Code 3 - The Firefighters Podcast

Code 3 - The Firefighters Podcast

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.


February 15, 2024 22 mins


of the best ways to learn anything is by experience.


better way, though, is to learn from others’ experiences.


why we’re talking with today’s guest—to get some insight from someone who

learned the hard way.


Jeremiah King has been with the Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority for

more than 20 years.


the story of this response takes place when he was about four ...

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Anyone who has ever fought a wildland fire knows situational

awareness is critical to safety and effectiveness on the fireground.

But visibility, a key part of that awareness, is often limited by thick smoke in the wildland fire environment.

Call it the fog of war, if you like.

No matter what you call it, it’s tough to fight a fire when you can’t see through the smoke.

That lack of visibility can lead to all kinds of trouble—especially...

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The National Fire Protection Association seems like a pretty important

organization. For example, Its reports are routinely used by fire departments

to justify staffing requests.

But not everyone is satisfied with how the NFPA operates. Some members of the fire

service believe the standards for equipment service life are too inflexible.

And there’s the question of who writes the standards in the first place.

One of the NFPA’s loudest cri...

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If you’ve ever known a firefighter who committed suicide, you know how it can change your life.

It may have come as a complete surprise to you. Or maybe you had been worried about the firefighter’s state of mind.

There’s been a lot said and written about what we can do for ourselves to prevent suicide.

But today, we’re going to talk about a program designed to help you intervene in another firefighter’s emotional crisis before it beco...

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Friday, June 30, 2023, is the 10th anniversary of the deaths of 19 wildland firefighters in Arizona.

They were hotshots, the kind of people who really do fight fire with fire.

Led by a consummate professional, the team made a move that no one expected and no one can explain.

That move caused the deaths of the entire crew except for a lookout, who was stationed some distance away.

To help me tell their story today, I’ve enlisted the he...

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It’s getting hotter outside, and that traditionally signals the start of wildland fire season in the U.S.

Nowadays, of course, there’s no real “season” when wildland fires burn. The season can be all year long in some parts of the country.

We won’t argue about the reasons why—suffice it to say, wildland fires are growing bigger and more frequent than in the past.

And, as residents of the northeast U.S. can attest, they are starting t...

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How fit are you?

If you’re newer to the fire service, say two or three years in, you’re probably still in reasonably good shape. After all, you had to meet minimum standards at the fire academy.

But unless you’ve kept up with the physical fitness regimen, you may be getting a little soft around the middle.

Or losing endurance.

My guest today says it’s time to do something about that.

Aaron Zamzow is a firefighter/training officer at the...

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May 11, 2023 24 mins

On this episode, we’re talking with Phil Jose, the expert on reading smoke.

As you may know—and as Phil likes to remind us—smoke is fuel.

In most cases, it’s just waiting for the right conditions to ignite.

We’ll discuss how to keep that from happening.

Also on the agenda is a little talk about the relative merits of vertical ventilation. When do you go to the roof and start opening it up? It’s all about coordination.

And finally, we’l...

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May 4, 2023 25 mins

We’ve talked several times on this show about PTSD and its effects on firefighters. It’s a serious problem, one that affects nearly 40 percent of first responders.

On this edition of Code 3, we’re going to talk about a documentary available on YouTube that brings the problem home in a very impactful way.

It's titled, “The Call We Carry: Confronting PTSD in the Fire Service.”

It’s quite a good documentary, packing a lot into just over...

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This week, we’re going to make some people angry.

We’re talking structure fires, risk, and SLICE-RS.

If you’re a probie, that’s an acronym for Size-up, Locate the fire, Isolate the flow path, Cool from a safe distance, Extinguish, Rescue and Salvage at any time in the process.

Today’s guest says that, by following those steps in that order, you’ll have a less risky fireground.

But what about those who advocate for RECEO-VS? That’s Res...

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Today’s subject may make you uncomfortable.

If it does, that’s not a bad thing—so stick with me. You could save your own career.

I am talking about harassment in the fire service, both sexual harassment and other types.

Now, look, you know and I know that it goes on. And you know and I know that there have been so-called “sensitivity training” seminars. We also know that they usually aren't well received. Go ahead, admit it. You snic...

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The fire service is often called a brotherhood…or a sisterhood, these days.

But how strong is that bond, really?

One of the best places to see the strength of the brotherhood in action is when tragedy occurs.

A mayday call on the fireground results in heroic efforts…and, if those efforts should fail…then the observances for a line-of-duty-death are truly heartwarming.

But what about the rest of the time? When things are routine, how...

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There’s a lot of talk in the fire service about the culture. It’s important, which you already know. It’s even celebrated in many cities.

But one thing that’s more dependent on the culture of your department than you might think is recruiting.

This is especially important if you need to recruit volunteers.

Luckily, it’s possible to build the culture you want to see, if you address the issue specifically.

My guest today has some ideas o...

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Large-city fire departments with multiple PIOs have been showcasing their activities on social media for some time. If you have enough people, it’s no problem.

But what if you want to try to engage the community without those resources?

Social media can be a direct link with the customers your department serves, so it’s a no-brainer that you’d like to be all over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and all the others. Even...

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Just about every area served by fire departments includes a large warehouse or two. If you drive by it, I am sure you wonder how well your department would deal with a fire inside it.

But in the last few years, truly massive warehouses have started to appear. These monsters aren’t measured in square feet, they're measured in acres of land covered.

If anything—from a fire to a natural disaster—brings you to one of them, your departmen...

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Earlier this month, about 400 members of the fire service-from more than 20 states—got together for the Phoenix Firefighters Symposium.

They were gathered to hear about Mrs. Smith.

Back in 1996, Chief Brunacini—Bruno, to his friends—came up with the idea of Mrs. Smith. She represents why the fire service exists—she’s the first priority for firefighters, the customer they serve. She stands for all the people who call for any kind of h...

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If you do enough training evolutions, you will inevitably come up against a trick scenario.

You know, the ones where the instructors design something totally implausible into the scenario.

They usually fool the firefighters doing the training…and then that allows the instructor to say something that seems wise.

Like, “expect the unexpected.”

Sometimes, they’ll simply judge a specific thing with undue emphasis. Like always using a stopw...

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As a firefighter, you have probably developed some strong opinions on at least a few topics.

Some people call them “the hill you’re willing to die on.”

But no matter what you call them, you need to pick your battles when it comes to spouting off about these points of view.

My guest today wrote an article about his experiences fighting the smooth bore vs. fog nozzle debate. He finally realized, years later, that he wasn’t going to cha...

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December 1, 2022 13 mins

We’re getting close to the end of another year, and this one, like the last few, seems to have been pretty difficult in a lot of ways.

Things are looking a little murky as we try to see the future of the fire service.

Of course, firefighters in general can be just a bit pessimistic. But is it justified?

That’s why I’ve asked today’s guest to give us some insight into next year. I figure, if we have an idea of what’s coming, we can be ...

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Do you detect a lack of willingness among your firefighters to take risks? Have company officers –or your department policy—made “2-in-2-out” a hard-and-fast rule?

Are they lacking passion for the job?

Today’s guest has been noticing that trend, and he’s concerned. Now, let’s be clear: no one is advocating that firefighters freelance or even take uncalculated or foolhardy risks.

But whether it’s making entry at a partially-involved...

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