Thursday, February 24, 2011

Anniversary - Erich Roden

By Erich Roden

Publisher and Editor, Urban Firefighter Magazine

Today is Urban Firefighter Magazine’s first Birthday. And yes, presents are mandatory…What began with two minds and a thousand ideas has become a magazine that has seen nearly four million page views in its infancy in just four issues – that’s MILLION. The braggart in us aside, this number proves more humbling to me than it serves as the industry’s benchmark for success. And humbled was I this day last year: I’ll let you in on a little-known fact: Urban Firefighter Magazine was not supposed to launch on February 25, 2010; rather, like every Grand Opening, there were a thousand little things Ray and I wanted to add-remove and stew about before releasing our baby to the public; we actually planned on waiting another week. Furthermore, I was on the back-half of a tour at the firehouse that day when an early-morning fire came in…

We were second-due truck to a private-dwelling and the engine had already started water on the fire as we arrived. We proceeded to the floor above to poke around and dropped-down to the landing below to don our facepieces. As we knelt-down, we saw what looked like two bare feet near a couch on the fire floor, just inside the doorway. We crawled in a few feet and were startled by what we found: a young woman brutally stabbed to death lying on the floor. We radioed the chief of our discovery, let the first-due truck take their grab out (fire floor decorum); and I advised the first-due truck officer that we would finish poking around the fire floor for more victims. What we found in the bathroom was just as unimaginable: two kids murdered in a different fashion; I’ll spare the details. We removed the kids, handed them off to an awaiting ambulance and reported into the chief to discuss the mess we discovered. We were to later find out that this was a robbery-gone-bad-arson-cover-up; at least the bastards were eventually caught.

You can imagine what the ride back to the quarters was like and the thoughts going through everyones’ heads. We backed-in, washed-up and I began packing up my stuff up to head home for the day. That’s when I grabbed my phone…

On it was a thousand text-messages and voicemails. See: while we were witness to the worst of urban life and taking in what should have been a routine fire in my City, our web-designers were busy, early, building the final website on what they thought was the beta site (nerd-speak for: a hidden site used by web-designers to see what the product actually looks like ‘live’). Instead, they mistakenly assembled the magazine on the actual site – and those friends and others who were looking for it were able to see it before Ray and I did (we were the worst-kept secret in the fire service at the time). Perhaps that’s the way it was meant to be, it is your magazine by the way!

I will always remember the roller-coaster of emotions experienced in an instant that morning, vividly. Our urban firefighters needed a voice that detailed their operations, personalities, victories and defeats, specifically. I’d like to think that a simple mistake by our web-designers was needed-proof that – although we had just experienced the worst in our business – there was now something positive out there to tell the story…


  1. We hear a lot of gripes about how crummy and tired the guys feel from sweating from heat, especially in and out in cold or really hot weather. A recommendation is to see what’s available by googling “flame retardant wicking underwear” or “flame retardant moisture wicking” and see what comes up.

  2. Tough day with a positive ending, nice going treating the victims as actual rescues, unfortunately I once was ordered not to remove victims...crime scene, however I ignored it (justified) and both had pluses...they died later.

    Your example show the positive side of not giving up....and giving the victims the benefit of the doubt.

    UFM got the same treatment in its raw form that morning and we loved it.

    The golden rule for me at a working fire...their not dead until there out and dead. (barring stuff like total incineration decapitation etc)