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Posted by Francesca Solano | Fire and Rescue, General, Leatherhead Instructors
Thursday, December 18th, 2014 10:12 am

Leatherhead Thursday: Holiday Season and Appreciation

By James R. Dennison

of the Leatherhead Instructors

As another holiday season rapidly approaches, we are faced with the challenges and unique calls that we may receive.  The way that we provide customer service this time of year really makes an impact on our “customers”.  The season presents us with emergencies that stem from the weather, large family gatherings, faulty Christmas decorations, and the increased use of heating due to the cold.  The compassion that we portray when dealing with our “customers” in their emergency is a subtle reminder that we truly care about our jobs.

This season is also a time for us to reflect on what the job means to us and how we got here.  As our careers progress we sometimes lose sight of why we do this, and what it meant to take the job.  The years and years of time that some of us have on the job has taken its toll and a rejuvenation is important if we want to continue being part of the progression of the service.  The attitudes that we carry at the station, around our brothers and sisters, and to our “customers” is what we build ourselves on.

Take a look at the “new guy” on the department; I bet he or she is full of excitement and is headed in every direction because they cannot get enough.  I bet that each of us can look back and reflect on the days that we were the same way.  Spend some time looking at what your career has meant to you and how you may or may not have arrived at your present attitude.  What things can you change?  What things can you not change?  I bet there are some simple things that you could do to improve your attitude and vision.

This season is about giving and appreciation.  I think that the holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on our individual strengths and weaknesses, and the time to make changes.  Set some achievable goals for 2015; maybe there is a class that you want to take, or something within the department that you want to be part of.  Start 2015 with a fresh slate and a rekindled fire within yourself; be part of the solution!

Take the time to talk to people when you are on calls, your kindness will go a long way.  You never know just how much a “customer” will remember when you go the extra mile; this is why we should be doing the job!  We are the fortunate ones, not everybody has a job that they love!  Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Stay safe and train hard!


Posted by Francesca Solano | Fire and Rescue, General, Leatherhead Instructors, Training
Thursday, December 4th, 2014 10:12 am

Leatherhead Thursday:The nozzle person

By James R. Dennison

of the Leatherhead Instructors

It has been a long standing tradition within my organization and many others across the country to allow the senior person on the apparatus to be the “nozzle person”.  The concept of the most senior person being on the nozzle comes from the thought that this particular person is the most knowledgeable, experienced, and trained.  I agree that this person should be on the attack line, but I believe that they should be the backup or second in line.

I bet we could teach a monkey to spray water on a fire, but the ability to monitor the ever changing conditions would be difficult at best.  I have heard a lot of things as to why the most senior person is on the nozzle: they have been doing this a long time, they are really good at attack, they have put the time in and should get to have the best job, etc.  These points have no validity in the progression of the department!  How do you think a new firefighter gets the experience so that when they are a senior member of the department they can teach new firefighters? They won’t if they are not put in the position to be taught.

The fire service is now starting to look at the concept of putting the junior person on the nozzle and placing the veteran member behind them.  This idea comes from a teaching position and the ability of the veteran member to monitor the changing conditions.  The veteran member can guide the nozzle person as to where to spray, how to spray, changing conditions to look for, what the fire is going to do, where the fire is going to go, etc.  This allows for the junior member to receive guidance, and the veteran the ability to effect the progression of the junior firefighter and the department.

The junior firefighter should be competent in methodically searching for the fire and monitoring the stability of the floor, but having the veteran firefighter right behind them will allow for guidance when there is a question.  This approach will allow for a positive experience for both firefighters, and strengthen the individuals on their weaknesses.  It is necessary for the veteran firefighter to understand why he or she is being told to be second in line; they need to know that their experience, knowledge, and training can help shape the future of the organization.

I encourage you to look at the information available on firefighter related articles, blogs, magazines, and websites to better understand this concept!

Stay safe and train hard!


Posted by Francesca Solano | Events, General, News, People
Friday, November 21st, 2014 11:11 am

United Way and LION Team Up for Family This Holiday Season

From the United Way of the Greater Dayton Area

Vandalia-based LION, a world leader in the delivery of equipment and training solutions for fire departments, worked with United Way officials to adopt a special family this holiday season with a child suffering from a rare, debilitating illness.

Each year, as part of their annual United Way campaign, employees at LION adopt at least one family for the holidays as part of their LION Cares program.  United Way officials connected with the Epilepsy Foundation of Western Ohio, a United Way Partner Agency, and learned about a local girl who is suffering from a severe case of epilepsy and whose father is a firefighter.

