Building Your Own Props

Building Your Own Props
By Robert Policht

In the past we covered a topic that discussed training on a budget. This brought out working with equipment that is readily available on the rig or at the firehouse. One of the topics included going out with the crew and playing a sport. Other topics included using a ground ladder as a low-profile prop that a firefighter would have to maneuver through while maintaining their SCBA orientation. The fire service is something that has been and continues to be developed daily in every firehouse. While the norms seem to be shifting from learning by reading a textbook to watching a training clip on social media and then discussing it. There is more to being a sound firefighter than just a few seconds of a video clip. But what these clips may potentially teach everyone is how to think a little bit differently about a certain subject.

Someone may view a clip and begin to think on a broader horizon where they may need to build some type of prop to further continue their training and education. The fire service has historically been a field that many members have an interest or background in some sort of trade. Whether it be construction, plumbing, etc. Together all of these skills can be brought together to develop a better learning environment for firefighters. There are a variety of props that may be built to use during training. Some of them include a stud prop, bailout window, wires entanglement, and many more.

The Studs
The studs prop is one that many of us have had the opportunity to go through during initial firefighter training. The normal distance between two studs in framing construction is 16 inches. By creating various widths between studs, it will create an obstacle that would allow for a firefighter to adapt and overcome during training. This exercise would make the firefighter perform a low-profile maneuver with the SCBA whether it be shifting the unit in-line with their profile or conducting a complete removal of the unit. In addition to just the bare studs, the prop may be altered by constructing it on an angle or adding some realism to it by fastening sheetrock to it. Now the firefighter would have the opportunity to conduct breaching techniques in addition to the low-profile maneuver. This prop may be built as a mobile or stationary product. The possibilities are endless.

The Bailout Window
The bailout window may be built in a variety of layouts. First it must be determined what kind of bailout; personal safety rope system or ladder. Both of these have their own criteria that may need to be stressed to have a more fluid evolution. For a rope bailout you need the space to conduct your slides. In the case we are discussing, a ladder bailout will require enough space to attach a modified ground ladder to the prop. The prop was developed enough for firefighters to train on the basics of the ladder bailout and transitioning from a window to a ground ladder. A larger prop such as this one also allows for some modification that will allow for other mounts such as pipe fittings for rebar. These fittings hold the rebar to conduct a variety of cutting evolutions as well as impalement training.

Wires Entanglement
The wire entanglement prop has several different shapes and sizes. It may look more open between two knee walls or it all may be confined to a blacked-out box. Once you have a designated area that you can create such an evolution, all it takes is using anything you think may tie you up. In this case they used different types of spare wire and secured it to the two “walls.” In a case that you cannot make a stable prop, you can put together a couple of benches and add variables such as ropes to create a similar effect.

At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what kind of training simulator you may have. You’re only limited to what your mind can think of. In the fire service it is preached to “Think outside of the box,” so why not apply it to how we train? Think above and beyond while maintaining the fundamentals of the craft.

Fire Ground Size-Up and Operations in Churches

Fire Ground Size-Up and Operations in Churches
Part 1 – Construction
By Deputy Chief Mike Terpak

Firefighters will be called on to respond to incidents at churches that come in all designs, shapes, sizes, and ages. Churches can be anything from 200-year-old gothic-style, heavy timber structures to modern contemporary buildings composed of all light-weight building materials. Luckily, a fire in a church is not an everyday occurrence. Many fire service members will go their entire careers without responding to a significant fire in a church. For those who have experience, it will be limited.

Many will agree when I say that a structure fire that involves a heavy timber church will be one of the most difficult, resource-intensive, and challenging fires anyone will ever encounter. There is nothing easy about a fire that involves one of these large structures. When we take into consideration the age of the building, its size, the class of construction, and the large unreachable void spaces, it should not surprise anyone that fire can gain possession of the entire building in a short period of time. The important point to remember when attempting to control a fire in one of these buildings is knowing what you can and cannot do in the short time that you have. Options may be limited, and dan-gers escalate quickly. It is important for a fire officer to recognize them.

