Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rick Lasky's Retirement Celebration

Today August 31, 2011 is Fire Chief Rick Lasky's last day as chief of the Lewisville Texas fire department. For 11 years since June 5, 2000 Rick has stood at the helm of the Lewisville fire department. Yesterday at 3 PM friends and family of Ricks gathered to say goodbye and to offer their good tidings and best wishes for Rick as he moves forward with his dream of teaching full-time. I was extremely blessed to be able to attend as one of the out-of-towners along with my good friend retired Battalion chief John Salka and Battalion chief Eddie Buchanan. Fire officers, fire Chiefs and firefighters from all over Texas came to say goodbye to Rick and wish him well.

There were many stories told by the city manager, the mayor and others but the most moving moments occurred when recently retired Battalion chief John Salka took the stage and spoke about his love and admiration for his good friend Rick Lasky. John was able to secure for Rick a helmet shield as an honorary 18th Battalion chief of the FDNY. It was clear to all present that every word John spoke was from his heart and that his emotions were as high and as sincere as a fireman could express about his admiration and love another fireman.

Eddie Buchanan chief officer for the Hanover Virginia fire department presented Rick also with a beautiful helmet shield and the best wishes of the Hanover Department for Rick. The Hanover fire Department and the Lewisville fire department have always had a very special relationship. Several years ago members of the Hanover fire department came to Louisville and help them to construct a a training prop which bears the name that Hanover training prop in Louisville today.

Pipes and drummers from the Lewisville fire department were also on hand to say goodbye to the man who helped found their group and whose influence on pipes and drummers with his annual Keeping Tradition Alive symposium will live on forever. The band did Rick proud by playing a starring Shenandoah followed by America the beautiful and the Marine Corps hymn. Their performance was flawless their intensity was palatable and a more fitting tribute would be hard to imagine to a man whoes dreams have become reality in Texas.

The afternoon could not have more fitting ending when during Rickey's comments he was able to announce that his very own dear friend and partner of the last 11 years assistant chief Tim Tittle would be taking over the reins of the Lewisville fire department as chief on September 1. Rick said it and everyone in the crowd agrees there could be no better choice than Tim whose heart and soul is in the Lewisville fire department and will make an outstanding Fire Chief.

Rick Lasky will be known for many things, being on the tip of the sword during the creation of saving our own and rapid intervention, his landmark book Pride and Ownership a Firefighters Love of the Job, his amazing teaching and presenting at FDIC and conferences around the country. But probably more than anything Rick will always be known for his passion and his compassion, for his amazing ability to share himself with the entire world while at the same time being singularly focused on one thing and one thing only his family. God bless you Rick thank you for your 11 years of amazing service to the city of Lewisville and we look forward to seeing you more and more on the pages of Fire Engineering now that you have the time!

Monday, August 22, 2011

75th. Monroe Fire School

I had the pleasure of visiting with some outstanding firefighters at the "75th" Southern Wisconsin Northern Illinois Fire Rescue Association fire school in Monroe Wisconsin this weekend. The conference was very attended with a great program with a real local focus. The school started 75 years ago and for several years it rotated from city to city and eventually found its home in Monroe. The Monroe folks have some outstanding facilities and an incredible FD with exceptional leadership the school uses a variety of sites around Monroe and the folks there could not be nicer.
I learned all about making cheese and the history of the cheese industry in the region. If you get up there it is really worth your time taking a tour and seeing the old world craftsmanship involved. The pub's are plentyfull the beer is clod and the staff are Wisconson friendly!

The photo to the right is the Monroe FD live burn training tower which was used for search classes and live fire training.

Below is the repeling tower, all the training facilities were purchased with funds raised by the Monore Fire Department, as the chief said there are a lot of bake sales and pancake breakfasts represented here!

The training staff was lead by Shane Boehmke, he and his crew did an outstanding job. The school had some of America’s Fire Service best teaching there including Engine guru and fire stream expert Captain Dave Fornell, Chicago retired chief and command expert Andy O’Donnell, world class prop designer Mark Henningfeld, and forcible entry wizard Paul Yakowenko, agricultural accident and farm emergency response legend Mark Baker, and Fire Engineering’s dear friend photographer and world class fire officer David Traiforos.

These are mobile home Dave's crew transformed into a world class live burn class.

Below is Stateline Farm Rescue's custom built grain bin entrapment simulator. They run a comprehensive course on grain bin design and structure, as well as the dangers involved in working with this equipment.A must attend program for anyone who responds to farms.

The school ran from Friday to Sunday and was an outstanding experience, the efforts of the board of directors of the SWNIFRA continues to produce some of the most dedicated and well trained firefighters in the nation. Lets hope the next 75 years are just as successful.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Work Injury Fantasy League

That is what I like to call the workers compensation system here in Illinois.

Blogger Alert: I want to be very clear that I am not singling out a particular segment of the workforce based on the links provided. My cynicism extends across the board. The term “union” appears in this article as an example of lobbying only. It does not reflect my view of unions either way, so save the vitriol.

