It’s ALWAYS a Fire

(Old school, new school, remembering two fallen firefighters)

By Bill Goldfeder

In the early ’70s I worked with a great chief named Eddie Bennett. While no doubt he was a real character, a World War II veteran from the Greatest Generation, he knew the job and was highly respected on the fireground. He was as old school as old school gets with many “Eddie-isms” that many of us still remember today. For example, when the tones went off he would yell “heeeeere weeeeeeee go!” in a way only he could bark it. I could fill pages with all his ism’s…but since today is the 7th anniversary of the line-of-duty deaths of Ohio Fire Captain Robin Broxterman and Firefighter Brian Shira, I wanna share ONE Eddiie-ism with you:

“It’s always a fire until we get there and decide what we have–so act like it”

What he was talking about is when there is a run, automatic alarm, reported smoke, a reported fire….act as if it is going to be the WORST CASE scenario and be prepared for it…well before the run comes in and then WHEN the run comes it.

If the dispatcher says the caller states the fire is out- IT IS NOT OUT until we, the FIRE DEPARTMENT gets there and determine that it is-or isn’t.

If the dispatcher sends us out on an AUTOMATIC FIRE ALARM, act as if there is a fire-UNTIL WE, the FIRE DEPARTMENT gets there and determines what it is…or isn’t.


That’s easy to say, but so many times it isn’t. No one cares about that. If you’re going to put up a garage up and hang a FIRE DEPARTMENT sign in front, ACT and BEHAVE like the FIRE DEPARTMENT. Apply discipline here.

Seven years ago today, April 4, 2008, firefighters from Colerain Township (Hamilton County, Ohio, near Cincinnati) responded to the type of fire dispatch that we all have turned out on many, many times. However, in this case, what was initially a reported automatic alarm-resulted in double Line of Duty Deaths of a Captain and one of her Firefighters.

While responding to the AFA, the dispatcher upgraded the run, indicating the occupants were reporting a working house fire. Not long after that Fire Captain Robin Broxterman, 37-years-old, a 17-year veteran career Firefighter and Paramedic, and Firefighter Brian Schira, 29-years-old, a 6 month probationary, part-time Firefighter and EMT with Colerain Township Fire & EMS both died in the Line of Duty after the floor they were on collapsed into the burning basement – at that dwelling fire.

Following that loss, the Colerain Township Fire/EMS Department issued a report (numerous document, audio and video links below) – as well as the NIOSH report – both with valuable details on what happened. DO NOT miss the chance to review these materials, including videos and share them with your crews. Critical details such as the importance of understanding that EVERY run could be a fire, how critical your size-up is, your 360 walk around and other information is of great value to any Firefighter and Officer. As we have seen in numerous other Firefighter deaths, as Colerain Fire Captain Steve Conn had stated “There was not one major mistake that caused the death of our 2 Firefighters. There was a perfect storm, a combination several little things that hit all at the wrong time.”

The Colerain reports have mattered in several cases, including the City of Defiance, Ohio, where FF’s studied the report and following that-applied the lessons at a fire they responded to-and their scene operations were positively altered due to what they learned from Colerain. DEFIANCE FIRE INFO: 


It was on April 4, 2008, that Firefighters from Colerain Township’s companies responded initially to what was a reported automatic alarm. While responding, the dispatcher upgraded the run with additional companies (including auto mutual aid), indicating the occupants were reporting a working house fire. 

Not long after that Fire Captain Robin Broxterman, 37 years old, a 17-year veteran career firefighter and paramedic, and Firefighter Brian Schira, 29, a six-month probationary, part-time Firefighter and EMT with Colerain Township (Ohio) Fire & EMS both died in the line of duty after the floor they were on collapsed into the burning basement at that dwelling fire. 

==HERE is the NIOSH Report: 

==HERE is the Colerain Township FD Report, Radio Traffic And Related Details:


 (Initial Scene Interview)

 (Initial Media Report)

 (Coroners Report Video) (Media)



Billy GoldfederBILLY GOLDFEDER, EFO, has been a firefighter since 1973 and is a deputy chief of the Loveland-Symmes (OH) Fire Department. He is a member of the board of directors of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF), and the September 11th Families Association. He, along with Gordon Graham, hosts and co-sponsors, a noncommercial and free Web site dedicated to firefighter survival. His book Pass It On (Fire Engineering) will be released at FDIC 2014. All of the proceeds will be donated 50/50 to the Chief Ray Downey Scholarship Fund and the NFFF.

No posts to display