Of Falsehoods and Agendas

 

Challenge what you read.    Dave LeBlanc

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Editor’s Note: The Facebook page below has corrected their post and attribute the error to incorrect second-hand information. The fire department PIO reported that there was no bailout and no firefighter injuries.

Every day there is discussion about the “new” tactics and how we should be embracing change and improving our understanding.   Every day someone tells us to stop complaining, that we are dinosaurs and unwilling to accept how different today’s fires are and how our tactics are out of date. When we push back we are stuck in our ways, unwilling to accept how dangerous our job has become.

Let me explain where our “resistance” comes from. It comes from the constant barrage of misinformation as posted below. It comes from people advocating for transitional attack, telling us it is an option, then posting statements like “…it is about ‘hit it hard from the yard’ at every fire.” That is not made up, but a description used by the ISFSI and some guy named Eddie.

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It is about posts like the one pictured above. “Flashover forces bailout”, yet neither was mentioned by the PIO in the original post. Just another example of making the incident fit the cause, to advance an agenda. When pressed, the conversation often results in both sides not being that far apart.  If unchallenged statements like the above exist forever and many firefighters will never know the difference.

No fireman I have ever met, or discussed this profession with, has ever had a death wish. All acknowledge we need to be as safe as we can, while staying committed to the mission. That mission is lives and property. If you can’t accept that, then go find another job. It was on the brochure when you signed up and it is what we are supposed to be doing. Yes there is risk involved, but the risk should always match the benefit of the action taken. Your safety is not my safety. Your fire department is not my fire department. Stop telling me I have to do something. Stop telling I am wrong for thinking and acting a certain way. Somewhere along the line the UL/NIST research results have been twisted into a message of safety above all else. Quite frankly that leads to more risk not less.   If you go out the door with the mindset that you will die on every run, you really will never be capable of doing your job effectively.

“Being tentative makes Johnny a poor fireman ultimately less safe.”

 

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LeBlancProfilePhotoDave LeBlanc is a Captain 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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17 Comments

  • Andrew Zysk says:

    Spot on brother. I have never had a death wish nor will I. However, I will always believe in sound, aggressive tactics and placing civilians first.

  • Ric Jorge says:

    I find that sometimes a simple stfu dumbass goes a long way … great article Dave.

  • I agree with everything you’ve written here except your conclusion that the NIST/UL research has been misconstrued as “safety above all.” In my reading the studies are the savior of interior attack against those who would have us stand in the yard at every fire because it’s just too risky to go in. Listening to Steve Kerber and Dan Madrzykowski it’s clear that interior attack is not only still feasible but its inherent risks can be mitigated. We finally have the scientific (read: progressive) basis for reasserting the ability to operate in the fire compartment. If we have to knock it for ten seconds through the window before we go in that’s fine. The point is we now have a strong and evidence-based case for not ceding the fire compartment and adjacent parts of the structure. There are a lot of things there we already knew but forgot- attack with the wind at your back- and things that the Europeans who do make interior attacks (not all of them are the UK) have done for decade!
    s- close doors and control flow paths. What’s new is we can now argue, in their own terms, against the zero-risk crowd and, most important, we now actually can reduce injury and fatality rates associated with sudden fire events inside structures.

    The bigger problem, in my view, is so-called survivability profiling, wherein we assume people are dead because it’s overly hot or smokey in one compartment of the structure.

  • Dave LeBlanc says:

    True Ric, you are a much better wordsmith than I am…

  • Dave LeBlanc says:

    Patrick,

    I agree with your assessment of the UL Message. My issue is with them as much as it is with others that twist the message to suit their own purpose/agenda.

    When challenged they often waffle and end of changing their original position or modifying their statement.

    And bing-freakin-o on VSP. ….

  • Ron Ayotte says:

    Our “brothers” that twist the facts to fit their agenda remind me of good old “Baghdad Bob”, Saddam Hussein’s Minister of Propaganda during Operation Desert Storm. Their equivalent of “there are no American forces in Baghdad” while the M1A Abrams tanks are rolling in the background are the Brothers attacking the fire and making progress while they say “it is too dangerous to go in there, we might get hurt and we come first”.

  • Andy says:

    Brother Dave,

    Your articles are always insightful and passionately to the point. I hope you know by our discussions that many of “those guys” who do research are not preaching absolutes or safety above all else. My concern with many of these discussions is that we listen to someone who has significantly altered the original work or who has never read or more importantly witnessed these research burns for themselves. I would strongly encourage anyone who is feeling that they are being treated as dinosaurs to merely ignore those comments but go to the source of the information itself. I greatly respect you our brothers in the fire service and it saddens me taht certain individuals have chosen to talk down to people just to promote their agenda. I know that you and many others value our craft as I do which is why we passionately defend it. But let’s address the issues rather than assanitate one another. I hope that one day I can attend training under your guidance and perhaps one day you can attend one of our burns. Then we can have a beer and discuss things clearly and enhance our firefighting and not criticize it.

