Firehouse

Editor-in-Chief Peter Matthews talks with Firehouse authors and speakers and members of the fire service about firefighter training and tactics, leadership, trends and traditions.

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Episodes

Monday Jun 03, 2024

Peter Matthews talks with Western Berks, PA, Fire Commissioner Jared Renshaw about this work to educate fire chiefs about their role in politics and how they can successfully navigate city hall. 
Renshaw, who has served in departments on the East and West coasts, has been writing and teaching on the topic of fire service politics, helping leaders navigate the confusing and challenging paths where the two merge, and impact each other. 
With many headlines of fire chiefs not being successful in their role, Renshaw warns how relationships and a thorough understanding of the political process can make or break a fire chief. He offers advice to listeners on who to connect with, how to establish and maintain that relationship and how to leverage it for growth in your department. 
The two also discuss data, how to produce reports that matter to your supervisors, and a look at management maydays that chiefs can encounter.  
Resources: 
Leadership Lessons: Management Mayday 
Live to Fight Another Day 
Answering the Call to City Hall 

Monday May 13, 2024

Peter Matthews talks with Robert “Butch” Cobb and Paul Drennan, both retired deputy chiefs from Jersey City, NJ, about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the importance of peer support teams.  
Cobb, a veteran of the Vietnam War, opens up about a moment that triggered flashbacks of his time in Vietnam, and how it led his life into a spiral until he began meeting with a doctor. This was the beginning of Cobb’s 20-plus year journey of therapy from the city and the Veterans Administration as he navigated a busy career, including multiple close calls and an immediate response to the 9/11 terror attacks in New York City. He explains why he brought this to light years after retirement, after hearing many stories and wanting to give advice to those who have walked in those shoes. 
Drennan, who also suffered from PTSD, helped the Jersey Fire Department start their Peer Support Team, which has served as a model for departments around the state. He talks about the importance of peer-to-peer support so that it allows firefighters to be open with people who understand their stressors.  
As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, Cobb and Drennan talk about the need for seeking help early, how to start a Peer Support Team and what it means to take care of bother and sister firefighters as soon as stress and PTSD are evident. 
Resources: 
Jersey City Peer Support Team 
Butch Cobb on Instagram 
First Responder Center for Excellence 
Everyone Goes Home 
Station Design Conference 
International Association of Fire Fighters  
National Volunteer Fire Council First Responder Help Line 
International Association of Fire Chiefs 
Firehouse.com Coverage of Firefighter Mental Health 
Firehouse.com Coverage of Firefighter PTSD  

Friday May 03, 2024

Peter Matthews talks with former Minnesota fire chiefs Ken Prillaman and Jerry Streich about their mission trips to Africa and later, Kenya, as part of this year’s International Firefighters Day coverage. Prillaman and Streich traveled multiple times to Liberia in West Africa.   
Prillaman shares how the citizens he protected in Brooklyn Park, MN, connected him with officials in Liberia, which sparked multiple trips to bring basic and advanced fire and EMS equipment while providing command and tactics training. They started with an assessment of the country’s fire protection where they found one fire engine protecting a country the size of Ohio and firefighters using palm leaves and sand to douse fires. They had no PPE, little equipment, and no medical supplies.  
The two reflect on the desire of the Liberian firefighters to learn which lead to life-long relationships and a better prepared and equipped fire service. From equipment maintenance and firefighting tactics to how people treat each other, the Prillaman and Streich shared how this experience changed their lives. 
Resources: 
Fire Rescue Alliance 
Five Trumpet Advisors 
Shift Happens Journal  
Station Design Conference 
FireFusion 

Thursday Apr 25, 2024

Peter Matthews talks with Harrisburg, PA, Battalion Chief Brian Bastinelli about how firefighters and officers can show up for the job every day, and provides insight into his helmet camera videos posted on YouTube.  
Coming from a busy fire department, Bastinelli began capturing helmet camera videos to use for internal training and began editing them for all the fire service to watch and learn.  He shares how the videos captured made him aware of auditory exclusion on the fireground and how that’s improved him as an incident commander. 
The two talk about showing up for the job, and what that really means. Bastinelli says both firefighters and officers have a role in that mindset and explains how officers can ensure their members are ready, including the need to develop relationships to understand their needs and strengths  
Resources: 
Brian Bastinelli on YouTube 
Brian Bastinelli on LinkedIn 
Brian Bastinelli on Instagram 
The Alchemist  

