Making Your Way Around A ‘Trident Security’ Door




Built by SECURITECH is a one of the newest security systems introduced into the fire service in the past few years. Mainly seen on commercial buildings, however, they are growing with the prepping community and some residential homes. They are also being used more and more by Marijuana dispensaries. We have noticed these locking systems on doors in your Walgreens or CVS-style stores, located mainly on the C or D side of the building.

The system features multi-point locks for an exit door. Focusing on a 4-point locking system with stainless steel deadbolts; a stainless steel pry plate covers the main deadbolt and stainless steel thru-bolt plates.

SECURITECH offers two options for of locking mechanisms. The TEL-100 model is a manual locking system where a paddle on the interior has to be pulled for the system to lock. The TEL-200 model provides the same locking deadbolt protection but with a self re-locking system each time the door is closed. A pull handle is not installed on this door. A door closer is required for this style of self-locking system. Bolts on the exterior of the door near the top should indicate the door closer, but that may not always be the case. Some use of the framing square on panic style door latches may work if the pull paddle is installed. The TEL-100 system is the primary system that this technique will work on.

The system uses a standard 4-point locking system; three retractable bolts on the latch side and one bolt on the hinge side(non-retractable). Two additional locking points can also be added on the hinge side totaling six locking points. Locking bolts are free spinning to prevent a saw from cutting them. The bolts are made of stainless steel and are 5/8″ in diameter. The bolts could be set at different lengths into the door frame. This is depending on the installer and what is actually behind the frame i.e. backfilled with concrete, brick, or wood that the jamb is mounted to. The bolts are overall 7″ in length and installed high and low on the latch side of the door. The hinge side bolt is located in the center of the door near the jamb side. Other bolts could be placed high or low on the hinge side as well.

The Main Locking Mechanism

The main locking mechanism is located in the center of the door on the latch side. The latch is secured by six carriage bolts and a stainless steel cover that also extends over the jamb to prevent prying near the bolt. The “bolt” is actually a flat bar that is 1-1/4″ wide by 1/2″ thick and is connected to
the two other bolts above and below via a cable that is hidden in a piece of aluminum C-channel.

The door can be outfitted with an additional egress module that prevents thieves from being able to to grab and go out the door. This module is activated when the paddle is pushed to activate the door locks. It keeps the door locked for 15 seconds after the paddle is pushed. The paddle has to be held in the pushed position for the 15 seconds before the door will open. The module is usually placed above the locking mechanism on the very top of the door.




Used with permission from Truck Floor Training.

A side by side comparison to help show where or what is being locked on the inside. This door has a standard setup installed on it. There could be additional bolts on the hinge side of the door.


axeThe key to successful entry through this door is irons work with the GSF method. For the hinge lovers, the hinge side will be the least likely option to use due to a non-retracting deadbolt. Saw work will be difficult due to free spinning deadbolts and offset latches. Preplanning your first and second due area is going to be key when knowing what your up against. Due to the design and characteristics of the locking mechanisms, Command should be notified as soon as possible that entry will be delayed due to a fortified rear/side door. The firefighter will need to fall back on his or her training to be successful in gaining entry through this door. The standard placement of the irons may not work, however, knowing how to manipulate the tools, using the mechanical advantage and possibly using a roof hook for leverage, will get you through this door.


~East Coaster~

– Please note: The author of this article would like to remain anonymous.


From Little Brother To Big Brother

Do you ever stop and think how your actions will affect someone in 20 years? Has it ever crossed your mind that just one thing you did today could be the defining moment in someone’s life? Would you believe that a simple firehouse tour and a hot wheels fire truck could put a spark in a kids heart that will last their entire life? I will tell you first hand, it happened to me. At a young age, I took an interest in being a fireman as most kids do. I had the usual toys and fireman costume that you would find in most homes. But unlike most kids, I never grew out of my fireman phase. My parents, seeing that this wasn’t just a typical childhood dream, stoked the fire that was building in me.

