Thursday, April 11, 2013

Video Trailer: 25 to Survive

While I cant figure out how to post the video here, Capt Shaw created a promo video for our program at FDIC on Monday 4/22 0800 room 238-239..

Please stay tuned to our FB page for more info as the book gets closer to production!

25 to Survive Video Clip

Monday, April 1, 2013

25 to Survive: FDIC 2013

FDIC: HOT Workshop:
25 to Survive
 The Residential Building Fire
Monday 4/22 8am-12 Room: 238-239

***Soon to be released as a book from PennWell Publishing*** 
More firefighters are seriously injured and killed while operating at residential building fires than at any other building type we encounter. This presentation will address 25 critical firefighting issues common to the residential building.  While these 25 topics are not an exhaustive and comprehensive list, they are repeatedly noted in many 'near miss reports', National Institute Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommendations and Line of Duty Deaths (LODD's).
Join Capt. Dan Shaw and Lt. Doug Mitchell as they identify these 25 prevalent topics and give you tactical tips, techniques and drills to give us the advantage in these critical areas. You will be able to bring back more than just what you 'heard' in class.  This program's mission is twofold; it’s for citizens in the communities we serve, and for those entrusted to their safety, firefighters and fire officers. This mission will have immediate impact and lead to an increase in efficiency and effectiveness on fireground operations. 
The program has 4 key segments:  Combat Ready, Developing the Mastery of Firefighting, Engine Company Operations and Truck Company Operations.
The inherent dangers in Residential Building Fires reinforces the need for all firefighters, from Probie to Chief, to have a thorough knowledge of the modern residential building and how our efforts effect fire conditions throughout them.  
This is a MUST SEE program at FDIC!  We hope to see you there...

Friday, January 4, 2013

Check your Dance Card, Part 3 "The Dance"

It's on...

We have been leading up to our dance with this "beauty of fire" in both Part 1 and Part 2 of "Check your Dance Card."  Feel free to go back and take notes as we journeyed closer and closer to this 'beauty.'  We have discussed cues and clues to help us not get burned, things to note... both outside the fire building and on our way up to the fire floor.

Now is the moment we have been waiting for.  It is time to dance... this "beauty" can wait no more, it's time to find her.  Excited?  Yes, but we have prepared, practiced and anticipated for this event for some time now.  This isn't the time to be posting about it on FB or squeezing 140 characters out on twitter... we can do that later.

We need to make our move out onto the dance floor and get into the fire apartment.  As we move in with cautious rapidity... keen up your senses.




LOOK:  What are we looking for?  We are looking to find the seat of the fire and also locate trapped civilians.  With obscured vision from smoke conditions in the apartment, we may have had an opportunity to get the layout of it from a quick glance on the floor below or may get information down the road from those who may go to the apt. above.  Inside, look for layout clues, sometimes smoke movement causes a brief layer of clean air to develop low... you may just be able to make out the room/hallway and/or see that lovely 'glow' in the distance.  Do not get tunnel vision or be put blinders on, keep your head on a swivel, up/down/left/right.  Thermal imagers can assist us, but we must know what we are looking for ... they are a tool to ASSIST us in the search.  Electronics are fallible, our preparedness, training and search techniques should not be.

LISTEN:  We never seem to listen close enough, often it's the sense we often shut off when under stress.  We must be diligent, occasionally even force ourselves to stop and listen.  Use a 30-10 or similar technique (search 30 seconds, then pause, remain quiet for 10). Listen to whats going on around you.  You may hear a human life, the crackling fire, hoseline movement, water flowing, windows breaking, etc.  Listen to what is going on around you, they should be familiar sounds.  Don't forget the '2 ears, 1 mouth' saying...

FEEL:  On the dance floor, the fire apartment... we are covered head to toe in PPE.  As such, this is the way we must train ourselves to 'feel.'  We must adapt ourselves to recognize clues in this encapsulated environment.  Residential recognition...with gloved hands take a second to feel the flooring you are on (tile, carpet, wood), feel and decipher the furnishings of each room you pass through.  Using the inferred info gathered from what you feel, you may have a better idea of where you are operating.  For example, tile floor, cabinets, countertop (kitchen).  Another example, large radiator, couch, TV (possible exterior wall in living room).

