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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Firehouse: Please describe the largest or most significant fire you responded to in your career.
Salka: Certainly, the attack and subsequent collapse of the World Trade Center towers on 9/11 is the most significant fire I have responded to. The immensity of the situation, the number of buildings and victims involved and the tragic impact that this event had on the FDNY made this not only the most significant fire in my career, but more importantly, one of the most significant events of my life. I, like most other members of the FDNY, worked tirelessly for many months to locate and remove the remains of both civilian victims and our comrades who gave their lives that tragic September morning.
Firehouse: What are some of the most significant advances in the fire service in the past 30 years?
Salka: From my tactical perspective, I would have to include several items that have made the job of fighting fires more efficient, safe and effective. First, the use of portable radios on the fireground has made both tactical operations move more quickly as well as improved the level of firefighter safety. We can now report important conditions to the IC or other on-scene units to more rapidly get a handle on an extending structural fire. Second, power saws for roof cutting and forcible entry. These basic yet vital tools have made some of the most difficult and challenging tasks on the fireground much easier, safer and faster to complete. A single firefighter can now cut an examination hole and a large vent hole and still be able and available to perform other tactics. The third item is the hydraulic forcible entry tools. Whichever one you may have, i