While my father was in the Marine Corps, he became friends with a Marine who happened to be a local volunteer fireman. They got together and worked it out so we would come take a tour of the fire house. Little did he know that his actions that day would set the course for my future. From that day forward, my desire and passion for this job grew and grew. Every time a fire truck would pass us in the car, I was glued to the window. I stared in awe as they raced by, lights and siren wailing. I had a fireman themed birthday, complete with an engine company from the local fire department. My parents went as far as buying a Dalmatian, and of course we had to name him Pongo. There was no doubt that this kid was going to be a fireman.IMG_20150820_232532176_HDR

Unfortunately, as quick as my mentor came into my life, he would soon be leaving. Both my father and he were retiring from the Marine Corps, and our paths would not cross again for many years. But before he left, he invited my parents to a farewell party. I don’t remember much of the party due to my fascination with his fire memorabilia he had in his office. The only time I was drawn away was when his pager went off for a call. Then I was glued to the front door as I watched him drive away. Once he returned, I was so excited to hear what happened that I bombarded him with questions before the front door even closed. But as fate would have it, all good things must come to an end. Before we left, he went into his office and took a small silver fire truck off the shelf. He handed it to me and with a smile he said, “Here Buddy, I want you to have this.”

I still have that toy fire truck to this day.

silver fire truckFast forward about 20 years and the impact from that day is still going strong. I got my first taste for the job when I joined my local Explorer post. I learned that it took a lot of hard work, long hours and sometimes sleepless nights to be a fireman. But I loved every minute of it. During my time as an Explorer, I was so influenced by another fireman that the flames were raging in my heart. He is a 20 plus year veteran and currently a Captain. He would be the one to teach me the love for the job and all of it’s traditions. He taught me how the old-timers did things and never missed an opportunity for a history lesson. But the one thing that stands out the most is the day he told me I would make a good fireman. Some may see this as just a small compliment and think nothing of it, but for me, it meant the world.

Eventually my time as an Explorer came to an end, and I joined my local volunteer fire department. I’ve been volunteering since 2012 and have worked hard to learn my job and make a good reputation for myself. Some point along the way I made the transition from little brother to big brother. I am the guy many of the new rookies come to for advice. I can see that they have listened to my rants on taking pride in your work. I can see it in how they store their gear or how they load hose. They are becoming good firemen.

Our actions on a day to day basis can have lasting effects for a lifetime. Are you that big brother your rookie looks up to? Will you be the fireman that the little kid remembers 20 years from now who sparked their desire to be a firefighter?

Special thanks to my parents who always supported my dream to become a firefighter. To Lt. Lenny Stoleburg for being the one who started me on my journey and Capt. Jeff Kerley for teaching me what it means to love the job. Without you, none of this would be possible.



Leadership: A View from the Bottom Up

There have been numerous books, articles, speeches and blogs written about leadership. The authors range from Generals, Fire Chiefs, and CEO’s to the guy on the corner who took a business management class one time. Many works offer a great insight on the similar tools and attributes needed to be an effective leader; many just repeat what others have already stated. In any case, they all have one common thread…they are written from the perspective of a leader or someone in charge. This article takes a look from the subordinate’s perspective. An effective leader not only accomplishes the objectives set for them, they understand what their subordinates expect from them.

First and foremost there is an overwhelming difference between being in-charge (managing), and being a leader. People who manage tend to sit behind a desk and mitigate tasks without ever taking part in the work itself. There is a great disconnect between them and the workers in this situation. While this approach may work in office buildings and factories, it can cause dissent and inefficiency in a fire house. The nature of work that firefighters perform demands leadership, not management.

