Snow angels and a netcast follow-up

Well the snow found us. Here in Catawba, we had about 4-5 inches before it changed over to sleet. Chores don’t change just because of the weather, so I had all the regular feeding etc to do. The Buckaroo took the day off despite spending several days last week brushing up on loader operations …

I missed the little fella today because there was plenty of shoveling to do seeing as how I’m back at the station tomorrow. I tried to wait until as late as possible so the bulk of the ice would be on top of the snow and I could get it all in a single pass. If I had of shoveled earlier, the I’d have been left with nothing but ice… hard to scrape. Hard to scrape unless you know what you’re doing, have the right tools and nice …. ummmm … errrrr….  well you need the right tools

Most of you know me by now so you understand that I like to group tasks together … I get more done that way. Now everyone knows that your first inclination when the white stuff hit the ground is to run out and make a big ol snow angel. Well, being the thinker I am .. I figured out how to put the two together … snow angels and shoveling …

LMAO .. got you fellas on that one didn’t I? You guys get enough “eye candy” so that one was for Hydrant Gal and all my female readers. The sad news for the ladies is that obviously, that is NOT my butt.. LOL. Ok, all kidding aside, it’s been a mess up here today. As usual, my thoughts often drift to my Brothers and Sisters on duty today and tonight. Just getting to an incident will be difficult. Side walks will be iced over, lines will freeze and slip / fall hazards are increased. I could make an entire post on the hazards our members will encounter tonight and how those hazards will affect and change our strategies and tactics. I’ll spare ya that post for now and move in another direction.

I hope you took the time to tune in to Firefighter Netcast  last night for Taking it to the Streets, hosted by Chris Naum. His guest list read like the “who’s who” of  Fire / EMS blogging world and the Fire Service in general… { Deputy Coordinator Tiger Schmittendorf (NY), Chief Glenn Usdin (PA),  Bill Carey (MD), Chief Doug Cline (NC), Lt. Rhett Fleitz (Va), Lt. John Mitchell (IL), Art Reason and Dave Lablanc }. I was also a guest. Last night’s title was ” Looking Forward Through The Rear View Mirror “.  Chris wanted to discuss what “stood out” or impacted the Fire Service in 2010 and what were that is in store for us in 2011.

As usual, I wa a babbling idiot. I know what I want to say but for whatever reason can’t get it off my tongue while sitting in front of a microphone. Mush mouth … tongue tied … whatever you want to call it .. I feel like I’ve just left the dentist or like I’m chewing my own tongue…

I know … who wouldn’t chew that tounge … but you understand what I’m saying here…. on the Netcast, I seem / feel “flustered”.  So, I wanted to take the time to go over my thoughts etc from the pod cast. Although there were MANY issues that affected the Fire Service (directly or indirectly) in 2010, I sat down with a list of my “Top 3”.

FIREFIGHTER  FATALITIES.  Depending on whos list you look at (which is another issue within itself), thus far in 2010 we have suffered 78 – 82  firefighter fatalities (Line of Duty Deaths..”LODD’s”). While this number is lower than in previous years, to me; it is still unacceptable! What I wasn’t able to communicate was some of the issues surrounding these LODD’s. My  numbers come from the Untied States Fire Administration who show the number at 78 between the dates of 1/1/2010 -11/30/2010.

Of those 78 LODD’s 16 or 20.5% occured while responding to an incident. They also report the “cause” of  46 or 58.9% of  the fatalities to be from stress or overexertion. As for the “nature”, 43 or 55.1% were from heart attacks.  They list 51 or 65.3% of the fatalities as volunteer firefighters. 23 of the fatalities were age 61 or older, 76.9% were over the age of 40 (I’m 41).

There are other sites / stats available that break down the LODD’s even further .. seat belt use etc. My point would be that many of these tragedies were / are preventable. We could debate minimal physical fitness standards, the use of CPAT, hiring and retirement ages, responding POV, minimal standards, yearly physicals etc.  I could go on and on but again, this issue alone could be a book or at minimum a multi-page post. The bottom line is that LODD’s  can be reduced!

The Economy. Wow! Where do I begin? We all know that history has a tendency to repeat itself. A low economy means higher unemployment. Less jobs, less money. History has shown Fires increase in a poor economy. Arson rates tend to jump as well. A poor economy means more work for us. More work means a greater chance of injuries / fatalities.

The economy affects our job as well. Less money in general means less for proper training, equipment etc. Again, this equation equals injured or dead firemen.

How many Departments have you read about lately who are imposing lay-offs, station closings / consolidations, brown-outs or cuts is any other form? This affects the safety of our citizens and firefighters alike.

Social Media.  Social Media made a HUGE impact in 2010. Just look at the number of Fire/ EMS blogs out there today. Information that used to take weeks or months to spread now, crosses the Country (and World)  in minutes.

Look at it as a “teaching” and / or “learning” tool. Again, I can get information and “lessons learned” from an incident on the opposite coast as it happens. Look at sites such as home of “The Secret List”). Up to date, accurate information that can save our lives. The very show last night. Chris Naum covers topics such as “Redefining the Fire Ground” .. all his work is directed in making our job safer and easier. The host of last night’s show .. Firefighter Netcast .. WOW!  what an asset to the Fire Service. You don’t have to travel to the Expo’s or seminars anymore. Rhett and John bring the “Who’s who” of Fire Service Leadership directly to you in you home, station or wherever. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of more examples.

Consider sites such as Face Book. Most every department now has a Face Book and Twitter page. These sites are used to communicate with the Fire Service and community alike. These sites now can be accessed through smart phones etc .. easy access by almost any and everyone. Pay attention to the number of “friends” or “shares” next time you visit you’r favorite site.  Take a look at the numbers from Firefighter Nation…. again .. WOW. I don’t think we were seeing numbers like this in 2009.

One thing to think of and caution one another here is that we have also seen socila media affect the Fire Service in a negative way in 2010. Inapporite pics, videos etc have led to Departmental “black eyes”, adminsitrative leave without pay, dismisals, law suits etc. Good and bad.. Social Media made a huge impact on the Service in 2010.

Ok, I know I’m getting long winded here but again, I just want to make sure you folks that tuned in last night had an idea of “w here I was headed” with my thoughts (even though I never got there..LOL).  I’m gonna wind it up for the night, maybe a hot tub and then a movie.  Speaking of movies … a good friend came by the other evening and had a little trouble getting through “security”. Since there’s presents under the tree, the Buckaroo has been on high alert! LMAO .. it got me thinking of a movie and I found the clip .. could this be my little Buckaroo in a year or so???

LMAO.. that’s a good movie. Ok, so I bet you thought I had forgotten… naaaa .. just making ya sweat it out (and read the entire post). I’ll close with Day 9 of Santa’s Sexy Helper …

I’m back on duty tomorrow.. until next post, stay warm, safe and in house!

Captain Wines