By John “Skip” Coleman, Technical Editor

Toledo has had its share of large multiple-alarm fires in large industrial facilities. Industrial fire brigades in these facilities are an excellent resource. They are trained to keep incipient fires small and under control until our arrival and to assist us.

I can say that as a responding chief to many of these fires, I certainly relied on the expertise of the plant personnel to help sort out the complexities. Because of my stints in the Training Division and working with specific brigade members, I knew many of them by name at a few fires, which was a big help.

When I was training chief in the late 1980s and in the early 2000s, we drilled with specific industrial facilities. Generally, when no recruit classes were being conducted, we organized drills and walk-throughs with first-out stations and brought brigades out to our training tower for live burn evolutions. Our training facility was partially funded by some of these industrial companies with the provision that they could use the facility when available.

This month’s Roundtable question is, Does your department participate regularly in drills with the industrial fire brigades in your community? Go to www.fireengineering.com and let us know how you interact with this worthwhile resource in your community.


Christopher Brennan, a firefighter with the Harvey (IL) Fire Department and an instructor with the Illinois Fire Service Institute, writes on “The Mission of the Fire Service Warrior.” He looks at two very famous fire department mission statements and how the mission melds with his vision of the Fire Service Warrior. He cites comparisons between the fire service and the military, saying, “The fireground is the most dangerous place on which one of our brothers or sisters can operate. Firefighting is combat. A firefighter places himself in a position where he must risk his life to protect his community. That calling, that selfless willingness to place one’s neighbors ahead of one’s self, is rooted in the same noble drive as our Warriors who defend our nation on foreign shores.” It is a thought-provoking read.

Doug Truax, a retired Portland, Oregon, firefighter, writes on “Career Survival: I’ve Been Hired; Now How Do I Work 30 Years and Retire Healthy?” He provides an interesting point of view on how to survive the job, looking at several ways to ensure that you will end up as he has, retired and enjoying the sunshine. He says, “So how do we educate and prepare our personnel for what is coming so at least they’re not blindsided when ugly incidents occur? How about telling them the truth, for starters! Let them know that they will experience a career that will include elation at one moment and a dark insight into pain and death that only military, police, fire, EMS, and county morgue personnel see.” He then offers pointers on how to accomplish that. This is an insightful read, especially for younger firefighters.

Jerry Wells, a battalion chief with the Lewisville (TX) Fire Department, writes on “How Are YOU Marketing MY Fire Service?” This article is a must read for every firefighter in the country. He looks at a few ways that our “actions” (and attire) do not serve us well.


The home page features the best action photos every day. Photographers send us photos from fires all across the country. Be sure to use them, as well as the news videos and training videos, to conduct drills and start discussions on strategy and tactics.

Be sure to see Paul Combs’ illustrations, which are sure to stimulate discussion around the fire station table. Also see his blogs and commentary.


Each month, we randomly select a member of the Fire Engineering Community for you to meet.

Name:Matt McDowell.

Department: Bluffton Township (SC) Fire District.

Title/rank: Lieutenant.

Agency structure: Paid fire department.

Top issue in your department: Transitioning to a large suburban fire department because of rapid growth of both population and community needs.

Professional qualifications: Degree in fire administration, fire officer, fire instructor, US&R rescue specialist, Lowcountry FOOLS president, Safe Firefighter, LLC president/owner.

Topics you provide training for: Basic Firefighting, Firefighting Strategy and Tactics, Firefighter Survival, RIC, Engine and Truck Driver Operations.

Bio: Lieutenant for the Bluffton Township (SC) Fire District, instructor for the South Carolina Fire Academy, president of the Lowcountry FOOLS. Degree in fire administration. Teaches basic firefighting, rapid intervention, and firefighter survival locally and statewide. Previously served as training officer for Hardeeville (SC) Fire/Rescue and as a firefighter for the Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Come and meet Matt McDowell on the Fire Engineering Community, which has more than 6,400 members and is growing. Join groups and participate in discussions concerning topics of interest to the fire service. Make friends, network with other firefighters, upload photos and videos, and join groups like Pride and Ownership, Street Smart Fire Officer, and What Actually Caused the Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire? It’s a fantastic place to hone your skills and grow as a firefighter.

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