By John “Skip” Coleman, Technical Editor
Although some of you may not agree, the best way to rescue a civilian from a fire is to prevent the fire in the first place. As Francis Brannigan said, “No firefighter was ever killed in a fire that was prevented!” The second best way to rescue a victim from a fire is to teach the civilian how to rescue himself.
Public education is a very interesting aspect of firefighting. As a previous deputy chief of fire prevention and public education, I learned quite a lot from the firefighters assigned to my department’s public education bureau. The other side of the fire service contains a very energetic and resourceful group of firefighters who arguably have saved more lives than all the line firefighters put together.
In Toledo, we had educators who specialized in preschool and school-aged children, providing the early message of fire safety. We also had educators who specialized in getting a different message out to the elderly. Statistics tell us that those two age groups are the most susceptible to the negative effects of fire.
The Lewisville (TX) Fire Department has an excellent pub-ed program. It gets both educators and line personnel involved in teaching civilians how to prevent fires and how to react if a fire does occur. Not only do they teach the public life-saving measures and mind sets, but they are simultaneously promoting the department to the public. It’s a win-win situation.
This month’s Roundtable question is, What public education programs does your department provide to the civilians in your community? You can answer by visiting http://www.fireengineering.com/index/roundtable.html.
Diana Palmieri offers tips on retirement and financial planning for the fire service in “Your Money.” Many people find saving for retirement or for the kids’ college education a frightening task. She offers tips you can implement today.
In “Between the Lines,” Derek Rosenfeld discusses sports, including organizing your department’s sports team. Read his baseball/softball tips, with how-to video clips, and his thoughts on the National Hockey League. If you want your fire department sports team featured in an upcoming column, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
In “To Your Health,” Mary Jane Dittmar challenges you to “Test Your Snacking IQ.” We all can close our eyes and picture what food we have lying around the fire station kitchen. Learn to make educated decisions about what you are snacking on.
Paul Shapiro, an engineer (ret.) from the Las Vegas (NV) Fire Department, discusses the benefits of quick extinguishment and how to implement the blitz attack in “The Blitz Attack: Just Blast It!”
In “Why We Need Firefighters,” Christopher Brennan, a firefighter with the Harvey (IL) Fire Department and an instructor with the Illinois Fire Service Institute, highlights current staffing issues facing the fire service. “We hear the phrase ‘Do more with less’ from corporate leaders and government officials all the time,” he writes. “The fact is, you cannot ‘do more with less’ unless you have developed a technology or a process that reduces the number of tasks a person must perform.”
David Mellen, a firefighter/paramedic with the Tonganoxie (KS) Fire Department and Reno Township (KS) Volunteer Fire Department, writes in “Dedication or Motivation?” on recruiting and retaining firefighters in volunteer departments.
In his regular “Construction Concerns” columns, Gregory Havel examines the use of structural insulated panels (SIPs) in building construction and concerns about ventilating steel roof decks.
In “The Many Helmets of the Fire Instructor,” Michael Finney, executive director at Open Fire Academy, International, discusses the five traits that a good fire instructor possesses. “Having an understanding of the characteristics of a good instructor will not only improve your teaching skills but will also benefit the future generations who may be your students,” he writes.
COMMUNITY MEMBER OF THE MONTH
Name: Chris Haley.
Residence: South Carolina.
Department: Beaufort (SC) Fire & Rescue.
Years of public service: 17.
Agency structure: Paid fire department.
Topics you provide training for: Firefighter I and II, Safety and Survival.
Bio: Started his fire service career as a junior volunteer firefighter in Ohio. He has served as a volunteer and career firefighter. A National Fire Academy alumnus, he has served in public education and fire inspection bureaus as well as the training division. He also has served as an administrative and operational fire officer. He has taught firefighter I and II as well as firefighter safety and survival courses for junior colleges.
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