Leadership2Firefighters expect their officers to be leaders, not managers. All officers were at one time a firefighter themselves; it’s not like in the private sector where an “educated” college graduate is placed in-charge of workers who have been there for twenty years. Firefighters have to learn the job before they can be promoted. For any aspiring officer, these first years should be spent watching current leadership. What do they do right? What do they do wrong? Do the men respond positively or negatively to how they lead? Everyone develops an opinion about their officer, whether it’s good or bad. An officer should worry about how the men feel about them; it will affect how hard they will be willing to go for them. However, an officer is not in that position to be friends with everyone. They are there to ensure that their men go home at the end of every shift and that they are trained to the utmost of their abilities. That means that they will have to make unpopular decisions at times. They will have to call people out on their shortcomings. As a firefighter, I expect this from my leaders, as it makes me better at my job.

Sometimes it seems like trumpets have a way of erasing one’s memory of what it was like to be a firefighter. Some officers may even see promotion as an escape from the mundane daily tasks that firefighters perform. Being a part of those daily tasks is a great way to earn the respect of the men. The officer sets the tone for the day, if he’s out on the rig first thing after roll call checking his equipment, the rest of the crew will follow suit. If the officer disappears into his office after shift change and never once looks at his gear, the crew picks up on the lax attitude and equipment checks become less important. Firefighters understand that the officers have additional duties to complete during the shift. But what’s more important, filling overtime for the next day or making sure the equipment needed to perform is in working order?

An officer’s attitude can be seen in the attitude of the crew. When the officer works hard, the crew works hard. Leading by example is the quickest and surest way to earn the respect of the crew. A true leader would never ask a subordinate to do something that they themselves would not do. That’s not saying that the Captain needs to get elbow deep in a toilet, but when the entire crew is hard at work, the officer should not be checking their email. Firefighters notice when an officer is around and when they’re slacking, just like officers know when the firefighter is slacking. Being an officer may mean working harder than the rest of the crew, that’s why they make the big bucks.

Firefighters also value consistency in their leaders. Setting a standard and sticking to that standard gives the men confidence in the officer’s ability to lead. That can mean being consistent in disciplinary action or in decision making. Giving favor to certain crew members is a sure way to cause dissent within the house. In the same way, not following a medic on an ALS call because it’s after midnight will cause the men to lose respect. The officer should remember back to when they had to ride the box and needed help when it wasn’t there. The men should never have to wonder if help is coming, they should know that their officer has their back every time.


The trust of having each other’s back can only be gained through time and training. Firefighters want to learn, they love getting dirty and working hard. It’s the officer’s job to ensure the crew is trained to the best of their ability. The attitude towards training starts at the very top with the Chief and trickles down to the Lieutenant. Some chiefs place training responsibility on the individual companies or houses, in which case the Captain or Lieutenant sets the frequency and quality of training. Other Chiefs, mainly in smaller departments, control the frequency and quality of training themselves. In either case, the training needs to be relevant to how the department operates and needs to be done more than once a month. If officers treat training as something that needs to be checked off for continuing education, the crews will suffer and so will the public they have sworn to protect.

If you are a firefighter aspiring to be an officer one day, observe those with the trumpets. What do they do well? What do they need to improve upon? Take notes on events that occur and how they were handled. Learn from both good and bad experiences. If you are a current officer take a moment to reflect. Really sit back and think about whether or not you lead your men or manage them. Have you become the officer you despised? Do you work with your crew? Do you earn their respect or demand it? To be a successful officer you, must remember what it was like to be a firefighter.

~ Charles Swank~ 125 Training ~



Little People, Big Results


As firefighters, children look up to us.  We are the hometown heroes that are able to save lives during a crisis.  Whether it be a fire, medical, or rescue call, we are the people these children look up to.  October is Fire Prevention Month.  We have an entire month, dedicated to give something back to the local children and teach them ways they could help us.  If we make them feel like Jr. firefighters, even just for one day, they will make a big impact on our job.

Little People 1

All too often, we hear of victims entrapped in structural fires.  Much more, too often, they succumb to their injuries.  Smoke inhalation and toxic gases are the number one cause of death in fire victims during 2010. As firefighters, we have a mission to reach out to these little people, and educate them on their part during these emergencies.  Believe it or not, I have seen first hand what fire prevention classes could do to our children.  They are little sponges, and retain a lot more information than adults do.  Especially if a lesson is delivered in such a way that makes it fun for them.

