Growing up, I got to see what the fire service is really like. I can remember my first ride in a fire truck with my dad when he was a Lieutenant. I remember the adrenaline rush that I felt as my dad would blast the Federal Q, and drive me around the block. The feeling that I can’t wait till I’m older, and I get to sit backwards and go to a fire one day. I will never forget that awesome feeling that I had inside of me that day.
As I grew older, I joined the Fire Explorers when I was 14. My love for the fire service grew tremendously. I always looked forward to going to every Thursday night meeting and getting to learn about the fire service, and how it began. I didn’t only learn how to operate the tools, flow water, do a search, or run EMS calls. I learned about the brotherhood. What an awesome feeling it was to know that I have a second family that is always there to support me. A family you can come talk to when there are problems at home. A family you can have fun with and spend time with each other’s families and kids. And most importantly, a family that will always have your back at your worst moment in life. Growing up with my father in the fire service and being an Explorer with the same department he was at, I was able to see how a brotherhood was really supposed to be.
As I graduated high school and moved onto fire school, I was able to establish a greater brotherhood with my classmates of Class 1102. Sharing memories together, constantly studying, and going through the toughest parts that fire school had to offer. After graduating fire school and getting hired on the job, I started noticing a change. The brotherhood didn’t seem to all be there. I noticed that some people only want this job for the money, and not for the love of the job and helping others in their community. I also noticed that some of our own brothers and sisters don’t even care about each other. It’s sad to think where the fire service started and where it’s at today, when it comes to the fraternity of the fire service. It’s like we are one giant soap opera, just one
issue after the other. People always complaining about policy and procedures, brothers and sisters talking about other brothers and sisters, and even going behind each other’s back’s and back-stabbing one another. I started to become sick to my stomach when I started seeing what was really going on and it saddens me to see that it has come this far.
Brothers and Sisters,
It’s time to wake up and realize what this career is really about. This isn’t just some job you come to because of the money and the benefits. This isn’t a job where you can come to work and cause mischief and turmoil amongst each other and tear each other down. This is a LIFESTYLE, a CAREER, that is much bigger than some “soap opera”, or some job that you think you’re getting great benefits from. When you choose this profession you better be all in, or nothing. This is a career, a lifestyle, that you live day-in and day-out and devote a third of your life too. Come into work and love to be where you’re at. Love this job and train to become the best at your profession. If professional athletes can train every day to become good at what they do and love their job at the same time, then so can we. We have to train like a professional athlete and become better every single day and not just sit around on a recliner and hope you’ll do it right when the public really needs you. Ignore the Soap Opera, ignore the negativity, ignore the ignorance that people have towards this career and become the 1% who will go out and make a difference in the fire service and show others how great this career really is. Join the movement and take pride back in your station and your career. Show the weak and broken that this is the best job in the WORLD!
– Christopher Intartaglio
This weekend, I had the chance to go back to my hometown for a few days. I had just finished off a brutally busy 24 hour shift driving the engine and headed back home to the sleepy little New England town where I was born, raised, and started my career. I rolled in to town at about 10pm and headed to the local watering hole for a beer with my dad. I hadn’t been home in quite some time, and I was excited to see some familiar faces, relax a little bit, and get away from the hectic pace of city life.
The place was typically half-empty when I walked in, and my dad was running a little late. I pulled up a stool, ordered my beer, and took stock of the other customers. It’s been three years since I left my hometown, and most of my friends have moved on, so I wasn’t really surprised that I didn’t know anyone in the place. A few girls looked sort of familiar, but one face in particular stood out to me.
A pretty brunette, in her late twenties, she was seated with her boyfriend and a few others to my right. She just looked really familiar to me, but for the life of me, I couldn’t recall how I knew her. I didn’t pay too much attention to it at first, not unusual to see someone vaguely familiar in this pub, we probably had a mutual friend or something. My dad and a few friends of mine arrived and we all started catching up on the small town gossip.
For some reason the brunette continued to distract me. I polled my buddies to see if any of them knew her, but no one seemed to have any idea. At this point I was really getting annoyed by this little mystery. I was sort of eavesdropping on her conversation, trying to pick up on any clue that might help me figure it out. She was really happy, she and her boyfriend had just moved in together, gotten a lab puppy, things were going really well in her life it sounded. No clues to her identity though, I decided to give up trying to figure the whole thing out.
