Recruiting and Retaining

Recruiting and Retaining

Volunteer fire departments are finding it difficult to attract recruits

A Diagnostic Dilemma

A Diagnostic Dilemma

Is PTSD different than other disorders?

Extrication Tips

Extrication Tips

Some options for full-side removal

FSWO Symposium

FSWO Symposium

Trauma and distressing events can lead to pre-PTSD

Training  and Teaching

Training and Teaching

Future firefighters learn the ropes at 2018 Career Expo

Rekindle. What does that word mean to you? The dictionary defines it as a verb, to revive something that has been lost, as in “he tried to rekindle their friendship.”
You discover a fire has started in the kitchen of the home you share with your spouse and children. Before you have time to gather your thoughts, the fire spreads quickly up the walls.
We watch, a group of us, as four firefighters in full turnout gear and self-contained breathing apparatus pull a single line towards a bright orange and yellow inferno just a few metres away.
Is there something right now that you know you need to do, but are putting off? What just popped into your head? Why is it that you’re avoiding doing whatever that thing is that you know you really should have done by now?
Firefighters have inherently tough and dangerous jobs. That’s a given. They put their lives on the line each and every time they don their gear and respond to a blaze or emergency.
Firefighters on the front lines battling wildfires are often away from their families for long periods of time. But now, they’ll be able to connect and read bedtime stories to their children via a new free app. Veteran U.S. firefighter Brendan McDonough has teamed up with digital storytelling app, Caribu, to create the Caribu Firefighter Family Initiative. The app connects firefighters and their families via an expansive digital library with hundreds of children’s books in six languages. Caribu is an interactive video-call app that provides a way to read books together on a shared screen to keep the tradition of bedtime stories alive no matter the distance Caribu is donating free month-long subscriptions of its digital education platform to firefighters, their families and those affected or displaced by ongoing wildfires. The subscriptions are available to firefighters across the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. McDonough used to bring a book to read to his daughter over the phone while he was traveling fighting fires. In a recent television interview, McDonough, sole survivor of the Yarnell Hill Fire tragedy of 2013 and inspiration behind the 2017 film “Only The Brave,” relayed how reading bedtime stories to his young daughter on the road gave his morale a boost. “While fighting wildfires, we would be gone from home constantly,” said McDonough. “Being able to read to my daughter at night kept me motivated. I support the Caribu Firefighter Family Initiative because I want to help bring that small, but really important experience, to firefighters and their families.” Upon hearing McDonough’s story, Caribu CEO Maxeme Tuchman was moved to act. She quickly realized that her innovative technology could solve a real and urgent need for firefighters on the frontlines and immediately wanted to do something to help. “We’re so proud to be able to show our support for the firefighters that are dedicated to our safety and keeping the wildfires at bay,” said Tuchman. “We offer free access to all active members of the military; it just made sense to do the same for wildland firefighters who are also away from home for long stretches of time. If Caribu can make just one part of keeping our heroes close to their families easier, we’ve done our job.” Caribu makes virtual story time easily accessible to parents. With only a smartphone and data plan or Wi-Fi, firefighters are instantly connected with their family back home through a shared screen interactive video-call. Anyone fighting in, or directly affected by wildfires, is eligible to participate in the Caribu Firefighter Family Initiative. Simply download Caribu from the Apple App Store and use promo code: BRAVE.Click here to register for the app. Click here for more information. 
I left my full-time job as an instructor at the Ontario Fire College in December 2017. After 18 months in what many would describe as a career highlight, I realized that the position just wasn’t “it” for me. I didn’t really know what “it” was, but I instinctively knew that wasn’t “it”.
Summer is here in all its warm and sunny glory…and floods and wildfires. And campfire caution. And lightening. Spring and summer bring their own unique weather and activity circumstances each year, and with it the ongoing dialogue on preparing for extreme climate events, drought dangers and fire safety messaging for the outdoor season.
During my stint as an instructor at the Ontario Fire College in Gravenhurst, one of the expectations that really impacted me was the awareness and importance of using gender neutral or gender-inclusive language in the classroom.
Training and preparation play a tremendous role in firefighters’ lives. These two activities foster an environment of mandated lifelong learning in the fire service. Canadian Firefighter’s annual Training Day, which has traditionally been held in September, has an exciting new partnership with the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC).
Last June, I began a journey that challenged, motivated and inspired me in ways that I never could have imagined. I started a new job as an instructor at the Ontario Fire College. It was everything I’d dreamed of and more, so much more.
