A warm August afternoon.

Posted: August 8, 2016 in Uncategorized

Our Battalion Chief’s voice crackled over the radio, “Truck 6, Code 1!…Call Medflight, get them in the air!” An unmistakeable sense of urgency, something was very wrong…

On a warm August afternoon, almost a year ago now, a rescue operation unfolded unlike any I have ever been a part of. 

Our town had already suffered two Heroes lost that summer, this would be number 3. 

A red Chevy pickup sat alone at the bottom of the hill. The driver, our Deputy Chief, trapped inside. 

The medics knew this was a call unlike any they had ever seen. Without missing a beat, they began their work; pushing IV’s, holding compression, comforting. 

I dug the Jaws of Life cutters into the B post and twisted the trigger. Steel crunching, glass smashing, we made quick work of the roof. “Get me a sawzall!”, “I need another blade!” Without missing a step, behind me a sea of my brothers and sisters snapped into action. In the blink of an eye, a sawzall and fresh blades appeared. From the newest members, to the seasoned senior firefighters, we worked as a unit. Tunneling through the pickup, our mission was clear, free our Chief… 

Everywhere you looked, a white shield, a white helmet. More officers than firefighters, yet not a single arguement or debate. Everyone knew what the goal was. Constantly evaluating and bouncing ideas off each other. Combined, easily over 100 years of experience surrounded our Chief. 

Time felt like an eternity. I couldn’t cut fast enough… A thought which would stick with me, what could I have done different?
As I made the final cut with the Jaws of Life, an image which haunts me to this day, our Chief was finally free…

We laid our Chief to rest the next Tuesday on a warm September day.

In the months that followed, I reflected quite a bit. I came to the conclusion that I was exactly where I was supposed to be that afternoon. We gave it hell, leaving it all on the table. I am, without a doubt, extremely lucky to be able to learn from and work with these men and women every day. 

People cope in different ways. Some turn to alcohol. Some hold it all in forever. Some seek professional help. 

I chose to write about that warm August afternoon.

Deputy Chief Frank Sousa – November 13, 1964 – August 27, 2015. 

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A few years ago, a call for a rollover with entrapment. We arrived on scene to find a van on its side with 4 civilians frantically trying to lift the van up using tire jacks. We soon realized the driver had unfortunately been partially ejected and had non-life sustaining injuries. A tragic outcome but an amazing show of compassion… Drivers passing by coming together to try and save a stranger. This call did not have a happy ending but the effort I saw that day from the passerbys has stuck with me to this day.

A few years later I had the opportunity to vacation in Las Vegas. Traveling with 2 of my best friends, one a police officer, the other a career firefighter, both also volunteers firefighters with me, we headed to dinner one night while there and the following events unfolded. As we were dining in this fancy upscale restaurant a disturbance caught our attention from across the restaurant. A woman was having a seizure and her husband and friends were frantic as she convulsed and dropped to the floor. The 3 of us realized what was going on and rushed over to the table to help. A doctor who was also dining there stepped in to help. While rendering aid and at the same time comforting her husband and friends, I noticed something. The other diners directly next to their table were carrying on as if nothing was wrong. Asking for towels and napkins, they ignored the requests. A quick glance even revealed disgust at the woman seizing and us as we were clearly ruining their dinner… I pondered on this for a few weeks and eventually forgot about it. 

Fast forward to this afternoon. A medical call for a seizure in a local shop in town. As I pulled up, a police officer was also pulling up, jumping out of his cruiser, he ran into the shop with me to attempt to render aid while the other EMS units were still responding. Finding the victim in the back of the store, every shopper and worker was around the victim helping as best they could. 

I have been able to see a glimpse of the best and worst in people, and they have all had something in common. It’s simple and anyone can do it. It’s free and it’s easy. It’s GIVING A SHIT! Pardon my French but we all have 2 choices, look the other way, or help each other! Your choice. 

If everyone in this world paid it forward, we would all be better for it. 

Forget everyone else! Be selfish.

Posted: September 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

Who cares about what the Lieutenant is doing! Forget about what that probie is doing! The Chief, forget about him too! 

I am telling you, the only person you should care about, is yourself. Be selfish!

Here is how it works…

Next time the rig is a mess? SCBA bottles aren’t full? Forget about everyone else, clean it up and fill them YOURSELF!

Hose has kinks making that stretch hard? Don’t spend time looking for a probie to yell at, go fix them yourself!

Station house sink full of dishes, screw everybody! Get off your ass from the dayroom couch and wash em’ yourself!

Don’t like something? Suggest a solution rather than complaining!

I’m telling you, forget everyone else once in a while and focus on YOU!

If everyone took a minute to become a solution, rather than simply pointing out problems, we would all be better off!

So you want to be a Fireman?

Posted: September 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

Too some, a dream. Others, a calling.

Sadly, most will never know. Most could never even imagine the true reality.

I know I could never have imagined it. 8 years. 8 great years. Only a drop in the bucket. Filled with joy. Filled with pain. Filled with feelings of, well, fulfillment!

Extra time given to so many. A child saved, a family rescued from a mangled car, a birth in the back of an ambulance. Wonderful beginnings & countless thank you’s.

