Hello, and you are…?

“Please allow us to introduce ourselves”

It came upon us, or Dave more so, that we take a moment and introduce ourselves properly to our readers. It seems a bit odd since the site has been up for a considerable amount of time, but as we have mentioned before something in the internet is new to somebody now matter how long ago it was posted. So, without further ado, here we are.

Dave LeBlanc is a Lieutenant with the Harwich, Massachusetts Fire Department. Dave entered the Fire Service in 1986 as a Call Firefighter with the Dennis Fire Department. He worked full time during the summers in Dennis, while attending the University of New Haven in West Haven, Connecticut.

While at the University of New Haven, Dave studied Arson Investigation. He also was a volunteer with the Allingtown and West Haven Fire Districts in West Haven. He spent his sophomore year as a Live In student with the Allingtown Fire District. His education included internships with the Aetna Insurance Company and the Boston Fire Department Arson Squad.

In 1993 Dave went to work full-time with the Harwich Fire Department as a dispatcher. In 2000 he transferred into suppression and was promoted to Lieutenant in 2008. In addition to his regular duties, Dave also manages the Department’s Radio system, is responsible for conducting Fire Investigations, and assists in maintaining the computers systems.

Dave’s blog tends to focus on current day issues and maintaining a commitment to the ideals and principals that created the fire service, while keeping today’s firefighters safe.

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Bill Carey is the online public safety news and blog manager with GoForwardMedia.com, or more specifically FireRescue Magazine/FirefighterNation.com, JEMS.com, LawOfficer.com and FireEMSBlogs.com (just a few, or at least what I can mention right now). Bill started in the fire service, as a third generation firefighter in 1986, on the eastern shore of Maryland and then continued after moving to Prince George’s County. Bill served as a volunteer sergeant and lieutenant. It was at Hyattsville where he met Chris Hebert and Dave Ianonne, the creators of Firehouse.com. Bill went to work for them back in 2001 and after they transitioned away to new, bigger projects, he was hired by them again in 2009. Bill’s responsibilities are, well, a lot.

Bill’s writing has been on Firehouse.com (Strategy and Tactics as well as Firefighter Safety back then but who knows know since they changed the site), in Fire Engineering (it was a few Roundtable submissions, not a real article), and the Jones and Bartlett 2010 edition of “Fire Officer: Principles and Practice” (small, small, small part. Did I say small? Small). The Secret List even shared one of his scribblings, but he’s most proud of getting started by Bailey and Tinhelmet.com

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So there you have it, or at least some crumb of knowledge about us. Rather than go on about me, I’d like to tell you how this basically started and snowballed into what it is today. The inception began after realizing what I was thinking about certain fire service issues made sense with others. That and some of what I saw out there was, well, really weird so I figured I could speak up. The original site was Fire(fighter) Behavior, but when I was moving over to FireEMSBlogs, someone else had that name. (Turns out it was the same folks who put out that white paper on firefighters and behavior issues. How’s that working out by the way?) So, I came up with Backstep Firefighter and it stuck.

The principle behind my writing is continually summed up with this statement or purpose,

“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.”

Basically, it’s here to make you think. I personally don’t write to change your mind or your department, but to get you to think – or as Ed Hartin says “Ask ‘why not?'”. We’re not a news site, although we do use some news to help illustrate subjects or sharing of work in our areas (and Boston). Ideally, we try to focus on basics, not so much as training and skill basics, but ideological basics, core values of our fire service especially as time changes. That’s probably why “Backstep” stuck. It’s the folks on the backstep, figuratively, who are still having to stretch hoselines and throw ladders, day in and day out, despite all the hype and drama going on in the internet. So the writing is for them as well as the site. That’s how Dave LeBlanc got attached here. Part of my premise of writing and having a site was to also be a platform for others. There’s always a handful of like-minded firefighters and officers who want to step up and be heard, or simply bounce ideas off the public walls. Dave was one of them I knew through IACOJ, and fortunately for you and me he started writing and emailing me articles and now he has an impressive following. I travel occasionally with what I do for work and wherever I go, when someone finds out I’m the gut behind Backstep, the next question is “Is Dave LeBlanc here too?” That’s cool, because it shows how the written word resonates with individuals and can be affirming to each other.

As time moved on, I’ve been able to pass along some of Gabe Angemi’s writings as well as Brian Brush’s. There are some other folks as well out there who have reached out to us about the chance to write. We are picky though. We”re not looking to recreate websites or launch some kind of ‘point Oh’ platform. We’re simply a vessel for sensible thought – combined with education – in a sometimes maddening fire service.

While Dave’s writing will look at our service commitments and current issues, he’ll also delve into training and the suburban environment. Be sure to take in his show on FirefighterNetcast as well. I’ll begin focusing in August on the firefighter mentality as well as the decision making process and communication, but in ways and words that aren’t above your head (I’m too cerebral at times, I’m told). I’ll also be looking at various line of duty death reports and close call reports in that same subject matter. We’ll also provide you the occasional training prompt and commentary along the way.

Thanks to those of you who have known us since the beginning and hello to you who just started reading. Spread the word, not for our benefit, but to get other firefighters and officers thinking, critically.

Bill and Dave

Dave’s the one with the mustache.

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1 Comment

  • Dave L says:

    Hey Dave,

    Did you work with Wes Dazuta while in Dennis? He is good friend and started in my fire company, M.P. Rice Hose Co.2, in Branford, CT years ago. Do they still have call ff’s in Dennis?

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