Battling Flames in Forests, With Prison as the Firehouse

By Fernanda Santos For The New York Times PRESCOTT, Ariz. — The men cluster in a tight pack, identities obscured by fire-resistant Nomex clothes, each one anonymous except for the color of his helmet: red for corrections officers, blue and yellow for inmates. When the air was hot and the woods were parched last summer, the peak of the wildfire season in the West, these trained wilderness firefighters fought 13 forest fires in Arizona, including the one in June that half-destroyed the nearby village of Yarnell and killed 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite team. On a crisp morning…

Firefighters with trauma turn to mental health services

By Laura Kebede For the Richmond Times-Dispatch It took a “bad call” — when a 13-year-old on a bicycle was fatally struck by a car on a winding road in Sandston — for Henrico County firefighter and EMT Troy Cummings to realize the importance of mental health services available to fire department personnel. Cummings and several other first responders on the scene had children about that age. Amid the rush of emotions, it took him 20 minutes longer than usual to fill out the report at the hospital. When the unit returned to the station, licensed clinical social worker Steve…

Fire service changes require firefighters to get creative

By Brian Merony For Firefighter Nation As the world around us changes, so does the fire service. Some changes over the past 50 years have been positive … and some negative. But from department to department, one thing is always the same: A firefighter will always be a firefighter, no matter how different the world around them becomes. With change comes the need for strong leadership, and I can’t stress enough how important it is for department leadership to recognize when changes need to be made, and for all department members to be willing to accept new things. I know…

How to prepare for the promotional oral interview

By Jim Spell For Fire Chief Fire departments are looking for three things when they interview a candidate for promotion: qualifications for the position, general fitness related to job tasks, and general appearance and relative impression left on the selection committee. The impressions in these areas can mean the difference between success and failure — especially when the selection is close. Your character is reflected in how well you are groomed and the manners with which you conduct yourself. Next, there is the ease with which you move around the room and make eye contact with each member of the…

Experienced firefighters are more analytical under stress than novices, study finds

From medicalxpress.com Experienced firefighters take longer to make decisions under stress than novice firefighters, according to research conducted at Iowa State University. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. After conducting dozens of virtual reality trials in which real firefighters with varying levels of experience responded to fire simulations, experts at Iowa State said this week that seasoned firefighters took a more analytical approach than their less experienced colleagues when making decisions. “The experienced firefighters put a heavier emphasis on enhancing their situational awareness and creating a mental map for themselves,” said Nir Keren, an associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering. Keren said experienced…

Boys With Firefighting Dreams, and Goodbyes That Turned Final

By JACK HEALY and IAN LOVETT For The New York Times “I’m going down to Yarnell for a fire that’s threatening homes. I think I will be down there for a while on this one.” It was 6:24 on Sunday morning, Andrew Ashcraft writing to his wife, Juliann. He was 29, a firefighter, a member of the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew here, and he died alongside 18 of his teammates later in the day. “Have fun,” Juliann replied. “We’ll miss you.” “I miss you guys already,” Mr. Ashcraft wrote, not just to his wife, but to their four children, ages 1, 2,…

More firefighters getting nursing degrees

By Stephen Thompson For The Tampa Tribune At 36, Tom Kras, a firefighter with St. Petersburg Fire & Rescue, has already had two knee surgeries. After the second surgery, he was on light duty for several months. Kras wondered what would happen to him if he could no longer carry people down ladders or cut a car open to pull out an injured passenger. That’s when he decided to make himself more marketable and become a nurse. “I knew I never wanted to leave the fire department at this age to be a nurse,” said Kras. “It was more of…

The Higher Education Experience

By Janelle Foskett From the February 2013 issue of  FireRescue Higher education is fast becoming a major trend in the fire service, with many firefighters seeking advanced learning opportunities to enhance their technical and leadership skills. And with more and more positions actually requiring specific degrees, many firefighters are choosing to revisit the world of education to get a leg up in the promotional process. Although the benefits of obtaining a higher degree may seem obvious, making the decision to return to school isn’t always an easy one, particularly after a long absence. Key questions will naturally come to mind:…

Mental training can help firefighters and others cope with stressful jobs

By David Templeton For the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Settling in to sleep in Engine House 17 in Homewood, Ed Farley curls up with his two-way radio to catch every fire, medical or accident call citywide throughout the night despite a firefighter at the front desk and an alarm system that sounds whenever his unit must respond. “I don’t want to miss a run,” said Capt. Farley, 51, of Beechview. “I’m a firefighter. That’s what they pay me for.” Because of his vigilance, Capt. Farley doesn’t sleep soundly, if at all, during his 24-hour and oftentimes 36-hour shift. When the alarm does…

Sandy Hook firefighters get outpouring of support from across nation

By Mark Zaretsky For New Haven Register NEWTOWN — Sandy Hook’s firefighters are a pretty tight-knit bunch even in the best of the times. In the face of the most evil of circumstances, they’re finding solace and comfort where you might expect them to: in their bonds with each other and the stunningly positive outpouring of support they’ve received from fellow firefighters — and regular people — across America. “It’s our community, and I think it’s hit everybody hard,” said Kelly Burton, 20, a firefighter for the past five years — and an alumna of Sandy Hook Elementary School, whose…