This year alone, I have seen many repeat faces in my local jurisdiction that are very knowledgeable, in exit strategies, smoke detectors, and fire drills within the home.  These children are not just taking away pamphlets and pencils with your department name stamped on it.  They are taking away life saving strategies Little People 3that we hope they will never have to use.  But are we always as “all-in” in our teaching efforts as we are if it were our own children?  Do we sometimes skimp on the small things, and try move onto our next daily task?  Hopefully not.  We need to stand in front of these children as the professionals we are.   They look up to us.  Do it for them.  Without them, our job would be a lot harder.  Treat them as if they were your own children.  They ARE your own children. They are the children in your community, and they are the next generation.  They are the future doctors, politicians, firefighters, and teachers of our society.  Treat them that way.  Let’s make sure they make it to that point.  Show them you care, and send them home with the skills they need to survive in a fire situation.  Do it for them, do it for yourself, and do it for your community.  Nobody looks up to you more than they do.

– The “Irons”


The Driver/Operator – “The Most Pivotal Role on the Fireground”

As I think back at the major incidents in my fire service career, both paid and volunteer, there are one or two positions on the scene that changed the role of the emergency. There is the obvious, Incident Commander – we have all had both the unknowing and the overwhelming. And then there is the Apparatus Operator – whose composure, knowledge, and pro-activeness can dictate both the command consciousness and the line personnel fluidity of scene control. Yes, the nozzle man controls the pace of the fire, but if the D/O cannot give him water, his efforts are futile.

So what makes a good D/O? Is it years behind the wheel, certifications, age, or any other factor? I believe it comes from being a good firefighter before assuming the role of D/O. In most departments, the D/O has to have some time riding backwards to understand the needs on scene and the requirements of the crews working the scenes. You have to establish the proactive mindset early in your experience in the fire service. Are you the firefighter that comes in, puts his gear by the truck, and then finds the most comfortable recliner? Or are you the kind that sets his gear, checks his equipment, checks the drivers log, and has the truck in service as soon as possible? This article will discuss a few options to make you the best driver you can be.

  • The Proactive Driver:

Proactive is an action word. Understand that, in taking the step up to driver, you take the lives of your crew, the public, and your future into your own hands. Driver-Operator1This is not the time to “begin” to be a good firefighter. Having the ability to know the next steps on the fire and emergency scene is key to the basic requirements of the driver. Again, this is coming from your experience as a firefighter riding backwards. Knowing the time it takes to deploy and charge a hose line; being able to hit a hydrant in a quick, efficient manner; ability to deploy a ground ladder unassisted (24’ and 28’); having the ability to pull the backup line after the first line is charged and flow checked. These are skills that, as you can tell, are not learned AFTER the promotion or step up. They are basic firefighting skills learned and PERFECTED as a backseat firefighter.

  • The Knowledgeable Driver:

Congratulations on being able to apply 10th-grade algebra in a classroom setting to find a theoretical figure that is supposed to work. Sarcasm? Just as in any training, DOING work is exponentially greater than YouTube, magazines, or opinions.

The assigned apparatus you have is not the same as others in the fleet. Why? Because it is YOUR truck. You are ultimately responsible for the pump, engine, and equipment on the apparatus. Understanding that the only way to prove (or disprove) the flow-ability of your pump is to flow meter or Driver-Operator7pitot gauge each line fully stretched and flowing. A suggestion I have done on my rig is placing label maker stickers on the pump by each remote gauge on the panel. This serves as a reminder at 02:00 A.M, while many more things are running through your mind. Knowing simple things can also equate to making your company and you perform better. Know the percentage-loss formula as a reference to supplying more hose lines for the IC. Know the next step in an extrication of having the tools hooked up and ready. Know the reach of your aerial and scrub range for the front and sides of the building. This is where the training and repetition become natural habits.