In the United States, the classic heavy timber designed church can be well over 100 years old and is a well-known symbol in many towns and cities throughout the country. These structures will often span an entire city block. The Class 4 heavy timber construction will often feature masonry exterior walls with large interior timberwork, covered by a steeply pitched slate roof. Buildings of this style, although considered one story in height, can have roof peaks reaching 60’ or higher and steeple heights reaching 150’ or higher. Large interior timberwork will make up a significant portion of the building’s skeleton. Large columns and girders of wood will support the floor and roof spans, while the timbers used to support the roof system may be erected in various truss designs. The triangular design and the scissor-type truss are two of the most common designs used to support the peak area over the nave of the church.

Hanging ceiling/attic space: The space encompassed by the roof support members is often referred to as the hanging ceiling space, the attic, or the cockloft. This area above the nave or auditorium ceiling and the underside of the roof deck can be quite sizable. Heights can range from 12’ to 18’ or more and will often cover the entire church auditorium. Access-ing this space will be extremely challenging. Often the only entrance to this space will be through a small trapdoor that is reachable by a narrow staircase or access ladder. Further-more, there will be little to no flooring in the attic space. Anyone venturing into this space will only find a catwalk of wooden planks to traverse the area. Stepping to either side of the planking could cause a person to fall through the plaster ceiling of the auditorium. The attic space will also lack suitable lighting. When lighting is available, it is generally limited to one or two 100-watt bulbs at best. Any smoke within this space greatly reduces visibil-ity in an area where it usually is already limited. An attempt by a firefighter to enter the hanging ceiling space should be approached with great caution and should only be con-sidered for a small incident. Fires of any real magnitude are too dangerous to be fought from this area.

Vaulted ceilings: Vaulted plaster ceilings will make up the underside of the roof space. These heavy ornamental ceilings could extend 50’ or more above the church auditorium floor. Supporting columns for the ceiling are constructed with large wooden timbers or cast-iron columns. It is important to note that the presence of cast-iron columns may not be immediately apparent from within the church auditorium. Often, they will be framed out and covered with ornamental plaster. If cast-iron columns are present within the building, they will most likely be visible in the unfinished areas of the basement or cellar.

The main concern for the firefighter from the heavy ornamental plaster ceiling of a church auditorium is the possibility of large sections failing and dropping to the floor as fire spreads to the attic space. Sections weighing 100 pounds or more can drop into the church auditorium and could bring large lighting fixtures down with them. Anyone struck by sections of the ceiling will be seriously injured or killed.

Roofs: Roofs associated with heavy timber churches will most often be slate tile over wood planking. These roofs will often date back to the building’s original design and construction. Slate is a material that is virtually unaffected by exposure to weather. These roofs will generally last a lifetime. With pitches of 45° or more, often the biggest opera-tional concern from a slate tile roof will be any tiles that loosen and dislodge during fire department operations.

Wood, wood, and more wood: Wood is obviously going to be the chief combus-tible concern with this type of structure. Wood will not be limited to columns, roof decks, and supporting systems. Interior walls will often be constructed of heavy plaster over wood lath. They may initially give the appearance of a masonry constructed block wall. Void spaces will also be a concern. The interior walls within the church can be hol-lowed/framed out anywhere from 16’ to 20’ from the actual exterior masonry walls to accommodate the building’s original heating ducts. These large void spaces are highways of fuel that will allow fire to move up to the attic space as well as possibly drop down into the basement/cellar with little effort. In addition to the wood lath behind the walls, church interiors often will contain wood trim, wood wainscoting on the walls, wooden pews, wooden benches and balconies, and wooden choir and organ lofts. These buildings are like neatly arranged lumberyards.

Altar and choir/organ loft: The church altar will be found at the rear of the auditorium. It is the raised area where the priest or pastor conducts the service. Some of these areas are very ornate and decorative. If you look closely at them, you will notice an extensive amount of building material used in their design. From the raised marble floor to the dec-orative columns and trim, an altar presents a significant dead load. This is a collapse con-cern when fire is below.

Tapestries may be draped across the columns and walls or may be suspended from the ceiling in the altar area. Combined with the numerous lit candles, often present in this style of church, this creates an immediate concern. You should expect candles to be lit during a service, with many more glowing during the holiday season. It is interesting to note the effects from many years of burning wax candles. Wax vapors from the lit can-dles will leave a coating of flammable resins on walls, ceilings, and tapestries. This will add to an already heavy fire load.

