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Home>Topics>>FDIC General Session Ceremonies - Keynote Speaker Bill Gustin discusses issues facing today's Fire Service

FDIC General Session Ceremonies - Keynote Speaker Bill Gustin discusses issues facing today's Fire Service

Thu, 24 Mar 2011|



I'd like to do one thing I'd like to give it up -- more time for skip and for Brian now we know the brains behind the secret list. -- It. I don't think I've received two more deserving guys for those awards what a beautiful ceremony in and wonderful -- -- and -- does a great morning. Because this morning I've waited for this for several years. Over the past few years I've been extremely fortunate to be allowed to visit with my friend Billy goats that. After -- -- every visit I come away feeling better about the fire service -- nature our future. Bill's not only of fire service icon but he's the living embodiment. What it means shall we say the phrase walked the walk and talk the talk. Bill might be given conferences lecturing you very response. On residential structural firefighting. And sat. During that -- -- because we are counting residential structure fire that he had earlier that week. In his adopted hometown. Of metro Dade Miami did -- get that right. Although he's a true Floridian bill never lost that Chicago big shoulders feeling or that friendliness. He meets every firefighter as a friend and he means it. Although all powerful strong man bills nevertheless lost that wide eyed childhood innocence that makes a real fire -- -- real leader. He never lost that sense of tremendous off at the responsibility. That the fire service has -- -- communities and he's never taken his duties lightly. Whether you'd be commanding an engine company industry or preparing to give electronic community far away from his home because -- that same sense of dedication seriousness. I've had the opportunity to travel with bill. And -- see him prepare to share his knowledge that he's gained. Over his nearly forty year career in the fire service. And it's not alike billed -- a day or two -- days in advance says he can custom tailored his car course specifically to the community that's invited him. Let me tell a little bit more about bill. Bill is a thirty year veteran of the fire service and -- captain with the Miami Dade fire department. He began his fire service career in the Chicago area and he conducts firefighting -- training programs throughout the United States Canada and the Caribbean. He's the lead instructor in the department officer training program and as -- marine fire fighting instructor. He has conducted forcible entry training to local and federal law enforcement agencies and he's on our editorial advisory board of FDIC. And fire engineering. But seriously bill is more than just another editorial advisory board member he is one of the most influential significant editorial advisory board members we've ever had. And he takes that duty extremely seriously. He's responsible in large part for the quality of fire engineering magazine and -- unparalleled depth and comprehensive nature of FDIC. Much of the content that you see you know books and videos is directly responsible. -- -- -- and ladies and gentlemen it's my distinct honor to present to you are key in order for FDIC 2011. My good friend captain bill -- -- would like to begin by addressing. The younger members of the audience from the looks of it that would be just about everyone here compared to me. Every generation of old veteran firefighters passes the torch to a new generation of young firefighters. And tells the younger generation the same thing. You'll never see the amount of fire -- have as much experience. As we did in our day. That's what I was told when I became a volunteer firefighter in 1973. And my dad but thirty theory 33 year old veteran of the fire service was told the same thing in 1948. When he began his career with the should -- -- fire department. Old guys like -- like to brag about all the fires we talk fall we tell stories of the war years of the seventies and eighties. We do this because -- lifts our fragile male -- at a time when just about everything else on our body uses. Sagging. We don't always tell the truth I don't wanna say that some of us rely upon our fire experience which is -- -- embellish it a bit. How many times have you heard an old timers say I've got thirty -- of experience in the fire service. -- -- you may have thirty years on the fire department you have only three years of actual fire experience. The fire service that you young people are inheriting will be different from the one that I will retire from in the foreseeable future. The next generation of firefighters will -- face challenges that their predecessors never faced and consequently. Many of you will experience your own version. Of the war years. What are these challenges. The most significant challenge for you was that you are going to have to do your job with a fraction. Of the people that we have had in the past. Budget cutbacks in this -- -- economic times are decimating the ranks