Know What You Can Handle— And What You Cannot

This account is provided by a reader. Chief Goldfeder's comments follow. I am a chief officer of our volunteer fire company and I am approaching two decades as a firefighter. I also have served more than a decade as a career firefighter/paramedic...


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Take time now to take a hard look at your department before the emergency and predict what may go wrong before and during a run. Once you have established that "list," determine what actions can be taken to minimize the problem, including realistic training, new policies and guidelines, or even some radical policy changes. The entire purpose of this column is to help you predict what may go wrong at your call, based on examples of when it did go wrong at someone else's expense.

We have been asking readers to share their accounts of incidents in which firefighters found themselves in dangerous or life-threatening situations, with the intention of sharing the information and learning from one another to reduce injuries and deaths. These accounts, in the firefighters' own words, can help others avoid similar "close calls." We thank those firefighters who are willing to share their stories. We invite readers to share their experiences. We will not identify any individuals, departments or communities. Our only intention is to provide educational information and prevent future tragedies.

We thank Contributing Editor William Goldfeder for compiling these reports. You may send your reports to Chief Goldfeder at chgold151@aol.com.


William Goldfeder, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a 30-year veteran of the fire service. He is a battalion chief with the Loveland-Symmes Fire Department in Ohio, an ISO Class 2 and CAAS-accredited department. Goldfeder has been a chief fire officer since 1982 and has served on numerous IAFC and NFPA committees, recently completing his sixth year as a commissioner with the Commission on Fire Accreditation International. He is a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy and is an active writer, speaker and instructor on fire service operational issues.