FDIC 2013 Big Room: Halton, Lasky, and Salka on Today’s Fire Service Issues

Hundreds of FDIC attendees packed into the Sagamore Ballroom during FDIC’s Wednesday afternoon classroom session to hear three fire service legends discuss anything and everything regarding today’s modern fire service. Lewisville (TX) Fire Department Chief (Ret.) Rick Lasky, Fire Department of New York Battalion Chief (Ret.) John Salka, and FDIC Education Director/Fire Engineering Editor in Chief Bobby Halton took the stage for the roundtable discussion, “Issue and Challenges in Today’s Fire Service,” taking audience questions while offering insight into their decades of fire service experience.

In a humorous and informal but occasionally serious 105-minute dialogue, the three highly respected men gave their thoughts on a myriad of fire topics, from leadership to budget issues to training and staffing problems all departments are facing or will eventually face.     

“We’ve gotta start working on the future. We’ve gotta start building leaders in this room that one day will say ‘You know what, I don’t care, I’m gonna be chief one day, when I get there, I’m gonna do whatever I can to fight for my people,'” said Lasky (left).

Salka brought up the subject of training budgets that have hindered the progression of fire departments around the country by saying, “I don’t want to wait…I don’t want to wait till the next generation. I don’t want the men treated gross so I can get the shave. I want training tomorrow. I want training next week, next month. And you know what? The young kids that are here today, the types of training officers, and the assistant chiefs and the fire marshals, and they’re nine, 10, 15 years running with the chief, and they just turn into the same *@$#%^& that the last guy was. And I don’t want that to happen,” he said to great applause.

Halton continued with the subject of training brought up by an attendee regarding the NFPA standards by saying, “How do you bring home the concept that we do train? I think one of the ways that you do it is that you start doing SOMETHING. In other words, you might not have a big budget, but could you rig up some props in the firehouses? And maybe the chief will see you doing that, and maybe you find a hard structure or a school building or something where you could run through some technical rescue…stuff to show them that you’ve got some interest in it, and that might motivate them to find some money to keep going, something to spread your initiaitive.”         

At a table once presided over by Tom Brennan, the three men took on all of the most pressing issues of the fire service, from VES to pike poles to victim survivability profiling, while the attentive audience soaked in the knowledge that will certainly carry over back to their firehouses across the country, which is certainly the main purpose of FDIC.

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