Innovative Conference on Making Yourself Hard to Kill

This October 27th, firefighters and fire officers from across the country will convene in Philadelphia, PA to attend Leadership Under Fire’s inaugural conference “Making Yourself Hard to Kill: Fostering a Culture of Survival and Discipline for the Fireground.”   

Leadership Under Fire, Inc seeks to contribute to the technical, physical, and mental development of firefighters and fire officers in order to foster a culture of survival, discipline, and leadership.  FDNY firefighter and USMC Major Jason Brezler developed the concept following a combat tour in Fallujah, Iraq with the goal of bringing innovative problem-solving from the military battlefield to the unique environment of the fireground.

Leadership Under Fire’s first annual conference will rigorously examine a commonly neglected dimension of survival in fireground operations–the mental aspect. “Making Yourself Hard to Kill” will feature esteemed experts who will share their firsthand knowledge of survival from a tactical perspective; presenters include: Mike Asken, PhD, Lieutenant Colonel J.C. Shusko, USMC (Ret.) and Joe Flood, author of the book The Fires.  

The conference will also feature a Survivor Panel where accomplished firefighting, military and mountaineering veterans will reflect on personal catastrophic events highlighting the mental aspects of their survival experiences.  Chief Bobby Halton, editor of Fire Engineering Magazine will serve as the panel moderator.  During a small group breakout session, conference participants will have the opportunity to discuss the theme of “Creating a Training Atmosphere that Fosters a Mindset of Survival and Discipline.”  Group mentors include: Capt John Vigiano, FDNY(Ret); BC Pat Maloney, Chicago FD; BC Don Hayde, FDNY; and District Commander Jim Roussell, Chicago PD and USMC (Ret).   

Leadership Under Fire Commanding Officer Jason Brezler states, “Today’s fire service training centers on control. Subordinates are provided with strict instructions at each tactical decision point. I think that the fire service is better served by a command model similar to the military, where leaders train and develop the thinking of their subordinates, then empower them to act with more latitude based on an understanding of their environment.”  This conference seeks to further that paradigm shift.

John Salka, Battalion Chief (Ret), 18th Battalion, FDNY adds, “‘Making Yourself Hard to Kill’ is a new look at an old problem. Physical tactical skills are important, but as the presenters of this program will explain, there is another important dimension that cannot be overlooked, the mental element. Being prepared mentally to handle dangerous, unexpected and threatening situations is vital to survival.”

A number of sponsors have joined in their support for the conference, including Fire Engineering, Paul Conway Shields, All Hands Fire Equipment and Safety and Survival Training.

The seminar takes place on Saturday October 27, 2012 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.  Space is still available but seating is limited.  For registration information visit

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