Online Reporter
Fire Forums
Live Audio
More News
Fit for Fire
Hot Rigs
Hot Shots
Firehouse Books
Email us
November 28, 2002
Chief Billy Goldfeder
By now, all of you have read about the tragic fire this week in Coos Bay. If there is ANY common denominator of all the stories we write for WithTheCommand.Com and the programs we teach on this stuff-it is the fact that on nearly EVERY SINGLE ONE a comment is made such as "It was just a routine fire" or "the room flashed out of nowhere" as well as "the roof just gave way-without warning" and now "We never thought it would happen here'".... 
Again-as most of you know, no disrespect is ever meant about any of the incidents we write about-I try my best to present the facts and then present opinion based upon the facts-and usually, the historic perspective-because in most cases, THE FIRE we are talking about TODAY-happened "somewhere" in the PAST....and of course, in Coos Bay, no one officially knows what truly happened yet. Fortunately, our comments have never been taken as disrespectful.

But quickly-think about the comments that are heard after almost every tragic run....see what I mean? It's the SAME OLD SONG! As we wrote last Spring in WithTheCommand.Com after the St. Louis firefighters were killed..."THE BEAT GOES ON"....

I received a lot of e-mail yesterday and appreciate everyone's comments..100% of the comments were "when are we ever going to learn" as well as "reminds me of Hackensack" or "the Chesapeake fire" and "what can be done"......
Probably like you, I have a house full of family and friends in for Thanksgiving-so I don't wanna ramble on about this...but simply put, the answers to the above questions are simple. We covered a lot of that in a recent WithTheCommand article entitled "Ever Get N.T.S.?" (Non-Thinking-Syndrome)

The answer although challenging-is simple. We have got to always have FIRE Officers that expect the unexpected and then, once we act like that-we then have to go to a level of inconvenience in order to fully prepare a fire department for what will eventually come...meaning, fires such as described above. It's that so-called "level of inconvenience" that must include all the stuff we write and talk about...aggressive training, staffing, equipment setup, response plans, pre-plans, strict command and control, risk management and safety procedures and attitudes---you know all the stuff. All very inconvenient when your priorities are to sleep, eat cake, talk on the phone, play on the computer, play video games, watch movies, watch Springer and generally waste time when at the firehouse. Next time you see this happening in your firehouse-stop it-lead your crew out for a real-drill...something that will matter in saving their own lives. The result will be WHINING and MOANING in 99% of all cases...until you start to show them how this stuff really does matter. Why, if you do it right-you won't even have to worry about if your troops "like you" or not...(they probably don't-but who cares-I LIKE YOU-see that, now you can move forward)....it WON'T MATTER IF THEY DON'T "LIKE" YOU-because, they will start to respect you-and that's what matters....if your attitude is to TRULY get everyone home alive.

Changing any fire department's thinking and culture isn't easy by ANY stretch of the imagination...just like most of you, I have taken more than just a few TUMS after trying to effect change...but ya can't give up. Don't EVER give up on this stuff. Do whatever you have to in order to NOT have this stuff happen. FORCE FEED the stuff we discuss here and MAKE THOSE INVOLVED LISTEN...no matter what...no matter what rank....no matter how inconvenient.

As we get ready to sit down at the Thanksgiving table, our hearts and deepest thoughts go out to Chief Stan Gibson and the members of the CBFD...but especially out to the families, friends and most critically the 11 "daddy-less" children of our Brother Firefighters Chuck Hanners, Randy Carpenter and Jeff Common. You can respectfully honor their memories by KNOWING that "it will happen" in your community-what you do to avoid it and prepare for it now is the issue. THE FIRE we are talking about TODAY-happened "somewhere" in the PAST...so whatcha gonna do about it now?