.

    I chose tochange it. I won’t apologize for it and I refuse to stand by and allowgovernment to tell me that I have too much and must give some of it to someoneelse.

    I pay mytaxes and I donate to charities. I volunteer my time in my community and willhelp where help is needed.

    THAT is MYdecision and because I am opposed to extending that charity to flimflammers andscammers of the System, I will not believe that I am a bad person.

    The stateof the government and the condition of our country is our fault.

    So, I saythat it is time to rescue Lady Liberty and to take back our country from dysfunctionalgovernance.

    It is anon-partisan approach. Republicans and Democrats alike have managed throughseveral parliamentary procedures to set themselves up as the ruling class andin the process have trampled on our Constitution.

    I will notconsider any candidate from any party who will not work to change it. I want agovernment who will allow me to keep what I have earned and return upon myretirement the Social Security funds that I have paid since I was sixteen yearsold.

    I havesupported government at all levels. I don’t expect any more than what I havepaid for. I expect government to honor their contract with me. Period.

    Rant off.

    Game on.November can’t come soon enough.

    TCSS.

    The opinions andviews expressed are those of the article’s author, Art Goodrich, who alsowrites as ChiefReason. They do not reflect the opinions and views of www.fireengineering.com, Fire EngineeringMagazine, PennWell Corporation or his dog, Chopper. All articles by the authorare protected by federal copyright and cannot be reproduced in any form withoutexpressed permission.

    Take a Bow, Bowring!

    February 27, 2012 6:49 PM by Art Goodrich


















    Disclaimer: This article is NOT anendorsement of the product that is mentioned throughout the article. I amsuggesting that it should be given a closer look and make your own decisionsbased upon your personal experience with the Bowringâ„¢. I have not beencompensated in any way for my comments.

    Whenever Igo to a trade show or conference, I will hit the exhibitors’ booths and lookfor that ONE tool that might have an impact on how firefighters do their jobs.

    FDIC isjust around the corner.

    In this“super-bowl” of fire service conferences, registrants can participate in theHOT programs, classroom programs and cruise the exhibits in the Exhibition Halland at Lucas Oil Stadium.

    In short;FDIC presents a golden opportunity for firefighters to train, hang out withlike-minded people, and take a look at fire equipment; some new /somenot-so-new.

    If you’relucky, you will get to see and to talk to some of the brightest stars in thenation’s fire service in one of our country’s shining cities-Indianapolis.

    This year,much to my dismay, I will go on Friday and come home on Friday, because of aprior commitment.

    If I haveany time left, I want to hit the exhibits to look for the tool that I thinkwill be a “game-changer” for firefighters.

    Last year,as I walked the exhibits and hung out with the likes of Erik Estrada, I cameupon the Paul Conway booth, where I saw the most amazing hand tool-the Bowringâ„¢.This multi-purpose tool immediately caught my attention and as I listened toTony Mack describe its many uses, I was completely blown away. It was also anhonor and pleasure to meet and to talk to THE Paul Conway.

    Then, Tonycalled Clint Bowring over. Clint was this tool’s inventor. To hear theirexcitement as they talked about this tool was infectious. You can get the storyof the Bowringâ„¢ from their website at www.thebowring.com.

    You areprobably asking yourselves, “Why would I bring up a tool that I saw at LASTyear’s FDIC”?

    Because, asI watched Clint Bowring, Tony Mack, Evan Fenton and Ryan Lujan literally GIVEtheir tool away to firefighters to try, I thought that I would at some pointsee an article written by one of my blogger friends who assured this group thatthey would try it and report on it.

    But, todate, I have not seen ONE blog written on the Bowringâ„¢.

    I want tobe clear that this tool does not replace firefighters, but it does allow ashort staff to do more by simply reaching into their pocket for this tool. Itwill definitely save trips to the truck or at the very least will eliminate theneed to carry several tools in addition to a charged hose line.

    When Ithink about it, I would have to put this tool right up there with the Halliganbar. Note that I didn’t stutter.

