Near Hits and Direct Hits - Lessons Learned

The goal of this column will be to have you ?log off? with being more knowledgeable and more importantly, thinking about your role and your department?s responsibility in getting everyone home ALIVE.


Chief Goldfeder will provide his opinions in "Near Hits and Direct Hits, Lessons Learned" on a monthly basis. The goal of each column will be to provide you with quick, simple and easy to understand information of what happened at a specific incident and what you can do to minimize the risks. Readers are encouraged to share related information with others through Chief Goldfeder's column. Please e-mail him directly at in confidence.

Another couple of "normal" months in our fire world, right? Sometimes don't you feel like saying, "what the hell is going on?" I know I do, and that feeling never seems to go away. Unfortunately, when I usually find out the answers, I find out that the lessons learned are nothing new, but the same old song. Maybe here in Firehouse.com we can help minimize the opportunity for "bad stuff" to happen to your fire department, or you, by taking a close look at some of the issues in a "dead serious" straight forward atmosphere.

While the civilian population of this country continues to recover and move on since 9/11, and as the American flags continue to disappear, we continue to do our jobs. As I read about civilians becoming "tired" of the constant reminder of the past year's murders, firefighters continue to make sure that no one forgets. As Far as I'm concerned, spend time everyday and take every opportunity to make sure they remember. I don't care how painful or annoying it may be to some civilians - they need to ALWAYS REMEMBER.

Actually, it's the ones who are trying to put it in their past that I respectfully want to never forget. Life isn't that simple and we are not back to "normal" and I doubt we'll see "normal", whatever it is, anytime soon. "Normal" may need to be redefined. Be it the murders of our 343 brothers in the FDNY, the 3 brothers in Keokuk, the 3 brothers in Worcester, the 3 FDNY brothers lost on Father's Day, the 2 brothers in St. Louis, or any of the ones you have read about or may have personally known. "Normal" clearly includes death.

Until 9/11, so many civilians seemed to be oblivious to what firefighters do. Following 9/11, as horrible as it seems, the deaths of the 343 brothers in the FDNY nationally brought to light what it is that firefighters do. In 2003, I will have been a firefighter for quite awhile, and like you I have heard the suggestions, ideas, innovations, but I will continue to maintain that most of it comes down to a SERIOUS commitment by ALL, towards safety, aggressive training, experience and competent fire ground leadership This includes, and is not limited to, radios that work, enough people to get the basics done, as well as bosses, budget analysts, and politicians that genuinely give a damn and understand what we do.

Bad stuff happens in our business and we'll be talking about it as we continue each month within the MembersZone. We'll do it in a factual, respectful way, but always with our opinions on the focus of "what can we do to avoid this" without a lot of political correctness.

Right now though, lets just look back over the many years that have passed. As we read about the horrible deaths of St. Louis firefighters Derek Martin and Rob Morrison, we remember the Father's day fire in New York, the six killed in Worcester, the three in Keokuk, the firefighter in Phoenix, and the two from Manlius, NY. We remember the brothers killed in the Texas church fire, the two in Ashton, IL, and the FDNY-EMT killed by a drunk driver. We also remember the Roslyn, NY Captain killed by a drunk driver, the Roswell, NM Chief and Medic, the Miami Twp., Ohio firefighter, the Detroit firefighter and on and on and on. It never seems to stop. What about the accident that killed an off-duty EMT by another responding EMT, and left two neighboring companies in long term pain? And then there is the 14 year-old junior firefighter, responding on his bicycle to a reported fire, is struck by a teenage driver, and dies from his injuries.

This content continues onto the next page...