As part of my job, I handle work injury claims for my company. We are self-insured, which means that we have an insurance company process our claims, but I, in general terms, call the shots.

By law, companies are required to provide for “injured” employees. That might be by contracting with an insurance company who specializes in workers compensation insurance coverage, having a third party administered program or by entering the Illinois Risk Pool, where your claim goes out to any number of insurance companies who contracts with the state. But, as is the case with our company, we pay a premium that may be several hundred thousands of dollars and if we spend more than the premiums that are paid, then the owners have to write another check. Premiums are based on the previous three year injury claim history.

Now; I am going to get on my soap box.

If I am a newly-graduated lawyer, I am going to pack up and move to Illinois and take up residence in Cook, Will or Peoria County and open my practice to specialize in personal injury and work injury litigation. This will present the best opportunity to pay back your loans quickly and to establish your reputation among employees looking for their pot of gold. Word will travel quickly, just like the name of THAT doctor that will take you off work for a strained little finger.

Every couple of years here in Illinois, our statehouse starts rumbling with talk of over-hauling the workers compensation system because it is such a costly program for employers. Unfortunately, the talk never makes it to action because of the strong lobby efforts by lawyers, unions and medical care providers. And their efforts have paid off, because Illinois ranks second in the nation for work comp costs. A work injury claim in Illinois is roughly 40% higher in costs than that same injury in just about any other state in our nation. Here is where I blame the medical community as a work comp “accomplice”. Obviously, the “injury” has to be “work-related”, so a trip to the doctor establishes that link. RARELY, again, based on my experience, does a doctor rule out the notion that the “injury” could have occurred outside of work. The prevailing mind-set in Peoria seems to be that “everything happens at work”. That is my opinion; I don’t have facts to back it up (wink wink).

Before I get into the details of the latest outcry for work comp reform, I want you to imagine this: you have an employee with an old football injury to his right knee. Because your company does not do pre-employment physicals, any pre-existing conditions that come with the employee are said to be aggravated, if they so claim. In other words; in Illinois, if you aggravated it, you caused it and you buy the claim lock, stock and barrel. While the employee is unable to work, they draw Temporary Total Disability pay. So, if you earn $500 a week, you will get a check for $333 a week while you are off work. But it doesn’t end there. If you require surgery, your bills are paid 100% and at the end of the process, you receive a “settlement”. If you do it without an attorney, you get 100% of the settlement money. If you have an attorney, they get 20% of whatever the settlement amount is. But here is the beauty; if you have all of your loans insured, you make no payments while you are off work. All of the money that you receive is tax-free, including the settlement. Plus, on the following year’s taxes, your income will show a dramatic drop, so you will more than likely get every dime back that you paid in. In some cases, the employee actually makes MORE money than if he was at work, which is why many will fight to get taken off of work rather than work modified duty.  I am sure that I could think of others, but I am up against a hard deadline here!

And  “claimants” will be shown on video having “good days and bad days” (this is the defense used when an employee who is off work is caught doing things prohibited by their doctor-certified, off-work status). Video surveillance is legal but frowned upon by many arbitrators, so this tactic must be used sparingly and wisely. Note that the employee is now referred to as a “claimant”. That is because they have hired an attorney who has taken over their medical care and employment status, because, as they tell their “client/claimant”: employers are real bastards in this state.

The problem with what I described in the previous paragraph is that the process does little to motivate the employee into returning to work. At the end of the work comp process, some will simply take and spend their money and go to work for another unsuspecting company, where they most likely will file another claim of injury and start this maddening process all over again. Now; this is the cynicism in me, but I also realize that there are many good employees in the workforce who don’t try to game the system. However; I was actually asked by a new employee one time “where do I sign up for workmans comp?” Absolutely true. It is viewed by many with an intimate knowledge of state aid and unemployment benefits as just another government program to take advantage of. For the record, I despise the use of the term “workmans comp”. It is “workers compensation” or “workers comp”.

There is another paradox. If your company requires a post-accident drug screen and the “injured” employee tests positive for an illicit drug, they STILL collect work comp, because the system is based on the theory of “no fault”, but what I have witnessed is that the system is based on the idea that it is the employer’s fault and therefore, they pay. It is a system that is rife with abuse.

But, even with case after case of “questionable” claims with questionable outcomes, none of that has been enough to move legislators to DO an over-haul. Nope; it took a newspaper and their reporters to uncover work comp “irregularities” at the Menard Correctional facility to breathe new life into talks of work comp over-haul. And it was done with a FOIA request for emails and of course, if you have a case number, you can go right to the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission website and see who has filed a claim. I’ll be honest; I had no idea that putting a key into a cell door lock and turning it could be so hazardous to one’s health. In fact, in one case; it TOTALLY disabled a guard into retirement, where I am sure he receives a pay differential in addition to disability payments and all the while, he is seen painting, mowing and power-washing his garage. Must be those “good days” kicking in. The link to that story is provided at the end of the blog.

Did I mention that the WARDEN of Menard has his work comp claim and received a plus-$70,000 settlement? Check out the picture of him holding up fish that he caught, while he was “recovering” from surgery. Forward-thinking physical therapy?