    • Dave LeBlanc says:

      Andy,

      Nothing but respect brother, but the talking down is only part of the problem. The flat out misinforming, misrepresentation, and insistence that the new is really new…..coupled with the all or never message…that is the bigger problem.

      I don’t let the “words” bother me, I know how I will do my job. I know the victims come first, and I accept the risk with fighting fire. What bothers me is there are others that are not as comfortable with the knowledge or situation, or have not yet had a chance to learn. And they are being led/swayed/misinformed…

      We owe it to everyone to get the right message out there, not the one that fits “our” vision of the job.

  • Dave LeBlanc says:

    Andy,

    Nothing but respect brother, but the talking down is only part of the problem. The flat out misinforming, misrepresentation, and insistence that the new is really new…..coupled with the all or never message…that is the bigger problem.

    I don’t let the “words” bother me, I know how I will do my job. I know the victims come first, and I accept the risk with fighting fire. What bothers me is there are others that are not as comfortable with the knowledge or situation, or have not yet had a chance to learn. And they are being led/swayed/misinformed…

    We owe it to everyone to get the right message out there, not the one that fits “our” vision of the job.

  • Larry says:

    wow. I’m truly saddened by this turn of events. A misrepresentation is just that. The moderator of that site retracted it and apologized for not verifying the source. That being said, I would also state that I’m pretty sure we all have made mistakes. But to intentionally misinterpret the message of UL/NIST and the blog in question as attempting to further a agenda? These guys are OUR BROTHERS!!! Correct the mistake. Share an opinion. But to sharpshooter because you do it a certain way? The same is often said about those of you that still have the caveman mindset. The technology and science behind these studies is solid. The science doesn’t lie. The tried and true methods that some of you still employ will work a good percentage of the time. I think the initial message from UL in their presentation is “that if you hear never go inside or always hit it from outside, then you aren’t getting the message” speaks volumes. I think of myself as fairly intelligent. I think a good percentage of the fire service is pretty intelligent. That being said, then why is it that the intelligent can not or will not embrace new findings and seek to employ new tactics that improve safety for both firefighters and civilians? Why do resistant? Please tell me that the same folks gripping about UL/NIST or Flow Path Management aren’t the same dinosaurs that don’t want to do EMS runs. Get with the program. Or, if your too old to change or too stubborn to embrace a different mindset based off solid scientific evidence, retire. Before you get one of our brothers/sisters or yourselves killed. Life hazard? I get it. No life hazard? Should any of us die for property? Come on. This whole thing make the American fire service sound like we can’t even articulate our own tactics to each other for educational purposes without sharpshooting. Whatever just agreeing to disagree? Especially in the age of social media. This crap you put on here about other people’s efforts to evolve can be seen around the world.

    Just my two cents. BROTHERS?

  • John says:

    To me the new information is another tool in our toolbox. Those saying “all or nothing” are not using the information correctly. Is it all “new information”? Definitely not, but much of it is presented in a new way that can help us be safer as we take the risks we have “signed on” for. Those refusing to believe the recent studies are helpful, are as guilty as those who believe the studies say that we no longer take risks to save lives and property. Our job is too difficult to not use every tool in our toolbox.

  • Steve Pegram says:

    I am guessing when you say “Eddie” your talking about Chief Eddie Buchanan? who along with the members of his fire department came up with the original SLICE RS concept, however what Chief Buchanan has said about the topic was never hit it hard from the yard, he actually dislikes that term and has addressed it in one of his recent articles that dismays a lot of the falsehoods about the science as well as SLICE RS, here is Eddie’s direct quote
    “Hit it hard from the yard:
    I’m not a fan of this phrase and I don’t know where it started. It is in no way associated with SLICE-RS, but somehow it seems to get stuck on it. We encourage officers to use size information to make an educated decision on the best method to control the fire. The decision is dependent on a variety of factors. I’m my view, this phrase is a social media phenomenon and has no real tactical value.”

    Chief Buchanan goes on to say

    “That said, there are many misconceptions out there about SLICE-RS. I tend to attribute this to the “sound bite training” common in social media. People take a sentence out of context and then run with it. So let me address a few of the common misconceptions.

    SLICE-RS abandons the victims.
    This is just simply inaccurate. Life safety remains our highest priority. SLICE-RS takes a realistic approach to managing the problem, particularly with limited staffing. We have proven this on paper, in training and on the fireground. To say anything else is simply misinformed. SLICE-RS addresses rescue in a logical and real world manner.