Then she moved her arm.
I’m not sure how I even noticed, but on her forearm, next to a tattoo, were a few small scars. The memory came crashing back down on me.
It was a cold rainy night, on a back road. I remember the rain, it was the sort that soaked you the instant you stepped out the door. She was in the front seat of the car, grey, respiratory arrest, needle on the passenger seat. It was a pretty typical overdose, little Narcan, some oxygen, and she woke up in the back of the truck. I remember specifically how upset she was, crying, screaming, begging us to end her life. The girl, like so many others was hooked on drugs, and just wanted off the roller coaster that is addiction, even if it meant death.
I don’t know this girl’s story, but she seemed healthy, happy, and clean. Who knows what her life is like on a daily basis, addiction is a never-ending struggle, but in that moment she was just another happy girl at a bar.
One of the tough things in this line of work, is that you very rarely know what happens to the people you interact with. The people we serve, we meet on runs, you usually never see them again. It’s always said that you can’t keep score, how many live, how many die, good calls, bad calls. But it’s nice to know, that at least some of the time, things do work out.
I ordered another beer and got back to talking to my Dad, it’s good to be home.
Sean Peltier is the Chief of Operations for HeroPrep.com. He is a career Firefighter/EMT and works as a Fire Service Instructor.
Have you heard of the Mind-Body Connection?
It is a term used to describe the interconnectedness between our emotions and our physical health.
When you are emotionally stressed or anxious, especially for a prolonged period of time, it often has a negative impact on your health. Numerous research studies have shown that stress can cause and/or worsen physical conditions such as:
- High blood pressure
- Chest pain
- Back pain “physical injury, illness, or pain can impact your mood”
- Sleep problems (e.g. insomnia)
- Sexual difficulties
- Gastro-intestinal problems
- A weakened immune system
Likewise, you may have experienced first hand how a physical injury, illness, or pain can impact your mood. If our bodies are “sick”, we worry about a number of things including:
- How long it will take to get better?
- Will I have to go on light duty?
- Will I have to stop working out or limit my physical activity?
- Will I be a burden to those around me?
The Good News
The good news is that there are several things we can do to improve our mental and physical health when it comes to these matters. Relaxation techniques always help.
First, if you’re feeling stressed or anxious you can contact FireStrong.org Crisis Support Line 1-844-525-FIRE (3473).
If you want to hear more about how can work for you, follow this link to a podcast that explains the Mind-Body connection, and some strategies to calm your body and mind to prevent or eliminate physical symptoms. Autonomic Podcast
Next, the link below is to the American Psychological Association website that cites some fascinating research about the Mind-Body Connection. For instance, did you know:
- Stress is linked to the six leading causes of death – heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide. (“The Stress Solution: An Active Plan to Manage the Stress in Your Life,” Lyle H. Miller, Ph.D. and Alma Dell Smith, Ph.D.)
- People with high levels of anxiety can have between two to seven times the risk of heart disease. (“Emotional Longevity: What Really Determines How Long You Live,” Norman B. Anderson and Elizabeth P. Anderson, 2003)
- Two-thirds of all office visits to family physicians are due to stress-related symptoms (American Academy of Family Physicians)
Learn more about this research at http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/mind-body.aspx
- Stay Strong – Be smart about your body and your mind!
- Chances are high that this will directly affect you or a loved one during your lifetime !
So you’re thinking of buying a ProBar?
I should start by saying that if you don’t like the ProBar, then stop reading this. NOW. If you are looking for a short description of the halligan mentioned, then I only have two words for you. “The Standard.” This bar is the key to the city.
You are not dealing with any ordinary, cookie-cutter halligan, son! This tool was forged from a single piece of ALL-AMERICAN 4140 steel. The real shit. From the first time you grasp the ProBar, your life will never be the same.
If you’re in the market for the new tool doohickey, a glow in the dark tool, a nupla wannabe, a reflective pistol warning-sticker-wearing or an overpriced copy-cat,
then the ProBar is not for you. Keep on looking my friend, because the ProBar is a piece of red, white and blue American ingenuity at its finest.
