Sunday, March 12, 2017

Planning Your Area Training Weekend: A Satirical Guide...

A chief was tasked by his areas mutual aid association with obtaining course information from two of the myriad private training companies out there to put on a weekend program. He sent me the email string resulting. It’s entertaining.  Especially since everyone kept hitting “reply all.”  I have edited names to protect the guilty. 

From: RuralChief@

Gentlemen, our local association has settled on your two companies as the finalists to provide our first annual Hot Dogs and Hydrants Training Weekend training, which we hope will become the region’s top event. We know it will cost us a few bucks a head, but think it will be worth bringing your experts in. If you could provide some information on the programs you’d propose and your instructors, it would be appreciated.   


Our kick ass hands on programs are second to none.  For your folks we’re thinking one of our heavy duty firefighter survival classes would be helpful. Our experienced staff which includes retired captains and lieutenants from busy departments across the country, including the requisite FDNY officer all training companies are required to have.  We’ll teach your personnel sixteen ways to bail out of windows including the head first ladder slide with half gainer. No one else in the industry knows these techniques. For only $450 per head it’s a great value.  

The firefighter survival stuff is so yesterday. You need a company like ours who can give you the latest in research based suppression. We’ll teach you how to use drones to read the smoke and determine the fire flow path (our drones—which we can provide to your departments for only $8500 per unit plus shipping and handling) are painted LaFrance red and use infrared technology.  Our instructors have adopted every new bit of terminology which will enhance your student experience. For example, we’ll teach your personnel to say “transitional attack” instead of “hit it hard from the yard” like you have for 40 years and much more.  We’ll use our ‘Hefti-house’ to model live fire behavior at small scale in your parking lot.  We even have mini firefighters and ladders. Our program runs only $400 per student, a fantastic value.


We know you don’t want any of that doll house crap the other guys are selling. Our instructors are all highly experienced. Each one of them has burned up at least three leather helmets in local burn buildings. They all have the standard large droopy mustache or Fu Manchu; mandatory for tough firefighters.


How about tattoos? Our guys all have at least half sleeves with flames and Maltese crosses. Nothing says excellence in fire instruction like tattoos. By the way, how about an occupancy based session?  We offer the only program in the country on Mosque firefighting. Our head instructor, Captain Don “Hydrant” Outlet is highly experienced with this occupancy having run over four automatic alarms at one. Only $350 per head. 


Our guys and gals (we offer female instructors) have tats and mustaches. I bet there isn’t a Mosque within a hundred miles of your area. You want specialized occupancy, can do. We do the only program in the country on backyard gazebo fires.  Only $300 per head. Talk about a challenging building type. The flow path characteristics are like no other.  If you get on scene before it has collapsed, our training will give you the tactics needed for an aggressive interior attack at this tough, challenging, building type. 


Do they teach sheds too? You want specialized and unique?  We got it. Garbage trucks. These bad boys are incredibly dangerous and require a full haz-mat assignment, particularly for decontamination afterward. The disposable diaper residue commonly present is highly toxic and needs careful handling and our training gives you the tools. We’ll teach the use of CAFS for vapor suppression and will do this as an add on to our Mosque program for only an additional $50 per head. 


Gentlemen, thanks for the information and proposals. Since our budget is only $15 per head, after careful consideration, we’ve decided we’re just going to run a fire police class.  One of our local guys, Charlie, will teach it if we feed him lunch.  Charlie weighs in at around 375, so lunch for him won’t be cheap. Perhaps when our budget is bigger or somebody builds a Mosque or we have a major increase in gazebo fires, we’ll get back in touch….

Friday, February 24, 2017

An (Alternative) History of the Fog Nozzle

Since alternative facts are all the rage right now, I thought maybe some alternative history could be interesting.

1503:  Leonardo da Vinci designs the first fog nozzle. It bears a striking resemblance to the Selecto-o-matic.  Unfortunately, the design is on the back of the Mona Lisa, so no one notices for over 500 years. 
1630: Galileo’s lab assistant suggested that flowing water through the tubes he had shaped for his invention the telescope could be a good way to put fires out.  Galileo scoffs at the idea. His lab assistant, Alfredo Taskforce Tipiano decides to immigrate to America with his wife and six sons as soon as someone opens a good pizza place there. 
1737: Samuel Akron, a volunteer firefighter in Philadelphia, puts his finger over the tip of a pressurized leather hose, generating a spray.  He takes his idea to Ben Franklin, the inventor of the bucket and smooth bore. Ben tell him it’s a stupid idea and returns to flying his kite. 
1780: An American Indian inventor, Big Water Elk-hart, graduates from engineering school and as his first project, designs a nozzle with a straight stream and impinging jet fog. He tells friends, “I bet the Navy and Coast Guard—when they get formed—would like this.”  His friend laugh and Elk-hart, depressed and disappointed, goes for a pizza at the Taskforce Tipano Family Pizzeria. He sits down over a pepperoni and sausage with Alfredo Tipiano III and pulls out the parchment showing his design. Tipiano tells him “my nonno had a similar idea once” and the rest is history.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Book Signing