The choir and organ loft will be located in the front of the church. It will generally be behind you as you sit for church service. This raised area is generally considered an open second floor within the auditorium. The loft space will not be large, but it is still a cause for concern. Access is normally through a door and up a small staircase off the front vestibule. Anticipate a tight climb if you need to access this space. The next time you have the opportunity, measure or estimate the distance from the front door of the church to the actual church auditorium. The distance into the vestibule and under the choir loft will likely average around 30’. In the event part of your operation will include deploy-ment of a master stream into the church auditorium from the front door, you will need to move the nozzle/appliance at least 30’ into the interior. If you do not, you will only be hitting the underside of the choir/organ loft with your hose stream.

Floors: Floors in heavy timber or wood frame churches can be constructed of a marble, terrazzo, or a tile surface over a wooden floor deck supported by columns of wood or cast-iron. Depending on the floor material used, it could easily mask fire conditions below.

Windows: Large older churches are also known for their oversized windows that in most cases will contain ornamental stained glass. The glass may be extremely valuable, very expensive to repair, and often irreplaceable. This may make firefighters reluctant to break any windows in an attempt to ventilate the building. Because of the value of the stained-glass windows, many churches in high-crime areas may also have installed wire mesh, metal grates, or possibly plastic coverings to protect the windows. Protective covers may also have been installed over the windows to prevent birds from perching on the windows sills, since bird droppings can destroy the lead-lined glass and sill. Any obstruc-tion covering the window will affect your ability to ventilate the opening.

Thermal imaging: As we venture deeper into the difficulties associated with these structures in our next article, thermal imaging will be the fire officer’s best friend. Large void spaces, high ceilings, and marble floor surfaces will not give firefighters the early heat indicators needed to make an assessment on the fire’s location and extent. Thermal imaging cameras deployed from multiple points by educated operators can give vital in-formation to decision makers about large, complicated structures.

The above is an excerpt of the soon to be released book, Fire Ground Size Up, 2nd. Edition.

For seminar information you can contact Chief Terpak at or 973-726-9538, or you can also follow him on face book at Mike Terpak Fire Service Training and Consulting

Leadership Doesn’t Just Happen

Leadership Doesn’t Just Happen
By Dr. Harry R. Carter, FIFireE, CFO


My friends, my years of studying the many aspects behind the concept of leadership has formed a great part of my professional life for well over four decades now. Let me suggest that my research has identified the fact that some people really are better leaders than others. I’ll now ask you a critical question. Why? Is this luck, fate, education, experience, or some combination of all of these?

Allow me to further suggest to you that effective leadership comes about as a result of hard work and a strict adherence to certain personal and professional standards of performance. I am offering a recommendation to you that those individuals who experience the most success in positions of leadership are those who spend the requisite amount of time learning the principles of effective leadership and then applying these principles to the leadership of their folks. These people then take great pains working to maintain and refine those skills and principles.

The formula for leadership success is as simple to state as it is difficult to implement. Some people also work to continually refine their leadership style based upon their experience. Those things that lead to success are kept in their personal arsenal of skills and those things which do not are discarded. For many years, people in the fire service looked to the now-discredited physical traits theory to define what a leader is or should at least look like.

These traits were used to select and cultivate future candidates for positions of leadership. Therefore, if you didn’t look like a leader, you never got to be a leader. As we all thought we knew back then, leaders were all tall, blond muscular, decisive, tough, and possessing that chiseled look of a movie-star type of leader.

Now we know just how much bull was involved in the explanation of those old leadership theories. Not all leaders were tall. How would you explain Napoleon and Hitler under these types of traits? Heck, they sure as heck were not nice people at all. Fortunately, we have moved well beyond an emphasis on the physical traits exhibited by an individual. We now use different concepts of what it takes to succeed in any position of leadership.

The things which we look for in our leaders have a lot more to do with mental characteristics and moral attributes than with a person’s physical endowments. Let me stress to you that while traits are no longer the major determinants in selecting and developing our leaders, we do need to emphasize that such folks must behave in a respectful and morally-correct manner. We are not looking for the brutish people who come across as foul-mouthed, unkempt, and slovenly people. That much I know for sure.

