Don't Let the People In Your Wallet Read This

This month, we have a unique first-hand view at a horribly tragic line-of-duty death; not a close call , but a death . And since the circumstances of every firefighter fatality have, at some point, been replicated as close calls, we believe that you...


To access the remainder of this piece of premium content, you must be registered with Firehouse. Already have an account? Login

Register in seconds by connecting with your preferred Social Network.

OR

Complete the registration form.

Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required

This month, we have a unique first-hand view at a horribly tragic line-of-duty death; not a close call, but a death. And since the circumstances of every firefighter fatality have, at some point, been replicated as close calls, we believe that you will find this month's story of interest as it presents a different and specific view. This month's column is in memory of Firefighter Dennise Leslie and is the story of how she was killed in the line of duty.

Please stick with me and don't wander off; it will be worth your time. It may also help you get another "brother or sister" to get it. And as far as your family, if they read this, they will know more about what we do right -- and not always right -- and your son, daughter, mom, dad, wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend or whoever "is in your wallet" will probably nag you even more. They will nag you even more about driving carefully, slowing down, running red lights and stop signs only when it is fully clear, wearing all of your protective clothing and other nagging related to not getting yourself killed unnecessarily.

So often as firefighters we don't give much thought to ourselves or how our actions will impact us as individuals. That's probably due to some psychological issue that makes us firefighters. It's the "good qualify" of each of you that makes you put danger aside in order to help someone else. And that's a good thing. Almost always. But not always. Sometimes, we go out of our way to help others and we don't think about the consequences of our actions or how it may negatively impact us. Sometimes, it is heroic and necessary. Sometimes it is unnecessary. The line is between us taken actions that probably will matter vs. us taking actions on what probably will not matter.

For a quick example, let's just say that you arrive at a fully involved (fully involved means fire everywhere, otherwise it is not fully involved) dwelling fire. No matter how bad you may feel or how angry you may get, when the chief says you and your crew are not going in -- you are not going in. No vote. No opinion from you needed. This will be an exterior operation. Going into that building would be an action that will not matter -- and will place you very high on the "very stupid actions" meter. Actually, the needle on that meter just fell off.

On the other hand, if you and your crew arrive at a working fire in that same dwelling with some fire and lots of smoke, a "working fire", with indications of persons possibly being inside (time of day, cars in driveway, garage or some even more obvious indicators such as someone telling you people are trapped), the chief will probably be ordering you and your crew in to that building to vent, search, attack, rescue etc. Taking those actions probably will matter. Or at least you had decent information that the incident commander felt it was worth your life being risked.

We are in a risky business and we will never eliminate all the risk. But there are some things we can be doing differently to lower the risk. The two top ways we die in the line of duty are heart attack/stroke and that is followed by vehicle-related incidents such as crashes involving apparatus or personal vehicles. And the vehicle issue is what we'll cover this month.

I want to introduce you (in this column) to Assistant Chief Robert Leslie of the Coal City, IN, Fire Department:

Dear Firehouse® Magazine Close Calls readers: I am Robert Leslie and I am a volunteer firefighter. I am writing this story to let the whole fire community know just how your life can change at a drop of a hat, whether you think it will or not.

I have had a great marriage to my wife Dennise for 10½ years and would not trade it for anything in the world. I have two stepsons that I call my own. One is 21 and married and the other is just now 15 and living with me.

This content continues onto the next page...