Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Heavy Toll of Who We Are and What We Do

September 27, 2016

Who could have known that the past seven days would exact such a toll on the Fire Service? The answer? None of us. Another answer? All of us.

As of today, we have lost six of our comrades in the last seven days, including FDNY Battalion Chief Michael Fahy, who died this morning as the result of an explosion at an apartment in the Bronx that was very likely a grow-house. The others include two firefighters from the Wilmington DE Fire Department, Lt. Christopher Leach and Senior Firefighter Jerry Fickes who died fighting an apartment fire early Saturday morning; West County MO EMS & Fire, Firefighter Sean McMullin who was found unresponsive in his station on Saturday; Ventura County CA Fire Engineer Ryan Osler, who lost his life in a tanker rollover; and North Belle Vernon PA Safety Officer Charles E. Horan, who died as a result of a fall at his home while responding to a call. 

As we know all too well, unlike many occupations, the loss of a firefighter is like throwing a large rock into a quiet and smooth pond. Upon impact unnatural waves are pushed up and out; their ripples continuing in every direction until finally ending on the nearest shore. Each of the losses noted above exert a terrible price on the families of those who have been lost. However, the effect moves on, spreading wider as it hits the departments these brave firefighters were members of; continuing ever outward, they hit the friends of the victims, who did not look at them as just firefighters, but simply as "buddies." Finally, the ripples spread across their largest journey, as they arrive at us, the members of the fire service across this country, both current and/or retired. Thus, in our own way, in our own place, we find our own time to mourn; we mourn comrades that we very likely did not know on a personal basis. Yet we mourn, nevertheless.

If there is anyone who still doubts that firefighters really are a family, all they have to do is drop by their local firehouse. There, they will find some representation of our connection to these six firefighters; as simple as a flag flown at half-mast, to banded badges or even black or purple bunting. They will see us raising funds or collecting items to send out to help the families or their departments, to assist in any manner necessary, to several of us in a small group, talking about Line of Duty Deaths and what we can learn from each and every one.

Our "love" exacts a terrible price from us. Yet, after each tragedy, we steel ourselves and vow to do a better job, take better care of ourselves, learn more and of course, be more careful. The sad truth is sometimes, no matter how careful we are, we can still be knocked down. Let us realize that "Everyone Goes Home," is not just a colloquialism, it is our prayer every time we respond to a call!

Let us remember these six brothers and honor their bravery and dedication. Let their souls be bound up in the Bond of Life and may they rest in peace. Amen.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

What Happens This Sunday - September 11, 2016?

As I am sure all of you are aware, this Sunday marks the fifteenth anniversary of the 9|11 attacks on the United States. A great deal has happened in those fifteen years. Parents grieve for their children; children grow up without one parent. Couples were split apart, never to be together again. 

This nation suffered greatly that day. I'm not exactly sure, but I believe I heard that one out of every 6 people in this country have/had some sort of connection to the losses of 9|11. I know it was true for me in a couple of ways. We knew a family from our former synagogue whose son worked at Cantor/Fitzgerald. A very close friend of mine, also a firefighter in South Florida, knew well several of our brothers lost that day. Another person very close to me was invited to fly with a business acquaintance on the flight to L.A., to play golf together. His schedule didn't allow him the leeway and he regretfully, declined the offer. He is alive today. 

Also in these fifteen years, a new breed of Americans arose; they are the disbelievers. They claim that 9|11 was sanctioned, orchestrated and carried out by the U.S. government. They have videos that "prove" there were explosions that brought down the buildings.They heard "this," or "that," or someone told them that "this happened," or "that happened." They use the absences of certain people with government connections, as proof the government knew about this advance and also sorts of other drivel. Nevertheless, nearly 3,000 men, women and children, of all faiths, heritages, skin colors, personal beliefs, died that day, when it was supposed to be a beautiful early Fall day for all of them.

Already, there have been several television programs about that day. And there is not doubt that there will be a good number more over this weekend. It is the way that many in this country grieve; by watching these television programs, which broadcast the same videos we have all seen, many, many times. 

With all of this, how have we changed? Did we change? No, I'm not talking about the Department of Homeland Security, the TSA, etc. I am speaking about us, as a people. How have we evolved.

If there is one group that stands head-and-shoulders above the masses, it is the men and women who are the first responders in this country. We are a group that lost 343 brothers that day; a group who lost members of Law Enforcement and Emergency Medical Services. These were the people you see running to the buildings, running to help the injured and the trapped. Not to forget the dozens of firefighters and other who spent hour-after-hour on the mound of rubble, inhaling all manner of poisons into their lungs; the poisons which led for many to various cancers and sadly, early deaths. These are the people that you want to show up at your home or place of business within five-to-six minutes of you dialing 9-1-1 or another emergency number.  These are the men and women who do not work just for their paycheck, they work to help others; to help people like you, when you call. The people who very, very, rarely hear two words when they finish their jobs at a scene. They rarely hear the words, "Thank you."

Immediately after the tragedy, firefighters were the heroes; adulation was adorned on them all around the country. Yet, just several months later, the adulation was gone; the appreciation was gone. As departments around the country began working on their budgets, often the first target is the fire service. "Why do we have to pay them so much? They sit in the firehouse most of the day and once in a while go out on a call," is commonly heard at budget meetings. Yet, no matter what we do at the firehouse if we're not on a call, we are always prepared to answer the call - your call!

This weekend as you go to shop, as you visit family, as you visit your houses of worship, try to remember the men and women who protect you day in and day out and are willing, without a second though, to give their lives for yours.

Can you do that? Would you? 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Premier Podcast of "5-Alarm Task Force - News & Issues for Today's Firest Responders"


We're happy to bring you the premier podcast from Dalmatian Productions, Inc. It has taken us a great deal of time and effort to be able to create a show that we hope brings the type of information, dialogue, news, etc., that you are interested in.

And to that end, we invite you to do one or both of the following:
1. Write to us with a suggestion of a topic you'd like to hear discussed.
2. Let us know that you would like to be a guest on our show and present a topic you feel is important for first responders today.

Through the relationships we have been able to develop on Twitter, we have made strong connections with some of the best leaders and instructors in fire/rescue/EMS. Several of them have already agreed to be guests on our podcasts and we look forward to bringing you their topics.

Today's guest has become a good friend of Dalmatian Productions, even though we have not had the opportunity to meet yet! That's Captain/Paramedic Joe DeVito of the Ft. Myers Beach Fire Control District. here in Southwest Florida. Joe is in his 10th year with this department. Not only is Joe a great teacher, he is an avid learner. He is always trying to learn more so that he may always do a better job/

It's our pleasure to bring you the premier podcast here: http://bit.ly/2c87pds

This podcast is brought you by "Fish Out of Water: 2 Jewish Guys in a Deep South Firehouse," Steve Greene's autobiographical story of how he came to be a firefighter.  you can find Steve's book on Amazon at tinyurl.com/NCFIREFIGHTING and soon to becoming to all e-book retailers!