... and I don't mean as a firefighting procedure.

I started this as a blog but decided to post it on forums. Stay safe out there Brothers and Sisters.

To date, 28 firefighter fatalities have been reported to USFA in 2008 as a result of incidents that occurred in 2008. USFA does not have a Line-of-Duty-Death (LODD) criterion nor does it make LODD determinations. “Please note, running totals of firefighter fatalities used on these initial notices do not necessarily reflect the number of firefighter fatalities used in totals for the (provisional) monthly year-to-date USFA firefighter fatality reports, or year-end (provisional) reports posted online http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/fireservice/fatalities/statistics/ff_stats....

So, here we are not even 3 months into 2008 and already I have lost 28 Brother Firefighters in the Line of Duty. If this trend continues, 2008 could result in just about 150 Firefighters dying in the Line of Duty. This is totally unacceptable. There are far too many Brothers and Sisters being killed and the trend, according to statistics I have seen, shows it ever increasing. In 2006 there were more deaths than, the previous year and in 2007 there were 9 MORE deaths than in 2006. Now we may be looking at close to 150 this year. This cannot happen, should not happen and something has to be done about it.

I'm tired of seeing the wives and children of people I know suffering through the loss of a husband and a father. I'm tired of seeing that long blue line of Brothers and Sisters bidding a last farewell to another hero and I'm tired of seeing that long red line of fire apparatus carrying the flag draped caskets of another lost to the beast. And that long blue line and that long red line just keep getting longer and longer every time I look at them. Every footstep in the march to the graveyard getting heavier, every beat of the drums, even though muffled in black crepe, getting louder and louder. I'm tired of seeing the tears in the eyes of men stronger than I mourning the loss of a friend and I'm tired of the air of "Amazing Grace" from the pipes and the trumpeting of "Taps" from the horn. I'm tired, tired...

And why are we dying? And more important, what the hell can we do about it? Last year the majority of deaths were still on-scene, meaning the deaths occured at a fire, 37 and then there were 8 more onscene-other, whatever the hell that means. But the next 2 highest losses were while responding to the calls (24) and in training (11). I can see losses on-scene, one things for sure, Firefighters die fighting fires. And we also die in MVA's responding to calls but for that to be the second highest cause of LODD's is amazing. Why? Is it our fault? Are we not teaching our people the proper handling of Fire Apparatus? I'll tell you one thing, if any of my Firefighters think that those few extra seconds they make in getting on-scene by speeding to a call are not going to be apparatus operators for very long. Us getting there 30, 60 or 90 second sooner in most cases isn't gonna make a shit. But us not getting there at all because of stupidity in speeding to a call and being involved in an accident WILL have dire consequences on those in need of our services and on those involved in the MVA. Rule #1, slow the fuc# down and get there. And the third highest loss, TRAINING. I can see guy's dying for not being properly trained, and BTW, training NEVER stops, but why the hell are we killing them before they even have a chance to fight a fire?

I'm an old school Firefighter, maybe some of the things we did way back when aren't the way they do it now-a-days but I'll tell you one thing, we didn't lose as many Brothers. We had our training academies, being what they were at the time, but what you learned about the job you learned on the job. The best partner you could have back then was the oldest guy on the group. He's the guy who would show you the tricks of the trade and he was the guy who would throw your ass into a situation and then show you how to get out of it. It weren't no book lernin' sitziation either, it was real flames, lickin' at your ass and you having to figure out how to get out of it. I guess it doesn't work that way today. Everybody is an expert and every other guy is a "specialist". Kinda like being a Doctor I guess.

