‘Dis One’s Gonna Be Quick

Things I’ve learned so far at firefighter camp;

1)  I really have no business writing a blog because I’m dumb.

2)  I have so much more to learn.

3)  Some of the people who would have every right in the world to be arrogant, pretentious jerks aren’t because they’re firefighters who love the job and love passing on their knowledge just like you and me.

4)  Whudder means water when spoken by someone from Philly, or Camden.

5)  With newer, more energy efficient construction a first-arriving company can pull up on a fire that is either heavily involved or has darkened down on the inside and left very little signs of active fire on the outside (which leads to a “light smoke” or “nothing showing” radio report) and as soon as you force the front door or a window fails that space will reach flashover in 60 – 90 seconds. Go to Underwriter’s Laboratories and check out the research for yourself if you don’t believe me.

6)  Our tactics have to change folks. They have to. And in order for our tactics to change our thinking has to change. That’s where the hard part is. 100 years of tradition…

7)  Aggressive tactics can also be safe tactics. But in order for them to be so you need to be trained and educated.

8)  Operating safely on the fire or emergency scene is NOT synonymous with doing nothing, going defensive or being unaggressive. It simply means you are taking every precaution humanly possibly to minimize the risk to yourself and your crew while carrying out the tasks that need to be completed for the job you are working on. Sometimes that means saying the job simply can’t be completed.

9)  Walking back and forth from the hotel to the convention center with all my gear 6 times sucks. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world for the experiences of the HOT classes.

10) Being in the room to hear Bobby Halton’s opening remarks, seeing Firefighter Larry McCormack from Chicago’s Squad 5 receive the Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award and hearing Chief Steve Kraft’s keynote address was a moving experience. I encourage every firefighter who cares about this job to do it at least once in person.

People I’ve met while at firefighter camp (and some of whom have known me too!);

1)  Jason Jefferies ( Working the Job )and I finally got to meet in person. It was touching and kinda uncomfortable all at the same time.

2)  Jonah Smith ( The Hose Jockey )

3)  John Mitchell ( Fire Daily ) Ok, truth be told, John doesn’t really count. We used to work together but he’s way more famous-er than me.

4)  Gabriel Angemi ( CMD FD )

5)  Ray McCormack  ( Urban Firefighter Magazine )

6)  Pete Van Dorpe, Chief of Training, Chicago Fire Department

7)  Robert Hoff, Commissioner (Ret.), Chicago Fire Department, Deputy Chief, Carol Stream Fire Department

8)  Rhett Fleitz ( Fire Critic )

9)  Willie Wines, Jr. ( Iron Firemen )

10) Paul Hasenmeier ( Paul Hasenmeier )

11) Christopher Naum ( Buildings on Fire )

These are guys that I think are some of the brightest and most talented firefighters, officers and writers of our time. And to actually get to meet them and have conversations with them, and on top of that to actually have a couple of them know who I am, was surreal and an honor. I’m really looking forward to meeting some more tomorrow and to be in some classes and learn more to lessen my dumbness, but for now I’m going to take some Prilosec to calm down the bar-b-que I had for dinner and get some rest.

Be safe!


6 comments on “‘Dis One’s Gonna Be Quick

  1. Eric Jenkins says:

    I took the same U.L. Fire dynamics class I assume you are referencing. Unbelievable information with the visual aids and data to reinforce the facts. Very challenging topic to discuss at the kitchen table with regards to change. Enjoy the rest of the conference and I’ll day hi if I see you Thursday.


    • Eric, yes that was the one. Wish I would have met you in the class. I thought that was an excellent class and really probably could have been an all day workshop all by itself. I thought that the information presented was a real game-changer for has as far as tactics and the way we need to start thinking about the modern fireground.

      I had heard some of this information presented a few years ago when Fire Engineering experimented with a weekend format conference and came to Northbrook, Illinois for their inaugural presentation. The research has gone so far since then even. I consider myself a go in and get it type guy but these days you really need to slow down a little and really look at what’s going on even more than in days past. I’m not ready to sign on to Captain Marsar’s bandwagon yet, but we’re going to continue to lead guys into more flashovers if we continue to apply old tactics to new fires.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

      Be safe!



  2. Jim Wilk says:

    Did they present any information from the burns they did in Bensenville? I am trying to find information about them. I couldn’t attend FDIC but I have gone through the data as well as listened to the Fire Engineering podcast with Dan from NIST and Steve from UL. Good stuff. You have a good blog here. Keep up the good work.


    • Jim thank you for reading, the compliment and taking the time to comment. Yes they did present some of the information from the burns conducted in O’hare West. One of the ones that was most striking to me was a burn they did in a more modern two-story for a arson investigators class. U.L. had all their equipment set up to get as much data as possible and to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. They lit a fire in a couch in the first floor living, maybe a bout 20 feet from the front door. The cameras showed the fire inside build and and get going pretty good. The exterior camera initially showed some pretty good smoke pushing from upper windows and even a little from soffits and vents, but then the smoke died back down again, right about the time we would be arriving and forcing entry. That phenomenon Eric and I were talking about above. As the first company opened the door it showed a massive in-rush of air and a violent ignition of the gases and the conditions changed pretty dramatically. Later, when the arson investigators were brought into investigate the cause of the fire, I guess they correctly identified the origin as the couch but they thought an accelerant had been poured to the front door and the trailer lit as the arsonist made his getaway. What led them to believe this was the burn pattern on the floor caused by that massive influx of air as the fire sucked in its gulp of air, when in fact no accelerant and no trailer had been poured. Really, really interesting stuff. Lots more stuff on U.L.’s website under the link in the article.

      Be safe!



  3. Jim Wilk says:


    Do you know where I can find that video? I didn’t see it on the UL site. Thanks.


    • Jim, unfortunately I don’t. I do know that Jim Dalton, Chicago Fire’s liaison to U.L. said during his presentation that some of the things presented at the class are still not released on the website yet. Hopefully they will be soon. All I can suggest is keep checking. Sorry, I don’t have an inside source for this one.


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