    I watchedvideo footage of firefighters using this tool and I shook my head in amazement.A tool that could fit into pockets on turnout gear; rescuing a downfirefighter, taking out a windshield, shutting off gas, forcing entry and somuch more was mind-boggling!

    Finally, Ilooked at Ryan Lujan and said, “Basically, only your imagination limits thenumber of uses for this tool”.

    He said,“Exactly”.

    These are Oklahoma Cityfirefighters who clearly believe in their tool. Hopefully, they will be at FDICagain this year. I would be curious to know if business has been good for them.

    If seeingis believing, then I believe that the Bowringâ„¢ is going to find a wideaudience.

    Go to www.thebowring.com and check out the videos andthe testimonials. It can also be found at www.paulconwayshields.com.

    I will beon the floor at FDIC 2012 in search of the next revolutionary tool.

    See youthere.

    TCSS.

    The opinions and views expressed arethose of the article’s author, Art Goodrich, who also writes as ChiefReason.They do not reflect the opinions and views of www.fireengineering.com,Fire Engineering Magazine, PennWell Corporation or his dog, Chopper. Allarticles by the author are protected by federal copyright and cannot bereproduced in any form without expressed permission.


    The Love of the...Stress?

    February 5, 2012 10:11 AM by Art Goodrich


    You can goto the many fire service-related outlets or social media sites every day andread comments left by firefighters as to why they love being firefighters.

    The firstbook that I read on this subject was Dennis Smith's "Firefighters". It was aseries of interviews that described in the firefighters' own words on why theyloved what they did. It was released in 1988 in hardcover.

    Morerecently (2008), Rick Lasky released his "Pride and Ownership: A Firefighter'sLove for the Job". Rick captured the essence perfectly and in a style that wasuniquely Rick's. He articulates what many firefighters feel, but struggle todescribe or to explain.

    An articlein a Sunday paper got me to wondering; if firefighters love what they do, thenwhy is the firefighting profession listed as Number 2 on the list of moststressful jobs of 2012?

    What isn'tclear in the article is the type of stress that the author is referring to.There are many types of stress and I can only assume from the tone of thearticle that they were writing about mental stress. However; there are manytypes of mental stress as well. But, I will address it in general terms.

    The 10 moststressful jobs of 2012 are:

    10. TaxiDriver
     9. Photojournalist
     8. Corporate executive
     7. Public relations executive
     6. Event coordinator
     5. Police officer
     4. Military general
     3. Airline pilot
     2. Firefighter
     1. Enlisted soldier


    Thearticle's author offers opinions for the causes of the stress and some of themmight have merit, but firefighters have a uniquely different view of the jobthat they do.

    When"firefighting" as an occupation or an avocation is mentioned, it is spoken,using very positive adjectives to describe it. For instance:
    "I lovewhat I do".
    "It's not ajob; it's a calling".
    "It's thebest job in the world".
    "I get arush when we are at a job".
    "I'm happiestwhen I'm with my crew".
    "We are afamily; a brotherhood".
    "There'snothing like it".

    When afirefighter talks about it, there is excitement in their eyes, a smile on theirface and a mouth that won't run out of things to say about a job that definesthem as a person.

    We talk andtalk about the "big ones" and of some of the extraordinary efforts made byothers that we were witness to. You might even get a mention, but you willdeflect it with a "That was nothing", but inside; you are proud that your peersnoticed your effort.

    All of thejokes, the good times, the meals shared, training together, respondingtogether, attending each others' family milestones and retirements…

    How couldthis possibly be stressful?

    Many firefightersrecognize their mortality and know that, on any given day, that they may perishor that a fellow brother or sister could. But those thoughts remain deep insideof them and thoughts of accomplishing their mission are what occupy their mindsand even if they are thinking about their mortality, they don't talk about itmuch; if at all.

    Firefightingis their dream job. They have been preparing to be a firefighter since theywere a kid. It is everything that they had hoped for times ten!

