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Monthly Archives: October 2011

This was actually up on the main site for a few weeks. Decided to feature the FFCC videos instead, so I moved this post here.

It has been said that “10,000 hours of deliberate practice is what makes you an expert”. While practice makes perfect an indiviuals expertise is based on the “nature and nurture” philosophy. What this is saying, some people have natural abilities while they need to nurture other skills. Both are common denominators in the Fire Service.

Firefighters must become proficient in many skills. These skills are natural to some while others will need to nurture these skills. In each case the deliberate practice may come in the form of repetition or deliberate practice. Examples are operating the apparatus. Behind the wheel time is needed for both natural operators and those that need to nurture that skill. The key difference is the naturally skilled operator needs to be cognitive that he still needs to reach that 10K hour mark to be an expert. Those 10k need to be deliberate. While the nurture style of learner will actually achieve that mark by ensuring they practice till perfect. This also takes the form of we “perform how we practice”. When we practice poorly or at a level less than we need to perform, we can only expect to achieve that level of result. Every skill set or ability in the Fire Service must be regarded in this way. Our performance is the sum of our desire, training and experience. The individual will control their desire. The team controls the training. We cannot control what experience we will receive because we do not get to choose what calls we respond to. The experience we can control is in the nature and nurture form. Natural skills must be regarded as if they need nurturing. Nurtured skills practiced till proficiency, and practiced at an expert level. The end factor is an improved performance.

The Fire Service must have indiviuals who will practice till perfect. When the time comes to use a particular skill the performer must get it right the first time, as if life depends on it, after all it does.

Head Down
No clock
Control your air
Head Down
Don’t turn back
Push Harder
The end is years away
Today is today
Head down
No Regrets
No Sacrifice
No Victory
Know Victory

So far the response has been good. It still has some polishing and getting the case studies in order. If your in the SW Michigan area and would like more info on delivering this presentation to your department, please contact me at

Thanks and keep your heads up…it all gets better!


Please read the post from 10/22/11 first “Facts over Fiction”. Part I of this post discussed information that is either misconstrued or falsified to push an agenda. Chapter II will break down why some of it is Fire Service error.

Do you use Firefighter Near Miss, National Fire Incident Reporting System or some other data collection service? If not, why? Without a collection of reports with the truth we are only setting each other up for failure.

One of the 16 FLSI (Everyone Goes Home) is to setup a National reporting system that all departments can use. This should be changed to Shall Use. Without proper data collection we will continue to make mistakes, have statistics that are flawed and ultimately have those who will make up their own numbers for the “agenda”. Professional sports keep ever single stat imaginable on the players. Why? THE TRUTH! Some get bonuses for hitting a goal or record, some have to maintain certain levels of play. Yet those who have lives in their hands worry more about counting ever alarm or service call to keep their run numbers high to show their worth. These same types will not take five minutes to fill out a near miss to show they made a mistake, why and how to prevent someone else from doing it. (The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation  and NFPA are the two main sources of information concerning Line Of Duty Death, the NFFF is where the Everyone Goes Home program comes from.)

We claim no two fires are the same. Since this is very true then no two errors or situations are the same. But wouldnt it help emmensly if someone reported what happened to them so you can learn from it? If you f-up, own it! If you get hurt, own it! Let others learn from your misfortune. Over six reports in the firefighter near miss database we entered by myself. One time I f-ed up, once I got hurt doing something preventable by command, a report was filed by me for someone else. Three were related to live trainings that didnt get anyone hurt but were close calls.

OK so I chastised some of you right? Well it’s not always the firefighters fault. Is department policy keeping you from telling your story? Do they not want anyone to know? Most systems are anonymous. Even NIOSH reports, which go through LODD’s with a fine tooth comb keep it clean, respectable and only report the findings. Those findings are only the truth or the facts, never hearsay.

When I’m out presenting my introduction to EGH, I have a slide with the following stats. “From the late “70s to the present the amount of fires we run is down 50%, with civilian fire death down 40%. Yet each year around 100 Firefighters loss their lives on duty.” The point is to show we don’t fight as much fire and the public is getting better. (Since the late 1970′s Fire Prevention has made a huge difference). If these stats are wrong please tell me. I got mine from the United States Fire Administration. I trust what they say. If they have it wrong it is because the Fire Service didn’t do their part to make the numbers accurate.

Now to heat up this conversation. Survivabilty Profiling. It is not new, to some it may be. I was fortunate to learn about within a year of finishing my inital Firefighting education. We were taught by doing a proper size up based on certain critical factors, you could charge your resources to the most critcal areas with the highest chance of viable life. Sounds like the top line of our mission statement “risk a lot to save a lot.” A lot meaning my life for a life, not a corpse. My idea with this paragraph  is not to discuss SP. The point I want to make is do we have empirical data to prove or disprove Survivabilty Profiling? Can we say that 9 of 10 times if fire is showing from a window the occupant is deseaced? What about 83% of the time a window has charring the victim inside it is alive but not alert? The answer is NO! We cannot have data like that because no situation is the same. But what we can do is report every single incident, every single injury, every single near miss. Their are some extremely smart people out there with amazing software and databases that can put it all together to make sense out of it. This can at least give us an idea of what is actually going on out there.

I get my facts from credible sources not Get your hands on the reporting systems that are legit. Help those that get all their “expertise” from the chat rooms by putting out REAL numbers. I bet those numbers show that most LODD’s come from over weight, outta shape, under trainied Firefighters who got themsleves into situations they were not able to handle

This morning I am working on research for my presentation “Smoke, Speed and Stress: Are killing American Firefighters”. I decided to break down the “each year an average of 100 Firefighters die in the line of duty” statement. To my surprise, well not really, the number of fatalities while performing the most dangerous aspect and most critical task on the fireground, search and rescue, only 3 Firefighters lost their lives. 87 men and women from the fire service lost their live in 2010, but only 3 of those were performing the highest risk, highest benefit maneuver. By no means is this statistic meant to demean the other 84 lodds, but it is meant to show that we are not losing Firefighters at a staggering rate doing high risk work. We are losing them because of inferior training, inferior fitness and poor leadership coupled with accountability.