AND, I didn’t know that a worker comp arbitrator could hear their OWN work comp case and pay themselves a settlement! There is growing evidence that it happened. In yet another case involving an arbitrator, she asked that her settlement be “fast-tracked” because she was “cash-strapped”. Ah; only in Illinois! You can’t possibly make this stuff up. The link is provided.

The stories in the links that I have provided speak for themselves. It is mind-boggling to anyone with a tacit understanding of workers compensation that a system designed to provide for the basic needs post injury for employees can deteriorate into a gift bag of abuse and outright fraud. It has become an entitlement program to employees at the expense of employers. “Impartiality” no longer exists and “compensability” is just about everything that is brought before the Commission. It has become a “retirement” strategy for some and a “get rich quick” scheme for others, including arbitrators.

When we talk about budget cutbacks, wages and benefits on unsustainable paths and costs associated with government intrusion creating an anti-employer climate, you get what we have in

So, when we talk about the “whys” in dealing with our problems nationwide with cutting budgets and maintaining services, I didn’t want us to forget that there are other costs beyond salaries and benefits. When you add insurance costs including workers compensation, that hole that we are in tends to get a little deeper.

But, the bigger message here is that I realize that we have taken a good program and corrupted it. There is plenty of fault to go around in this “no fault” system. What is happening isn’t even a waste; it’s criminal…as in illegal…as in insurance fraud, but just like employers proving that the injury didn’t happen at work, you would be shooting at a fly on the wall with a BB gun from one hundred yards and hitting it. It ain’t gonna happen! Rarely, if at all.

Workers' comp arbitrators under investigation are put on paid leave

Attorney general calls for fraud investigation into Menard worker's 'total disability' claim

'I can't do that every day': Corrections worker on total disability but still can do chores

Agency mum on workers' comp case; info on injury not available to public

'Beware the Carpal Tunnel!': State workers discuss 'flood' of workers' comp claims

Quinn on worker's comp probe: 'Any wrongdoing has got to be ferreted out'

Feds step in to investigate potential fraud in Illinois workers' comp cases

'We need a system that works': Quinn wants workers' comp reform plan to catch abuse

State Rep. Dwight Kay: Joint liability is a job-killer in Illinois

 The views and opinions expressed are those of the author, Art Goodrich, who also writes under the name ChiefReason.  They do not reflect the views and opinions of, Fire Engineering Magazine, PennWell Corporation or his dog, Chopper. Articles written by the author are protected by federal copyright and cannot be reproduced in any form.

Monday, April 4, 2011

CFSI Three Things to Do

Every spring marks the annual pilgrimage of firefighters to Washington DC to meet with those people who work for us. Those congressmen and senators and yes even the President whom we employ to do our bidding and represent us in matters related to our profession and our nation. This year there are several things which I think we need to take particular interest in as we speak with these "employees".

First I must confess that to to a very critical personal matter I will be unable to attend this year. I have sent a resolution along to the congressional fire services Institute national advisory board for a continuation of their support of our efforts to get hydroxocobalamin approved for the treatemnt of smoke inhalation. We must also contiue our efforts at finding faster and more efficent and cheeper routes of administration such as sublingual.

As always we also need to continue our efforts in securing funding for reccuring issues such as the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program, the safer program and our urban security initiatives program which provide significant resources to fire services around our nation.

But this year we have a particularly simple and I think incredibly important opportunity everyone attending the congressional fire services dinner and the Capitol Hill day should make an extra effort to visit the office one congressman John Larson and let him know you're behind him 110%. And here's why Congressman John Larson (CT-01) introduced legislation today to allow the American flag to be flown at half-staff in the event of the death of a first responder in the line of duty.

“First responders put their lives on the line to serve their communities on a daily basis and deserve the same recognition as public officials and our brave men and women in the Armed Forces,” Congressman Larson said. “These men and women are our friends, family and neighbors. In the event the unthinkable happens, they deserve the respect of having our flag flown at half-staff.”

The inspiration for the Honoring Hometown Heroes Act came from Windsor resident Jim McLoughlin who petitioned Congressman Larson to pursue the change to U.S. Code, Title 4, which regulates the use of the American flag. McLoughlin is a Hartford firefighter and is the Founder and Board Chairman of the National Honor Guard Commanders Association.

Currently, the law specifically allows the American Flag to be flown at half-staff following the death of any present or former government official or any member of the Armed Forces.

Three simple things, three very different things, three things that really matter when you're speaking to your representative. First remind them to support the continued evaluation and research into the use of hydroxocobalamin this will definitely save lives maybe even your own.

Secondly asked them to continue to support our fire act grants program, it is making a difference in important and significant ways. And third asked them to support Congressman Larson's legislation to amend US code title for to allow the American flag to be placed at half mast at the direction of the governor when a public safety official dies in the line of duty.

Personally I think it's about time that firefighters, law enforcement officers and EMS providers received the same level of respect and dignity as our elected officials do when they die while performing their duties.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A New Worry is the Same Old Story

Disclaimer: The opinions and statements made in this blog are the author’s. The opinions and statements expressed are not the opinions and statements of anyone affiliated with the Cyanide Poisoning Treatment Coalition, Fire Smoke Coalition or

What; me worry?

