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

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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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.

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

Bruno: The Our Lady of the Angels School fire in Chicago, Dec. 1, 1958. Ninety-five dead (92 children and three nuns). This tragic fire stands forever as a symbol of how everything will go wrong when the old lessons of fire safety go unheeded. The school did not have sprinklers, the stairwells were not enclosed and there was no city alarm box. The result was a delayed discovery, delayed alarm and massive flashover as an arson fire started in a basement trash barrel roared up an open stairwell and trapped the victims in their second-floor classrooms. Some jumped from windows, others died of smoke inhalation at their desks. My personal memory: swarms of parents running through the streets looking for their children as thick, black smoke engulfed the second floor and roof of the school’s north wing. Eventually, this catastrophe led to tougher school fire codes all over the country, but it has been a long, hard struggle and it never should have happened.

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

Bruno: The mandatory use of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) at all times, at all fires; responsibility for emergency medical services and the important role EMS now plays in most fire departments; state and local codes mandating smoke detectors in every residence; sprinkler laws in high-rise and other high-risk buildings; and incident command systems that stress fireground accountability for all personnel.

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

Bruno: Tough, retroactive fire codes that are strictly enforced and require sprinklers in every building where there is a risk of multi-death fires; firefighter health and safety to reduce the line-of-duty death toll; support for families of firefighters who die in the line of duty; proper staffing of fire companies, with four or five firefighters on every engine and ladder truck, depending on the type of first-alarm district they cover; more fire service involvement in politics to help fire departments get the money and resources that are needed to carry out their mission; and opening the firehouse doors to the public and educating the news media so there is better understanding and support for the fire-rescue service.

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

Bruno: Changing the culture of the American fire service to reduce the firefighter line-of-duty death toll by implementing the “Everyone Goes Home†campaign sponsored by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation; eliminating “grandfather clauses†so that sprinkler laws and all fire safety codes can be made retroactive to include existing buildings as well as new construction; local governments will finally provide proper funding to give their fire departments the support and resources they must have to protect life and property; may the dysfunctional Department of Homeland Security get itself straightened out; and everyone will learn to ignore the firehouse “crazies†who constantly try to stir trouble between career and volunteer firefighters.

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

Bruno: It has been a constant learning process and an enrichment of life, in which I have come to know firefighters all over the country and to share their problems, commitment and pride in what they do. I have been privileged to work with many outstanding leaders of the American fire service, for whom I have great respect. But I’ve always tried to write the Fire Politics column from the viewpoint of the blue-shirt firefighters, career and volunteer, who ride the engines, ladder trucks, squads and ambulances. May they never fail to answer the alarm.


VINCENT DUNN
Vincent Dunn, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a 42-year veteran of the FDNY and a deputy chief (ret.), serving as division commander for midtown Manhattan. A nationally renowned lecturer, he is the author of the best-selling text and video series Collapse of Burning Buildings and the textbooks Safety and Survival on the Fireground and Command and Control of Fires and Emergencies. Dunn has a master’s degree in urban studies, a bachelor’s degree in sociology and an associate’s degree in fire administration from Queens College, City University of New York.

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

Dunn: The 23rd Street collapse on Oct. 17, 1966, was the most significant fire I responded to during my 42-year career. The fire started in a residence building at 7 E. 22nd St. and a floor collapse occurred in a drug store at 6 E. 23 St. This collapse killed 12 New York City firefighters. The first floor collapsed in the Wonder Drug Store and the firefighters died in the cellar. This fire was significant to me because it triggered 20 years of research, study and writing on the subjects of collapse of burning buildings, firefighter safety, command and control of fires, and strategy of firefighting.

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

Dunn: Some of the most significant advances in the fire service during my 42 years were the use of breathing equipment, portable radios, aerial platforms, bunker gear, enclosed cabs of fire apparatus with seats and seatbelts, the incident management system, safety chiefs, the National Fire Academy, and last but not least NFPA 1500.

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

Dunn: I was a proponent of identifying fireground dangers, especially building collapse and the management and control of these collapse dangers.

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

Dunn: In the future, I see better portable radios for use by firefighters in high-rise building fires; more use of defensive firefighting in high-rise and low-rise buildings; establishing a point of no return to limit distances interior searches are made without hoseline protection; use of heat-warning devices on helmets; signals for emergency building evacuations ordering firefighter withdrawal when a hazard is discovered; no interior overhauling procedures after master streams have been used for total extinguishment due to the collapse danger the water streams create; and defensive firefighting where a structure fire involves lightweight truss construction.