"Check your Dance Card."

Your dance with this particular 'beauty of fire' is now over.  You have been a great student over these last 3 lessons, learning at each step... the steps building up to the next, closer and closer we came to the beauty.  Today we got our dance, yet we were prepared, practiced and had anticipated the outcome.

You leave the dance floor sweaty, exhausted but still wanting more.

Time to tweet and FB post this 'beauty' so that others can see what we did and didn't do, to make us that much better at the next dance.  But please, be humble, be respectful and be aware that your dance only came from someone else's tragic misfortune.

Part 2
Part 1

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Check your Dance Card, Part 2 "getting closer"

Getting Closer...

In part one of “Check your Dance Card” we discussed a few items to take a look at before we enter the fire building and start our dance with the “beauty of fire.” In part 2, we will discuss a few more specifics that we should note as we enter the structure. Make no mistake, a constant review of this Dance Card is a must for all members… take mental notes of what you see. You’re going to want to come home from your latest "dance" and tell all your friends all about this “beauty.”

"Ok, let's move" the boss said, after what seemed like an eternity to you. The reality, it was only mere seconds. We all know that reality is often suspended when you are out on that dimly lit dance floor. You, you’re an eager beaver, and chomping at the bit to get on with this next one. Your Officer is more cautious; he’s been burned by this “beauty” before. He remembers the sting of her touch, especially if you are caught moving too quickly on the dance floor. He is trying to show you the patience required, but you are still rather wet behind the ears and excitable…

This “beauty of fire” doesn’t make it easy; she beckons you closer with her dancing flames and warm lustrous glow. Again, the Officer reels you back in…one more review before we hit the dance floor.

As you enter the fire building…


Generally we have 2 types of tread design (on the staircase steps) and 2 types of staircases. They are either “Open” (having no sides, walls or doors at the top or bottom) or “Enclosed” (having sides, walls and doors at the top and bottom). Open tread and open staircases allow the passage of smoke, heat and fire to the floors above and are not friendly to our operation. Enclosed steps and enclosed staircases reduce the chances of fire spread in the building (if the doors are to remain in the closed position). It may be wise to announce the style and type of stairs to other units as they arrive, so that they know what to expect. This is of particular importance when in larger multiple dwellings or garden apartments and there are isolated, wing, or multiple staircases that serve specific lines of apartments (i.e. do not transverse the entire building). “Ladder X to Command; we have enclosed wing stairs, we will be using the A wing stairs to reach the fire apartment.”


The presence of a “Well Hole” the space created between the landing section of the stairs and the run of the steps themselves can be utilized for quick hoseline advancement. It must be rehearsed prior with the Engine Co. to achieve maximum effect. It reduces the amount of hose needed to be humped up the treads of the steps and around each newel post (i.e. 1-50’ length can travel vertically 5 floors in the well versus 1 length per floor if going up and around each set of steps, newel posts and associated landings). “Engine 22 to members, there is a well” should be enough to let the members know.


A quick stop on the floor below can get you a lay of the land. If you bypassed the lobby and forgot to count mailboxes, count the number and note location of the apartments that you see. Remember that depending of the way the stairs run (scissor, return etc), they may be slight variations in the layout when you get on the fire floor.


What may have appeared to be a fire on the 3rd floor from the street may turn out to on the second floor depending on the buildings configuration as it relates to the street level. Some buildings have lobby entrances that are raised above street level, which may change your initial fire floor notifications. Verify the fire floor and announce the apartment number or letter over the air, so that those who may be going above can pinpoint the direction they need to head.

Open Tread and Open Stairs

Well Hole

Enclosed Stairs

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Got Stickers?

Got Stickers?

Firefighters, absolutely love stickers and decals. I know that you know what I am talking about, and... it's ok. It is absolutely fine to be proud of who you are as a firefighter, be you a career or volunteer member. You should be proud of your fire company and your fire department. Affixing decals and stickers to your personal property is just one way for you to show that pride to others. I've seen fire department decals not only on personal vehicles, but boats, golf clubs, I've even seen decals on coolers... and so on and so on.