That’s what I thought when I saw the title on the cover of the March issue of Fire Chief Magazine and then I started obsessing about something else to worry about; as if we don’t have enough going on in our lives, communities, fire departments and the world in general.

Now and again; I like to blog on topics that interest me and hopefully, those who read my blogs.

Because I may not be that familiar with the subject matter at times, I will embark on a journey to educate myself, so that the finished product is technically correct. I believe that it is important for that thing we call “credibility”.

When an organization is included in the article, the credibility of the organization and the people who populate it is at stake and naturally, if I am the author of the article, my credibility would be on the line as well.

The first time that I talked to Shawn Longerich, Executive Director for the Cyanide Poisoning Treatment Coalition (CPTC), I was hooked. I knew right then and there that I wanted to advocate for such a worthy cause.

You know; “worthy” doesn’t do justice when describing the CPTC. “Noble”, “dedicated” and “life-saving/life-changing” are better descriptors.

Their board of directors reads like a who’s who of public and private sector champions.

The volume of information that is on the website on behalf of firefighter safety and health is significant.

That smoke in any form is unsafe and unhealthy has been in the public arena for some time. I have been looking into the effects of hydrogen cyanide (HCN) on firefighters since 2007, because we were seeing reports of otherwise healthy firefighters collapsing and dying on the fire ground or within mere hours of responding to a structural fire.

Then, the data from Providence, RI was released that validated suspicions that hydrogen cyanide (HCN) exposure was injuring and killing firefighters. This information has been available since 2007 at

Also, in 2007, the CPTC released a document entitled “Smoke: Perceptions, Myths and Misunderstandings” that goes into great detail on the hazards associated with breathing smoke and especially the carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen cyanide (HCN) that is present at fires.

In addition, NIOSH, NIST and the AMA have been collecting data on CO and HCN exposures in both firefighters AND civilians since 2003, when the Station Supper Club in West Warwick, RI caught fire and killed one hundred patrons and injured scores more. High levels of HCN were found in several victims and it is believed that the HCN inhibited the victims’ ability to think clearly enough to safely escape the fire.

So, as you can see, CO and HCN is not “a new worry” as the March issue of Fire Chief Magazine proclaims.

The article “House of Horrors”, has me concerned for many reasons.

First; the description of the Fire Smoke Coalition is shallow. It is more than “firefighters and medical personnel”. There are health and safety professionals, professors, medical doctors, chemists, hazardous substances experts and a vast network of professional resources that supports the Coalition’s mission.

Second; Shawn Longerich was referred to as both a “he” and a “she” in the article. There should be no confusion. Shawn is a very professional and intelligent female.

Third; a hazmat response to a cyanide incident has nothing to do with hydrogen cyanide as a product of combustion at a structural fire. Hazmat had no place in an article on the dangers of HCN in regards to inhalation of particulates that are found at structural fires both in the smoke and away from the smoke.

Fourth; in the same paragraph in the article that mentions hazmat, it also states: “Longerich admitted that there were no specific studies to support her claims about the effect of cyanide exposure on firefighter health”.

This is absolutely absurd and I don’t believe that Shawn admitted to anything. The CPTC, since its inception, has been a “study” in and of itself. Their very existence has been to gather data on anything that affects the health and safety of firefighters and especially where CO and HCN have been identified by health professionals as a clear and present danger to firefighters and civilians alike. As a result, much has been written and released on the proper pre-exposure protections and post-exposure protocols with regards to CO and HCN. I found it disconcerting to see the NFPA 704 sign for cyanide in an article about the presence of hydrogen cyanide that is found at structural fires.

What the fire service HASN’T seen are fatality REPORTS that cites AS THE CAUSE OF DEATH hydrogen cyanide poisoning, because cause of death investigations stop as soon as lethal levels of carbon monoxide are found in the victims’ system. Hydrogen cyanide has been present all along, but if you weren’t looking for it, you won’t know that it was there. Capiche?

Why is it that, if carbon monoxide is present, that hydrogen cyanide will also be present, but at 6 – 10 times greater volumes? Not to mention that hydrogen cyanide is 35 times MORE LETHAL than carbon monoxide!

But, what do you do if someone is exposed to dangerous levels of CO and HCN? Well, you wouldn’t know from reading the article that pre-hospital care including administering hydroxocobalamin would greatly improve mortality. You would use Cyanokit® (hydroxocobalamin) and NOT CAK to treat exposure victims.

And the last thing that bugged me about the article is that the author referred to monitoring for CO and HCN as “chemical monitoring devices”. No; they are GAS monitoring devices. When we are at the scene of a structural fire, we are monitoring the ATMOSPHERE and NOT drums of chemicals. Here is that confusion again. Gas…not chemical. Sheesh!

Yeah, I know; Glenn Bischoff has already released a statement through “Mutual Aid”; the Fire Chief blog on “Command Post”; an E supplement to Fire Chief Magazine. I am a subscriber.

