Editorial: Proud to Do Our Job

This month, we are privileged to honor the Bravest of the Brave. We salute the honorees and all those nominated for recognition in the Firehouse® Magazine Heroism and Community Service Awards program. We would like to thank the sponsors of the program: V.H. Blackinton & Co. Inc, The Charles Evans Foundation, E-One and the Firehouse® subscribers who contribute to our heroism fund with their subscription renewals. Without their support, we would not be able to present this program every year. We also want to thank the judges, Deputy Chief (ret.) Mike Smith of District of Columbia Fire & Rescue, Battalion Chief Robert Cobb of the Jersey City, NJ, Fire Department and Deputy Chief Billy Goldfeder of the Loveland-Symmes Fire Department in Ohio. A special thank you goes to the program’s coordinator, Contributing Editor Paul Hashagen of FDNY Rescue 1 (ret.). This year, for the first time, the program application forms were available on Firehouse.com. The response was one of the best we have ever had. You can go online to Firehouse.com to download your forms.

This year’s honorees had to endure many varied incidents, not just fires: life-saving rope rescues, fires where occupants or firefighters were trapped under life-threatening conditions, a train incident, a water rescue in 15- to 20-foot seas and high winds, a confined-space incident and two incidents where the firefighters were off duty. In the unit-citation category the incidents included a collapse after a tornado, a house fire during a hurricane, flooding during a tropical storm, water rescues, people trapped in sink holes, a cliff rescue and the aftermath of a grain elevator explosion. As we have said before, we just don’t do fires anymore.

Because this is the heroism issue, we present several rescue-related stories. Captain Mike Lombardo of Buffalo Rescue 1 describes an incident at which his unit was called to assist Canadian firefighters. The company was requested to assist in the rescue of a person trapped in the hold of a ship. Our cover story this month describes the massive mudslide in Ventura County, CA, and the multi-agency rescue and recovery effort that followed. This incident occurred just before our recent Firehouse World show in San Diego. We were fortunate that several members of the Ventura County Fire Department were able to prepare a presentation in time to present a class during the conference.

Several articles intended to keep firefighters safe are included this month. An in-depth look at all the complications and lessons learned at a fire on a “Main Street” is featured in this month’s Close Calls column. Notebook Nuggets covers technical rescue awareness. Are your line units in danger? Chiefs Blatus and Richardson explain how to address the situation at hand, whether it is a trench rescue, roof collapse or high-angle rope job. They describe what your first-due companies need to do to get the right specialized help to the scene.

Keeping firefighters safe and getting the latest information to them as quickly as possible is our goal. Curtis Massey, our resident high-rise expert, reports on rooftop transmitters and the serious dangers presented to firefighters operating near them. In this month’s Fire Studies column, Chief Jim Smith describes operations at penal institutions, focusing on the tremendous effort it takes if an evacuation is needed, unified command and EMS runs when dealing with a high-security installation.

To better command and coordinate potential weapons of mass destruction (WMD) incidents, major fires and disasters, many fire departments are purchasing large, multi-purpose command vans. Beginning on page 122 you can learn about the latest in equipment and technologies as well as how several fire departments nationwide have already outfitted their units.

We would like to acknowledge and give a tip of the helmet to two of our Firehouse® contributing editors on recent appointments. Gary Ludwig, our EMS columnist, was just appointed deputy fire chief in Memphis, TN, where he will oversee the EMS Division. Billy Goldfeder, who writes the Close Calls column, was promoted to deputy chief of the Loveland-Symmes Fire Department in Ohio. Because of his extensive work on saving firefighters lives, Billy also was just named to serve on the 12-member Board of Directors of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Congratulations to both!