    Does any ofthis sound stressful to you?
    According to Dr. MelissaConrad Stoppler:
    Stress may be considered as any physical, chemical, oremotional factor that causes bodily or mental unrest and that may be a factorin disease causation. Physical and chemical factors that can cause stressinclude trauma, infections, toxins, illnesses, and injuries of any sort.Emotional causes of stress and tension are numerous and varied. While manypeople associate the term ‘stress' with psychological stress, scientists andphysicians use this term to denote any force that impairs the stability andbalance of bodily functions.
    If stress disrupts body balance and function, then is allstress bad? Not necessarily. A mild degree of stress and tension can sometimesbe beneficial. For example, feeling mildly stressed when carrying out a projector assignment often compels us to do a good job, focus better, and workenergetically.
    Likewise, exercising can produce a temporary stress on somebody functions, but its health benefits are indisputable. It is only whenstress is overwhelming, or poorly managed, that its negative effects appear.
    An important goal for those under stress is the management of life stresses. Elimination of stress is unrealistic,since stress is a part of normal life. It's impossible to completely eliminatestress, and it would not be advisable to do so. Instead, we can learn to managestress so that we have control over our stress and its effects on our physical and mental health.
    If we take that and applyit to what I have written so far, I have described "good stress".
    Bad stress as described byDr. Stoppler could be sleep deprivation, the many obstacles getting to thescene, being short handed, critical injuries requiring swift decisions,deceased victims, a Mayday call or anything pulled from Murphy's playbook arejust some of the bad stuff that plays out everyday in this country.
    Add crappy pay,the threatof loss of jobs or the loss of health benefits as you fight cancer during your"retirement" and I have to wonder if the good outweighs the bad.
    I know that the "badstress" isn't enough to discourage those who are serving and those wishing toserve. 1.3 million are still answering the call and there are more wanting toget in than are getting out. And that is good.
    We seem to be willing torisk the "chemical" changes to our body that over the years, will impact ourgood health because of the love for the job. Many will say that they don't feelstress, but it's sneaky stuff. Just like we may not know if we've had one toomany barley pops, the cumulative effect of stress may be building and might tapyou on the shoulder at a most inopportune time. It is here that I hope thatgood will triumph over bad.
    I would add one moredescriptive reason to the list and that is:
    "It is worth the sacrifice"and "it" is friends, strangers, neighbors, families and the communities that weserve.
    TCSS.
    The opinions and views expressed are those of the article'sauthor, Art Goodrich, who also writes as ChiefReason. They do not reflect theopinions and views of www.fireengineering.com,Fire Engineering Magazine, PennWell Corporation or his dog, Chopper. Allarticles by the author are protected by federal copyright and cannot bereproduced in any form without expressed permission.

    Blogging Then and Now

    January 30, 2012 7:44 PM by Art Goodrich
    Every now and then, I have to remind myself that I have been blogging for a long time.

    My first article went up at Firehouse.com during the early days of the MembersZone feature. Back then, you could sign up for free, but if you paid, you could get content that wasn’t available with the free membership. That first article was posted in the “Volunteer’s Corner”.

    From there, I went to the IACOJ website, where I posted several blogs in the “ChiefReason” section.

    The Board there gave me a piece of their pie and we had many, many great discussions.
    So many fond memories there; too many to count. From the many strangers that I met through the website, I was privileged to make many friends and it was done from both sides of a debate.

    I always felt comfortable. It felt like a home and that I belonged.

    Then, I went on a new adventure.

    I was asked by the founder of FirefighterNation to come and join his new venture and that took me to FireEMSBlogs.com, where I managed to post 2-3 times a week, as well as participate in their forums.

    That exposure lead to a slot on FirefighterNetcast, an up-and-coming blogtalkradio show that was gaining popularity. It was live and unscripted-right up my alley!

    But, nothing ever remains the same and you look for new challenges or they find you.

    However it happens, you find yourself somewhere else, doing what you love to do.

    I have been with Fireengineering.com for more than a year now. Bobby, Peter and Scott have been a blast to work with.

    From Firehouse.com to now, I have posted well over 400 articles. Anyone who has read my blog knows that I write about an array of subjects. Many have been about fire service issues and many more have not been.