And he said a lot of the right things that should be said after an article fails its intended audience. But, in my opinion, there was almost a “poo poo” undertone because there was more “right” with the article than what was “wrong”. That is the “not fast/not slow but half fast” doctrine being invoked. Once again; I am overwhelmed by our quest for mediocrity. I doubt that many “writers” could write were it not for Google, Wiki-everything and spell check. You know; hurry up and get it done because “I have a life outside of work, dammit”.

Oh and if you want to know what to do with hydrogen cyanide the chemical, you can go to the Emergency Response Guidebook and look up Guides 117, 131, 152 and 154.

Sorry, Fire Chief Magazine. You blew your “credibility" on this one.

Try this on: Smoke is bad. CO and HCN are toxic twins. CO kills the blood. HCN kills the organs. BOTH are present with combustion. SCBA needs to be worn until monitoring determines that the presence of both is minimal. IT’S NOT NEW!

But, you HAVE left me with a new worry.

The opinions and views expressed are those of the article’s author, Art Goodrich, who also writes as ChiefReason. They do not reflect the opinions and views of, Fire Engineering Magazine, PennWell Corporation or his dog, Chopper. All articles by the author are protected by federal copyright and cannot be reproduced in any form without expressed permission.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Promise Made

10 years ago you and I made a promise to never forget. Every firefighter reading this knows what I'm talking about. Never forgetting also means taking care of the families of our fallen, it also means being respectful, being dutiful and being protective of their memory and the legacy that they have passed on to us. Today we have an opportunity to honor that pledge, today the families of our fallen along with the families of those citizens that they strove to protect are involved in an extremely emotional and extremely personal struggle.

The work is well underway at the 9/11 Memorial at the Ground Zero site, it is fitting and proper that the nation does what it is doing. Although there is much happening there that we disagree with, it is hard to battle with the forces of political correctness and their ideologies. I have asked that we join together and petition the people working on this site to include the ranks of our fallen, the ages of those taken, remove all mention of the evil men who perpetuated this tragedy and to strive to give fitting and proper homage to our fallen and to this nation that was so gravely wounded.

So far all of our petitions have fallen on deaf ears, and perhaps it is my own prejudice and biases that motivate me to want to have our fallen recognized in a greater way. I make no apologies for these feelings. I pray to God that we have the strength to go forward and continue to support the families of our fallen, to continue to fight to have a memorial constructed perhaps in Washington DC to those responders of 9/11. But all of this pales in comparison to the struggle that the families are now finding themselves in. Please read this article which I have attached to this blog from the New York Times it speaks about the human remains which are still unidentified from 9/11.

Decency and common sense cry out for separate and dignified memorial site to these unidentified fallen, it is only fitting and proper that their families be allowed and the descendents of their families be allowed to visit those who were so shamefully taken from us on that tragic and mournful day. We will continue to fight for separate memorial to responders of 9/11 that is our duty, that is our promise that is our goal. First however we must stand with those families who lost sons and daughters husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, cousins and in laws. We must demand that should not this great nation provide a tomb for those remains?

Why hide these beautiful people seven stories below ground in a museum of all things when we have the capability, we have the opportunity, we have the responsibility to do better. I know not what specific direction we should take but I do know that I will stand with the families and I ask you to stand with them as well. It is time that the American fire service for once stand together undivided for that which we were born to do, for that are driven by our faith to do, for that which we cannot shirk to anyone else. We must care for those families.

I have asked our executive technical editor Glenn Corbett to keep us informed as to what is going on with the 9/11 Memorial and the human remains. Glenn will find us a direction, more than anyone else in the world I trust Glenn's leadership and Glenn's wisdom in this regard. I know Glenn will be working with Sally Regenhard and the other 9/11 families to help us find a solution to this incredibly moral dilemma. Now is the time for unity now is the time for strength now is a time for faith now is the time to do the right thing.Times story

Your brother Bobby

Friday, April 1, 2011

Journal Entry 8-What if the FAST/RIT/RIC Can't Make It?

