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engine company cover

“The Engine Company”
John Salka, Fire Engineering Books and Videos

Probably the most comprehensive book about the work of the engine company that isn’t a bland textbook. Yes, it is by a FDNY battalion chief, but the message is universal. Buy one and take it to your neighborhood book group; thrill them with your knowledge of the Control firefighter position and steer the conversation away from health care reform and U.S./North Korea relations.  Continue reading


Highlighting the Day In, Day Out

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There can be no substitute for overwhelming force

In the past months the nation has seen firefighters and other first responders face complex and difficult times. On the world stage we have viewed the inner department difficulties of a wide range from firefighters charged for committing criminal acts to firefighters justifying their right to a credibly earned promotion. Coupled with these we also see the constant difficulties that fire departments across the country are facing with budgets. No longer a sacred cow, fire departments have had to increasingly justify their financial existence against over-crowded schools, crime prevention and libraries. The budget cleaver has hit two of the most well known departments in the country; FDNY and LAFD.  If there ever was a small town mayor that feared cutting his fire department’s budget, he has nothing to fear now as two of the largest cities in the nation have begun using words like ‘brownout’ and ‘closing’. The mantra of doing more with less has become a universal public administration policy. Continue reading

August Training Prompt

Every other month Backstep Firefighter will post a training or discussion prompt on a various subject. Rather than be instructional the purpose is to have readers reflect on new subjects or brush up on old ones. The prompt can also serve to have members discuss why it is their department does things the way it does. It is not meant to change minds or tactics but to encourage thought. If there is something you believe should be addressed in greater detail, then speak up,

This month the prompt is about some of the tasks that should be done before you ride.

Click here, “Start of the Shift

2009 LODD 6-Month Summary – Final

In 2009, from January to June, 53 persons died in the line of duty. The cause and nature of their deaths varies and is representative of the many different fire department personnel across the country. The nature of their work at time of death ranges from removing an occupant from a window of the fire building to a surgical complication following a work related injury. Their ages, 18 to 77, also represent the wide spectrum of men and women in firehouses across the country. In some ways, their deaths were felt by many; in others only the local community shared the loss. Regardless of categories and investigative reports yet released, each died doing what they enjoyed. Continue reading

August 2009

nozzleThe next to last article about the first half of this year’s LODDs is posted. One thing that was immediately interesting is that the notion that young firefighters racing up to the station will die in POV accidents is not a large fact. Of all of the “Collision” deaths, only one of the six was an 18 year old, operating without a seatbelt. More articles and information will be coming soon. FFBehavior will stay up until August and then everything will be on the new blog and site, Change your links or favorites or whatever it is you do to stay in touch.

On 31 July two firefighters in the Bronx were momentarily trapped on the floor above the fire floor. Working to open up the cockloft, fire had extended up two floors. A strong push by the engine companies knocked it back and allowed for the trapped members to be removed. When having to go above the fire floor be sure to montior your radio for changes in fire conditions and if the engine companies are having a hard time; always be thinking of what your area of refuge might be. This fire should remind us all of another similar fire in the Bronx where members where trapped on the floor above. More on this, and whether or not the Prince George’s County (MD) fire department should have a beer diplomacy meeting, later.

Enjoy and feel free to contribute.

To provide a point of critical thought about certain acts and events in the fire service while incorporating behavioral education and commentary in a referenced format.

2009 LODD; Medical, Response

From January to June 2009 the following line of duty deaths are categorized by medical cause, nature and response. When comparing this data with the earlier articles, readers will see an overlap in the listing of fatalities related to apparatus response. For the purpose of viewing both fireground specific fatalities and those of traumatic nature, these deaths are in each article. The purpose is not necessarily to recalculate the number of line of duty deaths specifically, but to look at them in a great detail, prior to recalculating.
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