Graeson Riley Rutmann was born on March 11, 2013 with a rare seizure disorder called Ohtahara Syndrome.  This severely progressive form of epilepsy affects newborns, usually within the first few days of life.  Seizures caused by this form of epilepsy are nearly impossible to control with medication, and the progressive nature of the disorder causes many children to die from it before the age of three.  Treatment is possible, but these children will be totally dependent on others, as their brains make little developmental progress.

Graeson’s father James Rutmann works full time as a firefighter and her mother Claudine works with a local health clinic – providing cost effective care to those in need.  The family is hoping to raise enough money to supplement their income so Claudine can work only part time.  The extra hours available in her schedule will be used to not only ensure that Graeson can receive proper care and attention but also attend to the active lives of their other older daughter and son, Dylan and Ian.

LION employees were happy to work with United Way of the Greater Dayton Area and Epilepsy Foundation of Western Ohio to make the Rutmann family’s goals a reality.  Steve Schwartz, 4th generation family owner of LION and CEO said: “Being a good corporate citizen is a core value of our company.  Graeson’s situation hit all of us very hard as parents and as members of the fire service family.”  Through this collaboration, we will raise awareness in our community about epilepsy and Ohtahara Syndrome and Graeson will be able to continue her fight while under the care of her mother and family.

To learn more about Graeson’s story, visit www.efwoflameofhope.org.


Posted by Francesca Solano | Fire and Rescue, General, Safety
Thursday, November 20th, 2014 9:11 am

Leatherhead Thursday: Here comes winter again!

By James R. Dennison

of the Leatherhead Instructors

The long warm days of summer and fall are gone and the bitter cold has arrived!  The winter months present some real challenges to us as firefighters when dealing with emergencies and how we operate.  We are faced with slippery, snow covered roads that are often our work station for hours upon hours.  We are going to talk about some basics that can protect us through this season.

We all have large trucks and equipment that we respond to emergencies in, and there are some things that we should address.  Most of our fire apparatus is equipped with either an engine or exhaust brake; it is a good idea to turn them off when roads are snow or ice covered.  These brakes can cause the apparatus to slow too rapidly and essentially slide out of your control.

All of our apparatus at my department is equipped with automatic tire chains, and our first out medic is equipped with four wheel drive.  These features are excellent when used correctly.  The chains and four wheel drive can certainly increase traction when driving on snow or frozen roads, but neither effect the quality of braking.  Do not get yourself in the mindset that you can stop any better than others!

How about salt and snow shovels?  Keeping these items on your equipment is an awesome idea!  How many times do you respond to a med run at a residence and find the path to their door covered in snow and ice?  Being able to clear that path for your crew can reduce the likelihood of falls that lead to time off the job.  Salt also comes in handy when the pump operator finds that they are standing on a sheet of ice due to loose connections or an overfilled tank.

The last thing that I want to discuss is the preparations that we need to make while operating at emergencies on roadways.  Motorists operate less than ideally year-round, adding a slick roadway will not stop them!  We need to make sure that we are keeping lanes of operation closed and staying away from moving traffic.  Think about sending a second unit to the scene just to shield the emergency crews that are working.  You can inquire about using your local or state police, and having barriers set if you are going to be there for a while.

I hope some of these basic thoughts and ideas help you in some way.

Stay safe and train hard!

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Posted by Francesca Solano | Events, Firefighter Combat Challenge, General, Health
Monday, November 10th, 2014 11:11 am

LION sponsors the Firefighter Combat Challenge in Phoenix

We all know the importance of health and fitness for firefighters, and the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge World Championships exemplify the hard work, rigorous training and fitness levels from firefighters who compete in this event.

This past week firefighters from around the world gathered in Phoenix, Arizona to compete in the 23 rd annual World Challenge, their last stop after a year of grueling competitions. LION has been a proud sponsor of the Challenge since its inception in 1992, we believe in encouraging and recognizing firefighters who take the initiative to maintain exemplary health goals and sportsmanship.

We saluted the outstanding athletes who have distinguished themselves on the course by inducting them into the LION’s Den, the letteman jacket program that recognizes those athletes who strive and succeed by posting times that place them at the top of of the sport.

Congratulations to all the combat challenge participants that worked hard throughout the year!

