Monday, October 31, 2011

Tactical Safety: Getting an Opinion

Get an Opinion

By Ray McCormack
Getting an opinion from a firefighter is not usually something you have to request, they are generally handed out like candy on Halloween by the full. What do firefighters have to say on grant money, cutbacks, and the future of fire attack, just to name a few? Many will say something on cutbacks; some might say something about grant money, but many are silent on the future of fire attack. Why is our range of pertinent subjects so vague when we have abundant media available to us, as well as an instant knowledge extension? This may hurt a few of you out there, but you don't have a solid opinion because you don't care enough to bother. Cutbacks hurt us in many ways: from service arrival delays to accomplishment barriers and a loss of livelihood for some. Our profession is more than just a job, and to lose that center in your life is very difficult and painful. We can share that opinion and for most of us any depth beyond the surface will suffice; however when we want to do more than hope and dream, an education in government and economic factors are the lessons we need to brush up on. So why don't we do more? We have the time, we have collective thought opportunities; we have media access, but we are lacking one basic – and that is we don't care enough! Looking for leadership is just another example of waiting on the sidelines and being told what to do. Forget leadership and act. Doing something on our own and owning it is leadership. You don't have to ‘knight’ someone special, knight yourself and then do the work. Grant money is a wonderful thing, and the fire service should get its piece of the pie so that we can test theories, tools and products. Do you know who gets the biggest dollar grants and how much they receive? And have you ever seen the results of all this Federal largess? Most of us have not and why is that, what excuse sounds the most plausible? Go and look up the Fire Prevention and Safety Grant program (it's under FEMA) and see for yourself. It's not that any monies have been misappropriated, it is about educating yourself; information that the well rounded opinionated firefighter should possess. You might be surprised at how the money is dispersed. Thirty six million so far this year, ($36,000,000) just to associations and colleges – not fire departments! The future of fire attack is another interesting topic that many in the fire service have no real clue about. Things will change on the fireground, and if we look around, many places do it differently from the way you do it already. You must look beyond tools and technology and examine trends that are being pushed forward and by whom. You must also understand the impact of independent testing events and how event outcomes morph into new operational guidelines often without proper vetting. A new future on the fireground is up to you to develop or you can just pick a prepackaged option from the shelf it is up to you. Dig deep. It is certainly worth your time and effort to see how the playing field is set up, who plays, and what the score is on many fronts. If you do or do not like what you see, then that is a reward for personal research. An opinion that is based on knowledge allows you to decide what is good or bad for yourself and anytime we are thinking things through our tactical safety will benefit. Next Tactical Safety - Never Mind My Air Supply, How Much Gas is Left?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Tactical Safety: Demolition Derby

By Ray McCormack

I went back and forth on this piece trying to decide what the title should relate to – at least this time around. There are good things that occur in the fire service that move us along in a positive direction, and there are other events and movements that can set us back a bit. I know because even I have been accused of the latter. In a Demolition Derby, the last car banged up, but still limping along wins. So the fire department that takes the hits and keeps going wins in the end? Perhaps; however, not without adapting and modifying. The hits can accumulate as small dents or as a devastating blow; it depends, and no department remains unscathed, eventually the dents occur.

Using modern technology to send an electronic dent is very popular these days. There is no shortage of fire folks who wait like snakes in the grass to spit their venom and put their fangs into their latest victim. It's okay to dislike something that has occurred, we are still entailed to a free will and mind, but doing it as sport is another thing. There are web sites where individuals base their whole existence on going against the grain, and it's not about opinion, it's about being noticed and spreading angst. Their enlightenment of the rest of us grows tedious; without a true identity, you are masked and can be seen, too and not just heard.

So what do we do? Take it! Take it all in, and hold it up for appraisal and then move forward.

What type of fire department would you be if your work load changed to a steady diet of multiple fires in vacant buildings? You would be forced to adapt your current model for sure. What you ended up with would be quite different than the utopia you dream of, and if you don't think so take a better look. The dings that are so freely exchanged and expressed towards fire department models we don't fully understand should give us pause. The fire service derby will never end, but maybe we should all do a few laps under the caution flag.

I appreciate something substantial that can be tried, not just phrases linked together that sound like something. This ‘something’ being a mystery to most readers, until the developer finally figures out a way to attach the catch phrase to a previously understood model, thereby making it palatable for general consumption – but not always.

Derby participants adapt to maintain tactical safety to their needs and circumstances; venomous observers and new age pontificators are off track.

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