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 weekly podcast for and about firefighters, "Code 3" covers topics of interest to those in the fire service, in about 20 minutes, 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.
276 Episodes
There is always an on-going discussion about how aggressive firefighters should be at structure fires. Inevitably, the argument gets into interior attacks vs. transitional. That discussion bypasses a real question, which is, how do lives get saved fastest? Today’s guest says the answer to that is: Get the fire out first. If that sounds like an old-school answer, you’re right. Because this guy is old school—but not always. Peter Van Dorpe is vice-president of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors. He’s also a member of the advisory board for UL’s Firefighter Safety Research Institute. Pete had a 33-year career with the Chicago. Illinois Fire Department, where he was ultimately chief of training. In 2013, he moved to the Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District, where he worked for five years as assistant chief and then chief of the department. Support this podcast
This episode previously ran on Sept. 11, 2019. I talked with retired Frie Chief Rick Lasky about the events of that horrible day in 2001 and what he recalled about it. Support this podcast
How do you select a handline when you arrive at a fire? Do you have an all-purpose go-to that usually gets pulled? Some departments routinely pull the reel line. You know, the booster line? Or so I’ve heard. Of course, if you choose the wrong line, there’s rarely a chance to correct the mistake. Using a line that’s too small will make a quick knockdown into a major hassle. But you also don’t want to have to lug a 2-1/2 around the fireground if it’s not necessary. Here to give us some ideas on hose selection is Mark van der Feyst. Mark’s been a guest before on Code 3. He’s been on the job since 1998. He works for the Woodstock Fire Department in Ontario, Canada. He is an international instructor who teaches in Canada, the U.S.and India. And he’s the lead author of the book Residential Fire Rescue. He’s also president of Firestar Services, a training company. Support this podcast
If you spend any time on Facebook, you’ve probably seen the videos posted by Fire Department Chronicles. If you haven’t, you need to. Go there right now and look them up. I’ll wait.The man behind these videos is Jason Patton. Jason’s covered a lot of ground on these videos, from whether TV shows about firefighters are realistic … what do YOU think he found? …to how to get fired. But the one that caught my attention most recently was one in which he critiqued a Wall Street Journal video about firefighting. It was titled, “The Five Things a Firefighter or Paramedic Won’t Tell You.” There’s link to it in the show notes. Jason set about correcting the record in his own..unique…way. Jason Patton is a career Firefighter and Paramedic who has worked for Riviera Beach, Florida, Fire Rescue for 11 years. He also works with a treatment center specializing in mental health and addiction for first responders. And he is the VP of Fire Department coffee. Support this podcast
You may have heard this oldie-but-goodie already, but bear with me: A smart man learns from his mistakes. A really smart man learns from others’ mistakes. No where is that more accurate than in the fire service, where a mistake can kill you. But the problem with learning like this lies in the way you do it. How many YouTube videos have you seen where something goes wrong and there are dozens of comments written explaining how this would never have happened, if they had just (fill-in-the-blank). The armchair ICs writing those comments weren’t there, of course, and don’t have the complete picture. That’s not to say there’s nothing to be learned this way. Here today to talk about what we can pick up from stories and videos of fires is David Traiforos. He had 47 years in the fire service when he retired as chief of the Franklin Park, Illinois Fire Department after three decades there. He continues as an instructor, at NIPSTA Training Academy, McHenry County College, both in Illinois. And, nationally, as the lead instructor of Great Lakes Fire & Rescue Solutions. Support this podcast
This show is a little different. We’re going to talk about prehospital care from the point of view of an EMS liaison. He sees the results of good treatment in the field. He sees what happens when treatment is done poorly. And he’s also able to see the differences between the care provided by career and volunteer departments. He can tell you what results in the best patient outcomes. Roger Dyjak is a firefighter and an EMT-B for the Memphis, Michigan Volunteer Fire Department. He works at two Michigan hospitals as the EMS Liaison. Support this podcast
Once upon a time, there was a really cool video game called SimCity. The goal was for the player to build up his city by adding improvements and such. If you simply went wild and added everything you could want, the tax rate would go up and the citizens would get angry. But if you didn’t have enough amenities and services, bad things like crime sprees, traffic jams, and fires would cause a mess in your city. I think of that game from 25 years ago when the topic of fire protection versus costs comes up. It was really disappointing to see a thriving SimCity suddenly lose a block of buildings because not spending money on the fire department seemed to be working. That’s the problem, though: it only works for so long before it doesn’t. Many career fire departments have just three firefighters on an engine instead of four. Or they get along with fewer fire stations than they need, because the city has grown, but the residents don’t want to pay for another house, apparatus, and staff. There’s got to be a better way to convince people that fire protection is a worthwhile place to spend money. Here to discuss that with me is Richard Marinucci. He’s the executive director of the Fire Department Safety Officers Association. He retired as chief of the Farmington Hills, Michigan Fire Department in 2008, after a quarter-century in the job. He's a past president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. Support this podcast
