Code 3

Code 3

The podcast for and about firefighters, "Code 3" covers topics of interest to those in the fire service, 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. How long is the show? As one guest said, it's like a structure fire call: We get in, get the job done, and get out.... Show More

Episodes

Sometimes, we make things more difficult than we need to. We develop a course of training, then insist on dictating every move firefighters make once they master it. The bottom line, usually, boils down to: put the wet stuff on the red stuff and the fire goes out. More wet stuff applied faster puts the fire out faster. This is taught on, or about Day One in Firefighter-1 classes. It’s certainly not all they’ll learn, but the rest b...
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Last week, we talked with Chris Moore, a captain with the Chesapeake, Virginia Fire Department about his battle with PTSD. This week, I’m bringing you the other half of the equation. That’s his wife, Lori. If you’re a firefighter and you believe you have PTSD, please play this show for your significant other. Because, try as they will, no one fights PTSD alone. It affects all their relationships, especially the one between the fire...
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Twenty years ago, it was a big no-no for a firefighter to admit to having anything like Post-Traumatic Stress. Of course, it’s still stigmatized in many firehouses. That’s a problem. PTSD can affect anyone, even the toughest firefighter. It doesn’t take being part of a line-of-duty-death or even a near-miss to cause it. And it can turn a dream career into a long-term nightmare. Suicides, driven by trauma, now take more firefighter ...
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How would you define success in a volunteer department? Would it be recruiting and retention? Or how about solid leadership? Maybe response time? Today, we’re going to talk about a department that meets all of those criteria. It’s called Ulster Hose Company 5, and it’s found in New York’s Hudson Valley near the city of Kingston. Ninety members respond from their homes. And they cover 1,500 calls a year with an average time to respo...
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What are your priorities in life? Most firefighters will typically answer this question by saying, “My family, my health, and my job.” But the reality is, most firefighters I’ve known, and I’ll bet most you know, are more likely to put their job first, their family second, and their own health a distant third. For example, a study found that about 80% of career firefighters are obese. And it’s pretty well-known that firefighters ar...
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One of the critical skills a firefighter needs is the ability to communicate concisely and completely over the radio. Some firefighters, especially new officers, get excited on the radio and are loud, but don’t have much to say. Then the IC has to ask for clarification, which wastes time and ties up the radio. It definitely pays to take a second and be sure of what you’re going to say. The key is a balance between too much info—oh,...
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April 16, 2020 19 min
Every house goes on runs that the crew just knows is a false alarm. You know it, I know it, your administration knows it. But the public doesn’t. And when you pull up to that alarm you’re sure is nothing and act like it, they notice. Today’s guest says that sends the wrong message in this time when perception is reality. Especially with instant online video. But even more important, you miss a chance to develop habits and muscle me...
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By now, as I record this show on April 6, 2020, most of this nation’s fire departments are now dealing with the devastating effects of COVID-19. But if you think your department’s been hit hard, be glad you’re not in New York City. Just as it was on September 11, 2001, ground zero for COVID-19 is New York. The FDNY is dealing with an enormous number of deaths among citizens, so many that they no longer transport patients in cardiac...
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Practically every study – not to mention common sense – says the fastest way to get a fire out is to get water on the seat of the fire. Modern day fires that burn hotter and faster demand the ability to rapidly select, deploy, advance, and start flowing handlines. What’s the best way to get that speed? My guest today will be talking about The Engine Company’s Need for Speed at Firehouse World 2020. Jonathan Hall is a captain with ...
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February 10, 2020 18 min
By now, it seems like just about every fire department has at least one thermal imaging camera. They’ve become a valuable tool. The trick, of course, is to be able to interpret correctly what the TIC is showing you. To be able to do that, you need to train with the TIC, matching an understanding of what a TIC does with experience reading it. Today’s guest writes extensively on how to use thermal imaging equipment, as well as what i...
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Truck company operations are an important part of fireground operations, even when you don’t have a dedicated truck company available. That’s why, whether you’re a truckie or not, you need a thorough knowledge of truck company operations, tools, and equipment. This show's guest will be presenting at Firehouse World 2020 in Las Vegas on the topic of Top Tips for Effective Truck Company Operations. Sean Eagen is a 20-year veteran...
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The ultimate in mutual aid has got to be the assist Australians are getting from US firefighters. These are wildland fires on a massive scale: more than 25 million acres have burned in fires that have raged since September. Thirty-one people—including seven firefighters – have been killed. Thousands of homes have been lost. Those statistics describe a fire the likes of which the US has never seen. And even though the weather has co...
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The two things firefighters hate the most are change-and the way things are now. You’ve heard that quote from Alan Brunacini before. But it’s still true and will remain true as long as there’s a fire service. Because this profession is so steeped in tradition, it’s hard to accept some of the changes that have come along. The helmet debate is just one of them- and it’s still raging. Yet, no one really argues in favor of the old-styl...
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Firefighters are well aware of the pain of PTSD. They’re also often familiar with the stigma that comes with it.We’ve talked about PTSD and the stigma that comes with it on this show before. It’s maybe twice as hard to endure when the firefighter suffering from it is a woman. PTSD has been seen as a sign of weakness, and, to some degree, it still is. The judgment can even come from firefighters who are experiencing PTSD themselves....
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January 23, 2020 14 min
By now, most departments have adopted social media in some form. Here in LA, as in many larger cities, Twitter is a great resource to learn where agencies are responding to various emergencies, 24/7. In fact, in many cases, Twitter and other platforms have taken the place of press releases. That came about as news outlets realized that official social media accounts gave them much faster access to details than even a phone call. So...
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When you arrive on scene of a medical emergency, do you talk with the patient? Sure you do. In fact, if you’re still fairly new at EMS, you likely practically interrogate them. Questions like, “When was your last oral intake?” or “What were your events leading up to this incident?”…are laughable, when heard outside a run.How about, “When did you last have something to eat or drink?” or “What happened just before you passed out?” A ...
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Firefighting has always been about survival. But now, we are recognizing that fire isn’t the only danger. Whether it’s occupational cancer, cardiovascular events, or behavioral health injuries, the threats are constant. A new book, Surviving the Fire Service, contains information about cancer, cardiovascular risk, medical exams and screening, nutrition, managing heat stress, and a whole lot more. It explains how to manage and redu...
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This edition of Code 3 may make you a little uncomfortable. It’s about racial bias among EMS providers. And while that bias may be unconscious, it affects patients all the same. My guest today led a comprehensive study of nearly 26,000 EMS encounters in Oregon over two years. The results are disturbing. The data showed that medics were less likely to do a pain assessment on Hispanic and Asian patients than whites. It also found tha...
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Okay, here’s an idea that’s guaranteed to divide opinions: The Cosumnes Fire District, near Sacramento, California, is using virtual reality technology to train firefighters for structure fires. Officials say the VR goggles are a cost-effective way to train on a variety of scenarios that would otherwise be expensive to create. The company that makes the system is loaning it to the fire district for evaluation. I have a lot of quest...
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Lots of departments require you to be a paramedic as well as a firefighter, but that can lead to conflict. In some departments, this cross training means firefighters are assigned to ambulances. Many of them end up wanting to get out of otherwise excellent work environments because they don’t want to deal with an EMS role as their primary job. How you view this situation is largely a matter of attitude, of course. Ben Thompson wrot...
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