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

Dunn: I do not know what it has meant to the readers; but for me, Firehouse® Magazine was an opportunity for writing four books: Collapse of Burning Buildings; Safety and Survival on the Fireground; Command and Control of Fires and Emergencies; and my latest book, Strategy of Firefighting – How to Extinguish Fires. The information in all of these books first appeared as Firehouse® Magazine articles.


ALAN BRUNACINI
Alan Brunacini, a Firehouse® contributing editor, recently retired as chief of the Phoenix Fire Department, which he joined in 1958. After holding the positions of firefighter, engineer, captain, battalion chief and assistant chief in his first 20 years, he was promoted to chief in 1978. Brunacini is a graduate of the Fire Protection Technology program at Oklahoma State University and earned a degree in political science at Arizona State University. He graduated from the Urban Executives Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, followed by a master of public administration degree from Arizona State. Brunacini is the chairman of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1710 Technical Committee for Fire Service Organization and Deployment Projects for paid departments. He is past chairman of the NFPA board of directors, the first active fire service member to hold this position in NFPA’s 100-year history. He is also past chairman of the Fire Service Occupational Safety and Health Committee of NFPA. Brunacini has authored Essentials of Fire Department Customer Service, Fire Command, Timeless Tactical Truths and Command Safety.

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.

Smith: The most significant fire that I responded to was the Gulf Oil Fire on Aug. 17, 1975. At the time, I was the captain of Engine 49. In fact, it was my first night at Engine 49. I was changing platoons with the transfer, so I was only scheduled to work the last night. The fire itself started around 6 A.M. in a storage tank containing over 3 million gallons of crude oil. The ensuing explosion involved a large area and quickly went to six alarms. During the course of the day, the fire was fought with little change. Around 4 P.M., there was concern of overhead electric wires falling and electrifying ground areas. At this time, Gulf employees shut down the electric to the wires. This act also shut down ground pumps that had been pumping runoff water from the firefighting operations that was accumulating due to it being in a depressed location. What occurred was a buildup of ground water. Since foam was being applied, there was a layer of foam covering the ground water which eventually reached around three feet.

Unbeknownst to anyone, the initial explosion had cracked intake piping on the original tank, which allowed crude to seep from the tank and float on the surface of the water beneath the layer of foam. As the water rose, it came into contact with the muffler of one of the foam pumpers. The heat of the muffler broke down the foam and ignited the crude oil. At the rear of the foam unit firefighters were refilling foam from five-gallon containers and their movements broke down the foam layer. This allowed the now-ignited crude oil to grow in size and envelope the firefighters. As the firefighters moved from the area, it enlarged the break in the foam, enlarging the fire. These conditions required the requesting of an additional five alarms, bringing the total to 11 alarms.

I arrived on the scene around 6:15 P.M., and the area of the fire and the number of tanks involved along with an administration building was tremendous. In the aftermath, eight firefighters died and two were critically injured; other firefighters received injuries of lesser degrees. One of the firefighters who died and another who was critically injured were from Engine 49. This fire changed many of our future tactics when confronted with flammable liquids and especially refinery fires.

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

Smith: The smoke detector has by far caused the most significant change in the fire service. It has allowed early detection and occupant notification. This has been reflected in the number and size of fires that fire departments respond to today. Unfortunately, many fire deaths that occur are in structures without a fully operational smoke detector.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) has advanced leaps and bounds from 30 years ago, from wearing coats that did little more than shed or in too many cases absorb water, to protective gear that protects. Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) that weighs less and is positive pressure.

Apparatus changes including today’s use of tower ladders, snorkels, quints and squrts. Pumpers that have rated capacities of 1,500 gpm or greater and water tanks with a minimum of 500 gallons and routinely much larger quantities are a far cry from the rated capacity of 750 gpm and much smaller water tanks of 30 years ago. Large-diameter hoseline has permitted the routine movement of large water supplies.

Thermal imaging permits faster and more thorough searches, discovering hidden fire and better overall operations.

The advent of the U.S. Fire Administration, National Fire Academy and Emergency Management Institute has given the fire service a voice at the national level. It has benefited every firefighter, whether they realize it or not. Certainly, those who have utilized the training sessions or fire prevention information from these institutions have received a greater benefit, but their research and involvement has been far reaching. The drawback has been that these fine institutions have had to fight every year for every penny. Hopefully, full funding will come in the future.

Operationally, the advent and use of incident management systems and the current involvement of the Department of Homeland Security in requiring the implementation of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) by all responders has improved fireground operations and especially safety.