It’s easy to become jaded or cynical when the fire department administration comes up with a new list of core values. They sound good, but you know and I know and the American people know that those core values get printed up on posters, sent around to each fire house, pinned to the wall…and then ignored. They just hang there and fade…until the next administration comes along and issues new ones. But what if these core values were actually put into practice somehow? What if they actually meant something? Today’s guest has some ideas on how to do that. Lieutenant David Bullard is a 20-year member of the fire service. He’s co-assigned to the Training Division of the Columbia County Georgia Fire Department and a Firefighter with Grovetown, Georgia DPS. In addition, he serves on the Board of Directors for the Georgia State Firefighter’s Association, he’s a National Volunteer Fire Council State Director and a whole lot more. Support this podcast
Since 1977, firefighter line-of-duty-deaths have been dropping. You know that already, right? And structure fires as a whole are decreasing as well, which you also know. Here’s something you may not realize: more civilians are dying in fires. It’s true. Since the 1980s, the rate of fire deaths is up six percent. This statistic is readily available—the source will be in the shownotes—but it’s not been publicized much. How did we get into this situation? And what will it take to fix it? Today’s guest has some ideas. Daniel Byrne’s been a guest before on Code 3. He’s a Community Support Officer for the Burton Fire District in Beaufort County, South Carolina. He’s a third-generation firefighter, and a retired Assistant Chief of Training from the Georgia Air National Guard 165th Fire Department. Support this podcast
If you’re a firefighter in a large metro department, you might find today’s topic a little unfamiliar. Because for firefighters in rural or even suburban areas, the challenges can be very different than yours. And if we’re talking about a volunteer department, that adds a level of difficulty. Today’s guest is the chief of a volunteer department that covers a rural community. He knows that any call may be hampered by longer response times, a lack of manpower, and even lack of water. Yet his department has the same goals as every other: to get on scene and get the fire out. How to accomplish that? The first 10 minutes on scene count. We’ll talk about that. Justin Bailey is the fire chief of the Oliver Springs Fire Department in Tennessee. He oversees 20 paid-on-call volunteers who cover a 5.5 square mile area. Justin’s also a master firefighter with the Knoxville, Tennssee Fire Department, where he has served since 2007. He hosts seminars on volunteer training program development, professional development and rural fireground management. Support this podcast
Everybody knows THAT guy. There’s one in every firehouse. He’s easy to spot. He knows and is happy to lecture you on every fire science topic, but never seems to have time to help wipe down the rig. But as Chief Brunacini reminded us, egos eat brains. That’s why it never pays to believe your own PR. My guest made captain and then figured out that he’d become THAT guy. Ken Himel has almost 30 years in the fire service. During that time, he’s served in volunteer, combination, full-time, and career departments. He’s currently chief of Bayou Cane Fire Protection District in Houma, Louisiana. He is a certified fire instructor level II Support this podcast
With today’s rapid fire growth, it’s more important than ever before to get water on the fire as fast as possible. Flashovers, for example, can occur in just minutes now. But another factor these days works against us: limited staffing. Decisions about what jobs get done first need to be based on that reality. My guest today says getting water on the fire is the primary goal. Even more than search and rescue. I’m pleased to have Curt Isakson back on Code 3 today. He is currently a Battalion Chief for Escambia County Fire Rescue in Florida where he has worked for the last 19 years. Before that, he worked 9 years for Pensacola Fire Department. If you’ve missed seeing him speak at a live conference, you’ve missed a lot. He’s a lot of fun to watch and you’ll learn a thing or two. He also owns County Fire Tactics. Support this podcast
Here’s some easy math for you. What percentage of your time is spent on the rig and available? Now what percent do you spend looking at the exterior of buildings in your first-due area, planning for future responses? Now—and this is the tricky one—how much time do you spend stopping by these buildings to look inside? Today’s guest says that’s critical when you’re looking at a tilt-up concrete structure. That’s because this style of construction can be deceptive. The outside doesn’t necessarily give away what the inside look like. Jack Murphy spends a lot of time thinking about this. He’s chairman of the High-Rise Fire/Life Safety Directors Association in New York City. He is a retired fire marshal, a former deputy chief, and a former Bergen County, New Jersey deputy fire coordinator. He is the author of numerous fire service articles and wrote a field handbook on the Rapid Incident Command System, as well as authored the “Pre-Incident Planning” chapter of Fire Engineering’s Handbook for Firefighter I and II. Support this podcast
Today, I am introducing a new podcast. Don’t worry, this one’s not going anywhere.The new show is called True Fire, and it’s different from any other podcast available. It’s also quite possibly the most important one ever. Each episode breaks down, in detail, a line-of-duty-death fire. We know how these men and women died. True Fire tries to answer why. If you think it’s as important for people to hear as I do, then please go to and click on the Kickstarter link. I have a $4,500 goal to reach by July 13. That’s what it’ll take to produce all six episodes of season one. True Fire is a monster to create, and that budget reflects this. If I make it to a second season, I may be able to bring on some help, but for now, I am doing it all…from research, to writing to interviewing, to recording, to editing. Support this podcast