    SLICE-RS chiefs never let anyone go inside.
    False. In fact, I believe this is a great myth in the fire service. I hear the naysayers make this reference, but I have yet to find this chief in real life. I’ll continue to look for this chief, but I suspect he’s hanging out with Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. I believe it’s a distraction used by those who are uncomfortable with change.

    SLICE-RS won’t work on every fire.
    Yes it will. We created it do exactly that. Which fire will you not use those steps? SLICE-RS was a method created to help us develop a mindset that incorporates the fire dynamic lessons from the research into the actions of the first due engine company. Just as its partner RECEO- VS worked consistently (our Incident Commanders still use RECEO-VS to guide their command priorities), so does SLICE-RS.

    There is a lot more to this and all the other issues and discussions going on about tactics, training and the new and not so new science, the good news is we are all reading, learning and hopefully will apply something to how we operate, and hopefully it is an improvement to how we have thought, trained and or operated in the past.

  • Bob Davis says:

    I am not sure how to take this article or some of the comments after. As one of the training officers in my mid-sized volunteer department, I have gone through SLICERS and RECEO-VS both the discussions and the science behind them. While I can’t say I have seen everything about this, all I have ever taken away from the discussions is information! We have had several discussions, with members of varying age and experience, at drills about these “new” views and they have been just that …. discussions as to the merits / drawbacks of various tactics and the validity of the science presented. It has never gotten ugly or accusatory because we are all brothers.

    The other thing of note is that I have not seen absolutes presented either. Nobody has ever said that one way is always right or that another way is always wrong. As was pointed out earlier, we are fairly intelligent in the fire service and, depending on levels of experience, can make proper reasonable decisions on a job by job basis.

    Maybe it is just me but I look at all information as good information. I love varied opinions because they encourage discussion ( note, I did not say arguments, name calling or bashing ). Discussion leads to practice. Practice leads to trial and error and eventually better training. Take the new ideas and suggested tactics for what they are ….. ideas and suggestions! Nobody has given any of them to me on stone tablets so I have not taken any of them to be commandments.

  • Bill Carey says:

    Editor’s Note: Dave LeBlanc will replay to your comments soon, but he is currently recuperating from a surgery and is unable to type well at the moment. Thank you.

  • Dave LeBlanc says:

    first of all, thank for the responses and interest. I apologize for the delay. Discussion is good….

    While I took a shot at “some guy named Eddie’ it was a tongue in cheek response to a similar shot taken by the Chief in response to one of my blogs. While the article was less about him, it is important to note that “hard from the yard” is directly attributed to the Chief on multiple websites and program announcements. I have said before, and will again, the delivery of the message has been flawed at times and that isn’t just because of resistance to change. And those that attribute the misunderstanding to that are just as guilty as those saying “we can’t go in fires anymore.”

    The real point lost in this article is the deliberate, and inadvertent “spin” put out regarding some incidents, to make it agree with their “idea” of modern fire attack. There have been multiple case of the use of photos without credit, posting pictures of something that is not transitional and then calling it that, posting old videos and attributing new ideals to it. This creates the confusion, many can’t digest the raw data and seek other sources. When these other sources are inaccurate, who are we serving then?

    Finally my own personal agenda, that has been called into question, is to do my job (protecting life and property) to the best of my abilities. It involves risk, vigilance, and hard work. It doesn’t involve changing my order of priorities….the victims come first.

  • Michael Furci says:

    Having watched numerous videos, and read the UL research, using SLICERS as another tool to be used sparingly is all that one should conclude. Great! the temperatures from the floor to the ceiling go down. Wonderful! But what all these “SLICER” advocates fail to talk about, which I believe is due to a lack of experience actually being inside fighting fire or search and rescue, is the hazardous atmosphere, hitting a fire creates. Victims rarely die from burning. They die from smoke inhalation. Whether smoke is 50 degrees or 1000 degrees, it will kill you.

    Many times I’ve been in the hall way, or in adjacent rooms searching while the engine crew hits the fire room, and have been enveloped by black smoke. With SLICERS those areas are enveloped before a fireman even gets in the door. I, like many fireman, have been crawling with smoke banked down with almost 100% visibility just a foot off the floor performing quick searches, while the engine crew heads to the fire. Visibility a foot off the floor won’t be possible with SLICERS. I’ve closed the door to fully involved fire rooms helping contain the fire and slowing the flow of smoke to other parts of the structure. Not possible with SLICERS. All these scenarios decrease victim’s ability to survive.

    Smoke production resulting from hitting a fire is an inescapable consequence. SLICERS which slows the fire down, not putting it out, magnifies this negative consequence, and delays coordinated firefighting efforts.

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