HAL BRUNO Hal Bruno, a FirehouseÂ® contributing editor, retired as political director for ABC News in Washington and served almost 40 years as a volunteer firefighter. He is a director of the Chevy Chase, MD, Fire Department and chairman of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation...
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William Goldfeder, EFO, a FirehouseÂ® contributing editor, is a 32-year veteran of the fire service. He is a deputy chief with the Loveland-Symmes Fire Department in Ohio, an ISO Class 2 and CAAS-accredited department. Goldfeder has been a chief officer since 1982, has served on numerous IAFC and NFPA committees, and is a past 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 a writer, speaker and instructor on fire service operational issues.
Firehouse: Please describe the largest or most significant fire you responded to in your career.
Goldfeder: In the â€™70s, when I was a firefighter in the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department on Long Island, a neighboring department had a firefighter killed at a â€œroutineâ€ vehicle fire. An interior cargo explosion killed that firefighter instantly. That was a very significant fire to me because that fire â€“ and the simplicity of it â€“ clearly started my interest in firefighter safety and survival.
I have been to many serious fires and several where firefighters were hurt and a few where firefighters were killed. But the most significant one was the one that helped me personally understand how, in an instant, a firefighter can be killed and what can be done to prevent it.
Firehouse: What are some of the most significant advances in the fire service in the past 30 years?
Goldfeder: From a technology standpoint, it is the thermal imager. Of course, bunker gear, tower ladders, nozzle designs, four-door cabs, automatic transmissions, large-diameter hose, training aids (the Internet!) and the incident command system fall in there as well as so much more.
I am a bit disappointed in some of the fire radio systems that are being touted as â€œmodern,â€ considering the high cost versus the quality of us simply being able to â€œhearâ€ each other. They show us all the data and all the people we can â€œinter-optâ€ with, but to me, none of that matters as it really comes down to â€œCan you hear me now?â€ when firefighters are talking to firefighters. Overall, though, firefighting equipment has never been better.
From a cultural standpoint, we are in it right now, and that is the â€œre-assignmentâ€ of firefighter safety and survival really being important on the minds of all of us. We are in the midst of a major culture change and I think it is unlike anything we have ever seen. The firefighter survival issues we are talking about now were not even mentioned a decade ago.
Never in the history of our business of firefighting has the serious focus and action of firefighter safety and survival been so prominent. Some say the job isnâ€™t fun anymore because of the safety changes and the focus on risk management. What a stupid remark. Itâ€™s a great time to be in our business; the best itâ€™s ever been. We have the greatest job in the world â€“ and because of many of the changes, weâ€™ll be around longer to do and enjoy it.
Firehouse: What have you been a proponent of during your career?
Goldfeder: Equal to my interests in firefighter survival, I think it would be â€œto beâ€ a firefighter and love it. In other words, if you are going to say you are a firefighter, then be a firefighter. Nationally, our business still has a group of folks who are not at all focused on truly â€œlovingâ€ the job â€“ career or volunteer, it doesnâ€™t matter. You know the type â€“ they rarely come around, could care less about training, morale, do as absolutely little as possible, they fail to take care of each other, they have no esprit de corps and then they try to â€œGoogleâ€ brotherhood to figure out what it means, yet they have the sticker and wear the T-shirt. After your family and your religion, the fire service and your fire department need to fall right in. If not, check the classifieds. This job, as much as some city hall types are trying to change it, is not for everyone and the quicker the civilian recruiters understand that, the better.