I've also seen some sort of decal on almost every rig I have come across. Some are big, some are small but they mean something to the members who put them there. I've seen decals with company slogans and nicknames, department mascots, company patches, memorial decals, the stickers run the gamut. While they all serve as reminders to the members, either in memory or to elicit a source of pride, but in aiding our functionality for fireground, eh...well the decals are really just for show.

Recently, I have taken notice of a few stickers and decals on rigs and placed on certain tools that are absolutely excellently placed for OUR increased safety, and will aid our operations on the fireground. Now, I will certainly not take credit for inventing any of them, I'm just not that smart. I just thought that they were great ideas and they can be incorporated into most companies and departments quickly, easily and relatively inexpensively. A sticker, believe it or not may just save a life!

Take a good look at the lead picture above and those below, courtesy of my friend Joe Brown from firehouse pride ( Ladder and tool wraps can greatly increase visibility of such important landmarks and vital equipment on the fireground. Also, they are great identifiers for your tools and equipment with your department or company name, letters or logo.

Another useful sticker found on fire apparatus that I have seen is this RIT/FAST one. In reality the sticker isn't for your members, they should know where all the equipment is on your rig... its is for everyone else! You never know when an additional compliment of RIT/FAST supplies may be needed at an incident. With this decals placement, there is no need to "compartment hunt" looking for the RIT/FAST pack or associated RIT/FAST tools on the rig that may be the closest one to the fire!

Label your RIT/FAST compartment

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Check your Dance Card

I admit it, it's happened to me... and I am sure that it's happened to you too. Honestly, it’s just easy to let it happen. You can try to justify it, in your own mind by saying that; it's just that we love what we do, and we want to do it all the time! When fire presents itself, we want to get right in there and go to work. While we know all too well the dangers and devastation that fire causes, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who rides firetrucks that doesn't want to go to them. That said, the tendency to rush into action can sometimes make "the job" more challenging. Even the best firefighters and company officers can, at times, be "blinded" by the auditory and visual display that is, the "Beauty of fire."

Bee-Boop...Engine, Ladder; now the adrenaline starts to build, interrupting what had been a rather slow Football Sunday. The cold snap is here, it’s winter, it's fire season. It's the middle of the afternoon, your on the apparatus floor as crisp winter chill hits and runs thru your bones, as the doors slowly rise open... that arctic air rushes in. Your rigs, your crew and you, gear up... to hit the street.

You are headed on a run for "a house on fire" when another round of adrenaline pops as we hear our friendly dispatcher announce "We are getting a few calls on this" or "Sounds like you might have something there" or better yet "PD is on the scene with fire showing."

Ah, it's going to be a worker... all the signs are right. As you turn the final corner you see the boss lean back, slide the window open to the crew and tell the backstep "looks like we got a job fellas." Whether it's "10-75 the box, K" or "Strike the Working Fire dispatch" it's on! Time to go to work, this is what we do best. We have trained ourselves to be a "Combat Ready" "Aggressive" firefighting team... everyone has the prepared, practiced and anticipated for our fire moment... and it is here, let's push right in!?!?

Whoa, fellas... the boss says: "one second"... What is he doing you wonder? Before he let's the team dance with this "Beauty of fire", he just wants to take one quick look at the dance card.

Before you enter the fire building...


Many times we receive the initial phone call reporting a fire that is: behind, adjacent, across from the address we are responding to. If you arrive and it is different, ANNOUNCE it! Give the remaining companies responding a chance to make adjustments and respond to the right address.


Take a lap for PD's (Private Dwellings), get reports from outside teams at MD's (Multiple Dwellings), or reports from units responding from an opposite direction. Note terrain variations making more stories in rear than front or vice versa, the presence of walk out basements, setbacks... etc.


Let the incoming companies know what you see on your arrival. A fire on the top floor IS different than a fire on the first floor (unless it is 1 story) ...from many operational and tactical standpoints.