Let me also strongly stress to you that people in positions of leadership must have an even temperament and act in a calm and rational manner. No one likes to follow a person who is constantly shooting from the hip and going off half-cocked. I know that I have never felt comfortable in the presence of the ‘Chicken Little, the sky is falling sort of folks.’ People in leadership positions need to serve as a rock-solid foundation for the actions of the organization and the performance of their subordinates.

Leaders should be calm and even in their demeanor and act as a fulcrum during stressful situations. A successful leader must exercise sound judgment and make logical decisions based upon the facts which are available to them. Some decisions, such as those on the fireground must be made quickly, while others should be studied and analyzed to ensure that the proper data has been gathered for the making of that decision. A successful leader will be the one who is able to exercise sound judgment and make rapid analyses of the available information and alternatives.

Effective leaders are enthusiastic about their work. This genuine commitment which they live in the midst of their labors is contagious. It spreads to subordinates, who, in turn, derive a similar level of satisfaction from their work. Such a leader builds an aura of trust and stimulates creativity among the work team. They do not toss cold water on the troops once they get them thinking and acting. They guide rather than herd or drive their people.

Good leaders are dependable. Both superiors and subordinates know that the word of such effective leaders is their bond. People have no reason to doubt those leaders who earn the trust of their associates on a daily basis. People who work for leaders like this are well aware of the fact that they will receive valuable direction and solid backing in all of their labors.

It is most important for a leader to fully and completely know and understand their job. They must also know the jobs of the people with whom they work. I say this for one simple reason. How can a leader tell a follower that there is a problem with the manner in which they are performing their job, if they have never learned what the job looks like when it is properly done? This is incredibly important for an organization’s success.

Leaders must be able to solve daily problems as they arise. Letting things slide is one sure way to guarantee future fire department failure. In working the leader/follower equation, the leader must be fair and impartial at all times. They must concentrate on their subordinate’s concerns, while shunning any sort of favoritism towards members of the work group.

I urge all people in positions of leadership to remember that their followers work with them and not for them. This is a simple grammatical distinction which can pay great dividends to the person in the leadership role. When the troops are out there taking a beating, you will not see the true leader sucking down a cup of coffee at the fire ground rehab center or warming themselves up in an out-of-the-way spot.

My friends, you lead from the front or you don’t lead at all. A good leader is also diplomatic and tactful in dealing with people from both within and without the fire department. Mutual trust is really important in the fire service. I say this because we must all depend on one another to perform as a team in some really threatening situations and environments.

People depend upon the leader and the leader most certainly depends upon their people. The conscientious fire service leader exercises an appropriate level of concern for the safety of everyone with whom they work. You must remember that every person is a unique individual. While one person may need a great deal of supervision, direction, and guidance, others may not. Some may only require the merest suggestion in order to proceed to complete the necessary task or assignment. You need to learn how your people tick so that you can provide the proper level of individualized supervision and leadership to each.

True leaders really get to know their people as individuals. They encourage group participation in the planning phases of their work and provide each person with as much responsibility as they believe their troops can handle. It is critical for the leader to remember that one of their primary responsibilities to their people and their organizations is the development of a corps of well-trained, dedicated, and motivated followers. To ignore this role is to guarantee failure within your fire department.

Let me also suggest to you that maintaining the proper balance between authority and democracy requires a wisdom which does not come easily to some people. However, the effort which it takes to provide that balance will be rewarded by the high success rates exhibited by people working under such a leader.

It has been my pleasure to share some very basic thoughts on the concept of leadership with you. If you wish to become a leader, you must put forth the effort to learn as much as you can about what a leader is and what they do. In order to do this, you must devote a great deal of time and effort. Leaders do not just happen.

If you are a leader, work to be the best you can be. If you aspire to be one, hitch your wagon to a person you hold up as an example of what a leader should be. You might even wish to approach them and ask them to mentor you as you move along the road toward becoming a leader. I just want to close with a simple bit of advice which I have learned over my fifty-three years in the fire and emergency service world: “Leadership doesn’t just happen. You have to work at it.”

Making a List Checking it Twice

Making a List, Checking it Twice!
By Kyle Kwodynski

We all use lists to help keep us organized and focused on what we need to do or get done. They come in handy whether it’s for shopping, jobs, activities, etc. Without them, it’s difficult to stay on track with what we need to accomplish. Not the kind to use a list? The new year is coming, maybe you should consider trying one, especially if your goal is to improve yourself physically and mentally.