of career and volunteer fire departments. And sadly. Sadly. Many of you will not have the support of the public that we used to have. Career firefighters have gone from -- to zero in the eyes of the public. My department experienced this firsthand just this last week. Why because they have become an easy target for hypocritical politicians and their cronies on Wall Street or looking for somebody to shift the blame for their own. Fiscal mismanagement. That caused this economic price. And it turned. The public against -- Throughout this country. Fire -- are -- the blame for the mess we are it. In my state of Florida firefighters wages have been cut substantially. And some of that threatened by layoffs by cities who somehow managed. To fight -- millions to build a new performing arts center. Flores stadium that subsidizes a professional sports team with taxpayers' money. Just what we need another performing arts center for what. So that rich people can watch ballet. I don't know about you -- the idea of grown men prancing around in -- just doesn't sit well with me. Do you really think that cutting fire departments budgets it's -- to reduce the cost to take taxpayer I. I don't think so. I think that in many cities any savings realized by cutting the budget of the fire department will be used by politicians. The finance the wrong. Pet projects in giveaway programs to bibles. Volunteer fire departments which are one of our oldest and proudest American institutions are also feeling the budget crunch. I'm afraid that in too many communities the volunteer firefighter is an endangered species that is under appreciated and underfunded. By a public largely takes them for granted until it is -- house. That's on fire. The same people that whine about high property taxes will be in shock. Does she their property insurance rates -- through -- -- because there are no longer any volunteer firefighters to protect our homes from fire. Or they have to pay even higher property taxes to pay the salaries of career firefighters. As -- airport as we take pride. In meeting new challenges and often this means doing more with less. But this tapping -- -- volunteering paid fire departments continues to diminish. They're gets to be a point where we are gonna have to -- doing less. With less. And unfortunately that's going to be the only way. For the public to realize that you get what you pay for it and stop taking fire protection for granted. Please -- mall what I would like to speak directly to the young people in the volunteer fire service. By being a firefighter you already set yourself apart from others in your generation. No -- what will you do with your life you'll already made a difference because you -- made a commitment. To protect and lives and property in your community. In it is not easy I know what is it I've been there. You choose to participate in evening drills to improve your knowledge and skills after a full day's work. While omitting your generation. To lose -- set -- hole. On the couch. Eating you -- us. And watching American Idol. So what you're making a difference in your communities there are long getting fat. In getting orange fingers. The next generation of firefighters will face new dangers -- the construction industry continues to develop lightweight structural members. The derive their strength from engineering geometry and -- who. Instead of the massive conventional dimension lumber. Like -- trusses and -- Joyce for example are marvelous. Of modern engineering except for one fundamental flaw. They failed and collapsed just after a few minutes of fire involvement law. You'll be challenged to develop a new tactics to fight fire in modern structures. There is no way that you can possibly fight fire with the same aggression and for the same duration. In a home built today that you could in a home built fifty or sixty years ago. Some of the tactics you must use to intelligently. Fight fire in -- engineered construction will be viewed by some older firefighters as aggressive. Not aggressive enough. In two defensive. But keep in mind that many of the firefighters would criticize you. -- -- most or all of their firefighting experience in older conventionally constructed buildings. These veterans will probably never have to contend with fires involving modular. Pretty static pre fabricated structures. Green buildings or struggled -- ventilated building with windows up impact resistant laminated glass. All challenges. That you will -- You'll also be challenged with the design of modern structures. Years ago we never had to deal would vaulted cathedral ceilings and let's we're fighting a fighter and -- church. Not as the nor in most new residential development us. We preach how critical it is for firefighters to pull ceiling at the front at all if they suspect fighter and he had a bullet fired it over your had. Or behind you well that's easier said than done when you enter the for durable modern house -- the ceiling is twenty feet over your head. Over the years couple operational lightweight engineered construction -- petrol chemical based