The podcast for and about firefighters, "Code 3" covers topics of interest to those in the fire service, in about 20 minutes, through interviews with those who know it best. From Chiefs to Probies, Engineers to Firefighters, and Paramedics to EMTs, award-winning journalist Scott Orr talks with them all.
Some people call it auto-pilot. It’s that ability to arrive at a scene and immediately go to work. That’s a learned skill, and it has a place on the fireground.
But another learned skill that may be even more important is the ability to analyze decisions before they’re made. You may know it by a more familiar term, situational awareness.
Most firefighters believe they have it already, and many do. Some really don’t. But just like a...
Every firefighter can recall the worst incidents in his or her career—you know, the ones that made a serious impact on their psyche. They may not have realized it at the time, but these are the days that helped shape their philosophy.
You might remember that I was a helicopter pilot years ago. In flying, we called these kinds of days the times we “scared ourselves.”
You invariably learn some lessons from those times, and usually hu...
I have a question for you today. Why did you become a firefighter? I know, you probably haven’t had to think about it since you were interviewed before hiring.
But why did you choose this career? If you’re like most people, you’ll probably mention something, at some point, about saving lives. And that’s great. It’s noble. It’s important.
Now, a second question: when was the last time you trained on saving lives? (Not counting param...
Smaller fire departments often work with less personnel than they need. That means there are very few specialists in a volunteer department or a rural agency.
One of the specialists you’ll miss right away if you join one is the truckie. While city departments are having (good-natured) arguments over who’s better or more important, small town engine companies need to do both jobs.
And, sometimes, they need to do them with two or thr...
Firefighters are athletes.
You may be part of the culture that already knows and accepts this truth. But if this is a foreign idea to you, or if you disagree, consider this:
Even if you mostly run medical calls, physical conditioning is critical to your career. In fact, you need to be in top condition because you mostly run medical calls. And it isn’t just because patients are getting larger and heavier, although that is a good rea...
Now that the wildland fire season lasts pretty much all year long—and homes continue to be built further from city centers--the focus is turning to homes in the wildland-urban interface.
Fires that threaten homes along the edge of cities and towns have turned some metro departments into wildland companies as well. It's not always a comfortable fit for crews that usually wear turnouts and expect a charged hoseline.
Now, they don ...
I have no idea how many times I have heard the old phrase, “Practice makes perfect.” Of course, nowadays, we understand that it’s wrong.
If practice is going to be worthwhile, we need to practice the right things the right way. Practicing the wrong things is a waste of time. And practicing doing things incorrectly only leads to learning bad habits.
And in this job, that can get you killed.
So how do we avoid this?
Ever heard of Ref...
There have been several unfortunate mass-casualty incidents recently as the result of an active shooter. Although the public’s attention is usually focused on the police response, these events ask a lot of a fire-medical incident commander as well.
If your department’s training schedule doesn’t include MCI-specific training, you could find yourself in trouble when you arrive at a real-world MCI and learn the hard way the importance...
A few weeks back, we talked with Eric Hille, a San Miguel, California firefighter about his plans to take a team of volunteers to Ukraine.
The mission, called Task Force Joint Guardian, would be the first-ever effort to send civilian firefighters and paramedics to an active overseas war zone.
Eric served two tours in the Army, and coupled with his experience as a firefighter, has the right skill set to run this operation. He solici...
A while back, firefighter Cindie Schooner-Ball started a blog where she wrote about her time as a “Sister in a Brotherhood.”
She had plenty of material to work with–for 28 years, Cindie was a career firefighter in Broward County, Florida, Fire-Rescue, promoting to Captain before retiring.
I spoke with her for a Code 3 episode in 2018. Since that time, she realized she had enough stories to fill a book, so she wrote one. It's a ...
There’s a lot of advice floating around that explains what a firefighter needs to do to get promoted to an officer position.
And there’s quite a bit about leadership and what to do once you ARE promoted.
On this edition of the show, we’re going to look at a couple of different sides of the promotion equation: How to prepare yourself for a promotion…and what impact on the department promotions may have.
Both are important, and both a...
Depending on who you ask, women make up roughly four to five percent of US career firefighters. That’s why it’s still a news story when a woman is promoted to a leadership position in a major fire department.
How you see this situation likely depends on your age and your gender. Older male firefighters may recall a time when women were unwelcome in firehouses. They may claim quotas allowed women who weren’t qualified to work alongs...
A firefighter in San Diego County, California, has started Operation Joint Guardian, an effort to help the people of Ukraine.
Eric Hille, a veteran of the US Army, planned to just send USAR equipment over there. Many civilian structures are being heavily damaged by Russian rocket attacks and local USAR resources are unable to keep up.
Then, when he found out that aid workers on the ground wouldn’t know what to do with the supplies, h...
If you’ve ever walked into a firehouse and heard someone say, “This isn’t what I signed up for,” or if you’ve thought it yourself, let me relate a quick story.
About five, six years ago, I was visiting station 71 in Prescott, Arizona. The engine was dispatched to a lift assist.
Now, you may think you know what that is, but this call was not that. Engine 71 arrived to find a woman who needed help getting up into the cab of a U-Haul ...
The evening of March 21, 2003 was normal for the crew of Colerain, Ohio Township’s Engine 26.
The guys were cleaning up after dinner. Then the dispatcher interrupted them with a call to a structure fire.
When they arrived on scene, the crew found a single-family residence with flames showing. Police said there might be someone trapped inside.
Lt. Steve Conn and a rookie partner made entry and began to search. Minutes later, Steve f...
If you’re a firefighter or medic, especially a volunteer, you’re able to do your job because the law grants you the ability to do it without fear of legal reprisal if someone decides you made a mistake.
That’s thanks to “qualified immunity” laws.
But two states have passed new laws that have the effect of eliminating that protection.
And it could mean firefighters and medics in those states are in major legal trouble if a taxpayer bel...
There’s an unusual fire department in Fairbanks, Alaska.
It’s called the University Fire Department. It serves a University of Alaska campus and nearby North Star Borough from two stations.
What makes this department special is that all the rigs are staffed by full-time University students, over 50 of them.
They work side-by-side with 11 career firefighters, who act as mentors. The students work 48 on/96 off shifts and are certifie...
Once upon a time, there was VES. Then, thanks to the FDNY, came VEIS-vent, enter, isolate, search.
Problem is, while the concept is still sound, it’s becoming harder to isolate rooms. The so-called open floorplan is eliminating walls and doors.
It's also making searches tougher because following the walls won’t let you reach far enough into the room.
My guest today has some thoughts on the merits, and some limitations, of VEIS. ...
If you want something done, sometimes the best solution is to do it yourself. That can apply to fire service training, too.
My guest today was a young firefighter when he was assigned to slower station after being at a busy one. He found a crew that wasn’t much interested in training. About the time he was starting to get lazy, he realized he could do his own training even when no one else wanted to participate.
At first, his DIY a...
If your department doesn’t operate its own ambulances, a third-party operator is transporting your patients. But what happens when that company doesn’t meet your standards for response time?
It can become a real problem, our guest today says. And it isn’t always easy to solve.
Fire Chief Scott Freitag has been on Code 3 a couple of times before. He heads up the Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority, or CAFMA. Chief Freitag has...
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