Rhetorical Lesson No.7:What’s Your Point?

If your defense boils down to this, then what are your really trying to say?

“When in the course of debate over firefighting strategies, tactics and firefighter safety, as well as the induction of new theories to be considered, the support for your argument collapses into pitting your number of working fires and rescues against another’s, was your argument that valid at the start?”


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  • You guys are killing me. I know I read it a while back, but can’t remember where, and have been looking for it all morning. I’m gonna find it, though…

  • Bill Carey says:

    Three little letters…

    Bill Carey

  • I’ve been otherwise preoccupied for the past several days, but gave it another go this afternoon (and even cheated by consulting the good folks at Google). Unfortunately, this one still eludes me, much like 23-Down in today’s crossword.

    I’m pretty confident I know the topic it was used in discussing, but I can’t pin down the author. If I had to put money on it, I would go with my gut that it was an offering from Mr. Bailey. I thought I had read it (or something similar) in one of his posts regarding experience and/or expertise, but couldn’t find that particular quote.

    …maybe one more hint?

  • Bill Carey says:

    A debate on VSP had a ‘low-road’ comment by one of it’s most well known advocates. Joe Brown, a local firefighter and friend had written about VSP and similar subjects here, http://justlookingbusy.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/equations-or-effectiveness-have-we-become-so-smart-we%E2%80%99re-stupid-2/. After some time, he received the following comment from Steve Marsar,

    I am more than willing to defend both my firefighting experience and resume to you and I will do so over a couple of emails but first, I have five questions for you:

    1. How many years do YOU have in the fire service?
    2. How many Occupied Structural Fires have YOU been to in the last year (that is, fires that required the stretching and use of at least two handlines)?
    3. How many Line-Of-Duty funerals have YOU been to?
    4. How many firefighters that YOU worked with in your company or department have been killed in the Line-Of-Duty?
    5. Have YOU ever been the family liaison for a family who lost a father, mother, husband, wife, son, daughter, brother, or sister to a Line-Of-Duty Death?

    Once I know more about your “experience” beating up the red devil in your living room and pulling little babies from deaths grasp in defense of your neighbors life and property, I will attempt to use both my firefighting experience and resume to help provide education on concepts that WILL save firefighters lives and teach them how to fight fires from yes, the interior.

    Dave LeBlanc and I both commented that this was a cheap shot and wondered if it helps support the science behind the EFO research when one falls back to adolescent retorts.

    I was actually surprised it came to this.

    Bill Carey

  • Ahh…OK. I remember seeing Joe Brown’s post a while back, before the above comment/questions was/were added to the mix.

    I think it’s a little surprising as well, since most of the other interactions regarding this topic have been civil and constructive, overall. Most surprising to me, however, is that VSP seemed to be but one small footnote of Joe’s post, which focused on getting back to where we should be…prepared for duty, and holding ourselves accountable.

    Thanks for clearing up my otherwise cloudy head, and keep the good reads coming.

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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.”

FE Talk: Humpday Hangout

Ron Ayotte
What is Experience?
Excelent post. Evey day of duty and every run should be a learning experience. Far too many firefighters just look at the duty tour and incident as what I like to call "the shampoo mode"... wet hair, apply shapoo, lather, rinse and repeat".. Our version is put on the gear, get on the truck, go…
2014-10-31 14:23:15
Bill Carey
What is Experience?
You're correct Ed. What did we do with that experience? Did we take as many lessons from it as we could or did we simply file it away as a run in the logbook. Thank you, Bill
2014-10-30 12:55:18
What is Experience?
Excellent post. The same question may be framed for other than working on the nozzle (e.g., if delivering pump operator training). In addition, even if you went to a lot of fires on the nozzle or as the first in company officer, what did you do with that experience? Reflection and integration of the experience…
2014-10-30 12:37:50
Bill Carey
Wanted: Honest Discernment in Our Fire Service Discussions
Thank you Ed.
2014-10-22 14:26:50
Ed Hartin
Wanted: Honest Discernment in Our Fire Service Discussions
Excellent article Bill!
2014-10-14 12:47:14
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