DiscoverCode 3 - The Firefighters' Podcast
Code 3 - The Firefighters' Podcast
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Code 3 - The Firefighters' Podcast

Author: Scott Orr

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The twice-weekly podcast for and about firefighters, "Code 3" covers topics of interest to those in the fire service, through interviews with those who know it best. From Chiefs to Probies, Engineers to Firefighters, and Paramedics to EMTs, award-winning journalist Scott Orr talks with them all. Show notes at
218 Episodes
Look around construction sites and you’re likely to see a lot of trenches. If there’s an underground line of any type, it takes a trench to put it in and to maintain it. Unfortunately, not all trenches are constructed to standards. That makes the job of rescuing a trapped worker even more hazardous. There are a lot of factors to consider when you arrive at a trench rescue scene. Here to discuss some of them is Mike Daley. He’s a lieutenant with the Monroe Township Fire District No. 3 in New Jersey. He holds a Master Fire Instructor certification from the ISFSI and is an instructor at the Middlesex County Fire Academy. Mike is also a member of New Jersey Task Force 1.
What color is a fire engine? Well, if you’re a fan of traditional fire helmets, then I assume you’d prefer your apparatus to be red. You know, fire engine red. But for years, since the 1970s, there’s been that nagging question of conspicuity. What color is safest? What color do drivers see most readily? In today’s world of highly distracted drivers, does color matter? My guest is Dr. Stephen Solomon. He’s taken a look at the data that’s been collected and has some answers. Stephen is an optometrist. He’s also a veteran firefighter, with 17 years as a captain, and 17 years as a fire commissioner. He is a hazmat tech and TRT supervisor in Tioga County, New York. He’s worked on projects to make fire apparatus safer. And you know that reflective and fluorescent trim on your turnouts? He worked with 3M to develop that.
Helicopters are a great tool to have available when someone needs to be pulled out of a remote canyon – or transported to a level 1 trauma center in a hurry. They’re unbeatable at those missions. I know—I flew helicopters for a while, back in the early 2000s and I hold a commercial pilot – helicopter certificate. But they also pose a danger to ground crews. Get complacent and you could have a very bad day. In Arizona, we’ve had DPS troopers killed by helicopter tail rotors and even a main rotor strike. Back again to give us a safety refresher is our favorite medical helicopter expert, Joseph Uridil. He’s a Air Methods clinical base supervisor for Native Air in Arizona.He is also, coincidentally, just back from recurrent scene-safety training for helicopter operations.
If you’re working toward becoming a firefighter, or you’re trying to get promoted, one of the scariest phrases to you is likely “oral interview.” You should be concerned about getting it right. You can do all the right things academically and on the application, but if you don’t ace that interview, your chances of getting hired or promoted are slim to none. So what do you need to do to prepare for the interview? What should you say or not say? Here to answer those questions and more is Mark Rossi. He’s a 20-year veteran of the fire service and a captain with the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Fire Department. Mark is both an accredited fire officer, and is a licensed and certified career coach. He is the founder and president of RockStar Interview & Promotional Prep Training.
I’ll bet you use salvage covers when you can. Why not? If you’re going to protect property, you can do a better job of it with covers than without. But there’s another step you can take to save property, and you may not even think much about it. When the front door is locked and you need to get in, what do you do? Force it. After all, it’s more important to get inside and put out that room-and-contents fire before it gets any bigger. Even if the door frame splinters. Or what if grandma is having an acute MI and she’s locked in? Same answer, same reason. But now, when you leave, grandma’s got to deal with a front door that won’t close or lock. There is a solution, of course. It’s called “respectful entry,” and it’s a way to defeat a lock without destroying it or the door. Here to explain how it’s done is John Buttrick. He’s the owner and lead instructor at Coastal Fire Training in Suffolk, Virginia, which provides tools and training for through-the-lock entry. He is also a firefighter in Suffolk, with 10 years of experience.
On this show, we’re going to dive into some more detail for structural firefighters who find themselves working in the wildland-urban interface. If you’re going to be working these fires, there are new challenges to consider. The conditions are different, which means crews need different training, especially when they haven’t spent much time on wildland assignments.One big example: weather. It’s a factor that isn’t usually a consideration in structure fires, but it can mean everything in the wildland-urban interface. Here to explain what you need to think about –and why – is Tom Aurnhammer. Tom has over 40 years’ experience in the fire service. He’s chief of the Los Pinos Fire District in Ignacio, Colorado. He is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program. A fifth-generation firefighter, Tom holds a Chief Fire Officer designation and is a member of the Institution of Fire Engineers, U.S. Branch. You can hear him on the Back Step Boys podcast with Ron Kanterman.
There are lots of books about management styles available, but for my money, the ones written by firefighters are the best. They’re specific. They’re full of real-world examples. And they aren’t just page after page of the author’s latest catchphrases. For example, there’s “Fully Involved Leadership,” the new book by Chief Gary Ludwig. It explains concepts that any member of the fire service can use to become a strong leader… from how to keep your emotions under control in stressful situations to good decision-making. And Gary does it by storytelling. That’s the best way to make concepts clear. Gary has four decades of experience in the fire service. He’s currently chief of the Champaign, Illinois fire department. He’s responded to an estimated 25,000 fire, rescue and EMS calls during his career.
If you’re a structural firefighter, you’d probably rather not deal with wildland fires at all. That’s normally not really a problem, until the flames reach the wildland-urban interface, which is happening much more frequently than in the past. Then you guys from the cities need to know stuff like the 18 Watch-Outs. Or to be ready to go on a run that lasts 12 hours. Decades ago, city firefighters didn’t have to be concerned with this. Welcome to the New Normal. Here to discuss that with me is Brian Fennessy. Brian is the Chief of the Orange County, California Fire Authority,where he's been since 2018. He began his fire service career in 1978 working as a hotshot crewmember with the U.S. Forest Service, working his way up to crew superintendent. In 1990, Fennessy joined the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department and became Chief of the Department in 2015. He has held multiple Incident Command System certifications and positions, and has also served on National Incident Management Teams.
Training is critical to performance, especially these days, when there are fewer real-world fires but the ones that do ignite burn hotter and faster. Problem is, a lot of training is not very realistic. Classroom only goes so far, and hands-on costs money. It also takes equipment, and some departments don’t have it to spare. Here to offer some ideas is Jason Caughey.Jason is the chief of Laramie County Fire District #2 in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Before he arrived in Cheyenne in 2011, he was the chief of Gore Hill Fire Rescue in Great Falls, Montana. He spent 10 years working for the Montana Fire Services Training School as a regional instructor and regional training manager for the state of Montana. He is also a current technical member of the Underwriters Laboratory Positive Pressure test committee and he teaches a college course on fire behavior.
What qualifies someone to be a battalion chief? If they’re in a career department, it’s pretty clear. They need a specific amount of experience, they have to pass a written test, and probably an oral board of some kind.But what about volunteers? That’s a whole ‘nother deal. The volunteer BC may simply have more “time in grade” before being allowed to promote. This may be a person who shows up for more required training days and more responses than others. But does that qualify someone to run a fireground? Is it time to start testing candidates for the battalion chief – and higher – ranks? Back again to discuss that with me is Ed Dolan. He’s been a member of the Catskill Fire Department in New York for 30 years, and he’s served 16 years as a chief officer.
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