Every year, for the new year, many decide that they will be exercising and eating better to improve their physique and overall health. That’s awesome, but unfortunately, many end up quitting after a month or so. There could be a host of reasons they stop. Perhaps they are too busy to fit exercise into their day. Some get bored with their training regimen or even become discouraged they aren’t seeing the results they wanted. This suggests that they didn’t take the time to sit down and think of REALISTIC goals they wanted to work for.

Now there are some that take the time to write out their fitness goals but sometimes their goals aren’t realistic. Some will write down they want to drop thirty pounds in a month. Some want to increase their bench press by twenty pounds in a week. While others want to be on a cover of a muscle magazine within a year of training. These are goals, but not realistic goals. You want to start with small goals that are achievable. Once you achieve it, come up with a new achievable goal. Challenge yourself to better yourself.

Here’s where the list comes in handy. Write down your fitness goals on a piece of paper and make a couple copies. Hang one up on your refrigerator where you may see it when you want to grab some food. Put one by your mirror in the bathroom where you will likely see it first every morning. Put another one by any piece of fitness equipment you may have in your home. Lastly, carry a copy with you so you can always look at it when you feel you need to. Yes, it sounds weird having the same list all over, but hear me out. You’ll see it many times throughout the day which will remind you of your goals and keep you motivated. You may have a day when you want to skip your morning workout or eat something that’s not on your clean diet plan but seeing your list of goals may help keep you on track. Heck you may not want to go to the gym after work but seeing that list you’re carrying around may change your mind. You never know, this may be your biggest motivation.

Motivation is most important when it comes to achieving your goals. Lose motivation and you’ll quit. Stay motivated and you keep going. By having a list of goals, you will have a target to work for.

When you achieve one of your goals, you will feel happy but remember, you want to come up with a new goal to replace the one you achieved right away to keep you motivated in bettering yourself. Keep one of the copies of the list you made/completed. You are competing with yourself to be better than you were the day before.

Now why would you want to keep a copy of all the lists with your accomplished goals on it? At the end of the year, look at where you started and where you finished. Depending on what your goals are and how your training and nutrition were, you may see a big change whether it be in bodyweight or how much you increased strength in your lifts, even how your physique looks. You likely conquered many goals throughout the year because you set small goals for yourself which may end up helping you achieve a larger goal overall.

So, for many of you who have a new year’s resolution that involves fitness and health, write down your goals and get a couple copies made so you can see your list in several places to help keep you on track and achieving your goals. Use this list to help you compete with yourself and stay motivated. Just remember, write down small goals that are achievable and keep coming up with new ones.

I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday season and good luck in 2019!

For more helpful fitness tips, please visit and like my Facebook page Newbreedfitness LLC. For information on how I may be able to help your department, visit my website

THE DEADMAN ROOM – A Message from the New Jersey Deputy Fire Chiefs Association

A Message from the New Jersey Deputy Fire Chiefs Association

By Ret. BC Charlie Lind, Jr.

As you are about to read this article the title can be a little gory at best for members in the fire service. What is the “DEADMAN ROOM” exactly and why is it called that??? It’s simple, it has only one way out and leads into a common hallway of a building in the direct path of a fire extending from the lower floors. The room is usually the size of a walk-in closet with a small window to emit light into it. Many will turn this into a bedroom for a small child or an older adult to sleep in. If a fire begins on the lower floors and communicates into the hallway there is no way for a child or adult to escape other than breaking out the window and climbing out onto the porch roof if they can make it through the small opening. The first arriving officer should gather as much information as he/she can to determine if there is anyone trapped in the room.