This baby’s pulse-elevating, ten and a half pounds of fuck shit up, is what is needed to get the job done. With your calloused hands planted firmly on the tool, she will obey, the first time, every time, no matter where you are. If you can’t handle this bar, then you better not fairy-skip over here wanting to test drive her. If you
complain that she is not perfectly tuned, straight out of the box, you can count on getting hit in the face with a piece of re-bar and sent back to the engine company.
“It doesn’t have a shoulder strap?” No, it doesn’t! If you’re looking for a purse, then you can keep looking for a hybrid, Japanese produced, para-crap somewhere else.
If you’re thinking about a welded two-piece halligan, think again. The ProBar comes from a sixty-ton, drop-forged, raw, lava-eating press, operated by a guy that only has a few fingers left, in upstate New York. And forget about one of those super shiny, expensive, laser-cut halligans, because when you’re spotted with this American-made classic, there will be no
questions, no further explanations required, the engine company will understand and get out of your way……real quick.
If you think you’re ready to partake in some of the most epic door-forcing that the ProBar will tackle, then you better get your crew and your old lady ready for some damn changes around the station and your house, cause this shit will be happening.
What will be happening? I’m glad you asked……..
1. More chest hair. Instantly.
2. The squad company goes back to doing engine work.
3. Meat-only diet.
4. T-Rex as a pet.
5. Your crew will be going to every fire in the city.
6. Your balls will be the actual size you thought they were.
7. What door? Where? Show me.
8. Wire bristled toothbrush.
9. All male offspring.
10. Chief goes to you before buying new tools.
11. Chiseled jaw line.
12. Not giving a damn.
13. Wife makes you bacon for breakfast everyday even when on shift.
14. Higher salary.
15. Flesh will be turning to steel.
17. You will appear bi-monthly on the cover of fire magazines.
18. Doors may open on their own as you walk up.
19. More window smashing.
20. More killing stuff.
21. More dead animals in the freezer.
22. Bigger TV.
23. Chuck Norris looks up to you.
24. Steaks or lobster (or both) for dinner…..every night.
25. The History Channel will do a week-long series about you.
26. Wrestling Godzilla for your warm-up workout.
27. Build awesome shit.
28. Bar fights.
29. You are immediately elected into the Illuminati.
30. Welding stuff.
31. Engine companies actually leave the front of the building open for the truck.
32. PBR anytime (except while on shift).
33. The most interesting man takes lessons from you.
34. You shotgun kegs instead of beer cans.
35. Taco Tuesdays are real.
Sounds good doesn’t it?
The ProBar has been carried through thousands of fires by men that make William Wallace look like a skirt-wearing little bitch. Like a trusty steed, this juggernaut has never failed to open a door. If you think you’ve worn her out, you drag this beast back to me, in any condition. I’ll handle the rest.
But if you think you’re going to whip thirty inches of badassery around, you had better pony up two hundred and thirty-five dollars (+shipping)…..American green cash. You will not be sold this ProBar unless you are clearly a pure-blooded firefighter willing to tackle any lock side of a door. Otherwise…….don’t even think about it.
– Please note, that the author of this article would like to remain anonymous. Nonetheless, this is one extremely bad-ass read, and should be placed into Gospel (Just saying)…
As children, we are taught to think for ourselves. We are taught subject matter, quietly, in a classroom setting. We do our homework alone before we can go hang out with our friends. And then, we are tested in a silent atmosphere. I would have never thought I would be involved in a career that would have me thinking, learning, teaching, and doing things as a group, team, or platoon. This career is unique, and it takes a special person to accept the calling.
So what are some important job functions we need to do as a team?
In the academy, I was told the only two things we do as an individual in this career is put on our bunkers, and use the restroom. Quite frankly, I’ve been in situations where both of these have been falsified. But only because I’m in the company of my brothers. Only because they are family. And as family, we need to watch each others back’s. We need to warn each other of the dangers, and the situations we are getting ourselves into. And as teams, we need to work together.