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Posted by Francesca Solano | Fire and Rescue, General, Leatherhead Instructors, PPE
Thursday, November 6th, 2014 7:11 am

Helmets of the fire service

By Shane Wells
of the Leatherhead Instructors

I have had a large variety of helmets in my 20 plus years as a firefighter; they range from inexpensive fiberglass helmets to quite expensive leather helmets. The first helmet that I had was a Cairns Fiberglass “salad bowl” Helmet, and now I have a Sam Houston Leather Helmet. There are differences in style, comfort, fit, and weight between the two; both have acceptable ratings.

I consider there to be three types of helmets that we typically see in the United States; leather, composite, and proximity. There are many styles that can be chosen among them, but the three listed types cover most of the bases. Each department really needs to do their research as to what fits them, and uniformity should be considered. Do not allow “what’s popular” to dictate what you get!

There are several things that should be considered when deciding what helmets to purchase for your department. Cost, amount of calls that you respond to, types of service provided (structural, technical rescue, airport crash rescue), turnover rate of your department (applies more to part time and volunteer), and ratings. Some departments opt to use different types of helmets for technical rescue, or wild land firefighting. A leather helmet is a poor choice for a department that uses one helmet and does technical rescue, due to the weight. Be wary of the first salesman that walk in your door and offers the cheapest price; cheapest is NOT always best! Something in the middle may be a good place to start.

I received a LION American Heritage Classic Helmet about two years ago to use while teaching classes, and I have to say that it is one of the most comfortable helmets that I have had the privilege of wearing. It has the look of a traditional leather helmet, but the weight of a composite. The helmet has held up well during the trainings that it has been worn during, and I look forward to wearing it for years to come. We wear Leather Sam Houston’s for our primary helmet, a Cairns 1010 composite as a backup, and a separate helmet for wild land and technical rescue at my department. We are given a leather helmet once our probationary period is met and these helmets remain with us for our career; we get to take them when we retire.

I hope that this helps you in your decision making regarding the purchase and use of helmets.

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Posted by Francesca Solano | Events, Fire and Rescue, General, Health, News, Safety, Training
Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 8:10 am

Fire service organizations send letter to the Health and Human Services Secretary amid ebola concerns


Representatives from the Congressional Fire Services Institute, International Association of Fire Fighters, International Association of Fire Chiefs and the National Volunteer Fire Council sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asking for their support in protecting EMS personnel against the current Ebola outbreak.

These fire service organizations specifically requested the Health Department’s “commitment to ensuring EMS personnel have sufficient training and resources to respond to suspected cases of Ebola.”

Here an excerpt of the letter, focusing on preventative measures that can help protect First Responders.

It is highly likely that more individuals infected with Ebola will seek assistance from emergency response personnel in the coming months. As the vast majority of EMS in the United States is performed by firefighters who have been cross‐trained as emergency medical technicians and paramedics, it is crucial that we ensure such personnel are properly trained and equipped to respond to such a scenario.

At a minimum, responding departments must provide sufficient personal protective equipment for all responders, including fluid resistant or impermeable long‐sleeved gowns, double gloves, eye protection, leg coverings, disposable shoe covers, and N95 respirators. As we learn more about the disease, additional protections may also be required.

Departments must also provide specialized training to all responders to limit the spread of the disease and provide the highest quality care for patients. Responders must learn to recognize a potential Ebola infection, institute necessary precautions to limit the spread of the disease, and utilize proper disinfection procedures.

You can read the letter in its entirety here.

The IAFC has compiled thorough information and guidance on Ebola for EMS personnel here.

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Posted by Francesca Solano | Fire and Rescue, General, Leatherhead Instructors
Thursday, October 9th, 2014 9:10 am

Leatherhead Thursday: Multipurpose Gear

By James R. Dennison

of the Leatherhead Instructors

The fire service revolves around responding to a wide variety of emergencies and non-emergencies; most of these responses require us to wear either a hazardous materials suite or our turnout gear.  The gear that we have can be viewed as overkill in many of the situations that we must deal with, but the simple Nomex or cotton uniforms we wear are just not enough.  What is the solution?

Multipurpose gear is a great tool to add to the toolbox.  Wild land firefighting gear and rescue response suits are offered by several manufactures, but they do not appear to be multipurpose.  Offering a set of gear that has fire protection, comfort, and reinforcements in the most vital places is the next step in reducing firefighter fatigue, while still offering protection.  The lack of a liner system will reduce the weight of the gear for situations other than structural firefighting.