Please join me at the B&B Family Restaurant, Exit 201 off Interstate 81 on Saturday, October 15th from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Available will be copies of my new novel Fire In His Bones as well as my earlier books Mayday! Firefighter Down and my memoir Fire Men: Stories From Three Generations of a Firefighting Family. Come out for a great breakfast or lunch and stock up early for Xmas!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

RIP Generation 1, past Chief Richard M. Ryman

From the Eulogy I wrote...

"My father was like the founder of a family business. Not the normal type, a plumbing company, electrician, or an auto mechanic like his father had been. His father, my grandfather, could not begin to comprehend why anyone in their right mind would actually enjoy, downright love, the challenge and experience of going into a burning building. But he was impressed and proud that his son was one of those people.
It became a family business around the time I learned to walk. The fire station was the center of the community in West Corners. It sponsored the little league team I played for. Ice cream and cupcakes were an annual tradition that continues to this day. The older I got, the more I learned about the serious, real side of things; the sometimes very ugly side.
I had the best teacher in the county, if not the state. One that I’m proud to say has had the same influence on at least three generations of Broome County firefighters. By the end of his thirty years as a New York State Fire Instructor, nothing would make his night more than to have a young man or woman approach him at the beginning of a class and say “my Grandfather said to say hello to you.”  He was immensely proud when I put on the white coat and helmet of a chief, and there was no better advisor I could t urn to.
Even better than that for him was when his first grandson joined the family business. As much as he enjoyed it, I had an even better perspective having been able to learn from him and then teach my son. Dad visiting Mike at his station in Montgomery County, Maryland brought out a t spark in him. Seeing the pictures of the county chief hang a medal for valor around his grandson’s neck brought tears to his stoic face. Having his second grandson come into the family business was the cherry on top of the sundae. He lived vicariously through their stories and not surprisingly, was never shy in offering his opinion to them.  He was beyond excited at a multi-day visit Daniel paid to Maryland to ride with his cousin. Having both his boys on the same fire truck was a dream come true.
The girls, his granddaughters, were his sunshine. He delighted and marveled at their educational and professional accomplishments. They wrapped him around their little fingers, and it was a place he was happy to be.  Showing off his granddaughters at his favorite local restaurants was an early day in heaven for him.  Megan and Katie were among the best at getting him to do things he didn’t really want to do.
He outlived the doctor’s projections, and there is only one reason. That is the loving care he received living with Beth, Jack, Katie, and Daniel. The countless sleepless nights, trips to doctors and hospitals, and other medical treatment. Beth Ann never wanted to be a nurse, but going through this, she became one Mom would be proud of. Having a real one there in Katie was priceless. And Jack and Daniel probably know more about the care and treatment of cancer patients than they ever wanted to. No one could have done more to make his last year better than they did, and I will be eternally grateful for that.
Like most men, his family is his legacy, but in the case of my father, it’s not limited to his blood relations. The fire service is a family and his legacy is present throughout this room, this county, this state, and beyond. All those he taught and influenced in his long career.
While he’s no longer with us in person, his spirit will be felt for generations more. And I can tell you from personal experience, God’s fire department just picked up on heck of an incident commander."

Friday, September 16, 2016

It's Out!!!

Fire In His Bones is now available on Amazon

“Dave, we do a great job in this department with every victim we encounter except one, the one in the mirror. You’re a victim and you either don’t know it or won’t admit it,” Chief Mann said. Captain Dave Michaels attained his dream job as the company commander of Rescue Squad 1, one of two such elite units in Fairmont County. But the dream turns into a nightmare, literally, when his crew is first arriving after a North Korean sponsored terrorist bombing of a library slaughters a visiting Kindergarten class. The “old school” Michaels resists help as his life spirals downward. Removed from his company and saddled with a desk, Michaels faces the loss of his job, wife, and family. Assigned to develop a rescue squad training program, the project turns out to be more valuable than imagined, teaching him about himself and helping him deal with the mental trauma. The assignment and the help of a firefighter counselor reopens the fire house door. Restored to command of a truck company, Michaels works through his struggles to reach a stronger place, at the same time wondering if the deadly attack was a lone wolf or are more in the wings?


Get your copy today