March At Backstep Firefighter

A monthly review of our popular postings.








March went quite well as far as feedback and sharing of certain posts and we thank you for that. Dave LeBlanc started the month with a thought provoking piece titled “But We Train All The Time”. Dave asks if the reason for why some firefighters are getting into trouble is their fault or the fault of their training. “How often, during training, does a firefighter experience an equipment malfunction and just stand up and walk out?” It’s a valid question and refers to a Maryland fire department report where a firefighter was seriously burned. If the fundamental basics are not properly integrated with antagonistic scenarios, then the individual firefighter’s default may well get him or her killed.

Dave wrapped up March with “Courage and Valor…Understated”. In this post he expounds on the acts of the 2011 Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award while debating the “concept” that is Victim Survivability Profiling. When dealing with new fireground strategies, especially those pertaining to our safety and the primary search, we must encourage healthy debate in order to satisfy all the hypotheses. The fire in Brooklyn is one of many examples reinforcing that despite the best intentions of various guiding principles, the variables in an obvious or known rescue are far too many.

I provided an update to one of the few fire service figures I regularly read, Charles Bailey of Tinhelmet.com. In “Bailey and the Tinhelmet Evolution” I share that Charles has updated his old site with a new one, Firechat, Fire Discussion Forum. Charles once again keeps me mentally engaged as well as reminding of purpose by posting questions that, honestly, I cannot answer. At least not in one full, uninterrupted day. If you believe you, your officers and your chief have all the answers, then take a look at some of Bailey’s posts.

Like this month’s “cover”? It belongs to Ray Pfiefer of the FDNY. Ray has been gracious enough to share his photos from work and so we begin with “Caveman Paintings”. “Caveman” comes from Ray’s quarters, the home of Engine Company 40 and Tower Ladder Company 35. You’ll see more of Ray’s photographic talent here at Backstep from time to time.

“Safety is Relative” is a rambling of thoughts I’ve had in my mind for quite some time. They finally liked up one week while I was under the weather and looking at the upcoming riding season. I’m very active in a therapeutic riding program here near D.C. where safety is relative to the disability and experience of the rider. It seems like that should apply to firefighters as well, the experience at least, or maybe include the disability or rather the deficiency in training.
Maybe.

Speaking of training, “The Mule Kick” is an out loud thought that came from a Chicago fire video. It’s a simple question about whether or not some of our impulsive actions cause a regression of better, learned techniques. I’m not totally against kicking a door unless, like most of the readers who commented, I have a bar in my hands.

Bill Noonan, the legendary Boston Fire Department photographer retired at the end of March. Well known for capturing jakes on film and in his books, we wish him all the best.

Speaking of photographers, here’s our March features from Fire In The Hole Photography.
Click on the image to see more of each incident. Enjoy!

Billy Adkins, Structure Fire, Salisbury, MD

JR Adkins, Emergency Medevac Landing, Mardela, MD

Dwayne Chaffinch, Structure Fire, Laurel, DE

Billy Adkins, House Fire, Parsonsburg, MD

Bruce Secrist, 2-Alarm House Fire, Preston, MD




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Backstep Firefighter

“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.”
Comments
John Pignataro
Women and Children First by Dave LeBlanc
Bravo sir ...This battle began in the early 1990's having been a career DC Fireman for 30 yrs and a still active volunteer fireman for 37 the mentality has changed since 1977. Your article is clear and to the point but I am afraid the fire service maybe lost to the folks who preach the…
2014-08-23 01:12:28
Ben Waller
Women and Children First by Dave LeBlanc
Actually, the "Women and children first" idea cane from the sinking if the HMS Birkenhead. Now known as "The Birkenhead Drill", this stemmed from the ship beginning to sink, an inadequate number of lifeboats, and the Royal Marines and soldiers on board being called to formation and standing in ranks while the ships crew put…
2014-08-21 11:25:14
Ron Ayotte
Women and Children First by Dave LeBlanc
Bing-freaking-o!
2014-08-21 02:49:30
Brian Gary
Women and Children First by Dave LeBlanc
Very well written. I couldn't agree more with your statements. The problems are many, but they perpetuate and increase with every new class of recruits that are poisoned with the idea that anyone who feels unsafe has a responsibility to act and stop whatever is going on. When I came on, my instructors told me…
2014-08-21 02:04:23
Ric Jorge
Women and Children First by Dave LeBlanc
Atta boy David, customer service or customer satisfaction? The line is fine, and more often than not we can accomplish both with action, and a kind demeanor.
2014-08-21 01:41:12
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