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Monthly Archives: January 2013

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”  Words coined by someone long ago, noting that a single image can convey a complex idea. From the stories told by a Neanderthal through his simple etchings to our modern day capture of life, man has told his story through image. A moment in time or emotion of man has inspired, enraged, saddened and brought courage to those who see past the mere ink on paper (or pixels on screen).

What does any of this have to do with the fire service? Everything. Where ever you are your attention can be instantly transferred to another place or another time. A fire burns in Chicago as you watch in Dixon Wyoming. But your reality of the situation is skewed. Your mind can concentrate on the image not the sounds, the feel of the wind, the chaos of the fire ground and your elevated pulse rate fueled by adrenaline. Your attention placed on watching as others act, perform and make critical decisions. Their senses flooded, their bodies exhausted and emotions driving them. “Fight or Flight” is on the brink, which will they decide as you analyze and compare this image to what you would do in their situation. Time is on your side. Minutes, hours and days exist for you to react, then change your decision upon any new information you find. Those in the image, make a choice in a seconds time and must execute it right.

Use as LESSONS LEARNED, not to finger point.


There are positives to the influx of media we have available to us. We are not seeing the fire ground as those before us. We must use image and video to see how fire lives, breathes and moves. Imagine yourself on that scene making a split second decision then acting in a manner as if it was happening now.  Resisting the urge to cast stones without knowing all sides is difficult to do. As I recently fell prey to this very notion. Do not focus on what “they” do, focus on your response, your actions. Take these situations and build your personal slide show so when you are “that guy” you will have the advantage.

An image is worth a thousand words, those words can also be lies. Do we have the facts, do we know the situation? A photo can stir emotion and action. A video can be misguided as it is from a certain point of view.  Consider the following when reacting to an image or video.

  • Do not confuse peer pressure as conviction.
  • Do not mistake genius for lack of talent.
  • An image can be used to capture the moment or tell a lie.
  • Our senses react to time and space. Behind a keyboard is in a different space then the operation.
  • Absorb the intent of the captured image, why was this taken and what purpose does it serve.
  • Consider your reaction before reacting. What compels you to act?

Our time is unique, continue to capture our world. Be an artist, find emotion and the human spirit in life’s canvas. As a Fire Service Professional document what we do and why. Use our collection of imagery to empower our people to be at our best. Perhaps the next image you see will tell the story of a Firefighter and their courage, bravery, honor, pride and conviction to help fellow man. Decide to advocate for positive change, if the opposite is seized.

© 2013

You will read on this site in various posts about A Culture of Self Improvement. I believe very strongly in this concept and try to surround myslef with others that express these same traits. Most of you know that my time has been spent working on Fire Training Toolbox with John and Chris. Why? Two Firefighters that are living examples of the self improving culture.

Yesterday John posted on his blog a short read on a new type of interior stair. He was alerted to this by another Midwest Training Officer. John’s area of “interest” is building construction, more so green construction. When ever he can share vital information in this area he shares, even if it as simple as posting someone elses work.

Too many times we hoard “nuggets.” We want to have an edge on others, a wild card to use in situations. Sometimes it is okay to keep these bits to yourself, especially if you are an Instructor using your “treasure chest” of tricks in classes you teach. The end result should always end with you sharing. John shares because he wants every Firefighter to understand what they could face in new construction. Chris Sterricker shares so all may benefit from lessons that are taught everyday on the battlefield. I share to keep everyone in the game, till the final buzzer so we may celebrate our successes and passion together.

Today’s face paced, social media reliant world keeps us up to date by the second. Use these tools to learn, share and pass it on. The butt it might save, is your own.


For a few websites that understand the value of sharing information and improving ourselves daily visit.

Every lesson has purpose, smaller pieces to a greater puzzle.

Training is a collection of ideas passed on based upon one ideology, the greater good. On the training ground we speak in vowels, constanants and numbers. Taking these letters and numbers to the fire ground where sentences and paragraphs are created, forged by hour after hour of “learning the alphabet.” Firefighting is learning a second language, you know what you want to say, yet you cannot form all the words to convey your message. “It’s just a saw, it’s just a ladder.” No, these are not simple tools for simple work. These are givers of life, protectors of property. Broken translations can injure and maim, the training ground builds phrases and accents, so we may speak the language of fire eloquently. One must never utter “I did not know” as this does not translate to our cultures dialect. One may only speak “Now I know, I have learned” after their vocabulary has increased. Every lesson we learn, is a smaller piece to the greater puzzle – standard, successful operations.

Build character of those who wear the symbol.

Our time is better spent on preparing the person under the helmet rather than concerning ourselves with the brand, type, color and accessories of our helmet. The American Firefighters helmet is a symbol of pride not because of what it is, but because what it represents; Pride, Duty and Honor of those who wear them. Instill these values into all who enter our doors so that the emblem of our trade will go untarnished.

Seize every moment to prepare for fire, the tones is not the time to discover the lack thereof.

Over the past few years, this site has been a reflection and cerebration of my work in the fire service. Personal and professional change has been the catalyst for most of what has been logged within in this metaphoric journal. This website has been brought full circle in its six years of existence. In the spring of 2006 the domain name was purchased and the first few pages were created. This site was designed to be a way for me to share my passion for the the fire service, love for training and serve as an outlet to vent frustrations. My intent was not to cause trouble but to seek guidance of others from outside my own department, a coping mechanism if you will. Through the years drills, training philosophy, fitness regiments and safety best practices were all disseminated. As fire service blogging became more popular, the site would drift between commentary and training information. What was so profound about this new sharing avenue, was the sense of  support from the bloggers. Never and still it does not,  feel like a competition. Each one of us that are doing this for the right reasons support each other. Looking at the numbers, the dedicated readers are those fellow writers.

The last year was especially humbling. Meeting so many great firefighters and having the chance to share our passion with one another. One of the brightest moments in 2012 was starting Fire Training Toolbox with my very good friend and brother John Shafer ( FTT really became the website that Engine Company 22 was suppose to be. A resource dedicated to improving upon our trade through quality training and joint efforts from firefighters all over the world.

To ensure that Engine Company 22 stays true to the mission that we started almost seven years ago, I am taking a step back. The site was started to share my passion. That passion is for all aspects of the fire service. The training that I build will be over on Fire Training Toolbox. My passion, through the printed word will stay here on Engine Company 22 in a blog format. For those that have been a visitor of the site since the beginning, thank you for all your support and I sincerely hope that you have been able to share in my passion. At this time I should also apologize for making you watch as I cultivated the skills to write. From the first post to now, my abilities to turn a phrase has certainly improved. This is not through formal training but from attaining the proper methodologies to share my love for this profession (a thesaurus is your best friend). For those that have joined us along the way, thank you for coming with and please stick around as we look forward to bigger and better things.

From the tag-line of 2006 “Far Beyond Driven” to today’s “Keepers of the Faith” one thing has remained true, ENGINE COMPANY 22 - Thanks Chris Huston.

The mission since 2006 has remained the same.

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