synthetic materials -- reduce the time for flash over. And structural collapse and that time will only get less and less. During your careers. My message to the young -- in this audience. Is that you can be every bit as great as the generations of firefighters were -- you because you can educate yourself. Granted. The number of fires in some communities is down dot reproduction. In the incident supplier is often exaggerated -- city administrators. As a justification to cut part of department budgets you'll never. Prevent. Sprinkler. Smoke alarm -- public educate buyers into big extinction. And the -- you fight are likely to be more difficult and dangerous than in the past. Actual -- her experience is valuable there's no question about that. But experience and -- itself is no longer sufficient to keep you and your Brothers and sisters site. And I don't care if you are on the busiest fire company in the world. You'll never be able to ride enough knowledge through your own personal. Learn -- you burn experience. My dad used to tell me bill I notified them in the goat to a -- -- and fires -- day. And there's some of the biggest dummies I know. Let's not exactly what he called them but I think you get the idea. So you don't you think you don't have -- a fighter experience. Wall nobody does regardless of how much time they have in this job. We all have more to learn. And we can never stop learning if you ever reach a point in your career what you think you know one -- a -- firefighting and that's the day you need to hang it up. So how do you make up for a lack of experience can prepare yourself for the challenges that you will face. -- already taken the first step by being students of the fire service otherwise you wouldn't be here right now. Every firefighter must be a -- lifelong student of the fire service. Not just the ones who aspire to rise through the ranks. You can take great pride in being a master firefighter. A master of your craft. But you still have to be patient who into the fire service. In order to do your job effectively and keep your Brothers and sisters -- the most respected guy in my fire house holds the rank of firefighter. And he's earned that respect with his knowledge skill and dedication to his profession. When I was a young firefighter I could not wait for the next fire. It wasn't that I wanted to see someone lose their property got just wanted to put my knowledge and skills to the test. My dad used to tell me bills. You quit wishing for fires. You better be careful what you wish for young man because your wishes make come true and you'll find yourself going to fired you wish you never want to. Fires where people are killed fires -- children are terribly bar fire as world fellow firefighters lose their life. He was right. You can't go to every fire nor would you want to because soon or later someone's gonna get hurt. Let us learn from the experience in tragedies of fires that we were lucky enough not to go to. You don't have to have an LP tank blow up in your face for you to recognize the signs of an impending blood. You don't have to lose to your friends in the roof collapse of the McDonald's. For you don't know that there is an inherent danger with lightweight trust groups. On fast food restaurants. And you don't have the witnessed the death of nine firefighters. When they are overwhelmed by -- up furniture -- in order for you to gain an understanding of fire behavior. And the critical rate of -- We can avoid a line of duty deaths in career ending injuries. By learning from the experience and tragedies of other firefighters who have been there. We do this by attending conferences such as -- Reading fire engineering and similar magazines. And visiting their web sites. We should study every firefighter death and injury that is documented -- -- reports. Every lesson that you learned what went wrong -- a fire you didn't go to is another bullet did you dodge. We must remain current with research is being conducted on fire dynamics. Ventilation and the fire performance of light weight structural assemblies. There is an abundance of information on these topics that is readily available for nest. The National Institute of Standards and Technology. And you well underwriters laboratories. On their web sites. Now for a few things that hurt me about today's fire service. I hope you brought your large. I can't believe the amount of fire apparatus accidents that have occurred over the past few years. We've never had safer apparatus with everybody supposedly. Enclosed in seat belted it. Up until the 1980s it was common for firefighters right on the outside of apparatus and I can't remember firefighters falling off rigs in great numbers. So what's up what all the accidents it can be explained it in two words excessive. Speed. You'll injure or kill -- -- billion. Where that apparatus it all the goodwill in public relations that your fire department has worked so hard to Foster over the years is gone. Even if it wasn't your fault in it that the usual fall. God help you. There are apparatus drivers can company officers who