Many group topics come to mind, but one of the most overlooked is the planning stages of incidents prior to us ever receiving the call. Pre-planning our attacks as a company, should be done before the alarm ever sounds. We are looking for the dangers we’d have while in a non-emergent setting so as not to be surprised by them on the fireground. This way, they are already known when the fire comes in at 3:30 in the morning and the Grim Reaper is staring us in the face when we walk in the front door. Pre-plans are especially more important since the construction boom of the early 2000’s and lightweight frame is now becoming the norm, building after building. But just because the construction is becoming the same, are the hazards the same? Are the hazards the same today as they were back in the 80’s and 90’s, when some of these buildings were last inspected and walked thru by the 1st due company? Are the firemen that were involved back then still in your department today? Probably not…but that would be only one of many reasons why we should be walking through these buildings and knowing what’s inside prior to our initial dispatch. Fire inspections, building codes, and fire suppression/notification devices just fix the tip of the iceberg. Next time you go to an automatic fire alarm, or medical run in an unfamiliar building, give the maintenance guy a shout. Ask him to take the “nickel tour”. If not, it’s their right, but if you can, it could be the difference between yours or your crew-members’ life. Get out there, and go get it!
– The “Irons”
Have we lost our class?
As our culture of public dress has become less than respectable, the fire department has followed suit. Of course every department has it’s own uniform standard or policy. When I worked a fire season in San Diego County it was every fire department’s policy to wear Class B (Button down) shirts when in public especially when eating meals.
My issue here is that as time passes, we start seeing the normalization of substandard uniform dress within the firehouse. In the last 100 hundred years, firefighters started with full Class A uniform and bell crown uniform hats for daily station wear and slowly trickled our way down to uniform T-shirts in some departments. Uniform pants with a tucked in T-Shirt does not readily scream professionalism. The more Fire Chief’s who issue T-Shirts as an acceptable firefighter uniform, the more comfortable we all become with seeing it. And the more comfortable we become seeing it, the more normal it will be to have our professional public servants showing up to assist the public(customer) in T-Shirts.
What appears to be an effort to save ourselves from the normalization of the T-Shirt uniform has brought about the uniform polo shirt. Sure, the polo has a collar and the attempt of being a buttoned shirt, but it’s really just a graduated T-Shirt, or in some circles leisure-wear for Ivy League-rs. We should not be fooling ourselves here. T-Shirts and Polo Shirts are not professional attire. Are they acceptable to wear under your fire gear? Of course. Out in public? No way man.
It’s the difference between showing up on scene looking like this
or showing up like this.
And the difference between a bunch of folks in T-Shirts
And a bunch of professionals in uniform
The price difference between an NFPA compliant polo and an NFPA compliant uniform short sleeve shirt is $10. But the image factor takes that $10 and makes your firefighters look like a million bucks. The UPS delivery driver and the pizza delivery man should not be making a delivery to the firehouse looking more professional than your firefighters.
Fire department image is just as important as everything else we do. Our trucks are giant billboards and our people are agents of customer service. A good majority of the time, it’s the public’s perception of our image that makes or breaks an interaction. I urge all the chief’s out there to think next time you make a uniform purchase or policy. Class B uniforms should be the national standard. It should also be the public’s expectation of their public services. Taking pride in our image and realizing that every trip out of the fire station is an opportunity to leave a lasting impression on the people we serve. Perhaps we can be the driving force behind what’s acceptable to wear in public…Probably not.. but a guy can dream.
Every station has them, maybe one ,or maybe a pack of them. They are the highly trained book smart firefighters that have no on-the-job experience to back-up the fancy sheet of paper they achieved. Sometimes they like to trade war stories that end with, “i was outside searching the yard for tools.” These are the people that like to go to training burns and melt their shield and the 20 Stickers off of there helmet. So really what makes them untouchable?
I’ve had the “honor” to experience a few of these so said masters of the fire service. These hotshot young guns of the fire service come straight out of the fire academy thinking that the little 64 hour class and 8 hour live burn makes them the best of the best and one of the seasoned guys. But when it comes to putting their money were their mouth is, they fail every time. Why is this and why are they still untouchable?
These people have the mindset that no matter what, they are better then everyone, and a belief that everyone is beneath them. They have a false sense of entitlement due to the fact they received a fancy sheet of paper that means nothing when you are just pushed along in a class without having to truly preform the tasks required. But what causes this mindset of entitlement? Is it an age thing? Is it a generational thing?
I can tell you now it is not an age thing. I’ve seen 40 year old grown men act like they are entitled to everything. I have also seen 18-19 year old’s that are grown responsible respectful and committed students tof the craft that never leave a page unturned. They work constantly to better their skills and brake the mold that is formed around the age difference in the fire service. But sadly, this is not always the case. Most of the time it is the young guys that bring those that earn their salt down in the fire service.
