How Do You Want Them Treated? 1, 2, 3, and 4

By Billy Goldfeder

For those of you who are old-er, you may recall that we used to write about “NTS: Non Thinking Syndrome.” 

Sometimes we simply don’t think. Sometimes we get comfortable, all of us, it’s human nature. At the firehouse, for example, officers don’t always supervise or correct our actions, or simply nothing “happens” or goes wrong- so we keep doing it “that” way. 

The more we do things wrong, the more they seem right. 

Until something goes wrong.

Personally I’ve been human since the 50’s and a fire officer since the late ’70s. I am very well aware that this can happen. It has happened to me many, many times and still can and has. 

Just last week I made a suggestion to command (at a fire), that after I transmitted it-realized, it would not have been a good idea. Definitely not a good idea. I got caught into thinking “single family dwelling” mentality (95% of our fires) but we were operating at a big box store. Sometimes two heads are better than one.

Sometimes our operational behavior can be as simple as always acting in the same way that we would want our family treated…pretend it’s “your” house, “your” kid, “your” loved one. Whoever matters to you. 

How do you want them treated? 



Operating at a fire?
Training–and lots of it–usually fixes it. 

LEADERSHIP + POLICY + TRAINING in a serious DISCIPLINED Environment. Disciplined as in taking the stuff seriously at all levels.

You have to hope that “leadership” is focused on what’s going on within-and outside of their fire department.

Many get it. 

Some don’t. 

Some have “walls” around their fire department and feel they have nothing to learn from whatever anyone else or any other department is doing. Maybe doing it better. Remember the pre-June 18, 2007, Charleston (SC) Fire Department? Or the Hartford (CT) firefighting hood issue earlier this year. Sometimes it takes a crisis for any of us to look outside the walls and find out how other departments “do it”–and in some cases, have been doing it better for years. 

So in the past few days, there have been some pretty amazing examples of what we hope is NTS (versus actual intentional means of operating this way.) Nothing “went wrong” so to speak…so we get comfortable. All’s well. Sorta. 

Try this-imagine your kid is a firefighter in these recent events…how would you want them treated or to behave…if it was your kid?


For example, here is a so called mobile training van. Seriously. Lets fill the back of a van up and light the sh!t on fire. Google NFPA 1403. Would you stick your kid in there?



Find the above interesting? Learn how some Firefighters were seriously burned in a similar way:

More than a few firefighters have burned to death when training fails to follow existing standards-standards that were developed because more than a few firefighters have burned to death in training.

…Nothing went wrong “this time” above-but it did here:

GOOGLE THIS: Bradley Golden, Alan Baird III, Lairdsville, NY

Or remember MILFORD (MI):


With all the firefighters suffering from cancer, one would hope the message is getting out there… (FYI, I don’t care how many fires anyone goes to, put a f*cking SCBA on with your gear….just ask some of the former 230 lb firefighters…the ones who are now rotting away at 100 lbs due to firefighting cancer.) 

Interior firefighting? Absolutely. Just WEAR what you are issued–and just don’t breathe that sh!t. Would you allow your kid to breathe that crap?


…Nothing went wrong “this time” above-but it did here:

#3: WTF. Seriously. WTF.

This guy wearing the SCBA but no other PPE is a firefighter from “out of that area” who is lending a helping hand. I definitely “get” staffing issues and I “get” wanting to help…but seriously? The guy in those pictures is not a member of that department or a mutual aid department responding to assist. He is from another fire department who was in town as a visitor. That firefighter felt the need to jump into action. Read more of the facts below from the Lake Placid (NY) Fire Department.



…Nothing went wrong “this time” above-yet-but it did here:


And then there is this incident in New Mexico. A firefighter (who has since resigned) repeatedly asks if a young shooting victim is breathing, but when the caller gets annoyed with the questions and snaps at the firefighter using “bad language,” the firefighter tells her she’s on her own and hangs up on her. 

Customer service. Here is the 911 call.

HERE is more:

It definitely went wrong on this one. When you have your “worst day”–who do you want answering 911? What if it was your kid needing rescue?

Every once in a while we all personally, professionally or organizationally need a “reset”–a “refocus” so complacency and NTS doesn’t creep up and repeat predictable history.

Sometimes it’s a simple as acting in the same way we would want our family treated…be it your “kid” the firefighter going through training…your kid the firefighter operating without gear…your kid the firefighter not using an SCBA and breathing sh!t…or your kid who needs EMS–right now.  

How do you want them treated? 

What would be your response to the parents in any of the above cases–as far as “why did you allow this to happen?” 

It’s a reasonable question with very simple answers.

BILLY GOLDFEDER, EFO, Billy Goldfederis deputy chief of the Loveland-Symmes (OH) Fire Department. He has been a firefighter since 1973, a company officer since 1979, and a chief officer since 1982. He serves on the International Association of Fire Chiefs board of directors, the September 11th Families Association, and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. He has taught at FDIC for 30-plus years and is a member of the Fire Engineering editorial advisory board and the FDIC executive advisory board. He writes the “Nozzlehead” column for FireRescue magazine and is in charge of

No posts to display