Their are a lot of misconceptions these days regarding safety. A properly trained, prepared, fit Firefighter can engage in higher risk work; period. What is happening is rather than rising up to meet the challenges head on, somewhere someone has drawn a demarcation line in the sand. It’s come down to what we will do and what we won’t do. Risk life for life, risk little for property and risk nothing for nothing, I agree with that statement. Only those on that scene at that time can make those descisions. They must factor their staffing and the level of capabilitles.

One big myth, which was stated above, that we are killing firefighters all the time. This is simply not true. Very few LODDs occur while on scene performing fireground functions. To bust this myth even more, the largest population of the fire service community, the Rural Volunteer, has the highest number 39 of 87 lodd’s in 2010. Take this in consideration, these departments have small budgets, little to no training resources and are neighbors wanting to help neighbors. Their hearts are in the right places, but most have jobs and families with little time to spend at their departments doing training and learning 75 year old equipment.

As an Advocate for Everyone Goes Home I believe in the 16 FLSI and the program. What I do not believe in is filling the minds of the fire service with fiction to force an agenda, whether it’s political or personal. The program is really an amazing to tool for those small rural volunteer departments I mentioned.

Bottom line, and you can get more on this story as I finish my project, get out there and learn everything about this job. Pass it on too. Don’t just keep it to yourself. Respond the right way, wearing your seat belt and drive defensively. Above all EAT RIGHT AND BE PREPARED PHYSICLLY! No more damn excuses.

Please stop by and check out Firefighter Combat Challenge: A Fire Service Warriors Testing Ground. Make sure to post your comments.

Fear is a healthy and normal emotion. We have all felt fear at least one time in our lives. It could anxiety before we take a test or before a first date. It could also be so strong that is renders our bodies completely motionless.  A Fire Service Warrior understands fear, uses it and it makes him stronger. A man without fear is dangerous. Our business is to enter buildings that contain unrestrained fire and protect the lives of those who occupy them. From a very young age we were taught to fear fire. As we have matured we no longer fear unrestrained fire but we respect it. We know the devistating effects of fire and we use that fear/respect to control it.

Fear is a motivator. Two years ago I was performing a self rescue from an entanglement prop. I had run this scenario before and knew how to react and finish the evolution. The prop required me to lay as flat as I could but I could complete it without shifting or removing my pack. This time is was different. When I was about 3 feet from the end my helmet go snagged on one of the installed cables. Using my cutters was not an option, as it was really unnecessary. I backed up and tried to remove the cable, it was not successful and I become more entangled. My head was locked into position and I panicked. The scenario was stopped and I was freed. It took several weeks before I was able to do it again and even to this day those types of drills shake me up before I attempt it. Overconfidence and my lack of fear for the prop allowed me to get trapped and panic.

 The type of fear we must have is a healthy one. We cannot allow fear to prevent us performing our duties. A healthy fear is that gut feeling, that adrenaline dump and it can be used to our advantage. After my run in with the prop I now slow my breathing and get into a mindset of preparation. Talking to myself out loud as I move through the maze helps. The fear is still there but rather then telling me to flee it tells me to fight. It is a motivator.

Have you been on a scene with someone who does not fear or respect the fire? Have you seen them falter because of this? Do they get a head of themselves? Have they put themselves in a dangerous position? The fear is a precursor to what we know we may have to do or a place where we will have to be. Knowing that the next run could be the one, fear puts you in the gym or on the training ground.  Some may say those are requirements of the job. You have to be trained and prepped to do the job. Being a Fire Service Warrior is knowing that when it really hits the fan, fear is your Allie, you control it and are able to use it. Controlling your fear and using it to your advantage is what some would call Courage.

You can’t go anywhere these days without hearing discussion about the health of Firefighters. When the largest portion of Firefighter Fatalities is caused by cardiac disease of course it’s important to discuss. Firefighters at ALL levels must be in proper health.

In the UK 122 Firefighter Fatalities have occurred since 1978 (2008 latest report found) 82% were from fire ground duties. In the US we have seen 122 in a single year! 2003-2008 saw number close to their 30 year total! What are we doing so differently?

In the United States obesity and disease are at epidemic levels, this is nothing new. Where we are not linking it together with the LODD issue, is how our families and “off duty” time affect us. We simply need to make the healthy lifestyle a permanent change with our selves and those around us. The way we shop for food and how we cook can have a huge impact on our families health. If we involve our families in the healthy habits, our health will be a permanent change.

A few of the best ways to make positive change: Eat whole foods, fruits and vegetables in their natural state. Buy your meats from local farmers like grass fed beef and free range chicken. Both of those steps are best done by visiting your local farmers market. Not only do you get better food and support local economy you’ll leave a smaller footprint on the planet! Eliminate processed foods, if its in a box or has other ingridents don’t consume it. Finally if nothing else, only shop the the perimeter of the grocery store! If you’ve ever noticed the produce, meat and dairy usually make up the 3 outside walls of any properly laid out grocery store.

As an Advocate for Change in the American Fire Service I can preach all day long about why Firefighters die and how to fix it. YOU as the Firefighter need to make the decision to make the change. Theirs too many reason why we have to be in the best health, Ourselves, Our families and those YOU and I took an OATH to PROTECT!

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