  • The Skilled Driver:

Driving is more than just sitting behind the wheel and pulling levers. NASA sent a monkey into space, how hard can driving a fire truck be? There are a few similarities. The monkey was taught procedures on a timeline, and so are we (parking brake, transfer switch, tank-to-pump lever, etc). The monkey wore hisDriver-Operator3 seatbelt and so should we. The monkey took orders for rewards. So do we. What sets us apart? The drive to be better and to know the “what-ifs.”

Again, this article goes a little in circles when it comes to, “you have got to have one to have another.” Training and self-preparation sets the best drivers above the good drivers. Do you know how to override your aerial hydraulics? Can you troubleshoot your pump if it fails? Do you know how long the tank will last for any line selected? These are sometimes learned-traits, but more often, it comes with experience. Put yourself in these situations to bring up your skill level. You don’t need the entire company out to crawl under the pump and see the size of the pipes. You have the ability to get the company to out and train. You have the drive to make the company better with your motivation.


  • The Safe Driver:

When you put all three driver levels together (proactive, knowledgeable, and skilled), it produces a safe driver. Recently in the news, another firefighter was arrested for blocking a roadway at the scene of a wreck for “impeding traffic.” I would like to say that I would have the testicular fortitude to stand up for the safety of my crew members and keeping the working area locked down for their safety. Would you? Do you have the willingness to not roll the wheels of the truck until ALL seatbelts are fastened? Making a decision to not place your belt, almost takes longer than actually locking it. Why? Are you in that much of a hurry to have your kids grow up without a parent? It only takes one wreck to change many other peoples’ lives.


Together, you can make a well-rounded driver. Think back over your time in the fire service. Who is the driver you wanted in the seat, and who is the guy you didn’t? What made them the one you wanted or didn’t want? Are those characteristics what you resemble or is there work to be done? Even as a company officer, I look to my driver to make my job easier. He who knows what needs to be done, and is the pivotal role on the emergency scene. Be proactive. Be knowledgeable. Be skilled. Be safe.

– Joel Richardson


Quit Your Cryin’

Push me. Motivate me. Make my brain work. Quit bitching. No more whining. SHUT UP!

I read a LOT of fire service related articles. I try to put myself in front of at least of one form of media that will make me learn a fire service trick, skill, or snippet of knowledge every single day. I love the science behind “truck & engine company operation” articles and how they keep the fire lit in my heart.


wpid-fb_img_1439299020343-e1439318527133When I see articles about somebody’s opinion on uniforms, or an article trying to arm-chair quarterback an incident they had nothing to with, I get sucked in. I read it. I feel the low morale, distaste, and bad attitudes that evolve around those type of guys. As I snap out of that and escape that bitch-fest, I wonder what it’s like to work with that person.

A few years back, I was that guy.

I went to work in a terrible mood. I did the bare minimum shift-in and shift-out and bitched and moaned the whole time about things I couldn’t change. People hated to be around me, things were always against me and I hated work. I’ll spare you the story of when I pulled my head out of my ass and realized how much of a jerk I was being. But I will tell you that change had happened, and since then, I have had the best years of my career.

If you have nothing else to talk about besides your opinion on departments that wear shorts or t-shirts, or you choose to pick apart an incident that you have only seen on Facebook, then I bet you’re the guy that nit-picks everything at your firehouse. Nothing is ever good enough for you, and you try to bring everyone down to your level, sometimes successfully I’m sure.

“How do we change that guy?”11872951_572818831236_190680378_n

Well, I don’t know honestly. I’m a big advocate of training and learning. Once I set goals in that I was going to get my mind right, and be the best I could be, I started paying a lot more attention to training. A good friend of mine says almost daily, “leave the fire service better than you found it.” That’s legit. That’s the “it” that we all need to keep “Debbie Downer” from ruining the morale of that shift.