    Having the freedom to write about whatever I want is what draws me to blogging. I don’t expect everyone to get it and I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with me. Anyone who has blogged for as long as I have has been called every name in the book and yet; that doesn’t serve to discourage me or to entertain thoughts of giving it up.

    It DOES cause you to step back now and then to re-examine your words, because the right words properly presented can be powerful and the wrong choice of words can be hurtful.

    And though I have always taken great pride in choosing the right words, I haven’t always been right. As I am not one to be satisfied with hitting for percentage; I don’t want to hit a home run at someone else’s expense, either.

    Firefighter safety has always been close to my heart. I have advocated for it at the local, state and national levels. I have had the grand opportunity to use what I love to do to put it into the public arena as a blog.

    During my active, fire career, my department made several, interior attacks. That was back in the days when doing a 360 simply wasn’t done by small departments. We had to rely on our training from smoke classes and building construction class to keep us safe. You see; back then, if the chief didn’t respond, it was the guy first on scene who was in charge.

    It was only after taking tactics classes taught by the likes of Rick Lasky, John Mittendorf, Tom Freeman, Bob and Ray Hoff, Eddie Enright and many others that I realized the importance of doing a proper size up.

    And still; we never made a rescue from a structural fire in those years then or since.

    My rescues came as an EMT and as a rescuer at vehicle accidents and there were many.
    There are many in the volunteer service like me, who go an entire career, believing that we were prepared to fight our way into a structure, race to the victim(s) and pull them out of Harm’s way, but will never know if our heart and our training were up to the task.

    I still get excited and a little emotional when I hear or read about a crew that got in, made the grab and everyone went home.

    I can’t say that I know that feeling, but I can say that the willingness of anyone to make that effort is one of the pillars that built America’s fire service.

    Unless you write strictly opinion pieces, where you simply write within a single dimension, you have to do a lot of research, which in my case, requires a lot of reading. All of that reading goes into my blogs.

    Risk management (safety) is how I make my living, so I tend to gravitate in that direction.

    The best fire service book that I have ever read on firefighter safety is Paul Grimwood’s “Euro Firefighter”.

    I don’t know if that was Paul’s intent for it to be a safety manual, but it is to me.

    From the many case studies, interviews, NIOSH excerpts and strategies discussed in his book, it is written in a way that immediately impacts the reader with many key elements needed on the fireground by officers and firefighters alike. Paul is one of those authors who must be read. He absolutely knows what he is writing about. The last I knew, Paul held the highest fire service degree awarded in the UK AND he has worked out of some of the busiest stations in the UK. I am honored that he calls me “brother and friend”. I am humbled that he used some of my work in his book. If I never write again, I will always have that.

    That brings me back to the point of this blog.

    You can write something that has impact and relevance; you can state opinions designed simply to get a reaction or you can write what many others write about and in the process, get lost in the maddening crowd. It’s simple for me; I don’t want to go with the crowd.

    When Priceless Paul Combs posts one of his extraordinary drawings, I always study it for several minutes, wanting to see every nuance and subtlety. His gift is that every drawing tells a story in vivid detail and he leaves no questions about his intent.

    What Paul is able to accomplish with drawing pens and paper, I try to do with a combination of words. His is more visual and mine is more of a visualization.

    While watching the movie “Contagion”, I was struck by a line that Elliot Gould’s character spoke to Jude Law’s character.

    Gould said, “Blogging is graffiti with punctuation”.

    Really?

    I thought that blogging was a more highly-regarded medium than that. Why; some blogsites have been sold for millions.

    Blogging has kept my brain hitting on all cylinders. This year, I will turn 60. Not only am I looking forward to it, but I am embracing it.

    Six decades on this Earth with over three decades in the fire service.

    I’ve got plenty left.

    TCSS.

    The views and opinions expressed are those of the author, Art Goodrich, who also writes under the name ChiefReason.  They do not reflect the views and opinions of www.fireengineering.com, Fire Engineering Magazine, PennWell Corporation or his dog, Chopper. Articles written by the author are protected by federal copyright and cannot be reproduced in any form.