First and foremost, what about FDIC 2011? Yet another incredible week in Indianapolis. If you've never been there, it's a must. Open an FDIC Club account. (Better than a Christmas club!) Put away $20.00 a week. Get yourself to Indy next year, somehow. You'll come back every year after that. After 21 FDIC's, take it from me. There is something for everyone. See you in 2012! Now to the business at hand. A fire department got a call to respond FAST to a structure fire in February. It was 0430, there was 6-8 inches of snow on the ground and it was still coming heavily. On a good day, it would take 17-20 minutes to respond to this town. This morning, it took them almost 45. In this area, this department was asked to provide this service to 20 area fire departments over time, as they are one of a few career departments in an area dominated by volunteer departments and they can guarantee a response most times. Some towns appear to be too far for them to be effective. One chief when questioned explained that it will take him 15 to 20 minutes to get on scene and get set and we'd be arriving right on time. (It's the nature of the beast.) The front seat officer admitted that a half mile from the firehouse, he said to the driver "this is pretty bad." That was the point to return and tell dispatch to contact the town in need and to get a closer unit. In fact they should not have the firehouse in the first place. So, they adjusted themselves, recounted the safety issues involved and went forward. The next thought was what was the incident commander thinking by even calling them on that morning, knowing that they so far away. He just followed his run card and ignored a good common sense approach. Tunnel vision. What good could they have done if within 10 or 15 ninutes into his operation, a crew went into the basement with the kitchen appliances on top of them? Were they going to wait for a far away FAST? WTF? In discussing this part if the issue with fellow chiefs and firefighters, my thoughts were that if you can't get a known, trained certified FAST/RIT/RIC team in to the scene quickly, call anyone! Every single firefighter has been trained to do search and rescue. Do I believe in the FAST/RIT/RIC concept? Yes. Do I think it's something we need? Absolutely. Am I willing to wait a half hour or 45 minutes for a unit to get my guys out? No way! Get me an engine or a truck company to stand by to get my guys out. At the very end of the day, a rescue is a rescue is a rescue. Taking the emotional part out of it that a brother or sister may be lost or trapped, there's little difference between FF Smith and Mrs. Smith laying unconcious on the second floor of a 2 1/2 story frame house. Send in a team and get them out. Let's not let the swing of the pendulum blind us to what else we can do for our people on the inside. Let's get out of the box and be aware. Your thoughts? Be well, stay well, stay safe, Ronnie K

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Chief Reason at FDIC 2011

This year at FDIC, I was a lone wolf. I guess that made me more mobile and I didn’t have to worry about the schedules of others. I only had ME to worry about and my nights there were shortened considerably.

I buy two shirts when I get to the Indiana Convention Center.
I always go to the Indianapolis FD Emerald Society booth and purchase their shirt, because the money is going to a great cause. It is an awesome group that provides a valuable, time-honored service that is such a part of the rich fire service heritage.
And I buy the “official” FDIC shirt from the “official” FDIC merchandise booth. There were other booths selling shirts to commemorate FDIC 2011, but they weren’t “official”. I accept no substitutes.
I couldn’t help but notice that excessive cleavage was missing this year. Oh; it dawns on me that the Fire Girls of Fire Girls calendar fame weren’t there.
However; the very tasteful America’s Female Firefighters calendar was there this year and some of the girls who posed were signing their calendars. Money from this calendar goes to sending juvenile burn survivors to burn camps, so I want to thank Andrea, Donna, Shawn, Emilie, Heidi, Jennifer, Cathy and Pam for signing my calendar and for taking the time to talk to me. They are beautiful women on many levels. Visit them at
An up-tempo moment for me this year was seeing my buddy, Mike Kilburg of Country Club Hills Fire Department. Mike and I go back a ways on the discussion boards and became fast friends. He is an intelligent and committed public servant; one who is very passionate about his causes and I have the utmost respect for him and yes; sometimes we disagree, but it is respectful; which is why I love the guy!
It is those chance meetings that make FDIC such an outstanding conference. If you don’t see someone that you know at this conference, then you have lived under a rock.
Fire was giving away promotional shirts to kick off their new Training Blogs and National Fireman’s Journal Blogs. They were very spiffy long-sleeved T-shirts in a navy blue with white lettering. They were also giving away khaki colored ball caps with the National Fireman’s Journal logo on it. I got one of each, as I am blogging for the National Fireman’s Journal side, as I no longer have training skills. So, for the thousands of you who got the free shirt or hat from the Fire Engineering booth; you know now that it was a promotion to get you interested in the great blogs that are coming to!
On Friday, I was staking out the FE booth where Bobby Halton and Erich Roden were to do their FDIC Wrap-Up for Fire Engineering Talk Radio. Erich was already there, but no Bobby. However; Ray McCormack stepped in and did a great job of interviewing such guests as Kevin Shea, Mike Gagliano, Jason Hoevelmann and John O’Donnell. As I listened to the show on my laptop, Chris Naum came over and we had a nice chat.
Every year, I get invited to vendor hospitality rooms, but I had so much going on this year that I was simply returning to my room and doing work. In addition, I bought Christopher Brennan’s ( new book from Pennwell entitled “The Combat Position”. I started reading it while I was waiting for the shuttle to the motel and when I got to my room, I continued to read it until I fell asleep.
The expansion and renovations that have been made to the Convention Center are amazing.
Now you don’t have to walk outside to get to Lucas Oil Stadium. You can get there from the Convention Center through an underground walkway. When you think about it; your hotel is connected to the Convention Center, parking is connected, restaurants are connected and now; Lucas is connected. You would never have to leave the complex. It’s all under one, huge roof!
Indianapolis could become the convention capital of the world with the facilities that they have built and expanded. Clearly, they “get it” where it comes to hosting guests in their city.
I have one complaint, though; construction. See; earlier I was lauding it, but it’s also a pain; especially right there on Capitol Ave at the Convention Center. But, have you been down Interstate 465 that goes towards the airport? I swear that they have been working on that road for over 10 years. It is my hope to see it finished in my lifetime!
I lied. I have one more complaint…
This dude back at the motel had his ringtone set as an activated PASS device. You know; that sound that you DON’T want to hear on the fire ground? He was having a lot of fun with it. Oh; but it didn’t end there. He also had an air horn and a siren for, I would guess, voicemail and text notification. I have a suggestion for his “missed call” notification, but kids might be reading this.
OK; cranky ChiefReason has left the building.
Just like the secret to soylent green in the movie “Soylent Green” starring Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson (in his last starring role); so it is with FDIC.
The secret is PEOPLE!
I love going there to see and to be in the throngs of people: instructors, speakers, authors, fire service legends and heroes, friends, strangers and of course; other bloggers and podcasters.
Check out this list of bloggers that I had an opportunity to chat with: Professor Mike Ward, Paul Combs, Chris Brennan, Chris Naum, Jason Hoevelmann, Chris Kaiser, April Saling, Rhett Fleitz and Willie Wines Jr. As an added plus, Paul Combs signed my copy of his book “Drawn by Fire” and Chris Brennan did likewise of my copy of his book “The Combat Position”. Thanks, guys.
I also got to talk with Rob Schnepp, Kevin Shea, Mike Gagliano, John O’Donnell, Dr. Mike McEvoy, Erich Roden, Bobby Halton; not to mention Shawn Longerich and Beth Kershner at the booth. I also got to talk to Paul Conway (, Chris Brown ( about his and Tim’s new venture “Emergency Stream” and Clint Bowring (, who has come out with an amazing firefighter tool.
I got to meet a couple of new friends in Mike Leuchtenberg and Gabe Angemi, but I also got to talk to some old friends like Jeff Morris (, Mike Shull, Dean Peterson, Kevin Devlin, Steve Campbell and Gary Saline.
Peter Prichilo and Scott Nelson of were available to talk about the new blogging platform that is coming to the website. They have been a great help to me as I continue to develop my blog at
To wrap up the show, I spent some time with Erik Estrada, who played motorcycle police officer Frank (Ponch) Poncherello on the TV series “CHiPs”. It can still be found in cable land.
As I approached him, I asked Erik if he was still riding motorcycles and he said, “You bet!”
I asked him, “What kind?” He replied, “Everything”. And it reminded me that: the spirit of the wind and the freedom of the open road is all that matters.
Then, Erik told me that he was a member of the Blue Knights International Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club ( and took out his wallet and proudly showed me his membership card. He still rides in support of his charities, particularly Safe Surfin’; a charity aimed towards keeping children safe on the internet. He is very committed to stopping internet crimes involving children.
As I was leaving him, he invited me to a motorcycle ride in Cleveland, OH on Saturday, May 7th. I asked him if he wears a helmet when he rides and he said, “Absolutely!”
So, if any of you firefighter bikers aren’t busy that day…
I have one more FDIC blog to do before I wrap things up. I found a most amazing tool that I believe is an absolute game changer. Be looking for it, but in the meantime, you can go to and check it out. I didn’t get one, but Chris Brennan did. I am anxious to hear from him.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author, Art Goodrich, who also writes under the name ChiefReason.  They do not reflect the views and opinions of, Fire Engineering Magazine, PennWell Corporation or his dog, Chopper. Articles written by the author are protected by federal copyright and cannot be reproduced in any form.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gustin Delivers One-Two Punch at FDIC 2011