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

Smith: Like all progressive chief officers, safety is always the key. Stressing the importance of safety in all elements of an operation must take precedence. This can be a difficult point to sell under the stress of an incident scene if it has not been standard procedure during all training evolutions. Too often, the drive and desire to complete an assignment as quickly as possible and to protect the public causes firefighters to overlook their own personal safety, and that is not be acceptable. Of course, there will always be risks involved and injuries can occur due to these risks, but if all PPE is in place and risk versus gain has been considered, then injuries will be minimized. Good firefighters find ways to operate in a safe manner.

Proficiency on the fireground: no shouting, no running, and realizing that the emergency was caused by, and happening to, someone else and that our job is to solve the problems in a calm and professional manner.

I was a proponent of implementation of incident command. Many firefighters resisted it I think due to the element of change itself. Yet it has proven to be an invaluable tool in handling emergency scenes.

I encouraged education and meaningful training at all levels: cadet training, in-station training, officer development, departmental drills, local, state and federal classes, seminars and college education. The more training and education the members achieve, the better the department, improved operations and increased level of service to the community.

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

Smith: With all of the advances that have been made, we still have too many firefighter injuries and deaths. There needs to be a cultural change in regard to safety. Some of that change rests with firefighters, company and chief officers, but it also requires fire department administrators to step up and ensure that adequate staffing and training is provided. To staff front-line apparatus below nationally recommended standards in the name of economics, or for whatever excuse is used, certainly perpetuates situations where safety is drastically impacted. We can make all the excuses that we want, but there is no changing the truth that firefighting is dangerous and when full staffing is not provided it becomes a recipe for disaster.

I think we should continue to seek the advancement of PPE to even greater levels. I see advances in thermal imaging where it will be incorporated into the SCBA facepiece where a firefighter needs to only look through his or her mask and be able to utilize thermal imaging.

I think that global positioning will be an invaluable tool in fireground accountability and it should be available within a few years.

I feel that we need to get back to the basics in firefighting training. We have so many demands on specialized training that we overlook or have little time for firefighting training. This is not a putdown on the other areas, but with EMS, high-angle rescue, trench rescue, vehicle extrication, terrorism, hazardous materials, water rescue, swift water rescue, NIMS, etc., combined with emergency responses and fire prevention duties it leaves little time for the basics. Yet when we look at the serious firefighter injuries and deaths, they rarely occur in those specialized areas, but do occur at alarming rates under firefighting conditions.

The firefighters in this country need a greater say in how buildings are being constructed. No one is looking out for the safety of firefighters. The building industry seeks buildings that can be constructed faster and cheaper, period! The code-setting authorities are run by manufacturers, builders and the trades and despite what the name of their organization may imply, firefighter safety is not the priority that it should be. These same organizations say they seek the input from the fire service, but most fire department budgets do not have the available funds to be involved. Additionally, the authority having jurisdiction allows the erection of buildings and modifications to existing buildings without consideration of firefighter safety.

There is a need for fire departments to strongly review their tactics in light of the changes in today’s buildings. The use of lightweight materials in over 90% of residential properties being built today demands that we have greater knowledge of the building’s components in order to safely fight fires in these structures. Hopefully, there will be a national push for the marking of these structures to permit firefighters to know on arrival if lightweight components are contained in the building.

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

Smith: Writing for Firehouse® Magazine has allowed me to share my successes and my mistakes. Hopefully, this has allowed other firefighters to learn from them. We all realize that we are our own best teacher in that when we make a mistake ourselves we vow to never do it again. Yet the talented firefighter can learn from the mistakes of others.

Writing for Firehouse® Magazine has allowed me to travel and meet firefighters from every part of the United States and realize that we all do the same job, whether career or volunteer. The same demand on resources and funding is found in Bismarck, North Dakota, as in Philadelphia. From the small volunteer fire department in Maine to the largest career departments in Southern California, the problems are similar.

The ability to travel and meet firefighters nationwide has helped me do my job better. Firefighting is a learning process that starts on the first day as a firefighter and it never ends. After 40 years, I still feel that learning is critical and I know that it will continue until the day I retire and probably beyond. Any firefighter who feels that they know everything there is to know, that person should leave the fire service and spend their time elsewhere.

It has confirmed for me that firefighting is the best job there is and former New York Chief Edward Crocker defines it better than I ever could when he said: “I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a fireman, the position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we who know the work which a fireman has to do, believe his is a noble calling.â€


DENIS ONIEAL
Dr. Denis Onieal was appointed superintendent of the National Fire Academy in 1995. A native of Jersey City, NJ, he has been a career firefighter since 1971, rising through the ranks to become deputy fire chief in 1991 and acting chief of a uniformed force of 600. He earned a doctorate in education from New York University, a master’s degree in public administration from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and a bachelor’s degree in fire administration from Jersey City State College. Onieal was a professor in the master and doctorate degree programs in education at New York University prior to his appointment, and has over 20 publications in the field.

