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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Dennis Rubin, a FirehouseÂ® 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 associateâ€™s degree in fire science from Northern Virginia Community College and a bachelorâ€™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 Academyâ€™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 â€œfire,â€ 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 â€œthree-quarter day bootsâ€ and prepare to advance a 1Â½-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 Brunaciniâ€™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 â€œthe 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 FirehouseÂ® 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 â€™80s. Truly, CRM is a powerful set of tools to prevent human errors; please help me move it forward.