Captain Bill Gustin of the Miami-Dade (FL) Fire Rescue Department was a perfect complement to FDNY Captain Mike Dugan’s opening conference address.

Where Dugan was telling the young firefighters to turn introspective; to soul search for their reasons that they are firefighters (“Why Are We Here”)-Gustin was telling them what they could expect.

From budget cuts hurting both career and volunteer departments to the changing attitudes of the public, “doing more with less to doing less with less”; Bill Gustin put the fire service on the stage as seen through the critical eye.

And, how can you argue with him when he states that we spend too much time and money on getting firefighters out of trouble when the focus should be on keeping them out of trouble in the first place?

He had very strong words on the apparatus accidents that have occurred in the past few years. His simple message was to “slow down”. To the apparatus drivers, he reminded them that, if they hit someone and it is their fault, they could be arrested, lose their job and then get sued. As a comparison; he couldn’t remember of too many firefighters who fell off of rigs when it was still acceptable to ride outside of the cab. How true!

Here was another fire service veteran advocating learning from others’ mistakes. NIOSH LODD reports, NIST burn studies and UL were all mentioned as very good sources of information that should be read; then used.

I liked his straight forward delivery. He stood at the podium and gave his honest and personal insights on where the fire service has been, where it’s at now and where it’s going.

Sound familiar? Yeah; Gustin “BAGged” it!

Now; Captain Gustin wasn’t delivering a safety sermon. In fact; “safety” was rarely mentioned, but…

The message came through loud and clear.

He mentioned that firefighters were dying “with a hose in their hands”. He wasn’t advocating not doing interior attacks, but he was advocating applying water from the exterior to slow down fire growth in order to make it safer for teams to go in AND he made it clear that he was not fond of “bursting”.


Because applying short, nozzle bursts of water doesn’t put the fire out, but only delays flashover. He advocated getting water and “plenty of it on the seat of the fire”. What a concept!