I’ve noticed a lot of chatter on social media over the past months about the idea that fire departments aren’t aggressive enough anymore. The next poster will comment that we’re no longer in the stone age, and we can’t be so reckless anymore. Then someone will bring up Danny Dwyer, and things will get personal. Now, look: if my house is on fire, I want the firefighters who respond to save my wife, if she’s trapped. Period. If she’s out, save my stuff. Don’t stand outside and call it a defensive fire. Or wait for more resources. So I get that. But today’s guest says aggressive does not equal reckless. Duane Daggers is a captain with the City of Chesapeake, Virginia, Fire Department and a life member with the Gouldsboro, Pennsylvania Volunteer Fire Company. He’s been on the job for 35 years, and an instructor for over 20 years. Support this podcast
Sometimes, we make things more difficult than we need to. We develop a course of training, then insist on dictating every move firefighters make once they master it. The bottom line, usually, boils down to: put the wet stuff on the red stuff and the fire goes out. More wet stuff applied faster puts the fire out faster. This is taught on, or about Day One in Firefighter-1 classes. It’s certainly not all they’ll learn, but the rest builds on that foundation. And, with experience, they will use their own judgment, which we assumed was sound when they graduated, to guide them. So why do so many officers micromanage their crews? After all, wasn’t the point of training them so they could do the job? I’ve always hated being treated that way, and, conversely, I have loved to be able to point the guy at the job and count on him to get it done. My guest today, Kaci Corrigan, advocates for that same attitude. She’s a lieutenant at a department in Northwest Pierce County, Washington. She’s been on the job for 13 years. She deals heavily with training, including instruction in fire behavior, strategy and tactics, nozzles, hose streams, and tactical ventilation. She is an instructor with First Due Training in Washington State, as well as an adjunct instructor with Fire By Trade. Support this podcast
Last week, we talked with Chris Moore, a captain with the Chesapeake, Virginia Fire Department about his battle with PTSD. This week, I’m bringing you the other half of the equation. That’s his wife, Lori. If you’re a firefighter and you believe you have PTSD, please play this show for your significant other. Because, try as they will, no one fights PTSD alone. It affects all their relationships, especially the one between the firefighter and their spouse. Lori has been married to Chris for 16 years and they have a son, who is now 14. She saw the factors leading to Chris’ trauma begin to mount. And she has some insights as to what a spouse must endure while dealing with their partner’s PTSD. Support this podcast
Twenty years ago, it was a big no-no for a firefighter to admit to having anything like Post-Traumatic Stress. Of course, it’s still stigmatized in many firehouses. That’s a problem. PTSD can affect anyone, even the toughest firefighter. It doesn’t take being part of a line-of-duty-death or even a near-miss to cause it. And it can turn a dream career into a long-term nightmare. Suicides, driven by trauma, now take more firefighter lives than line-of-duty-deaths. But there are solutions. If you have PTSD and you’ll ask for help, it can be dealt with. With me today is Captain Chris Moore of the Chesapeake, Virginia Fire Department. He’s been a firefighter for 27 years. Chris has experienced the darkness of PTSD and recovered from it. Now he works to help others through his department’s Peer Support and Behavioral Health Team. Support this podcast
How would you define success in a volunteer department? Would it be recruiting and retention? Or how about solid leadership? Maybe response time? Today, we’re going to talk about a department that meets all of those criteria. It’s called Ulster Hose Company 5, and it’s found in New York’s Hudson Valley near the city of Kingston. Ninety members respond from their homes. And they cover 1,500 calls a year with an average time to response of 3 minutes. If you’re struggling just to get members to show up for runs, you’ll want to pay attention. Back again on Code 3 to explain how they do it is Ed Dolan. He’s been studying Ulster Hose 5 and has some interesting insights. Ed’s a member of the Catskill Fire Department in New York for 30 years, and he’s served more than half that time as a chief officer. Shabw Heppner is Chief of Ulster Hose Company 5. Support this podcast
What are your priorities in life? Most firefighters will typically answer this question by saying, “My family, my health, and my job.” But the reality is, most firefighters I’ve known, and I’ll bet most you know, are more likely to put their job first, their family second, and their own health a distant third. For example, a study found that about 80% of career firefighters are obese. And it’s pretty well-known that firefighters are frequently workaholics, taking extra shifts and working second and even third jobs. You do it for your family, of course. But that takes your time away from them, too. There’s an obvious disconnect between what firefighters say they value and what they do. My guest today says that all adds up over time and causes a lot of avoidable problems. Dr. Donnie Hutchinson says it’s time to find a work-life balance. It’s doable, and he’s here to explain how. Donnie is a work-life balance speaker who has held many firefighter health and wellness seminars. He’s spoken at IAFF conferences. He is a professor at the University of Dayton teaching leadership courses in the MBA school. He’s written two books on work-life balance. Support this podcast
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