Editorial: The Right Stuff

I recently returned from Baltimore, where we had record attendance at the Firehouse Expo 20th anniversary conference. The two-day hands-on training program attracted almost double the attendance of the previous year. There were many more exhibitors this year as compared to last year and the crowds were there to see the displays for themselves.

We are finalizing the Firehouse World conference program to be held in San Diego, Feb. 1-5, 2004. More California and West Coast speakers have been added to the program. A preliminary program for the Firehouse Expo to be held in Baltimore July 13-18, 2004, has also just been completed. You can find all of this information on the website at Firehouseevents.com. Pictures of the hands-on training from Firehouse World in San Diego in February 2003 and the Firehouse Expo 2003 in Baltimore are available. View the website for the new dates for the Firehouse on the Road Program scheduled for Fort Worth, TX, which has been moved to Nov. 14, 15 and 16, 2003. See Firehouseevents.com for more details.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, as of Aug. 14, there were 63 large active wildfires burning across the western United States. There are fewer fires and acres burned this year compared to last year, but dry conditions and high temperatures in some areas are worse than in previous years.

We are proud to present an article by Assistant Chief John R. Hawkins of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and Butte County Fire Rescue in Paradise, CA. Chief Hawkins has 37 years of firefighting and rescue experience. You can find his article, "Wildfires: Box in the Fire - The Fundamental Wildfire Attack Method" on page 36.

Also in this issue, on page 54, we present the text of a speech given at Firehouse Expo 2003 by Dr. David Prezant, deputy chief medical officer, FDNY, who spoke about the health of members who operated at the World Trade Center site. This important information corresponds with an interview we conducted regarding the peer counseling done by retired members of the FDNY to reach out to discuss the critical incident stress the members felt after 9/11. This is an interesting look at a service not readily accepted by the rank and file before 9/11, but which has now been so positive that most members of the department have participated in one way or another. As the two-year anniversary approaches, the counseling is more important than ever before. See page 62 for the positive points of the program. Speaking of health we present part two of the Firefighter Health & Fitness series. On page 94 you will find more information about "The Firefighter Fitness Pentagon," this time regarding aerobic capacity. If you respond to fires, you need to read this series of articles. It just may save your life.

A tip of the helmet and congratulations to Firehouse® Contributing Editor and longtime friend John Norman III, who was recently promoted to the rank of deputy chief, FDNY. We went to college together and lived in a firehouse, and when I went down my first hallway making a search at my first worker, John was right behind me with the hoseline. I always knew he was something special and did he ever prove me right. At the promotion ceremony, Norman received a standing ovation for his efforts at the World Trade Center and immediately following as he worked to put the Special Operations Command back in order after it lost 95 members in the line of duty.

The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) has reissued an urgent call for the fire service to contact the White House. The danger is the administration's proposal to move the Assistance to Firefighters grant program (FIRE Act) from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to an uncertain future under the Office of Domestic Preparedness. See www.iafc.org for a sample letter to the President. When we get a call, we are on the scene in minutes and able to mitigate most situations. Why does it take politicians years to do the right thing and vote for funds for us?