have been arrested and incarcerated on particular manslaughter charges and have lost their jobs. In the -- doesn't and the fair because criminal charges are only the beginning. Wait -- -- lawyers come after you for civil damages as well up. We better stop. This insanity right now it's slow down and maneuver fire apparatus like the professionals that we claim to beat. In the last few years there have been a number of disturbing incidents. Where firefighters have been killed. And seriously -- With eight charged -- line in their hands. If we are going to aggressively fight fire from the interior buildings that we had better get water on the seat of the buyer. This business up canceling his spring intermittently. Against the ceiling will only delay a flash over. We can only eliminate the source of flash over by getting water and plenty of it. -- the fuel that is -- rising the flammable fire gases are burning over our heads. And if you're interior attack. Is delayed because the winds lack of staffing order size or height of a -- building what ever the reason. Then you better get that water on the fire any way you McCain. If that means that you have to direct streams from outside of the building and that's what you'll have to do. I know of no fire that got worse like directing it straight or solid stream from the outside. I'm not advocate. We routinely fight fires from outside destruction. I am advocating that you have to consider what's worse. Attacking a fire. From the outside and allowing that fire to burn and burn and burn. Endangering more occupants and further weakening the structure while you attempt an interior attacked -- -- delayed for whatever the reason. I'm not gonna stand up here and tell you that today's fire services put too much emphasis on rapid intervention teams. Truck company operations and emergency medical service I'm not going there. -- real stand here and tell you that when you put too little emphasis on basic. Engine company operations. I don't care if a fire department is accredited. And it personnel have a stack of certifications. All that is just -- looks good on -- -- this fire department fails at its most basic mission. That is stretching almost line and operating -- on -- fire. We have only so much time that we could devote to training and -- -- that time is already -- up like things like. Blood borne pathogens. And EMS continuing education. Topics that you know themselves are important to take away from the time we have the practice stretching in advancing -- lines upstairs. -- -- weighs in around corners. And there's nothing glamorous about -- management drills. It's physically demanding grunt work that takes -- -- teamwork. It's definitely not as one of practicing with your bailout harness is it. While we're -- -- on the subject to bail out harnesses. The fire service the -- -- considerable amount of its resource in training hours on rapid intervention team and firefighters survival skills. Like -- -- Martin's. These and on the himself are great and can -- firefighters' lives as they should get themselves in trouble there's no argument there. No argument. But -- we got water on the fire and we spent as much time teaching firefighters how not to get in trouble. As we do for when they are in trouble a lot of -- gotten themselves in trouble in the first place. -- -- Deprived firefighters operating inside a fire building a basic firefighting functions such as getting water on the fire. -- couples -- in raising letters for an alternate means of egress. You almost guarantee. That you're gonna need a rapid intervention team order are gonna bail out a window. Whether they have and harness or not. So that's stated today's fire services I've seen it in the challenges that we face. And it's -- -- negative. Today's firefighter has never been more protected with their clothing and breathing apparatus and yes things like escape harnesses. And I'm confident that tomorrow's firefighter will leave and be safer. Why. Technology is on our side. I never dreamed it would be able look -- -- -- with a thermal imaging camera. Or I could look up into the -- of my SE BA to determine my air supply. Any SE BA to the future will even be lighter and safer than today. Researches on our side thanks to the -- being conducted by -- in new well. But most importantly most importantly. And information is on are tied like never before. So we can learn how to avoid tragedies without having to experience them ourselves. Information that is readily available to -- -- fire service magazines the Internet and conferences like FDIC. We all -- very lucky we're all very lucky. Because we have chosen to -- firefighters. And being a firefighters -- an honor and a privilege. It is an honor to wear those -- in that uniform and call ourselves firefighters. It if you -- look around this room right now. And I know so many of the people in the audience. It is truly privileged to serve -- some of the finest people that god -- ever put on this earth. Thank you can make god bless you and keep you safe.

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