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

Onieal: It wasn’t very spectacular at all, but something that had a profound impact on me for the rest of my life. We had a fire in a multiple dwelling, and I was either a lieutenant or a captain, assigned to a ladder company. It was about 2 A.M., and the tillerman and I were searching the floor above the fire. It was a poor neighborhood, the apartment house was in terrible condition and, of course, no smoke alarms. We crawled into an apartment, and I turned to the right into a bedroom.

The people in those houses slept with the light on so that the roaches, mice and rats wouldn’t come out; but it was very smoky, so even with the lights on you couldn’t see. I reached up on the bed, and felt a body; it turned out to be a boy of about 10 or 11. He jumped up out of the bed screamed, “Which way out?†and put his pants and shoes on. I pulled him down to the floor; we shared air out into the hallway and down the stairs past the fire. The engine company was already in the apartment below – it really wasn’t anything spectacular.

But it was the first time that it struck me how those who are poor have to have different living skills than those of means. If a firefighter woke one of my children in the middle of the night when they were that age, they would still be screaming of fright 25 years later, and their Dad was a firefighter. This boy knew what to do out of a dead sleep – knew who I was, why I was there and what he had to do.

It struck me how much economic issues affect the fire problem in our neighborhoods, how people think and paid attention to that for the rest of my career, even until today. Though it’s not scientific, you could probably make the case that the number of social workers in a community is more indicative of the community fire problem than any other single indicator.

The issue, of course, is that we need to look at our fire prevention/public education messages and efforts. When we talk about working smoke alarms, the people who need them (or need to replace the battery) are living different lives than most of us. Buying a smoke alarm or a battery may not be as easy for them as it is for us. They may be ashamed to ask for something so inexpensive, or may not know where to go to get one. They are probably more concerned about crime, drugs, clothing for their children or their next meal than they are about fire safety.

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

Onieal: Two hundred years of tradition unimpeded by progress is an amusing statement; but so far from the truth that it’s absurd. Thirty years ago, the Boston Fire Department instituted a mandatory mask rule, requiring every firefighter and officer to wear SCBA. The “Commish,†Leo Stapleton, was practically run out of town on a rail; he was probably accused of everything under the sun, but he loved his firefighters and he stuck to his guns. Today, a firefighter wouldn’t think of going into a burning building without an SCBA, and many of us are living more than three years past retirement because of Leo. Thanks, Commish!

Alan Brunacini’s Fireground Command and Firescope’s Incident Command took the same view of fire operations that General Dwight Eisenhower did of the invasion of France in June 1944. Thirty years later, everyone and their sister is looking toward the fire service (and rightfully so) to learn how to organize for the small and large disasters.

Jim Page single-handedly brought emergency medical services into the fire service, saving many lives (and quite honestly, many jobs). As the baby-boom generation begins to hit the health care system, we are going to see demands on that service that we can’t even imagine today. Jim saw what was coming, and got us ready for it.

Some very smart and energetic people realized that working smart was much better than working hard, and that the fire service would benefit from differing points of view. Some courageous women and people of color decided that they could contribute to the great traditions of the fire service while at the same time throwing out a few of the clunker traditions. Today, I’m overwhelmed by the talent and dedication I see; especially the leadership at both the department level and the fire service organizational level. There are some remarkable leaders out there, and they’re not all white males of Irish descent.

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

Onieal: Two things, safety and education; and think I’ll just let the record speak for that.

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

Onieal: There are two, EMS and training. The biggest is the demand that the baby-boomers will place on the EMS system; the beginning of the boomers turn 62 in 2008. The end of the boomers turn 85 in 2050, so we’ve got about 40 years of demands to face, and I haven’t yet seen a plan. It is getting harder and harder for some departments to keep paramedics; and I suspect that before long something is going to have to “give.†What that change will be, I don’t know; there are probably as many options as there are opinions. But this issue is not going away; it is going to get worse.

The second is the generation that is coming up (pick your favorite letter, X, Y, Z) are going to be self-learners (why do you think they spend so much time on the Internet?). The “sociology of training†is going to have to change. People will be used to learning from other people, not necessarily from professors or organizations. Because people will be learning from people, that obnoxious jerk you know who is very smart but has the interpersonal skills of a hungry rattlesnake will be at a distinct disadvantage. People will not want to share information with them. Stand by; it’ll be fun to watch.

