Friday, November 18, 2016

New Episode of 5-Alarm Task Force!!

We're happy to announce that we finished up our next episode of our podcast, "5-Alarm Task Force," earlier than we expected! We thought we were going to be up against a turkey before we finished.

This episode features Lt. Grant Schwalbe from Estero Fire-Rescue and the fire-education company, When Things Go Bad, Inc. (, Grant talks about the tasks necessary to remember when conducting a primary search. He also tells us about the new program from the company called, "First and Ten." What do you need to accomplish in the first ten minutes on-scene? 

Here's the link:

We also welcome our good friends at The Firehouse Tribune as coop-sponsors to our podcast. They have been @Dalmatprod followers and supporters of our efforts and we're glad to have them with us. We hope you'll enjoy listening to Episode 2. Find them on Twitter at @FHTribune or visit their website at

We're also glad to announce that we have some excellent guests already lined up into the Spring of 2017, including, Chief Dennis Rubin in December, Chief (ret.) Phil Johnston (@firefaqs) in January and hopefully, Grant's partner in When Things Go Bad, Inc., Paul Capo. And there are several more in the wings.

If you would like to be a guest on "5-Alarm Task Force," drop us a Direct Message on Twitter (@Dalmatprod) or send us an email at
And please don't forget - we'd like to hear from you.  Please feel free to leave your comments here on the blog or on out Podomatic page.

We wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. May you be together with the ones you love and care about and enjoy what all that is good that life gives us.

Till next time...

 And don't forget, pickup a copy of my e-book, "Fish Out of Water: Two Jewish Guys in a Deep South Firehouse," on Amazon Kindle at

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Then & Now - How Do We Bridge the Chasm?

In an excellent article in on the first of this month, Chief Ronny J. Coleman, a CA State Fire Marshall (ret.) and a well-experienced fire professional, brought up a topic that many avoid or are to quick to pass over, "Your Daddy's Fire."

In his article, Chief Coleman posits that in some ways, the "efforts" of firefighting today is not all that different from the earliest self-organized efforts of throwing buckets of the "wet stuff on the red stuff," from as far back as the 17th century and since. We've simply evolved different methods of doing the same thing using the methods that each time-period's technology, allowed. Of course, we have also seen that our fires today are not all "Class A," which has required fire-science experts to develop new materials, tools, chemicals, etc. to quench those fires as well.

One of the greatest aspects that I, and I believe many others, have found in the fire service, is to be a young upstart, rookie firefighter and listening to the "war stories" of those that "were there" before us. They told us of their grand exploits, running into the roaring inferno of an occupied apartment building without the benefit of a hose, rescuing adults and children alike. Or perhaps they were on the third floor and found themselves without an exit, save one window. They rigged some hose around the leg of a dresser and bailed head-first out the window. We sat there mesmerized, looking forward to our own opportunity to live the life of these heroes.

As we progress through our learning curve, we learn many new methods that have been developed to allow our generation to meet the challenges of fighting the "Red Devil." Different tactics, new combinations and yes, even safer ways to do our duty. However, as Chief Coleman states in his outstanding article, the differences and similarities converge to raise the question, "Are we teaching the past or are we teaching the present?" (Ronny J. Coleman, "Your Daddy's Fire," FIRERESCUEMAGAZINE.COM, November 1, 2016.)

He continues by stressing the need for that what was/is old to be updated to include, that which is new. However, we have to ask ourselves, "Do we do it and if so, do we do so enough?" This is an imperative if we are to be able to continue to do our duty. There can be no truer words!

By the natural "biology" of the fire service, there will always (or almost always) be a mixture of, what I will simply say as, "rookies," (0-1 year) "experienced," (1-5 years) and "well-experienced (5+ years). This can be seen both in the firefighters who enjoy the challenge of being on the front-line for their entire career and by those who yearn to learn climb the leadership ladder and rise to the higher ranks of officers.  Add to that mix are those who are retired/disabled, but still dedicated to the service, and willing to contribute what they can to help today's fire service grow into tomorrow's.

Perhaps there might be a way that departments, on their own, in regional groups or through national resources,  could bring the "old" and "new" together. This should not be seen as a "stroll down memory lane," for the "old-timers" to try and mesmerize the "young 'uns," with amazing tales. Rather, these scheduled and specifically organized events, should allow for the clear and concise exchange of information from all parties, that will benefit both those in attendance and in turn, those who will be  their future audiences, as well. Let's take Chief Coleman's words to heart and assure that we use our past experiences as tool towards providing the best possible service we can in our firefighting careers.

As philosopher and novelist, George Satayana warned, Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

Stay safe and let's make sure that everyone goes home.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Your Great Opportunity

You have a wonderful opportunity to save lives over the rest of this week! Do you know how? Do you know why?

Overnight this weekend, the country (most of it, that is) will again change its clocks from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time. Clocks, watches, computers and more will be handled, dialed, push-buttoned, to provide an extra hour of sleep to most of the American public. It is a practice that the vast majority of us are use to, so what's the big deal?

As current and/or former firefighters/rescuers, we can use the semi-annual of time change to alert those in our communities that if they can be so concerned with their clocks, let  them also take an important interest in the simple device that may not help them sleep later, but can save their lives - their smoke detectors!

While it is true that newer smoke detectors are often equipped with newer, lithium-ion batteries that can last up to ten years, hundreds of thousands of "standard" smoke detectors are still being used all around the country. Most of those use the standard 9-volt "transistor" or rectangular battery. Those batteries are available at almost every neighborhood market, supermarket, pharmacies and "big-box" stores. Replacing them in these older models is as simple as replacing batteries in a flashlight. So what's the big deal?

The problem is that most people need to be reminded to check and/or change those batteries twice a year. in the old days, testing the battery was done by simply pushing the "TEST" button on the outside of detector. Recently though, it was determined that that test may not suffice. While a powered battery is necessary, it is more important to know that the detection chamber works flawlessly. Use a simple match (not a butane lighter!), blow it out and let the smoke drift towards the chamber. If the alarm sounds, you will know your battery and chamber are working properly.

It has been proven over and over again:
Change Your Clocks - Change Your Batteries saves lives. You still have time to organize an group effort in your department to get the word out. Notify your local radio and television stations, as well as your local newspaper. Get out on to the main intersections in your community to promote the test or to actually give smoke detectors away. 
Simply put, a working smoke detector saves lives.
And thanks to our friends at 
for all their support