So go train. Get your hands dirty. Make your brain stronger. Read something PRODUCTIVE and not belittling or demeaning to the business. We have plenty of those who are commonly referred to as “Debbie Downers.” It’s time we take back our fire service and make it something to be proud of. Instead of bitching about some fire departments uniform policy, maybe you should be training on your own department policy.




It’s on the internet, it must be true!

Whenever I hear someone speaking of mentoring, I usually have two different reactions. The first is, “Hey, yeah, those are some good points”, the second is sometimes, “Who does this guy think he is, Brunacini?”

Just as with a lot of the stuff we see on Facebook and other medias, how do we know who we are taking advice/direction from? I know, I run a page myself, and amazing-spider-man-2-stills-spidey-as-a-firefighterI’ll probably ruffle feathers, but really. Where and how do we set the mark for what we take as gospel and what we dismiss as radical ideas bordering on the ridiculousness? Luckily, I have had a mentor for the 18 years of my career and have been better because of it. But just like any good friendship – we don’t always agree on things. We have had a couple of really good arguments over the years, however, cooler heads prevail, and we always end up back where we started.

I think that there are some great articles out there. Some pages do more to teach and instruct than others do (not going to shame anyone.) I guess what I am getting at is to pick your “online mentors” carefully. I started a page just to speak my mind from time to time and give others a place to do the same. Not to provide any earth-shattering new firefighting wisdom. That is the beauty of the age we are in, and the curse. Anyone, anywhere can just log in, create something and start sharing with the world. It is up to you to weed out the weirdos, and those that are looking for ego-stroking “Likes”. They sometimes use catchy phrases, Interwebs 1cool videos and free crap. It’s hard to do, but you need to be able to distinguish between entertainment and things of real value. I think that in the end, we as professionals (career AND volunteers) can see through the cloud of BS, and these guys will end up revealing themselves. Our fire service community will police itself. The purpose of real training is to make you think. If you can have a genuine thinking session while reading or watching something on this jewel we call the interweb, then maybe it’s legit.

No one ever said you have to train only at the station or only while on shift. I do a lot of stuff independently. Sometimes that is what works best for me. The internet is a great supplemental tool for you to gain other views and see how things are done elsewhere. Don’t let the interweb be your guide. In the end, find yourself a “real” person to talk with. Someone that you will respect during this new relationship you will forge together. You probably have already thought of them as your mentor, just haven’t had the guts to ask them. So take that step, and begin the rest of your career. Be safe, have fun ~ K

Kris Hester – Firehouse Kitchen Table –


Explorers, The Next Generation of Fire Service Warriors.


The Spartans raised their children to be warriors. From birth, they were tested and trained to become masters in the art of warfare. We have an opportunity to raise the next generation of fire service warriors through the Explorer program. The Explorer program is a branch of the Boy Scouts of America and is for young adults ages 14-21 who have an interest in the fire service. This program gives them a first-hand look at the daily lives and tasks of what this job is all about. We have an opportunity to train the next generation to the standards that are slowly fading from our culture. As the Spartans did, we need to take the culture and values we live by and pass it on.facebook-20150701-0654051

My time as an Explorer was probably the most important training I could ever have in my career. It set the foundation for me as I made my way from Explorer to Volunteer Firefighter. I then began my career with the department who sponsored my Explorer post. Being an Explorer taught me about brotherhood. It taught me the culture of the fire service. Learning these values early was key in developing my love for the job. I will never forget my first working fire. All the excitement of finally getting to use what I have learned and the chance to learn more. And it sure was a learning experience. After changing bottles, a lengthy lesson in overhaul, and taking up hose, I was beat. I got a good look at what my future was going to be. I was dirty, tired, and loved every second of it. I’m forever grateful to the officers and firefighters who have taught me what it is to be a firefighter.Facebook-20150701-065536

The Explorer program is also an excellent option for volunteer departments. This program is great for recruitment and retention. A department can take a handful of young adults, train them to their standards, and by the time they become eligible for membership, they are ready to work. You will be able to see who is going to be a benefit to the department or who is going to be a headache.