“VENTING FOR LIFE” is key to survival for the trapped occupant in that room. If de-termined that there is someone trapped and unaccounted for, a strong VERTICAL VENTILA-TION is needed over the stairs, SKYLIGHTS and SCUTTLES should be opened quickly by the Ladder Company to remove the products of combustion and by doing this it will allow the ad-vancing Engine Company to move in an extinguish the fire. Then Ladder Companies can perform the rescue and bring the trapped occupant out via the interior stairs. However, if you need to place a ladder to the porch roof to rescue someone who is on the outside, use the ladder to make the rescue then reposition it to an adjacent window. Always keep the main entrance of the fire building open for advancing fire attack lines and personnel. Lastly, I will call it “VENTING FOR FIRE” the last window that should be horizontally vented should be the window over the porch. Why????? By venting the Deadman’s Room window prematurely, you could draw the fire right into the common hallway and it could overtake the advancing Engine Company forcing them to retreat or worse trapping them on the fire floor. Keep that window in tact until the fire is knocked down and then horizontally vent the window to remove the products of combustions and reduce C0 Levels.

Many thanks to Captain Vincent Manchisi of Ladder Company #3 Jersey City FD for contributing to this article with his photographs. Be safe and take care of one another.

Newark Firefighters Wear Pink

Newark Firefighters Wear Pink
An Interview with Firefighter Gregory Pierre

Please tell our readers a little about your campaign.

FIREFIGHTERS WEAR PINK is a campaign that creates opportunity for firefighters and emergency service personnel to forge stronger ties with our community. The campaign partners with community leaders to host a wide array of fundraising events throughout the month of October.

As you may know, October is both National Fire Safety and Breast Cancer Awareness month. So, what better way to bring these two causes together than the “Firefighters Wear Pink Campaign.”

Our goal is to increase awareness for cancer research and fire safety awareness. All participating emergency service personnel are encouraged to wear a pink T- shirt underneath their uniforms throughout the month of October. has designed a special shirt specifically for the campaign that will be made available throughout the month of October. has pledged to donate $5.00 from every shirt sold to the American Cancer Society and a member of the fire service suffering from any form of cancer.

This is the 3rd year of the campaign and it was the greatest one thus far. On November 2nd, we hosted an intimate evening for over a 150 people. The guests were greeted by three media teams from local and national agencies. The audience consisted of police and fire personnel, close relatives, friends, and an all-star cast of celebrities including but limited to: Grammy Award winning artist Wyclef Jean and his wife Claudinette Jean. Also included were, Newark Fire Chief Rufus Jackson, R&B singer Jimmy Cozier, and the Who’s Who of Essex County Cancer support groups, as well as a list of cancer survivors being honored by our all-star cast that night.

Why is the event important?

Outside of the importance of finding a cure for the ongoing fight against cancer, a disease that has claimed countless precious lives every day, the lives of loved ones, from every race, color, and creed.

My personal connection to this cause is seeded by the life of my aunt, Patricia Pierre.

She was the first member of my family to introduce me to the struggles and challenges of all types of cancer starting with lung cancer, then liver, and eventually breast cancer. She never drank alcohol and never smoked, yet I watched her deteriorate right in front of me from this dreadful illness. I had never experienced anything like it before. I was active in her fight against cancer for five years.

The evening before Aunt Pat left this earth, I stayed with her until 5 AM in the morning only leaving her side to start my shift at the firehouse, and unfortunately, she died before the end of my shift. That was March of 2018. Although, I started my campaign two years ago, I felt in honor of her sacrifice and what she meant to me it was only the right thing to do. So, I decided to do something more monumental in honor of her life this year. I was determined to make this FIREFIGHTER WEAR PINK CAMPAIGN the best yet. And from the consensus of my city fire department and other Essex County fire departments, I accomplished just that. Thank God for my strength.

What’s next?

We are currently working on an infomercial and recap video of the entire October-month long campaign, as well as the Breast Cancer Awareness Award Show recap, which is scheduled to premiere on my YouTube channel this New Year’s Eve.

I want the Firefighter Wear Pink Campaign to be recognized at least statewide come October of 2019, with the same energy and cause, just bigger and better… I have a few fire departments in outside states that I help spearhead their own Firefighters Wear Pink Campaign locally within their communities. I plan to furnish them with T-shirts, literature, and fundraising opportunities to push and formulate their own campaigns in their local cites and respected areas, all in the essence of Fire Safety and Breast Cancer Awareness, eventually joining the fight against all cancers.

My next move is to take my campaign nationwide. I want fire departments across the nation to have the opportunity to get involved. I’m already being contacted by a list of fire departments and non-profit organizations that want to partner up. I feel with my energy and dedication on a nationally supported level, my campaign could be the driving force to come up with a CURE for cancer; the sky’s the limit.