And here's a couple of good statitics, in 2007 the 2 main "causes" of LODD's were Stress/Overexertion (55) and 26 vehicle collissions. Vehicle collisions accounted for more causes of deat than caught, trapped, fell or lost, COMBINED. Stress and overexertion, translates to me to stroke, heart attacks and too much rigorous training. Of the 100 and something LODD's in 2007 FIFTY-TWO (52) were from heart attacks. And I'll bet half or more of the 11 training deaths were from heart attacks. Some say the deaths are the "youngsters" because their new at the job and are more likely to become a LODD or it's the guy getting ready to retire that is too old for the work. Think again, the main age group for LODD's is between 30 and 50 years of age. People who have been at this line of work for more than a few years and people who should be young enough to still handle the rigors of the job. So what do you say now, it's not the youngun's running off half cocked and it's not the old fuc#s keeling over with a heart atatck or stroking out. It's what should be middle-aged, well experienced, somewhat health people who are dying.

Let's tackle a few more. On-scene, now that's the way to go. I swear that when my time comes to pass into another world if I don't die in the sack getting.... er, never mind, I want to die at the end of a hoseline on the pipe, cutting a hole on a roof or rescuing a victim of a blaze. I want a Fire Chief's funeral. And that will add one more piece to the long red line. Why are we losing Firefighters on-scene, TODAY. We have to talk about today because what happened in the past is gone. I will compare however, today and the "old days". Some say, I love that, some say, anyway, some say that we are losing more Brothers today because of all of the new products which give off more gases that in days gone by. I say, in days gone by we didn't have SCBA's which, if used when they are needed and how they should be used, SHOULD keep and protect us from harm. They are lighter and last longer than the ones I first used. So how come we weren't dying in the old days from overexertion from carrying these heavy taks around on our backs? When I first started we didn't have SCBA's, all the people I knew way back when are dying now from old age. Way back then, and I'm going back to the early to mid 60's, we had wooden stick that we had to crank to get it up, crank to turn it towards the building and crank it to extend. Now-a-days you push a button here and a lever there and voila, your in position. We weren't dying from overexertion from doing that. We didn't have Nomex suits, Nomex hoods, Nomex gloves, fire retardent station wear. We wore chambrais shirts (look it up) and dungarees. Our boots were made of rubber and so were our turn-out coats. We bought our gloves at the hardware store just like everyone else and we didn't have hoods to protect our ears. Our ears, if you listened to that old-timer that I told you about, were part of our firefighting experience. The oldtimers taught me that when you are fighting a fire and your ears start to burn, get the fu^k out. If it is hot enough to burn your ears it is hot enough to melt your coat, your boots and your helmet. GET OUT... Today we equip our firefighters with the best gear there is and guess what? All it does is allow them to get deeper and deeper into situations they shouldn't be getting into in the first place. And you wanna know what happens then? Firefighters DIE. I don't wear a hood, never wore a hood and will not wear a hood.

And, as Fire Marshal Bill use to say on SNL, "let me tell ya sumptin' else". Some say, here we go again, that some LODD's are caused from the shock of FF's being awoken suddenly from sleep and the resulting stress from this, or mistakes caused because one is not quite alert, are contributing factors to their deaths. Well, in 2007 the majority of LODD's occured between 0900 and 1100 in the morning and between 1900 and 2100 in the evening. As a matter of fact, the number of LODD's which occured between 0100 and 0900 didn't even come to half of those which occured during the other two time frames. So there goes another one shot down.

And here I sit, still tired, tired of seeing the increase in the deaths in our profession and tired of venting to others about how I feel on the matter. But I'll continue to vent, bitch, piss, moan, whatever because, if by me doing that I can help save just one Firefighters life, it will be worth while. Stay safe out there Brothers and Sisters, stay safe and take care. Don't do anything that is not going to bring you home to your wife, your husband, your children, your parents, the woman or man you love, don't do it. People die in fires, but it doesn't have to be you, your partner or any other Brother or Sister. Be smart enough to know when to get the hell out and to go home. One of these days I'll tell you about my good friend who lost his life doing what he loved to do. He went in to rescue two Brothers who were lost. They came out, he didn't. Don't put your loved ones through what his family and friends and Brothers and Sisters went through.