The Explorer program is where the pride and love of this job starts. The pay-off for departments is that they get to train potential employees to their standards. For the guys on the job, it’s a way to teach them to not just do the job, but to truly love it. And for the Explorers, it gives them not only good training, but a sense of pride and belonging.

So go forth, and raise the next generation of firefighting warriors.


Tips for the Aspiring Firefighter, From an Aspiring Firefighter


Finding a job that you like day-in and day-out can be hard for many people. Finding a career that you will be willing to dedicate yourself to for the rest of your working life is even more difficult for most. Though, for a few of us, there is a call to action to be a part of something much bigger than ourselves. A call to serve the people around us from every background and social status. Without a question of whether or not there is anything for us at the end of the day, aside from the satisfaction of knowing the difference we can make for others. If you fall into that category, you are destined for a career of highs and lows. All in all, very rewarding, it can still be one of the hardest careers to get into. There are many who try, and try, and then stop trying.

Persistence is necessary for the aspiring firefighter; a quality that may be fast becoming a rarity. In the age of instant gratification, it is going to be increasingly more important for the young people growing up to learn to be persistent, because it will likely not come naturally to them. This brings up another point, the earlier you can know that this is the career you want to pursue, the better. This career often takes years to acquire certifications and experience that may be needed to get full-time positions. Some departments even have an age cap as low as 30 for an application. All of this may seem daunting, but it is/will be worth it.

One thing that makes this a little different from many of the other articles you have seen like this, is that I’m not there yet. I am still actively looking for full-time employment with a fire department. What is shown below is a short list of necessities that I have learned in my five years while trying to get a full-time fire job. I have been through quite a few, and often have multiple hiring processes going at once. This list is my stream of consciousness for this afternoon. Here are a few things I have learned to be essential for testing, from personal experience and viewing others.

1. Educate yourself. It takes nothing to say you want something. If you have invested your time, effort, and money, it shows that you are dedicated to making it. Most departments have minimum qualifications to apply. Know them. You don’t want to set yourself up for failure if you don’t meet them. If you don’t have all of the certifications, go get them. However, don’t remain satisfied with meeting the minimum, continue learning and gaining knowledge/certifications.

2. Train body and mind. Work on your fitness. Figure out a workout routine that works for you and stick with it. Keep your mind sharp by reading articles and watching videos. Mobile app stores and the internet are full of good (and bad) sources of media. Learn the difference between the two and stick to the better ones. Heck, you could even break out an old textbook once and a while. This can all refer back to education. Get sharp, stay sharp.

3. Apply for jobs! I mean this one is a given but don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. If this is your calling, give it all you’ve got. Eventually, some department will pick you up and put you to work. (Don’t fear failure either, you don’t have to fail to be strong, but you can fail and come back stronger!)

4. Show up. For goodness sake, if you show up at all, you will have already topped some of your competition. It never fails. Every testing process I go to, I see that there are people that didn’t even show up. However, if you can’t show, or have changed your mind, give the testing department the courtesy of a phone call to remove yourself from the list. It shows you value their time and don’t want to waste it.

5. Test well. This goes back to education and training as well. If you know you don’t test well, take practice tests. During the physical ability tests, it is best to make sure you are in good enough shape to make it through. Go to the practice tests if they’re offered. Every place does something a little different. If you find you aren’t in as good a shape as you thought, don’t stop when you are tired, or when it hurts. Stop when you’re done! From the other candidates’ perspective, and the members of the hiring department’s view, quitters don’t look good. Unless the ask you to stop, finish the course. Even if you go over time, at least you can say you completed it. That being said, some places will just tell you to stop as soon as you hit the time mark, but at least you didn’t quit.

6. Dress up for your interviews. If you don’t have a nice suit, it is well worth your investment. After all, if this is what you want in life, wearing a button-down shirt and khakis does NOT get your message across as clearly as a matched suit and a tie. (Hint: in the last two interviews I have been to, nobody else wore a full suit. You will stand out, even if many others do the same.)