How can others get involved?

Just spreading awareness about breast cancer and fire safety, and how we are coupling the two together will help us reach our future goals. By having others commit to this cause and spreading the word about what we are doing will give us the ability to move mountains. I truly believe this.

But if you want to become more active, we have volunteer opportunities available year-round. We are also accepting charitable donations, and you can always purchase a signature Firefighter Wear Pink t-shirt in which $5 from the sale will go toward our Firefighter Wear Pink Campaign Fund for the following year. We even offer sponsorship packages for businesses 24/7 on my website FIREMANTSHIRT.COM that uses our already locally recognized platform to promote qualifying brands and services to our audience of fire, police, and other city officials.

We are also in the process of formulating our campaign so that it may become a statewide movement next year and eventually become nationwide by 2020.

We literally want firefighters from across the nation and eventually from across the world to have the opportunity to join our fight.

In the mean time, we will broadcast focal point information on my website FIREMANTSHIRT.COM

And as time goes by, you’ll find it very easy to reach me and my team via social media outlets, such as Instagram: @Firemantshirt or via Facebook by searching “GREGORY PIERRE” and on TWITTER @FIREMANTSHIRT.

We are in the process of dedicating a page on my website FIREMANTSHIRT.COM for the Firefighters Wear Pink Campaign and schedule to launch the site during October of 2019, as we prepare to kick off another successful campaign. My team and I are supper excited and we look forward to working with our supporters once again next year.

Hasbrouck Heights-11th Annual Barbecue

Engine One Holds its 11th Annual Barbecue
By Firefighter Justin Watrel, Hasbrouck Heights Fire Dept.

The brothers of Engine One held their 11th annual barbecue for the members of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department, department retirees, and honorary members.

More than fifty people came over the course of the evening to enjoy good food and conversation. Under the direction of Barbecue Chairman Justin Watrel and grill masters, Captain Tim Moots and Lieutenant Bernie Valente, the members enjoyed hot dogs, hamburgers, Italian sausage, baby back ribs, sides of baked beans, mac and cheese, and baked ziti. Chairman Watrel baked homemade desserts of brownies, rice crispy treats, chocolate chips cookies, and blue berry muffins.

It was a warm sunny spring evening at the firehouse and it was a nice time to catch up with everyone. A big thank you to all the brothers of Engine One for such a welcoming evening of good food and conversation. It was a nice way to usher in the summer months ahead.

Firefighters Battle 5 Alarm in Passaic

Firefighters Battle 5 Alarm in Passaic
By Peter Danzo

At just after 22:00 on July 16th, 2018, Passaic NJ Fire Dept Engines 2, 3 & 4, L-2 and Battalion 1 responded to the area of Monroe St and Lexington Ave. for a reported structure fire in the El Chevere Restaurant.

While enroute units were advised that the police were reporting a fire, upon arrival of Acting BC-1 he confirmed a working fire and quickly requested a 2nd alarm.

Fire was visible inside the restaurant as co’s stretched a 2-1/2” handline into the building and the truck went to the roof. Initial reports were that the main body of fire appeared to be knocked down but the interior crews discovered fire above them which was confirmed by the truck which reported fire from the kitchen vent and then heavy fire in the cockloft and showing from the vent hole.

With conditions rapidly deteriorating command had all co’s evacuate the building as well as the roof. The fire rapidly spread to the delta, bravo, bravo 1 and bravo 2 exposures but co’s were successful in protecting the delta 1, bravo 3 and charlie exposures which were all attached. A total of 5 alarms were sounded bringing numerous mutual aid co’s from Bergen and Passaic Counties to the scene and for cover. 5 businesses were destroyed, 6 firefighters suffered minor injures and the fire was declared under control just after 02:00 with the use of 4 aerials and numerous hand lines and ground monitors but companies remained on the scene through out the night and into the next day.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

New Milford Four-Alarm Inferno

New Milford Four-Alarm Inferno
By Chris Tompkins

New Milford, NJ – On Sunday afternoon, July 29th, firefighters battled a four-alarm inferno that send a black smoke plume high in the sky. The thick smoke could be seen for miles.