May 23, 2017, Oakville, Ont. - My average day involves sitting in front of a computer, editing stories, and lots of coffee. What it doesn't involve is crawling through smoke, cutting up cars or running hoses. But the day I spent at the Oakville Fire Department was not an average day.Before I suited up in editor Laura King's gear, I was given a truck tour and shown around the training facility. The alarm went off and the firefighters had to race off to a nearby school. It seemed as if it took no more than 30 seconds for the guys to suit up and drive off.It probably took me 15 minutes to put on my turnout gear. Just as I was feeling comfortable in the gear, and feeling the weight of the SCBA on my back, Training Officer Darren Van Zandbergen slipped a smoke-simulation screen into my helmet and I was once again uncomfortable . . . and essentially blind.I never realized how little is visible through smoke. I assumed some light would peek through; crawling on the floor feeling my way around walls and fallen beams I realized how wrong I was. It was nerve-wracking to blindly feel my way through the training building, but ironically it was an eye-opening experience.I have edited Extrication Tips columns for Canadian Firefighter, but I finally got to experience what it's all about. The tools were much heavier than I expected, my previous extrication experience having been limited to on paper. It was tough, but I managed cut through the windshield and the sedan door.By the time I attended the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs conference that weekend, I felt I had a better understanding of the job. I was enrolled in the municipal officials seminar and attended a training day at the Fire & Emergency Services Training Institute (FESTI) in Mississauga.That day I spent in Oakville made me seem like a total pro at FESTI, so many thanks to everyone in Oakville!With "KING" on my back and looking like a pro, a few people at FESTI asked if I was from the King City Fire Department. Funnily enough, I was born, raised and still live in King City. What a way to represent my hometown!There's only so much you can learn in front of a computer. Getting out from behind my desk was one of the most valuable experiences to help me edit the work of fire chiefs and firefighters to the best of my abilities. I have so much more to learn about fire, but hopefully with your help, Fire Fighting in Canada and Canadian Firefighter readers, I will get there. I'll never be able to understand the ins and outs like you do, but it's worth trying.I feel really lucky to be able to report on the fire industry. Even more so, I feel lucky that I can edit knowing that I am safe because my local fire department has that under control. After each training session, I was reminded not to take emergency services for granted.So, the least I can do is bring relevant and informative stories to the fire service industry! Let me know what matters to you as a fire service professional? What do you want to read about? I am looking forward to learning more about the industry as an assistant editor, and maybe I will get to attend a few more training sessions in the process.Lauren Scott is the assistant editor of Fire Fighting in Canada and Canadian Firefighter magazines. Contact her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
It isn’t a secret that there are many different personality types in the fire service. There are members in the service that choose to take a leadership role and there are those that choose to take a supporting role.  
Hopefully, every fire department has some kind of written policy or standard practice that requires regular, documented apparatus and equipment inspections.  
Firefighters are exposed to myriad dangerous circumstances.
I have often thought that the topic of firefighter training can be broken down into several distinct categories.  In my system of thinking, each category is unique from the others by the general timeframe at which the training is occurring in the firefighter’s career.  The first category is mentioned often in my Tim-bits columns – recruit school. Here, we are taught the basic fundamentals of firefighting theory and practice. The next category occurs immediately after recruit school is complete. I call it probationary training. This unofficial and undefined period is where the boots meet the road, where new firefighters use the skills taught in recruit school and apply them to real-world situations and station life. This is the period when the new folks learn there is the “book way” that they learned in school and the “real-world way” or the way it’s done at a particular firehouse.  This is often a time of great eye opening for the new folks when they realize that their pre-service education didn’t teach them everything they need to know.  With their opening-day jitters well behind them, the firefighters pass into my system’s next category – the continuing education phase. This category will encompass the remainder of their fire service career, if they choose to dedicate it to constant learning and improvement. Here, the firefighters will have an opportunity to expand and fine-tune their knowledge and skills in engine-company and truck-company functions, vehicle rescue, other technical rescue specialties, firefighter survival, RIT, driver-operator, fire instructor, fire officer, etc. One thing important to note about my system of training categorization so far is that it focuses on the individual. The individual takes courses and certification examinations to hopefully become increasingly more capable at various incidents. Fire departments, in turn, embrace the individual who has the determination to learn more and foster that education by holding regular company-level drills that build teamwork and allow individual firefighters to develop into more effective teams. The next category is company or department development. If your department is like my volunteer department, company or department development drills are often held once per week on a