Though his message was directed at the young firefighters in the audience, it wasn’t condescending. He encouraged education and to take advantage of the changing technologies like thermal imaging. But, he stressed that technology alone is no substitute for making critical decisions in regards to building construction and fire behavior.

I believe that we will have to continue to see advances in the way that we think!

And having frank and honest discussions on points made by Captain Bill Gustin in his address will go far in reducing firefighter injuries and death.

It wasn’t so much a “wake-up call” as it was a call to be awake and aware of an inherently dangerous profession.

Throw in respect for the job, respect for each other and respect between generations of firefighters.

Gustin and Dugan; two heavyweights who delivered a one-two punch at FDIC 2011.

Catch them both in the archives at:


The opinions and views expressed are those of the article’s author, Art Goodrich, who also writes as ChiefReason. They do not reflect the opinions and views of, Fire Engineering Magazine, PennWell Corporation or his dog, Chopper. All articles by the author are protected by federal copyright and cannot be reproduced in any form without expressed permission.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dugan Goes Yard With FDIC Keynote Address

For the sports-challenged, my title means that FDNY Capt. Mike Dugan hit a home run with his keynote address.
I was fortunate; like so many of us who couldn’t be there today, to watch the live streaming video. A big shout out and thank you to the FDIC technical staff for making it possible.
FDIC has been described as the Mecca and the Super Bowl of fire conferences. It is Woodstock, Lollapalooza and Farm Aid all rolled into one. And for some, it is like Spring Break at Daytona Beach or the Daytona 500.
But, when all of the analogies, metaphors and superlatives have been said; it all boyles (for my Irish peeps) down to the keynote speaker, FDNY Capt. Mike Dugan and his keynote address, “Why Are We Here?”
For, in my mind, it is the keynote that puts the thumb print and exclamation point on FDIC. The speaker must capture the energy, purpose and extend the legacy of the greatest fire show on Earth.
Dugan succeeded.
Pacing back and forth like a caged lion, challenging his audience with his steely gaze, while pointing his finger at them to make his point; his voice crackling with passionate emotion; Mike Dugan either mesmerized or hypnotized you into following his every move. His heart was on display for all to see and hear. No pretenses; no false witnesses; he was 100 percent red, white and blue.
But, was he challenging his audience, as others would suggest?
Or, was he performing an intervention on behalf of the fire service?
In my opinion, the fire service has been in an addled state for the past half dozen years; alternating between euphoria over reduced LODDs and anger over how firefighters are still dying. It’s as if we can’t enjoy a success long enough to pull some positive energy from it before we continue the arduous mission of getting everyone home safely. It is almost bi-polar; love/hate with a splash of narcissism from the “grab it by the throat” crowd that steers the impressionable minds towards the gray areas where they must use their underdeveloped, cognitive reasoning instead of the mentoring minds of their departments that will surely keep them out of Harm’s way until they can reach a maturity in their decision-making. WE own it. WE are setting the stage for future firefighters. They don’t need our pep talks; they need our leadership. Which is why I asked…
Was it a challenge or intervention?
Just like a counselor would ask his patient, “Why are you here”; Capt. Dugan posed that question to an international audience of firefighters.
It’s no secret that the firefighters in the fire service are getting older  and as Dugan pointed out…it’s time for the younger ones to step up. I think that the undercurrent to that is that the tremendous knowledge in the older men and women of the fire service needs to be tapped before it is gone.
It is a fact that many, many good books have been written, but books can never replace real time/real life  contact with that book’s author. You read his book. Great; you read how to do it. But, what if he could have actually told you and SHOWED you? Priceless!
Dunn, Brannigan, Lasky, Salka and Mittendorf all have great books out, but how many of you can say, “I took his class” or better still, “He mentored me”?
As the fire service goes forward, there CANNOT be any gaps in the information between generations. Dugan points out very aptly that fire isn’t burning hotter, but it’s getting there more quickly.
You HAVE to know the science; to be a student and to continually learn in venues like FDIC and then be willing to take it back and to share it.
It was easy for me to sit and watch the live streaming video of the keynote address and to get emotional, because Mike Dugan was emotional; someone who clearly loves his vocation/his avocation.
He paid homage to his mentor.
He made it clear that the opportunity to be a firefighter should not be taken lightly or taken for granted, because decision-makers who are not of the brotherhood are ending careers.
FDNY Capt. Mike Dugan is the type of firefighter who will radiate that energy that we all seek to re-charge our batteries. Whether it’s in the classroom, hallway or bar; you will benefit greatly from a short, chance meeting with people like Mike Dugan.
So, when the lights go on and the doors open at the Indiana Convention Center, ask yourself, “Why are we here” and then, go and immerse yourself in the limitless possibilities.
Great keynote, Mike Dugan. It would be my distinct honor to shake your hand.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author, Art Goodrich, who also writes under the name ChiefReason.  They do not reflect the views and opinions of, Fire Engineering Magazine, PennWell Corporation or his dog, Chopper. Articles written by the author are protected by federal copyright and cannot be reproduced in any form.