Do occupants have the ability to self evacuate? What type and how many (if any) fire escapes are there? Are the civilians "really" in immediate peril or can we reassure them to shelter them in place? Should we make an internal or external (or both) attempt to rescue them? Remember LIP. Life Safety, Incident Stabilization, Property Conservation.


What are your exposures? This means both internal and external.

Internal: Within the fire building/apartment (a quick count mailboxes, doorbells, or a quick scan of the layout on the floor below can help here).

External: Outside the fire building. Fire communicating out windows impinging adjacent dwellings or auto exposing to the floor above might indicate a second alarm or additional resources being called for on your arrival.

KEEP YOUR HEAD UP AND BLINDERS OFF! The few seconds you take in the street may make up countless minutes once in the building. Stay Alert.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Firemen... and "Never Forget"

Firemen... and "Never Forget"

Lt. Douglas J Mitchell, Jr. FDNY.

September the 11th is later this week and I have found myself writing. I have been writing snippet's down as they pop in and out of my head, emotions from the events from that day, and its aftermath hereafter.

I just can't watch TV these last two weeks. I can't take it, it's just too much. Caught myself getting upset watching a special such as, (I will make something up here...but you know what I am saying) "FIRST RESPONDER HERO'S" brought to you specially by "All Temperature Cheer."

I can't read the papers either, thier writers and publishers, who up until this week, were bashing "Firefighter Pension's" as cause for the downfall of our economy... and so on.... and so on...

I thought to write a little side story, reflecting back on where I was in my career as a fireman when the events unfolded, but it makes no difference. I am just one of thousands of firemen who spent time at the trade center complex, went home from time to time between funerals, memorials and benefits, and came back to thier careers at the FDNY, getting back "on the job".

Sometimes I wish I wrote down what I did each day, the 2 years of so after September 11th 2001. Most times, I am glad that I didn’t. For my nation, my city, my fire department, my fire company & my friends, words cannot describe the pain.

I'll try to let the words tell my thoughts. I have posted a few of them this week in different places, but not all together...

"Never Forget" is a well worn adage attached to the brave members of the FDNY who were killed in the line of duty on September 11th 2001. I know that I will "Never Forget," I can't. There are times when I selfishly wish I that I could. "Never Forget," not one day... I just can't. "Never Forget" is more than just 2 simple words, they means everything and yet nothing at all... depending who you are.

To some, the "Never Forget" moniker is profitable, exploitable, in merchandise, ratings and to bolster arbitrary political posturing in "I'm right and your wrong." To me, it's at times silent internal reflection and at others gut wrenching jolts of emotion. You know, that empty in the pit of your stomach, want to vomit... yet can't, feeling?

Like all firemen, I know my family at home cares for me greatly. We need the support of family, it's a tough thing... family home alone: nights, weekends, birth's, death's, holidays... times when only a human touch can solve a problem and your just not there, you can’t be there your at work. But, we know fire takes no days off.

As firemen, we try to insulate our families somewhat from what we see and do, day in and day out. They don't, and can't really comprehend what it is that we do and why it is that we do it. They can't, because, they aren't firemen.

As firemen we must look out for each out for each other on this job. Only we who are firemen, truly know what the job entails.

We must rely heavily on our brothers and sisters on the job for support. That is why we show up and come out for each other in times of need. I saw it in droves after the events in lower Manhattan 10 years ago. Why did you come to NYC to help out? Why, because you are a fireman and that what we do. You saw brothers who needed support and you showed up, it was the right thing to do. I thanked every out of town guy I saw at a funeral or benefit for the support back then, and I thank you again today.

"Never Forget" the great traditions of this job, both in our successes and in our sacrifices.

"Never Forget" how we got to where we are today; in your career, in your fire company, in your fire department.

"Never Forget" the wisdom imparted by those who came before you, for they have laid the path in their sacrifices.

"Never Forget" the love of those around the table with you today, for life is fragile, and they are the present. They will carry that honor forward.

Firemen will "Never Forget" what "Never Forget" means to them, because... well, they are Firemen.