A Road Most Travelled?

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We travel down many roads to get where we are in our careers and lives. And with the month of April upon us, I hope one of these roads takes you to the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) International 2016. But there are other roads we must take, as well. When we look to the basic service demand of our citizenry-fire attack-the roads have many forks in them that we are forced to take as we prepare ourselves to be ready for the next fire. Preparing to attack the next fire should perhaps take a renewed approach every year because we are finding better ways to analyze our communities’ built environment, socioeconomics, and population trends while developing programs and deployment strategies to meet these needs. We are also finding better ways to incorporate established, proven tactics; handle emerging response-type demands; and, just as importantly, take care of our own.

This month, we discuss several topics that make up the key parts of planning, deployment, mitigation, and recovery-principal parts of any fire attack plan. We start with where it all should begin: planning and risk reduction. Jim Crawford discusses best practices from the United States and the United Kingdom that will be juxtaposed during a panel discussion at the upcoming Congressional Fire Services Institute next month. Once we know what programs produce the greatest outcomes, we need to dig deeper into the makeup of our communities to begin targeting hazards and the at-risk in our response areas. The best way to do this is by conducting analysis of the metrics accumulated by us and our governments-it is the integration of Big Data into our fire service prevention, planning, and operations. Matt Hinds-Aldrich from the Atlanta (GA) Fire Department helps us make sense of data systems’ fundamentals so that we can start digging in.

We should also take a look to our past to see where we’ve come from so that we can learn what to repeat in the future. Paul Hashagen brings us another great installment of Distant Fires from 100 years ago. I’d say that’s a good number of historic years to analyze and a good sample size. And with a firm understanding of history and contemporary challenges, we need to be ready for them. That’s where training comes in, but where can we start when our days rapidly fill up with daily activities and incoming runs? Steve Marsar from the FDNY thinks every day should start with some potty training. Yes, bringing the daily training message to a place where you’ll always have a captive audience is a novel approach. Check out Steve’s article to find out where and how to do it.

Once we’ve become more aware of our communities’ needs and are training accordingly, it’s time to put it all to the test. Mike Kirby and Tom Lakamp take the engine company to the multiple-dwelling fire. Todd McNeal discusses the amazing impact and efficiencies of wildland urban interface (WUI) firefighting aircraft and how they need to effectively work with the other 50 percent of the WUI equation: ground forces. And Paul Shapiro shows us how new developments in hose design can have a huge impact for us on the fireground.

One of the roads we should all take is the road to resilience. Resilience takes a constant beating in the fire service as we, along with other related groups, suffer from the maladies of burnout, compassion fatigue, substance abuse, and the consequences of doing what we do. This month, Naomi Baum sheds some light on the dark side of the fire service that we always know is there. Naomi goes in depth on this topic and describes the unfortunate realities and responder statistics in Part 1 of this article. We all have issues in our lives and occasionally fall victim to the negative aspects of these issues and end up not just potentially losing our careers but our personal freedom as well.

David F. Peterson asks these leaders to develop effective risk-management practices in the field with a sanctioned risk-management model in policy form. The emergencies we are required to respond to are inherently dangerous because of their unsettled nature and the dynamics involved with their development and necessary abatement. David correlates this reality by describing a real-life incident in which a risk-management model was effectively and capably applied and subsequently a life was saved in the process.

This month’s FireRescue offers many roads for you to travel down. And I’ll close with one of my favorite Yogi Berra quotes to sum up the reality of which roads we have to travel down during our careers and profession: “If you come to a fork in the road, take it!” No quote can be truer in this sense as the emergencies and inherent hazards found in our work make these the roads most traveled.

Pennwell