By the way, I’m not an alarmist about the next generation; I think that they’re going to do very, very well, thank you. I’m always reminded of a famous quote, “Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, they gobble their food and tyrannize their teachers.†Sound like kids you know today? You know who said that? Socrates! (Source: www.quotations -page.com/quote/20946)

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

Onieal: Education isn’t always about classrooms; actually, it’s about “tuition,†which is another way of saying, “Who pays the price?†It seems to me you can learn about firefighting on a scholarship (somebody else pays the tuition) or you can pay for it yourself (pretty expensive). Personally, I’ve always preferred the scholarship route.

Every month, Firehouse® helps you learn from others’ successes and failures. Someone else already paid the price, but when you read about it, you get the education “tuition free.†So Firehouse® was and is simply a big monthly scholarship; the opportunity to learn from others.


HARRY CARTER
Harry R. Carter, Ph.D., CFO, MIFireE is a Firehouse® contributing editor. A municipal fire protection consultant based in Adelphia, NJ, he is the former president of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors. He is a past chief and active life member of the Adelphia Fire Company. Currently the chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners for Howell Township District 2, he retired from the Newark, NJ, Fire Department in 1999 as a battalion commander. He also served as chief of training and commander of the Hazardous Materials Response Team. Dr. Carter is secretary of the United States Branch of the Institution of Fire Engineers of Great Britain (MIFireE).

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

Carter: The largest fire I ever encountered involved the better part of one city block in Newark. This fire happened back during the layoff period in the mid-1970s when the department was cutting companies. This fire involved about 14-15 homes and was located in our second-alarm district in the West Ward. It was on a hot summer night and I can recall the fire literally leaping from building to building. We tried to get ahead of the fire front, eventually muscling it under with the combined weight of many deck guns and 2½-inch hoselines.

I also remember ducking under Engine Six’s pumper to escape the radiant heat while the driver from that unit was hosing down the unit and those of us under the unit. I also remember that there were no major injuries that evening.

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

Carter: A concern for safety; personal protective equipment; lighter-weight SCBA; mandates for the use of SCBA; improvements in the use of installed detection equipment in the home; the explosion of computers within the world at large; the Internet and its ability to move information; large-diameter hose; and enclosed-cab fire equipment.

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

Carter: More and better training for the members of the fire service; more of an emphasis on people-centered leadership; sharing knowledge; and firefighter safety.

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

Carter: Society is evolving away from the concept of voluntary service. This will play hell with the volunteer fire service wherein I have served for 35 years.

The emphasis on terror is placing the light of the fire service under a bushel basket. We shall lose the National Fire Academy and the U.S. Fire Administration.

The cost of career fire departments will lead to shrinkages.

The continuing emphasis on the “What’s in it for me?†attitude of our newer members will eventually erode our positive effect on society.

I hope I am wrong, but you asked for my thoughts.

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

Carter: Ever since Dennis Smith and I met back in 1988, my professional life within the fire service has been on an upward spiral. The ability to share my ideas, thoughts and concerns with the fire service through Firehouse® has had an incalculable impact upon me both personally and professionally. I feel like a member of a really well-organized fraternity of fire service leaders.


DENNIS RUBIN
Dennis Rubin, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is chief of the Atlanta Fire Department. Rubin is a 33-year fire-rescue veteran, serving in many capacities and with several departments. He holds an associate’s degree in fire science from Northern Virginia Community College and a bachelor’s degree in fire science from the University of Maryland, and is enrolled in the Oklahoma State University Graduate School Fire Administration Program. Rubin is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program and holds the national Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) certification and the Chief Fire Officer Designation (CFOD) from the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC). He serves on several IAFC committees, including a two-year term as the Health and Safety Committee chair.

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

Rubin: In the past 35 years, I have been fortunate enough to attend many incidents that I would describe as career events. The very first one occurred on March 27, 1973, in northern Virginia. I had been on the job for just a few years when the Skyline Center high-rise building collapsed. As I recall, there were 14 fatalities and dozens of serious injuries. Although this incident was not a “fire,†it was full of many challenges of all types. Station 10 (my assignment on this date) was assigned to the first-in engine and, as I recall, we stayed there for several months before the incident was concluded.

In contrast, the most recent big fire that I responded to was an apartment fire located at 430 Boulevard in the northeast section of Atlanta. This major fire would go to a fourth alarm on the day before Thanksgiving in 2005. Sixteen living units were destroyed and, most tragically, Firefighter Logan Dean was very seriously burned (face and hands) when an exterior wall collapsed during the fire. Thank God that he has fully recovered and returned to full duty with no long-term injury. Ironically, a second fire was set in the remaining section of the building about 10 months later. This fire also went to a fourth alarm, which destroyed the entire remaining building section (another 16 units would be destroyed).

