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
232 Episodes
Let’s say you’re a new officer. You want your crew to follow you, right? Now how do you get them to do that? One thing that absolutely will NOT work is to order people around arbitrarily. This does nothing but make them annoyed with you. Put yourself in their place: What would get you to follow someone? Chances are, it’s an attitude called “command presence.” That’s what instills confidence that you know what you’re talking about. Back again on Code 3 today to discuss command presence – what it is and why it’s important – is Tom Merrill. He’s a 35-year fire department veteran and a former chief of the Snyder Fire Department in Amherst, New York. He is now a fire commissioner for the Snyder Fire District. Tom served 26 years as a department officer including 15 years in the chief officer ranks. He has taught at fire service events around western New York as well as at FDIC. He also is a fire dispatcher for the Amherst Fire Alarm Office.
Something good can come from even the worst situations, and in this show, you’re going to hear from a great example. This is the story of how Travis Howze, survivor of the Charleston Nine disaster in 2007, developed PTSD and ended up leaving the fire service after eight years. He went on to become a full-time stand-up comedian, and his 2015 album, “Reporting for Duty” reached the top ten. Now he entertains around the country and has performed at FDIC where he will be again in 2020.
For just about as long as anyone can remember, the fire service has operated in a pseudo-military style. Members have ranks, of course. And complex org charts are a favorite Powerpoint slide. The similarities to the military include passing information up and down the ranks. But today’s guest says that’s an old concept that has become a recipe for communications failure. Brian Schaeffer is the chief of the Spokane, Washington fire department. He’s served in fire departments in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest over the past 25 years, and works on several public safety and health-related committees. He has lectured on issues such as the psychology of decision-making, servant leadership and high-performing organizations.
Today, we’re talking about the Denver Drill. It’s well-known, but just in case you need a brush up, here it is: In 1992, a Denver, Colorado firefighter named Mark Langvardt was on the second floor of a commercial building on fire. He was doing a search but became separated from his partner. He couldn’t find his way out and ended up trying to escape through a window. But the space he had to work in was small and the window sill was high. Even though he was located and crews tried to get him out, it took nearly an hour to extricate him. Mark Langvardt died from Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Since then, tactics to rescue firefighters from similar situations have been developed. Here to explain the Denver Drill and why it is important today is Tony Carroll. He is a battalion chief with the District of Columbia Fire and EMS Department.
Today, we’re talking tactical worksheets for EMS. This is more important than it may sound. A tactical worksheet is nothing more than a glorified checklist. Who needs that? If airline pilots use them every flight, maybe they should be in your arsenal also. They can prevent mistakes and protect you later if someone starts looking for blame. Here to explain the details is Bruce Evans. He’s is the fire chief and a paramedic at the Upper Pine River Fire Protection District in Bayfield, Colorado. Bruce is on the board of directors at the National Association of EMT's, and he is a National Fire Academy instructor. He’s also on the National Academy of Science's Institute of Medicine's Preparedness Committee.
The Fire-EMS community lost a vital member this week. Bryan Fass passed away suddenly on Monday. He was just 46. A former paramedic, Bryan was well-known for his advocacy of first-responder fitness. His career was based on teaching injury-prevention and safety techniques. He ran Fit Responder, which he founded in 2007, and spoke frequently at EMS industry conferences around the country. Bryan was a prolific author, writing for multiple websites and his blog, as well as four books on fitness and wellness. With me today to remember Bryan is Greg Friese, Editor-in-chief of
There was a time when you were universally viewed as friends of the community. You were welcomed because people realized that you were there to help them. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to matter anymore. Violent physical attacks on EMS personnel are becoming more common, with new incidents being reported just about every day. So now we have to think about how to prevent those assaults. In Austin, Texas, they’re taking steps toward doing that. Here to explain more is Ernesto Rodriguez, the EMS chief for Austin-Travis County EMS.
On September 11, 2001 our world changed. America was just getting to work when it was attacked by terrorists using commercial airliners as weapons. That was the day everything we knew turned upside down. And it was the day that the FDNY suffered 343 line of duty deaths in one incident. Many more would lose battles with cancer caused by working in the rubble. Some are still fighting cancer today, 18 years later. Here to talk about the impact the terror attack on America had on the FDNY is Chief Rick Lasky. He’s well known around the country for his seminars on Pride and Ownership. If you’ve not heard him speak live, you’ve missed an amazing presentation and you should book him to speak at your next event. Rick retired after being Chief of several departments, including Lewisville, Texas. He started his career 40 years earlier in Chicago, which is where I hail from myself.
One of the aspects of firefighting that we don’t often discuss is the role of the fire-cause investigator. Once a structure fire is under control, this job becomes critical to determining what insurance will pay to the property owner … and if arson was involved. There are a few things firefighters can do to make the fire cause investigator’s life a little easier, and today’s guest says they really don’t get in your way of extinguishing the fire. Rick Chase is a fire cause investigator with the Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority in Prescott Valley, Arizona. He is also a division chief and the fire marshal. Rick started in the fire service as a member of a U.S. Forest Service hotshot crew. He joined the Central Yavapai Fire District (the precursor to CAFMA) in 1995 and worked his way from a reserve firefighter to his current position.
We have discussed several times on this show the sad – and potentially disastrous –story of the declining numbers of volunteer firefighters. Everyone has their own theory of why no one wants to volunteer these days. But a Syracuse, New York newspaper op-ed column with a new explanation began showing up in social media in August. Maybe you’ve seen it. If not, we’ll link to it on our website. It was written by Jack Kline, of Lysander, New York. He has been a volunteer firefighter for over four decades. He remembers the good old days when people liked giving their time to protect their neighbors. His column’s title explains why Jack believes we’re experiencing a manpower shortage now. It’s “Make Volunteer Firefighting Fun Again.”
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