And yet, sadly, time seen taken from so many. Tragic endings. Uncontrollable tears. The sounds of bagpipes echoing through a church. The sounds of sirens whaling over the roopftops at night, fading into the distance. Nights spent lying awake pondering if you could have done more…

Most will never know the feelings of joy as I have felt, and thankfully, most will never know the pain.

Through it all, there is a bond that is shared. A sacred bond, an unbreakable bond. The Brotherhood.

To quote a famous Military General, “From this day til the end of the world. We in it shall be remembered…We Few, We Lucky, We Band of Brothers.”

And what a Band of Brothers I have…

I am a Fireman, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Most will never know.

Fighting Lung Cancer, One Step At A Time. Donate Today!

For the second year in a row, Bristol Fire & Rescue will be doing the “ALA FIGHT FOR AIR” Stair Climb in Providence,RI on Feb. 22nd! Help us out and throw a little coin our way to help us reach our goal of $3,500.

Click on the link below to help fight lung cancer.

CLICK TO DONATE NOW! –> http://action.lung.org/site/TR/Climb/ALANE_Northeast?px=5078041&pg=personal&fr_id=8360

Below are 2 links to the personal reasons why we do the stair climb.

http://www.eastbayri.com/news/bristol-firefighters-take-to-the-stairs-in-memory-of-fallen-chief/

Thank you all in advance for not only following and supporting my small blog page, but for your donations!

As Always, Stay Safe.
-Lt.

Link  —  Posted: February 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

Worcester, 14 Years Later…

http://www.esquire.com/features/perfect-fire-0700

For those of you who don’t much about the fire that happened 14 years ago tonight, or the men who fought and died at it…Take some time tonight to read this article published in July of 2000 by Esquire Magazine and jump on scene that cold night in December 14 years ago. From RIT, to incident pre-planning, to thermal imaging technology, the Worcester Cold Storage Fire was the catalyst for change.

One thing is for certain 14 years later, those 6 heroes did not die in vain…

Firefighter Paul Brotherton
Rescue 1 Firefighter Jeremiah Lucey
Rescue 1 Lieutenant Thomas Spencer
Ladder 2 Firefighter Timothy Jackson
Ladder 2 Firefighter James Lyons
Engine 3 Firefighter Joseph McGuirk
RFB.

Photo courtesy of MJ Fernandez.

Link  —  Posted: December 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

Smell & Bell Calls.

Everyone gets them, the 3AM “food on stove”. For the newer members, excitement! Racing to the trucks, donning their newly issued gear, and racing to the scene. For the experienced members, a sigh and a slow walk to find their keys and make their way down to the station. For all too often than not, these calls seem to be a nuisance, a plague, an inconvenience. This lax attitude towards “smell & bell” calls can be extremely destructive to maintaining a level of professionalism in the crews. Members old and new can use these calls as great learning opportunities! For the newer members, soak everything in. Hydrant locations, building construction, lengths of hose stretches needed to reach upper floors, different occupancy’s at various times of day, special hazards, and the list goes on… Older members, use the knowledge gained in the past from these calls to teach the newer members. These calls provide an immense opportunity of learning for new and old members.

“It’s the old factory off Main Street again, that’s the 3rd time tonight that alarm has come in! Just toss your gear in the back, guaranteed it’s a false alarm again.” How many times have we had this attitude? We get so caught up in “Fire Alarm Activation” being a probable false alarm call that we forget, sometimes fire alarms actually do their jobs and detect a fire!¬†Sooner or later, you will get caught.

Officers, take the time to do a quick size up. As for the firefighters on the crew, you should have a personal size up in your head! The size up for both officers and firefighters starts with the initial dispatch.

All of this ties back into complacency. Simply going through the motions at these mundane calls, I can guarantee you will get caught with your pants down more than once. It happens to everyone from the most experienced Chief, to the newest member.

When my crew hops off the rig, at ANY call, I expect the following basic standard of professionalism;

1) FULL PPE – This means pants (suspenders on, this isn’t Backdraft), coat (zipped up!), hood (around your neck, NOT inside your helmet), and gloves.

2) SCBA DONNED & READY – This means air level checked, straps tight, and mask ready to go. This does NOT mean straps hanging all over the place, mask left in the rig, and bottle at 2200 PSI…

3) SOMETHING IN YOUR HANDS! – Halligan, ax, hook, can, TIC, gas meter, clipboard for report, etc. I expect my guys to always have something in their hands. While responding, tool assignments are discussed, “I got the can”, “OK, I’ll grab the Irons”. Doing this for every call ensures crew integrity and ensures that when you pull up to a working fire, the crew isn’t doing a Chinese fire drill to A) figure out where the tools on the truck are located, or B) figure out which tools to grab…

As an officer, teaching members which tools are better or worse for each unique application will guarantee success when it counts. Get into the habit of having members “tag out” through accountability, regardless of the size of the incident. As an officer, be a leader! Having a white shield may indicate experience and knowledge, but not sharing that knowledge and experience is a sure way to fail. Your crew depends on YOU.

In the long run, always staying on your toes will keep yourself and your crew fresh and ready to go when the bell tips for the real thing! Don’t let complacency kill you!

Stay Safe,

– LT.