Da Chief

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You are talking to the MRE generation. Meals Ready to Eat. Firefighters Ready to Fight.
No time to point out the "subtleties. We want new firefighters to go through six weeks at the academy and come out with FIVE years of experience. And those are the departments that have GOOD hiring practices.
Take half of the other vollie departments in this country. Can't keep 'em; can't get them, so if they walk through the door at the station, don't let them leave without giving them an application, even if they are lost and just looking for directions.
I'd better stop before I say something I'll regret.
I'll say this; I'm not sure what the cut off is for "morbid", but I was 5'8" and 260.
Well, I'm still 5'8" and down to 178. But, I am also riding a bike every day and lifting free weights.
Why is it that it took me until I was 55 to realize that I was killing myself with the crap I was eating? I had convinced myself that I didn't have time in the day to work out.
Now, I MAKE time and I won't go to bed until I have exercised and if I get home late, I have a small bowl of All Bran cereal, wash it down with water and go exercise.
Mornings start with a protein shake. It use to start with a sausage and egg biscuit.
I have always liked vegetables and still eat a ton of them. I have re-discovered apples. Fuji is my current favorite. I like them a little tart. No starch. No sugar. Low carb.
And if my sorry ass can do it, anyone who wants to see their grand kids grow up can do it too.
We can make that same strong commitment that we made to our fire departments to getting healthy again. If you care, you WILL.
i must agree with Da Chief on the hood. i do wear one but fully aware of how much deeper it will let me go and how much faster the boys will have a rump roast for rehab. Da Chief is in a frame of mind of complete firefighting as i see it, when you fight fire you get up, drive to fire, set command, read conditions, yes risk vs. gain, vent, enter, search, fight, overhaul, rehab amd do it all over again. this is not a total list. on the forum about positive pressure fans Chief Kriska says that when we got the scba we left the idea of ventilation on the truck, we can go deeper with the new gear and scba and we don't need no stinking ventilation. yes we have many more tools in the tool box then what we had and we need to know how to use as many of them as we can on every job. if you did good venting and the nozzleman does good attack who needs a hood, mine is just worn because of SOP's and a extra layer of saftey. my wife hates to come to a hospital. to the guy that the old guys aren't teaching, become the old guy real fast by going to everything you can (practical, hands on)and network with the old guys there. this service is ever changing and when you take your first class you never graduate, when you quit training YOU LEAVE.
I think I'm one of those old guys da Chief is talking about. I started dressed in a long rubber coat, rubber boots and gloves, aluminum Senator model helmet, and no bunker pants or hood. We had two SCBAs for 30 firefighters, and no one wanted to be the chicken that wore THOSE...so I did't wear them much.

I also started my career with numerous minor injuries and a couple of near-fatal events including one helicopter ride, all caused by a combination of my own stupidity and the institutionalized stupidity that the U.S. fire service taught and practiced at the time.

I agree with most of what da Chief says, but I have to disagree - strongly - on one point. I'm with Goldfedder - wear the hood. The fires we fight now are hotter, but they're also faster. Even if you're not "too deep" into a fire building, the fire often moves faster than the firefighters. Any exposed skin you have will burn, period. If you have no exposed skin, you have at least a fighting chance to survive without a trip to the burn unit.

There are other ways to detect heat that don't involve using a body part as a meat thermometer.

A lot of those old guys died of heart attacks back in the 60's and 70's, too. We just didn't have the internet, the Secret List, and Firefighterclosecalls to tell everyone about it a few minutes after it happened. We also had lots of firefighters dying from job-related cancers, particularly respiratory cancers due to breathing all that smoke.

And...a lot of the LODDs are caused by firefighters being too far inside big buildings using small-caliber lines and other single-family dwelling tactics. Those fatalities come from poor size-up and poor decision-making by company and chief officers, not from the troops wearing their hoods.