Signs to look for to see if you are dealing with an untouchable.
- They have done that and some no matter if they finished the fire academy yesterday. they have done more then you have in 30 years on the job.
- Brand New Helmet and shield with Burn marks and no true salt.
- I fight what you fear decals……
- They want to do it all and don’t want to go about it in the right steps.
How do we fix this? How do we deal with the so called untouchables? Now i’m not very sure but i can tell you from what I’ve seen they for the most part weed them selves out after awhile. Now my idea of fixing it would be making sure that new members are mentored by the right members and that they understand that this is not a little league baseball team not everyone gets a juice box and trophy. Earn your place in this amazing brotherhood and pay your dues. No free rides in the brotherhood!
Inspired at 72 to Start a New Venture
In the Introduction, I wrote of the unexpected vision for returning to work on a full time basis in January of 2012. I had been forced to retire from full time ministry due to getting stints for clogged arteries in January 2007. I had no energy to do any work of ministry because of constant lethargy. On March 6, 2009 a retirement party was held for my benefit. I reluctantly accepted my fate.
I suspected all along that the reason for the extreme lethargy was the 30 – 60 extra pounds on my body. Suffice it to say here that I was very unhappy after a lifetime of busy activity to find myself unable to put one foot in front of the other to do much of anything. In 2010 and 2011 I began to have success with weight loss and feeling energy to return to work. I made several attempts to restart my professional career.
These efforts to return to work did not seem to be productive or fulfilling so I had finally accepted that retirement was my lot in life and I was content. I clung closely, however, to my part time volunteer position as Fire Chaplain and the hope that the Lord might call me to do more specific additional work for Him. Accepting retirement as my lot in life was made easier by my active participation as
Chaplain. The experiences in the Fire House as Chaplain were the greatest satisfaction of my life and that was the background leading to the dramatic vision to start a web site in January 2012. I believe the inspiration to establish the website came to me from God. It was very dramatic how a clear vision came to me in a short span of 2 1/2 hours while driving to St. Augustine Florida for a weekend. It is very important for me to be straight with you and to tell you why I started to work
again full time at 72 on a website directed to firefighters who have issues with weight. To start with, I think that my deepest motive for moving forward with the vision and making the commitment to return to work on a full time schedule was the opportunity to support firefighters.
At the same time, I was motivated to keep my own commitment to finally do whatever was necessary with food in my own life and to maintain my weight and health. When you read the next chapter of this booklet you you will understand that Chappy has a long history of struggles with weight and obesity. Even today, while I am enjoying a wonderful vacation in New Hampshire and typing the first draft for this booklet, I am still struggling with my food choices. Essentially, I admit that I have made the decision to suspend all of my normal discipline with diet and food choices and to give myself a food plan vacation. I am sure that there will be consequences for those choices and that there will be weight gain when I get on the scale upon my return home in just a few days. So, there it is! I have put my finger on an important motive for establishing Supporting Fire Fighters Inc. I believe that, if I will commit myself to encouraging firefighters to fight the fight with weight issues, I will have a better chance to maintain a reasonable weight. And so, much of my motive is selfish. But, on the other hand, I believe that there is no more noble task that I could commit myself to than supporting my brothers and sisters in the Fire Service. Just think about this for a minute. Every time we firefighters agree to serve the general public we agree to risk our lives for others. We unselfishly say that we are willing to risk our lives to save life and property. I have come to believe passionately that the finest men and women in our land are accepting this call to duty.
However, I also know that many of us struggle mightily with weight issues. In my own life I am constantly confronted with my struggle to maintain a good weight as I am now here on vacation. So, it is my strongest hope that God has called me to this expansion of my Chaplain’s ministry to a new mission field: to encourage firefighters with weight issues. Being very realistic, it is almost impossible for us to overcome this problem by ourselves. However, I believe that we can together make progress toward a reasonable weight and fitness status and thereby be better equipped to do our work. It has been three years since the initial vision to initiate a web site. During that time I have been sharing my desire to support firefighters with weight and obesity with 20 or more Chiefs and Command Officers in six states and the District of Columbia. The investigation has led to the formation of a non profit corporation, the completion of a web site and Facebook page and the initiation of “In Station” training in support of the objective. Now, I would be remiss not to add one other important dimension to the issue of maintaining a healthy weight and fitness and that is the spiritual dimension. It is my job as Chaplain to come along side my brothers and sisters in the fire service. I am fully aware that, as a person with weight issues, it is impossible for me to help myself in my own strength. I have proven conclusively to myself that I do not have the will power. So, it is my personal hope that my decision to serve will open opportunity for me to grow spiritually and to grow as a Chaplain for the rest of my days
Is FirstNet going to change the way we communicate or is it the first major step to Skynet? Could the network become self-aware over time?