weekday evening. At best, we get two to three hours of training time, which includes setup and cleanup. It is during this critical time that firefighters can realize the expectations that will be demanded of them as they work in a team or department-wide setting at real incidents.But my department found that these two to three hours just weren’t enough to give our firefighters what we desired. By the time we get into things, it’s time to clean up and go home. We realized there were two things missing with our weeknight drills – more time to train and live fire. We quickly realized that the most dangerous thing we were asking our firefighters to do was something we hadn’t trained them on for a long time – fight interior structure fires. We contacted our local fire academy and enquired about running day-long training for our department using the academy’s facility and its class-A burn building. It was determined that since we only wanted to commit to a single, eight-hour day, none of the standard fire academy classes fit our needs. The academy agreed to rent its facility so we could conduct live-fire training that fell into compliance with NFPA 1403, and it agreed to provide the instructors and fuel – at a relatively low cost.  We picked a weekend day a few months out and met and worked with the instructors to develop a curriculum. Once finalized, the morning schedule included topics on basic fire control, search and rescue practice and pressurized watercan use. The afternoon schedule consisted of realistic scenarios that mimicked a few of the fires that we had faced in recent years.  During the morning schedule, we made sure everyone had an opportunity to practice the fundamentals of what we expected of them at real fires – all that they had learned in their recruit, probationary and continuing educational periods.The afternoon scenarios put it all together. The scenarios were run as “roll-in” drills, with an actual dispatch and staggered response of the apparatus – just like it happens in real life. Because we had instructors to manage the safety and instructional aspects of the drills, our company and chief officers were able to focus on their incident command and company leadership skills. We had created an opportunity to train as we actually fight fires – but in a controlled and relatively safe manner. Our firefighters did it our way, as a cohesive and familiar group. The day was a great success. If a fire academy training facility is within your reach, I encourage you to look into setting up a departmental-level training and development day.Tim Llewellyn is a firefighter for the Allegheny County Airport Authority in Pittsburgh, Pa., and an instructor for a number of fire academies and training faculties. Contact Tim at
What are the key ingredients to an effective and cohesive fire department? It cannot be left to the sole responsibility of the fire chiefs to lead the organization. It really comes down to effective leadership of every member, on every level.  
Michael Laughlin knows about perseverance. The 37-year-old overcame a horrific snowmobile accident in 2007 that resulted in 33 pins and screws holding his left side together, including a titanium forearm, femur and kneecap.
Most firefighters like myself have been around when a new apparatus or other piece of equipment comes into the hall. A lot of times when we receive a new fire apparatus, we go out on the streets of our district, drive it around and work with it in different capacities.  
If the image on the right seems familiar, you may already know about the awareness campaign aimed at first responders in British Columbia called “Share it. Don’t wear it.” These particular images and words were chosen to represent the mental health challenges firefighters face in their day-to-day work.
Are you looking for new ideas on how to best position yourself as a leader in your community and your fire department? Wondering how to effectively influence in your administrative and interpersonal endeavours? Join Fire Fighting in Canada for an exclusive free webinar on Wednesday, Aug. 22 from 2 to 3 p.m. with Lyle Quan, retired fire chief and emergency services and risk management principal at LPQ solutions for 30 years. Lyle is the co-author of Leadership Prescribed 2.0 — A Handbook for Fire Service Leaders, written alongside retired chief Les Karpluck and serving as an updated and expanded version to the original Leadership Prescribed edition published in 2013. Lyle was the commissioner of community services and fire chief for the City of Waterloo, Ont. He completed two degrees, a Bachelor of Business in Emergency Services and Bachelor of Education (adult education). He has helped many in a teaching capacity through his posts as an instructor at Dalhousie University, Lakeland College, Emergency Management Ontario, Ontario Fire College and most recently the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management. Click here to register for the webinar.
Social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube have been lovingly embraced by a large number of Canadians, nearly 23 million to be exact, young, old and every age in-between.
The Dawson City fire department, led by Fire Chief Jim Regimbal, is a great example of how an all-volunteer department can work well, be efficient and do its best to keep its community members safe.
No one likes to see an ‘out of service’ tag on broken down items that are awaiting repair, especially in the fire service. Sometimes tools or apparatus are taken off the line due to lack of maintenance, an overlooked issue or an unforeseen problem. Either way, the equipment needs to be fixed quickly and efficiently to be placed back into service ASAP.
The word “professional” means doing something as a livelihood, while the word “athlete” means exercising physical ability in many forms.  