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

Rubin: Without a doubt, the emphasis on firefighter safety would be the most significant change that I have witnessed in our profession. In the fall of 1973, I can remember very proudly riding the back step at Engine 10 in Washington, DC. When we would be dispatched to a structural fire requiring self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), we would don our 15-minute (demand) airpacks, pull up our “three-quarter day boots†and prepare to advance a 1½-inch attack line. Needless to say, all of the items that I have mentioned are fire service relics at this point in time and thankfully so.

No comment about firefighter safety advancements would be complete without mentioning Chief Alan Brunacini’s name. What a leader, visionary and outstanding practitioner making hundreds of firefighter health and safety changes. What an honor it has been to know and learn from “the best there has ever been.â€

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

Rubin: I would hope that I could be counted among the American fire-rescue service safety zealots. I have been very active in the training and implementation of policies and procedures that have helped to keep our brothers and sisters from being harmed. I have a burning passion to see crew resource management (CRM) fully integrated into our business as well, for the same reasons. After dozens of Firehouse® Magazine articles that have either talked about or referenced CRM, I am of the strong personal belief that CRM will have the same sweeping effect that ICS did in the 1970s and ’80s. Truly, CRM is a powerful set of tools to prevent human errors; please help me move it forward.

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

Rubin: There needs to be some sort of breakthrough that causes firefighter health and safety issues to be closely adhered to by everyone. The phrase that I like to use is that it must be more painful not to follow basic safety rules like NFPA 1500 and 1710 than what it currently is. Folks tend to take the path of least resistance and especially when it comes to breaking old habits, such as not using seatbelts or failing to stop at stop signs or red lights (all personal pet peeves). Firefighter fatalities will be reduced only when it is more difficult to break the rules rather than follow the rules. This (make it painful not to follow the rules) is a strongly held personal belief.

Also, all types of funding need to be much easier to obtain and more of it made available to fire-rescue agencies nationwide. Most places that I know and have worked at are woefully underfunded. That long-term trend has to be corrected if we are to be successful in the future. Living in broken-down stations and using unreliable, outdated equipment is a dangerous practice and not very wise.

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

Rubin: Wow! What a great personal and professional experience Firehouse® Magazine had been for me. I have been lucky enough to be affiliated with the magazine since 1978 (two years after it started). I have met and worked with some of the very best people in this nation (Dennis Smith, Jeff Barrington, Harvey Eisner, Hal Bruno, Jimmy Smith, Rich Adams, may he rest in peace, and so many, many more great ones) because of opportunities that Firehouse® has provided. I hope that I don’t jinx myself, but I have made every Baltimore conference and have enjoyed every minute of perhaps the best conferences the American fire-rescue service has to offer. I have used the pages of the magazine to help crusade for firefighter safety and command causes.

Finally, I have received dozens, if not hundreds of notes, cards and e-mails over the years, which are typically making positive comments about the body of work that I have contributed to the magazine over the past nearly 30 years. What a great feeling and pleasure to be associated with such a dynamic group of people that have had such an impact.


DENNIS COMPTON
Dennis Compton, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is the author of several books, including the When In Doubt, Lead! series, Mental Aspects of Performance for Firefighters and Fire Officers, as well as many other articles and publications. He is also the co-editor of the current edition of the ICMA textbook Managing Fire and Rescue Services. He serves as a national executive advisor and advocate for the fire service, homeland security, and other organizations. Compton was the fire chief in Mesa, AZ, for five years and assistant fire chief in Phoenix, where he served for 27 years. He is past chair of the executive board of the International Fire Service Training Association, past chair of the Congressional Fire Services Institute’s National Advisory Committee, vice chair of the Board of Directors for the Home Safety Council, and serves on the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation board of directors.

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

Compton: It’s difficult for me to pick one fire in my career above all the others based on size or significance. There have been groups of buildings on fire, complexes under construction that were burning, shopping centers, high-rise fires, hospitals, apartment buildings, wildland fires, resorts and hotels on fire, fires involving hazardous materials, huge debris and tire fires, and major special operations and USAR responses on a national level…the list would go on and on.

Some of the fires that are most significant and memorable to me weren’t even that big compared to others, but they resulted in the loss of lives, sometimes several, and a few times we lost firefighters’ lives. Fires involving successful rescues are also incidents that I’ll never forget. Memories of complicated, tenacious firefights that required a great deal of coordination and expertise on the part of the commanders and considerable effort by the fire companies still bring a special smile to my face.