Zip it, clip it, and no skin showing before you go interior.
We're firefighters, not meat thermometers.
And if you take a canary in with you, you won't have to wear an SCBA either.
The logic escapes me.
As soon as I got my hands on a hood back in 1980, my ears felt a whole lot better.
And they still look good.
My hearing on the other hand...
I can see losses on-scene, one things for sure, Firefighters die fighting fires.
Maybe it's time for a tactics rethink- do you need to be so aggressive or do you need to vent the roof? Sure there's merits to these tactics, but at what cost? There has to be line drawn somewhere in the sand and you stand up and say enough is enough. Firefighting is dangerous but it doesn't have to kill us....

On-scene, now that's the way to go. I swear that when my time comes to pass into another world if I don't die in the sack getting.... er, never mind, I want to die at the end of a hoseline on the pipe, cutting a hole on a roof or rescuing a victim of a blaze. I want a Fire Chief's funeral.
Maybe I'm missing the sarcasm or the joke here- you aren't serious are you?
Those same old-timers told me that it was OK to run Federal Q's mounted atop the windshield of our open-cab apparatus, to ride on the tailboard with only our grip between us and that Peterbuilt following us down the Interstate at 70 MPH, and that only cowards wore SCBA.
A lot of the times I was in the hospital was because of my own stupidity and testosterone poisoning, but a lot of it was from listening to well-intentioned bad advice from the old timers.

My hood and the rest of my "no skin showing" PPE has saved me from serious burns more times than I can count, including three flashovers and one backdraft. My ears aren't really beautiful, but I like them the way they are.

As for the canary, OSHA regulations require both audible and visual alarms on sensing devices. You can no longer just take the canary with you, you have to take a parrot as well.
The canary is the visual alarm - when it croaks, it's time to get out. The parrot is the audible alarm. If you're too busy to notice the canary croaking, the parrot will say "THE CANARY IS DEAD."

I take long walks several times a week and use my gazelle and arm weights the other nights. I do eat a lot of the burgers and crap, meat, bun, cheese, lettuce and pickle. No mayo, ketchup or dressings. If I eat pizza I ask for mostly no sauce. You can still eat out and eat better if you remove some of the bad stuff. If you don't want to go to the gym to exercise, then take a walk a few evenings a week. While watching TV use 5 lb hand weight and lift if up and down. Take what you have and work with it. I have only been a FF for 3 1/2 yrs. I started at 42. So already older and so I have to do a little more keep myself heathly. Lives depend on me to.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that HEART ATTACKS are still the number one killer of firefighters.
Dying at the "end of a hose line", thankfully, is the exception and not the rule.
The way I see it, WE still control our fate. A good size up before we decide to send anyone in is still our call. The way we drive to a scene is still pretty much within our control.
And certainly, a good pre-screen before you sign up and annual physicals thereafter, coupled with good eating and health habits will most likely reduce the number of cardiac-related deaths.
To ignore any of that is just plain suicide.
A funeral at some point is inevitable. Whether it's on the back of a fire truck or in a hearse is pretty much our decision as well.

I did some research on this today and found that an astonishing number of firefighters die of heart attacks either while engaging in PT or in training. What does that tell us?


Wow. My former department needs to hear that. Maybe they will change their tune about me. Everything I thought I was doing right was essentially thrown in my face.
It tells me that we would rather train to be certified, instead of train to be physically fit.
It tells me that we would rather sit in classrooms than in the seat of an exercise bike.
It tells me that we would rather eat things that taste good instead of eating what is good for you.
It tells me that we have a long way to go towards reducing heart attacks.

To clarify, an astonishing number of the LODDs that occur during PT and training are in visibly fit firefighters. There has been at least one high-profile LOD near-miss with permenant disability from a training incident. All of these were heart attacks, some in firefighters as young as in their late 20's, and in one case a candidate that had just completed entry testing and scored near the top of his PAT test group.

That doesn't tell me that all of these LODDs are from firefighters who are out of shape. When physically fit firefighters have fatal heart attacks while engaging in PT or in training, there's more to it than that.


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