Is your Department talking about Firstnet with their state government? In February 2012, President Obama signed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act. Boring right? WRONG! Contained inside this now 3 year old law is a $7 Billion gift to First Responders called the First Responder Network Authority or FirstNet; (FirstNet.gov) and this gift has been funded in the 2015 budget. Thanks Obama…
FirstNet will be the first-ever U.S. nationwide first responder exclusive LTE broadband network available to encourage interoperability and increased reliability with emergency response along with the ability to improve services. The early stages of this idea originated in 1993; technology kept evolving so fast that research committees couldn’t keep up with the innovations. The stuff I’m talking about here is already what we’re doing behind the scenes with commercial cloud based products, commercial internet, and our iPads or Engine laptops. The only difference is that FirstNet is designed for us with resilient protections to guard against failure during times of crisis. FirstNet is the medium we’ve needed to fully realize the spirit of interoperability preached in NIMS. Finally, our current patchwork of Motorola radio systems on different frequencies will all be brought under the same 700Mhz umbrella…NATIONWIDE.
The wide ranging services offered by FirstNet is what’s most exciting. Here is a snippet from Firstnet.gov “The FirstNet organization is the first of its kind. Never before has Congress established an independent government authority with a mandate to provide specialized communication services for public safety. Using nationwide 700 MHz spectrum, FirstNet will put an end to decades-long interoperability and communications challenges and help keep our communities and emergency responders safer.”
And this is going to be AWESOME! We’re talking ambulances sending pictures of accident scenes ahead to hospitals prior to patient arrival, communication across platforms, the ability to pull up GPS mapping, building pre-fire plans, handheld finger print scanners.
Off the top of my head, I can recall two firefighting stories that my grandfather shared before he passed away. Only two in my whole life… that’s it. I’ve also only seen two pictures of him with the fire department. I have his old helmet and I know he was chief. He also taught at Texas A&M municipal fire school for 52 consecutive years. His father, my great-grandfather, was a career firefighter.
I am 4th gen and hell yes I’m proud. I love my career choice and will tell anybody that. I am eager to teach a younger generation just as much as i am eager to learn. Being a firefighter is all I know, I never learned a trade outside of this “job”.
My father has been a paramedic since 1985 in ems since 1979. I grew up listening to him give radio reports to the hospital and even occasionally running calls with him. Still to this day we share experiences with each other. I talk about fires and some calls with positive outcomes with my son all the time, obviously leaving out the details he doesn’t need at 6 years old.
What I’m getting at is passing the stories along. Pass down the tradition and pride of the job to the sons, daughters and even the rookies at the station or in academies. The stuff that lights the fire is the stuff keeps that spark going. Don’t let the past die with you. The experiences that you have learned from can help educate a younger generation. The early water activation and pitch-black, hotter than hell room you were in when you banked the layer down on top of yourself. It may not keep Ricky Rescue from doing the same but it will let him know what happenes when he does it.
With all that pride comes responsibility. A responsibility to remain physically fit to do your job to the best of your ability. To continue to feed and grow your knowledge of the fire service, current building construction, SLICER-RS, RECEO-VS, hose streams, ladders, ventilation and everything else we do on a fire. The responsibility to let your actions at the fire station show the guys on other shifts or other stations how serious you and your guys are about this job. Your personal pride, shift pride, STATION PRIDE should all be blatantly obvious to any outsider looking in.
So pass those old war stories down, share the experiences with anybody that cares to listen. Build a picture book full of newspaper clippings, and photos to share with your children, and grand children. Let your good and bad experiences educate our younger generations. Think about your mentors, and how they taught you. You owe it to all the past firefighters to maintain the pride in the brotherhood.