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

Compton: In the past 30 years, some of the most significant advances in the fire service occurred in the areas of the overall breadth of a firefighter’s role; fire department-based EMS systems; SCBA use and technology; hazmat expertise and equipment; technical rescue expertise and equipment; all-risk public education; expanded use of smoke alarms; residential fire sprinklers; training and performance certifications; incident safety and rehab; PASS devices; incident command; enhanced diversity; information technology (hardware and software); customer focus (internal and external); personal protective equipment; health, wellness and fitness programs; CAD systems; communications equipment and systems; large-diameter and lightweight fire hose; and fire apparatus.

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

Compton: I’ve always tried to be a proponent of: pride in yourself and in the fire department; staying safe, competent, prepared and always doing the best you can at your job, no matter what it is; creating and adapting to change; accountability for one’s behavior and performance; and staying mission focused and leaving something positive behind for others when you’re gone.

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

Compton: The entire fire service and the members of fire departments should embrace the concept of managing risk and applying that approach to literally all of our service delivery and support programs and activities. No matter what comes our way in the fire service, it will include a significant requirement to prevent or respond to situations involving risk. That concept can be readily and effectively integrated to the point that it would drive our mission, decision making and performance. This involves managing risk to a greater degree in the content and application of codes and built-in protection requirements, teaching the public to be more safe in their behaviors and attitudes in an effort to minimize their risk of injury or death from a multitude of causes, and utilizing constant risk assessment to a much greater degree in staffing and deployment decisions, tactics, strategy, incident command, training levels and procedures, and literally all other aspects of fire and life safety and Homeland Security.

The integration of risk assessment to a greater degree goes well beyond the safety of firefighters and customers at emergency scenes. It gets to the heart of preventing bad things from happening in a community that would create the need for a fire department emergency response, but when they happen anyway, responding to all emergency calls in a way that balances the risk to our firefighters and the public compared to what might be gained by specific actions on our part.

The fire service is already in the business of “risk.†Over the next period of time, we should embrace that to a much greater extent, integrate it into all we do, emphasize preparedness, and significantly enhance our value to the quality and duration of life in our communities. It’s exciting to imagine how many changes this approach would create or make more effective throughout the fire service in general, and within individual fire departments specifically, if that concept drove our systems and influenced in some way all of the changes that came along through the years.

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

Compton: My involvement with Firehouse® has provided me with information and tools to be more effective in the many roles I’ve played in my career. Interacting with the Firehouse® staff, fellow instructors and authors, and the thousands of fire service people who read the magazine and attend the conferences has consistently helped me in so many ways personally and professionally. I’ll always cherish the things I get to do with the Firehouse® family. I sincerely thank Firehouse® for being on the cutting edge of our industry…and they just continue to get better.


WILLIAM GOLDFEDER
William Goldfeder, EFO, a Firehouse® 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 ’70s, when I was a firefighter in the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department on Long Island, a neighboring department had a firefighter killed at a “routine†vehicle fire. An interior cargo explosion killed that firefighter instantly. That was a very significant fire to me because that fire – and the simplicity of it – 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 “modern,†considering the high cost versus the quality of us simply being able to “hear†each other. They show us all the data and all the people we can “inter-opt†with, but to me, none of that matters as it really comes down to “Can you hear me now?†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 “re-assignment†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 isn’t fun anymore because of the safety changes and the focus on risk management. What a stupid remark. It’s a great time to be in our business; the best it’s ever been. We have the greatest job in the world – and because of many of the changes, we’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 “to be†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 “loving†the job – career or volunteer, it doesn’t matter. You know the type – 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 “Google†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.

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

Goldfeder: I am afraid the staffing issue will continue to haunt us. We haven’t always done a great job in helping the public understand how critical our staffing is. Simply put, firefighting along with EMS and related emergency services, is task oriented, and it takes people to perform those tasks effectively and safely. Sometimes we don’t even understand that.

On a positive side, I see so many really gung-ho new folks coming in – in great shape, with education, and a great attitude and a thirst to be true firefighters. The future looks good from that standpoint, as long as we know what to do with those probies when they walk in.

While the job will change – always has, always will – and especially with so many other roles that firefighters play (and with the WMD threat more changes will come), the people that it takes to do this job the right way can never change. If you are into helping people (fire, rescue, EMS and even the “nothing†runs) and generally have a positive attitude about working as a part of a unit/team, this is the best place to be!

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

Goldfeder: That’s easy. For years, I had superiors (mostly civilian bosses) try to stop me from saying what I felt was important, be it important for firefighters or the public; usually, if it is good for firefighters, the public wins as well.

