By Derek Rosenfeld
FDIC International 2018 continued its high-level, high-information classroom sessions with "Managing Risk in the Volunteer Fire Service," a high-energy presentation from retired Uxbridge (MA) Firefighter Joe Nedder.
What are the differences in risk today as opposed to past generations? Proper fireground management cannot exist with proper risk management, and this is no less an issue in the volunteer fire service. Despite advancements in technology and firefighting in general, changes in building construction, building materials, and fire behavior, the number of responsibilities an incident commander and fire officer now has on the fireground has never been greater.
In this segment, Nedder talks about the importance of proper personal protective equipment decon and the dangers of unwashed gear:
"As I developed and began teaching my volunteer officers classes, I wanted to include a segment on risk management," Nedder said. "Because it is a topic of 'discussion' in the fire service, I quickly realized two things: First, how important risk management was to all firefighters, especially we as volunteers, and second, how little we—myself included at the time—know about it, how little we understood it, and how little we cared about it!"
Here, Nedder discusses the increasing responsibilities of the incident commander on the fireground including radio communications, the need for thermal imaging cameras, and the tactics used in hose management:
As volunteers, we truly put a lot on the line every time we respond. Not only are we at risk, but so are our families. We face death or serious injury, and our families face loss of our income and emotional trauma. The thought of leaving our families survival to the generosity of the community should, for all of us, be terrifying! Because of this, we need to be even more aware of the risks we take, work to minimize them, and learn to avoid or better control them.
Nedder continued, "The fact that we have really not paid the attention that we should to this important area of knowledge needs to change. Some of our injuries and deaths are avoidable!
Here, Nedder goes indepth on the importance of situational awareness on the fireground:
"Risk management, in its most simplest terms, is something that every firefighter can practice. Let's apply common sense, accept that we are not immortal, and change some of our attitudes," Nedder said. "Our actions and decisions matter to everyone operating at a emergency scene and do affect lives.
Nedder concluded, "FDIC 2018 is my 22nd consecutive year attending and my eighth consecutive year teaching at the conference. Even though I am retired from active service, I continue to teach, and as such, I need to keep my knowledge sharp and very current. In addition to taking some classes, I plan on seeing old friends and making some new ones."
"The show is great, but the education is incredible, formally in classroom settings and—equally important—informally in groups that get together and share. Some call it networking, I call it sharing, mentoring, and support. As one of the "seniors" attending, I think it has become my job to mentor those coming up and share my experiences; knowledge; and, most importantly, my desire to keep learning!"
"FDIC has, and continues to be, an important part of my fire service career."