It is important to balance your overall fitness, but strength is an important aspect of fire fighting. So, how strong should a firefighter be? That’s a question which has many answers depending on your expected performance on the fire ground.
The winter months, when we find ourselves spending a little bit more time inside, are the perfect opportunity to take on a new project.
The world is full of organizations that continually put the well-being and safety of people above its own and the fire service definitely fits into this category when it comes to caring.  
You find yourself sitting between Jack and Jill. Both have just returned from sick leave. Jill was injured on a tough call. Jack was told he had a disorder.
Post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) is finally an issue being talked about more often within the fire service, but what do we know about pre-post-traumatic stress syndrome?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can affect firefighters. Studies have found that 17 to 22 per cent of first responders are struggling with the problem.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It is not just an old adage that mom or dad would use to try to get you to eat something before running out the door first thing in the morning.
Examining firefighting as a sport and firefighters as athletes helps to assess the kind of training regime to improve performance. No two calls are exactly the same, so it’s logical to consider we aren’t required to have the same fitness demands for every incident.
Full disclaimer: This will start much like another negative article from within the PTSD bubble. But, fear not. For within the “bad” presented below there is a hope; a hope to break free, a hope to break through and perhaps a hope to avoid the bad altogether.
Simply doing a workout isn’t enough. Injury is a fact of life for firefighters. However, some injuries can be prevented with better body mechanics. There are some very important questions around how to train properly. How do we know if we are moving well? Is appropriate movement only important when we exercise? How do we adjust poor movement patterns?
Summer is an exceptional time of year to be a cook. Markets and gardens are bursting with gorgeous fruits and vegetables in their prime. Here is my comprehensive guide on how to buy, store and prepare Canadian produce.
In our last issue, we began our look at self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) emergencies and the four different categories that they fall into.
In past articles, I have stressed the need for more than one plan for every extrication scene. Every call we go to will inevitably be different with different vehicles involved. Different speeds, directions, occupant load and even weather can lead us to the fact that there is very little about our scenes that will be the same.
Canadian Firefighter magazine held its 2018 Firefighter Training Day and Career Expo on Sept. 29 at the Fire & Emergency Services Training Institute (FESTI) in Mississauga, Ont., where current firefighters were given an opportunity to expand their skills and potential recruits learned what it takes to become one of the family.
I have been looking at the mayday function of firefighter survival in the past few issues and how important it is to the survivability of each firefighter.
In previous articles, I have discussed the need for live-fire training and given readers a deeper understanding of what heat is. In this article, I will delve into the interactions of steam and how it interacts with fire extinguishment and can cause burns to a firefighter.
We’ve all heard the sayings throughout our careers in the fire service like, “Take a minute to make a minute,” and, “Work smarter, not harder,” or even, “Try before you pry.”
Registration is now open for the 2018 Firefighter Training Day being held Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018 at the GTAA Fire and Emergency Services Training Institute (FESTI) at 2025 Courtneypark Drive East in Toronto. The day-long program gives volunteer, part-time and full-time firefighters the opportunity to expand their training and enhance their skills. Active members of volunteer/career fire departments are welcome to participate (with their chief’s approval). Training is free. The event is sponsored by FESTI, Fort Garry Fire Trucks, FLIR, Canadian Firefighter and Fire Fighting in Canada.Click here for the website.Click here for the registration page.
This month I’m going to address something that is quietly making a big change in the auto manufacturing industry. While often forgotten about on most scenes, this vehicle component can cause major issues for our patients and the changes that are happening will either help or hamper us depending on how it is dealt with.
Whenever a mayday is called, it is for an emergency that requires help. The hope of the caller is that when the message is received by another person, help will be sent or given. In the fire service we use this term as a way for the firefighter to call for help.
It was a brisk morning in early spring when a conscientious jogger happened to run past a home where the smoke alarm was sounding. Through the early morning mist, he could hear the telltale beeping that signalled trouble.
Firefighters must understand what heat is and different heat phenomenon like heat flux and heat release rates to understand how to stay safe. In the past five years, new research has changed how firefighters think about fire growth, spread and extinguishment.
In looking back at Extrication Tips columns from the last year, we’ve managed to touch on a back-to-basics approach for auto extrication, a system for controlling extrication (SHADE), and a two-part patient care series.

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