Fire Service Leaders Reflect The Past, Present and Future of Firehouse Magazine

A sampling of long-time contributors look back at our first 30 years to assess that state of the fire-rescue service then, now and in the years to come.


HAL BRUNO Hal Bruno, a Firehouse® 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.

Brunacini: The most significant fire in recent times for the Phoenix Fire Department was the Southwest Supermarket incident in 2001. Firefighter Bret Tarver was killed at that event and his death caused our department to conduct a recovery process that is still underway. We enlisted every Phoenix firefighter to participate in a review and revision process that critically examined all of our tactical procedures, support and command operations. This department-wide effort has created numerous changes in our operational practices. We have developed and utilized a new command training center, refined our strategic management program, revised the technology and equipment we use to protect firefighters and have made significant changes in how we integrate RIC teams and safety officers. The recovery program has become the catalyst for us to more effectively conduct a continuous internal review of particularly our hazard zone operations. This internal review process involves an open, energetic discussion between our street troops and command officers with effective listening skills.

Firehouse: What are some of the most significant advances in the fire service in the past 30 years?

Brunacini: Structural firefighting was and still is our service delivery foundation. Given the number of unprotected (unsprinklered) current and future buildings, we must always be ready, willing and able to respond to building fires. Over the past 30 years, we have used our firefighting resources to expand into an all-risk response system. We now deliver EMS (BLS and ALS), emergency transport, special operations, community safety education and recently, a unified command response to terrorism threats.

Firehouse: What have you been a proponent of during your career?

Brunacini: I have been a proponent of local-level incident command, firefighter wellness, operational safety, customer service, effective boss behaviors and long-term fire chief occupational longevity.

Firehouse: What do you see changing or needs to change in the next 30 years in the fire service?

Brunacini: Our major future challenge involves us developing a more refined connection to the customer to see what their needs are and then for us to energetically connect to those needs. We must create internal department systems to improve how we evaluate and respond to the opportunities we have in the future to better serve Mrs. Smith. This will require us to continue to mix business practices with family service practices so we can effectively combine technical core services with emotionally driven added value. This approach will require fire service bosses to develop and maintain internal support programs with their firefighters that serve as the customer service model for how we treat the community.

Firehouse: What has your involvement with Firehouse® Magazine meant to you and to our readers?

Brunacini: Firehouse® is a major part of the fire service communications system and has been since the magazine started. We use Firehouse® on the inside of our service like we use the morning paper inside our community. Firehouse Expos have also become a large and effective part of the longstanding and respected conferences we look to, to keep informed, connected, and entertained. Editor-in-Chief Harvey Eisner is a fire service institution who is both trusted and loved for his dedication and ability.


JAMES P. SMITH
James P. Smith, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a deputy chief of the Philadelphia Fire Department and an adjunct instructor at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, MD. He is the author of the book Strategic and Tactical Considerations on the Fireground, published by Brady/Prentice Hall, and the accompanying Strategic and Tactical Considerations on the Fireground Study Guide.

Firehouse: Please describe the largest or most significant fire you responded to in your career.