This type of gear would be well suited for extrication, wild land firefighting, and any situation that does not require structural firefighting or bloodborne pathogen protection.  You lose the ability of having necessary protection from structural firefighting and bloodborne pathogens when you remove the lining of the gear, but we already have structural gear and Tyvek suites when dealing with significant bleeding, trauma, or other body fluids.

Customization of such equipment would simply add luxury; as we already have with our turnout gear.  The ability to add reflective striping, department names, and pockets where you wish is a nice touch that adds workability among firefighters.  It is certainly nice to be able to add pockets for tools or gloves, and a clasp for flashlights.

The needs and wants of firefighters is a top priority among safety equipment manufacturers; LION is no exception.  I encourage you to write a letter or send an e-mail to let them know what you are interested in seeing to better our field.

Stay safe and train hard!

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Posted by Francesca Solano | Fire and Rescue, General, Leatherhead Instructors
Thursday, September 11th, 2014 8:09 am

Leatherhead Thursday: Living at the firehouse

By James R. Dennison

of the Leatherhead Instructors

Firefighters have a second family that most people know nothing about.  These families are unknown to everyday working folks, people that view their counterparts as co-workers, or that dread having to deal with people at the office or factory.  What we have is rare, awesome, and yet difficult.

Our days at the station revolve around conversation, meals, television, and responding to the emergencies in our communities.  Many of our calls bring stress, emotions, anger, and disappointment; the relationships that we have with our brothers and sisters is what gets us through it.  We spend time talking about calls and somehow those conversations help diffuse the feelings that we have formed from the emergency.  The ability to have conversations with people that know exactly what you are felling is rare.  Many of the stories, conversations, counseling sessions, or whatever you want to call it never leave the firehouse.  This prevents a lot of problems in our personal relationships with our husbands, wives, or children.

Many meals, joking, and general good times take place at the station.  Many departments across America have long standing traditions regarding meals and partaking together.  Some places have a steady cook, or crew members take turns cooking, or maybe your big meal together is lunch instead of dinner.  Whatever the regimen is, it is taken seriously!  Meals bring people together, and this is no different at the station.

Down time is spent playing cards, shooting hoops, working out, studying, or watching television.  You will rarely find a member of a crew hanging out alone when all the work is done.  There are always stories to share about your kids, vacation plans, or whatever is going on daily at home.  The relationships formed at the firehouse are unlike any other.

The firehouse contains many people from different walks of life with different views; there are going to be times where you butt heads.  The realization that life is truly fragile almost always helps the disagreements blow by.  Rarely do you find firefighters behaving in an unacceptable manner to resolve a conflict.  The reality is that you get out of these relationships what you put into them.  Unlike most jobs, I guarantee that each firefighter has a unique story to tell regarding their decision to do the job.

I find myself quite thankful to be part of such an amazing profession, with amazing people, and I hope that you do too.

Stay safe and train hard!


Posted by Nick Hrkman | Fire and Rescue, Leatherhead Instructors
Thursday, August 28th, 2014 9:08 am

Leatherhead Thursday: It’s about time for some pink!

By J.R. Dennison
of the Leatherhead Instructors

There is no secret: October is the month that is dedicated to breast cancer awareness and, of course, wearing pink!  There is no doubt that all cancer deserves awareness, but breast cancer alone takes so much from us all and can be drastically changed if the word and awareness is continually spread.  We all have special women in our lives that lose that battle each year, and that hits us right in our hearts.  Our lives revolve around strong co-workers, mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, and friends and we want to do all that we can to protect them.

Firefighters across the U.S. and Canada have been able to support the fight with their public standing.  Firefighters are looked at by communities across the U.S. and Canada as role models, upstanding citizens, and generally good people.  We have an opportunity to support the research and awareness through raising funds and advertisement in the pink shirts!  The International Association of Fire Fighters has been a top supporter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation for several years; in 2012 the IAFF and its affiliates raised about $108,000.00 for the foundation.

Around 300,000 women and 2,500 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014; about 40,000 women and 430 men will succumb to the disease.  These numbers are terrible, but they are on the decrease since 2000.  The reason for the drop is funding for research, treatment, and awareness.  It is imperative that we do not allow any of these three paths to falter in any way!

The Susan G. Komen Foundation website ww5.komen.org can provide you with tons of information regarding the disease, its research, treatment, early detection, and support.  The IAFF website www.iaff.org can provide you with information about what fire fighters are doing to support.  I encourage you to take a look at these sites, and talk to the women in your lives about self-exams.  This disease can be detected early and the battle can possible be won if the right steps are taken.

Stay safe, train hard, and wear that pink!

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