My role as a columnist for Close Calls in Firehouse® has allowed me to say what I feel needs to be said; in particular, when it comes to us not getting ourselves hurt or killed. I am deeply indebted for the opportunities that the fire service has provided to my family and I, and especially what Firehouse® has provided. What an honor it is to be a part of all this!


MICHAEL L. SMITH
Michael L. Smith, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a retired deputy chief of the District of Columbia Fire Department, where he was chief of training. With over 35 years fire service experience, including more than 30 with DCFD, he is currently working as an international consultant and instructor for fire departments and the U.S. military on incident command, training, risk management and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) response. Smith is a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy and a Certified Municipal Manager (CMM) from George Washington University. He holds degrees in fire science, construction management and public administration.

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

Smith: The largest fire I ever responded to was the Kahn’s Department Store. The building covered an entire city block and raged for three days. We saved the surrounding buildings. This would be followed by the riots of 1991, one single night where the members of Truck Company 9 responded to 10 working fires in succession.

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

Smith: The evolvement of PPE is the single most significant advance in the past 30 years.

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

Smith: I was always a proponent of safety and accountability for one’s actions.

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

Smith: The need for a credentialing system on a national basis is paramount. I also believe that the organizations that represent the fire service must unite to protect our firefighters from vacant buildings, trusses and other threats to the well-being of our firefighters and officers. I would also like to see a study undertaken to measure the effects of adrenalin on our bodies as this is causing more heart attacks than what we eat, in my opinion.

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

Smith: I would like to believe that my involvement with Firehouse® over the years has given members of the fire service more knowledge involving building construction and fireground safety. I have tried to offset those who feel that the fireground is a sterile environment or those who feel that we should continue to attack all fires from the inside without any thought to safely doing so. This job that we do should be able to be accomplished with 100% attention given to safely doing so.


GARY LUDWIG
Gary Ludwig, MS, EMT-P, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a deputy fire chief with the Memphis, TN, Fire Department. He has 28 years of fire-rescue service experience, and previously served 25 years with the City of St. Louis, retiring as the chief paramedic from the St. Louis Fire Department. Ludwig is vice chairman of the EMS Section of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), has a master’s degree in business and management, and is a licensed paramedic. He is a frequent speaker at EMS and fire conferences nationally and internationally.

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

Ludwig: There are two large fires in my career that I remember that were significant. The fire storm on April 13, 1976, at 21st and Locust in St. Louis that started in the Heyday Building. Eight large multi-story warehouses were destroyed, six warehouses were heavily damaged and a bunch more received some form of damage. At one point, the fire chief was talking about dynamiting buildings to stop the fire.

The other fire occurred in February 1988 at the Royal Arts Paper Company at Vandeventer and Chouteau in St. Louis. It was an eight-story warehouse full of paper products stacked from the floor to the ceiling. The fire went 10 alarms and that is the only time I saw a fire in the form of a roaring huge tornado spinning out of control at the top of the building.

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

Ludwig: I feel the most significant advances include safety and protection of the firefighter through better turnout gear and air systems, larger water-delivery systems, and the establishment of standards from everything from fire station operation to on-scene operations.

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

Ludwig: I have become a proponent of EMS issues in the fire service during my career. Fires are occurring less and less frequently because of building codes, fire protection systems and a variety of other reasons. Thus, providing emergency medical care by fire departments is a natural extension of our “all hazards†approach to the duties we perform in our communities.

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

Ludwig: Fire departments that have been resistant to adopting EMS need to move beyond the resistance level to the acceptance level and integrate EMS into a true fire-based EMS model. EMS delivery by the fire service is not going away and will become even more demanding over the next 30 years as the large segment of our population known as the baby-boomers grows older and will require more health care delivery.

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

Ludwig: I have been honored to be a contributing editor on a monthly basis since 1998. What it has meant to me is that I have been able to deliver information to readers on issues impacting fire service EMS on a national level and occasionally espouse my own opinions. The platform has hopefully helped me to provide information that has kept our people safe, providing vital information that is needed to improve an operational component of a department, or help a firefighter or paramedic make an informed decision.


JOHN J. SALKA Jr.
John J. Salka Jr., a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a 27-year veteran battalion chief with FDNY, the commander of the 18th battalion in the Bronx. Salka has instructed at several FDNY training programs, including the department’s Probationary Firefighters School, Captains Management Program and Battalion Chiefs Command Course. He conducts training programs at national and local conferences and has been recognized for his firefighter survival course “Get Out Alive.†Salka co-authored the FDNY Engine Company Operations manual and wrote the book Forged in Fire: Leadership Lessons of the FDNY.

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

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