7. Study the department. Know how many firefighters they have, what their district is like, how many calls they run a year, whether they do medical transport or not, what apparatus they have, etc. This falls into the “how bad do you want it” category. If you go in and you can show you have done research on the department, it will never hurt you. Showing the prospective employer that you have made another effort to support your seriousness about doing this job is half the battle.

8. Be passionate. If this is your calling, this won’t be hard. You probably wake up thinking about the day you finally get to do the job and don’t stop thinking about it until you go back to sleep. Focus that passion into progress, don’t remain stagnant. If you get the opportunity to interview for the second year (or more) in a row, show them the progress you made in the last year. You don’t want to be the same as you were before, and that isn’t what they’re looking for either. Your competition is getting better and tougher all the time; you should too.

9. About “your competition”, assume they are just as driven and passionate about this as you are. Talk to other candidates. Support them. Tell them good luck before they test, you don’t have to make best friends here, but don’t be a jerk. Assume everyone that is there is qualified to do the job and treat them that way. The process will weed out the ones who aren’t ready. To put it simply, be nice and have respect for one another. After all, one day they may be on the pipe behind you in a structure.

10. Don’t give up. Be prepared for a long road ahead. I believe it is in your best interest to start thinking in terms of years. There are some who get in on their first couple tries and good for them! I am not one of those people and most people I know haven’t been either. If you are willing to apply for places outside a particular area, that will benefit and likely decrease your time spent searching.

Persistence with purpose will be your best friend through this process, be your own motivation but don’t be a clam. Have a support system, and don’t be afraid to use it. There will likely be some disappointing times and tough decisions while trying to land this dream career. You have to find a way to channel that disappointment into motivation to do better the next time. There is a beauty in the efforts you make. You can almost make motivational posters out of it. You have to be a person of serious character to stick with it and finally make it in, so be that, keep at it, and make it. Last bit of advice I have is this. If there is an opportunity for you to volunteer in the fire service in your community, find a way to get involved. That will be the single best thing I believe you can do for yourself. For me, volunteering was the catalyst for all that I have said today.

I will never forget where I got my start, and how they supported me and pushed me to be better. Get out there, keep trying, and good luck, I look forward to knowing you as brothers and sisters someday soon.

  • Alex Needham – Central Iowa

Brotherhood Hidden In Tragedy


So, I recently attended one of the most hurtful events in a firefighters career.  The loss of another coworker.  Although it hurt to be there, I needed to be there.  We all needed to be there, showing support to our comrade, their family, and our fire service.

It was one of the most inspirational days I have ever had the privilege of living.  We had one of the best services I have ever been to.  Firemen from all over the state came to pay their respects and take part in the processional that basically shut our city down. The amount of overwhelming support was astonishing. The brotherhood was there, and it was very invigorating.

IMG_2757This was true caring and compassion.  All gripes aside, everyone checked their ego and personal opinions at the door.  The guys were all talking it up, making sure each other was handling this OK, shared a pint at the local watering hole, and shared stories from years past.  Old retirees came by to shed a few laughs.

One question I did have to ask myself was, “Why isn’t the brotherhood always like this?”

So I ask you…Why is it hidden in tragedy?

It sucks to see it happen this way, as it should be shared daily, rather than only when there are conventions or when we are at funerals? I wish this type of caring and compassion was an everyday occurrence.  We need to treat each other right, and we need to be involved in each other’s lives, whether in hardship or not. We claim to always “be there”, but are we always putting our money where our mouth is?

I ask each and every one of you to just keep this thought in the back of your head.  Are we taking care of others the way we would like to be taken care of? Are we spreading our knowledge and education onto the younger generation? This profession is a constant job interview.  Show integrity in yourself, your department, and the career and make the fire service better than how you found it. Go out there, and get involved in what this career is all about. BROTHERHOOD.

– The “Irons”