At 11:37 A.M., firefighters were dispatched to 12 Canterbury Lane for a reported attached deck fire. Dispatch advised the responding units that they were receiving multiple calls and that police department was on scene reporting a well-involved deck fire with extension to the interior. Command requested the working fire assignment and an additional engine from Oradell while responding. Once on scene, New Milford’s chief reported the rear of a two-story townhome engulfed in flames that had already extended into the interior and transmitted a second-alarm.

Engines 31 and 34 arrived on the scene, established a water supply and stretched a two-and-a-half-inch line to the rear and a one-and-three-quarter inch line through the front door. Firefighters made an interior attack once the rear line knocked down the massive fire. They were then able to knock down heavy fire on the first and second floors.

The fire, however, had already extended into the attic and was venting through the roof. A third-alarm was transmitted as firefighters checked the exposures for any extension. The heavy fire consumed the roof and pushed toward the front of the structure, eventually dropping down to the second floor. Evacuation tones were sounded to clear the building as heavy fire vented from two windows on the “Alpha” side.

A fourth-alarm was transmitted, and New Milford Tower 31 was put into operation with multiple exterior lines to knock down the heavy fire. The fire was brought under control within two hours. One homeowner suffered burns to the hands and one firefighter sustained heat-exposure injures.

Mutual aid from River Edge, Oradell, Bergenfield, Dumont, Maywood, Paramus, Closter, Demarest, Englewood, Teaneck and Hackensack assisted on scene. The cause of the fire is under investigation.


By Robert Policht

Whether you use the terminology of Rapid Intervention Team/Crew, or Firefighter Assist and Search Team, the concept addresses having a dedicated team that is responsible for rescuing a rescuer. Depending on where you are from, these teams may operate completely differently. Some companies simply arrive on scene, set up on the street side of the incident, and wait until further orders. There are companies that are proactive and conduct their own complex tactics as the dedicated resource. Depending on the jurisdiction, response criteria may be extremely unique. Some places assigned the latter due unit to act as the FAST, while some places assign only special units the task, and in some places, there are only a few select units that carry out the responsibilities. At the end of the day the responsibilities of the FAST are to search and rescue firefighters in distress.

The FAST team requires several tools that allow them to execute these rescuing operations. The tools range from a variety of hand tools, stokes basket, search ropes, and some saws. These tools aid in the crew by accessing and removing the firefighters they are rescuing. Most of the time it seems that this dedicated team ends up standing around. However, it is vital for these teams to prep the building by “softening” it. The phrase “softening the building” relates to literally softening the egresses of a structure. After completing a 360 of the structure, it is beneficial for the team to see what they are dealing with and develop their own understanding of the building. Some simple things the team can do to soften a building include:
• Setting up ground ladders for potential rescue/egress point
• Removing bars from doors and windows
• Removing gates/fences to open access to the operational area, etc.

In the event the crew has adequate manpower to split in half, it may be beneficial to set up the one team on the AB corner and the other on the CD corner. This allows for the company to have a continuous awareness of the ever-changing conditions of the incident.

All units responsible for the specific duties of a FAST team are critical and their placement is key, as it proves to be beneficial to the operation. It allows the incident commander to simply assign the duties to any unit that is not being actively used or that is not tactically staged. This creates a more fluent decision-making process when things have the potential to become chaotic. The specific unit approach creates a dependency on those resources. Should there be an incident in a county that had only a few specific companies responsible for a FAST team, the incident commander may find himself waiting for that one unit to arrive from farther away compared to a latter due engine or truck that may be designated the FAST team. Whether or not these teams are proactive depends on the training of the officers and the department. It may be even taken deeper to each firefighter. Do you want to just show up and be outstanding or be proactive and continuously beneficial to the operation? If you were caught in a deteriorating situation, wouldn’t you want half of the work done for you to get out of a building? If units on scene aren’t softening the building then you have the potential to find yourself working through Pandora’s box, making your way to a window, removing bars from the interior, and potentially performing a window bailout compared to getting out on to a ladder.

Always seek continuous improvement, because everyone depends on each other. You can attend training classes, seminars, or even watch some YouTube videos to develop your own awareness of these types of operations. The round table approach is beneficial because it allows you and your crew to discuss potential operations, in a similar manner to sports teams viewing post game footage. The FAST team discussion is one that must be constantly addressed to continuously evolve company tactics and awareness.