Thursday Apr 04, 2024

Peter Matthews talks with former Fire Chief Jerry Streich about his work to help fire departments grow through the use of organizational development, plus a discussion on the recruitment and retention (R&R) programs he’s been involved with, including his upcoming Firehouse Station Design Conference program, “How Station Design Can Enhance Recruitment and Retention.”
Streich served as a fire chief in Minnesota’s Twin Cities region, and they discuss key myths and barriers in today’s fire service R&R, noting the time spent on the efforts is less than needed, while discussing leadership’s role in moving the dial forward. He relates a volunteer fire chief to holding a debit card on their members’ time to only withdraw the time, or hours, as needed.
The two discuss staffing models, funding/grants to help departments – both career and volunteer – grow their membership base.
Highlighting part of his upcoming Station Design Conference class, Streich explains how elements in fire station design elements can help attract new members and retain existing firefighters.
Wrapping up the show, Streich talks about his newly released “Shift Happens Journal” - a series of books designed to help firefighters, officers and chiefs, along with EMS, healthcare and law enforcement take notes from their shifts, assess their mental health and note key points for discussion and follow up.
Resources: 
Can Station Design Enhance Recruitment and Retention? 
Capstone 
Minnesota Firefighter Initiative (MnFIRE) 
USFireHire 
Shift Happens Journals 
Station Design 
 

Monday Mar 18, 2024

Firehouse Editor-in-Chief Peter Matthews talks with Craig Haigh, retired Hanover Park, IL, fire chief who continues to teach and consult on various fire service topics.
From coordinating regional response policies with small- and mid-size departments, to having the honest conversations about when departments need to transition to staffing and operational models that fit their communities current and future needs, Haigh shares his experience with moving agencies forward and how to lay that foundation. His experiences also come from a period when he was interim village manager.
He was involved in various research projects, including firefighter health with Dr. Denise Smith and fireground operations with the Illinois Fire Service Institute. Haigh explains why departments need to get involved what research has been done for the first service in the last two decades.
Haigh also offers highlights from his book, The Dynamic Fire Chief: Principles for Organizational Management and suggests his favorite book for our listeners.
Wrapping up the show, Haigh shares three takeaways on retiring from the fire service.
Resources:  
Craig Haigh on LinkedIn  
The Dynamic Fire Chief: Principles for Organizational Management 
It's the Manager: Moving From Boss to Coach Hardcover 
National Firefighter Registry  

Wednesday Mar 06, 2024

Peter Matthews talks Capt. Gary Coney from Chicago Squad 2 and retired Chicago Fire Commissioner Bob Hoff about the rollout of the new Responder Intervention Team (RIT) Chief course being offered by the Illinois Fire Service Institute on the new episode of The Firehouse Yak.
This is the first hands-on course for chief officers that digs into mayday incidents from the command level with topics including the branches of RIT command, accountability, managing the fire vs. managing the mayday, downed firefighter rescue skills and the aftermath of a RIT deployment. This 50-hour class includes classroom sessions and multiple hands-on scenarios with many sets and reps that allow the small classes to get intense and realistic training.
The course, Coney and Hoff explain, was designed from lessons pulled from multiple mayday scenarios they were directly involved with and incidents from across the country that resulted in serious firefighter injuries, or tragic deaths. The program has been tested by incident commanders from departments large and small, and promises to challenge each participant to sharpen their skills should they command a mayday.
         Gary Coney                    Bob Hoff
Resources:
Illinois Fire Service Institute 
Responder Intervention Team (RIT) Chief 
Responder Intervention Team (RIT) Chief Syllabus 

Tuesday Feb 20, 2024

Peter Matthews talks with recently promoted Nashville Fire Department Assistant Chief/Chief of Training Moses Jefferies IV about his new role in training and the evolution of training in a young department and growing city, plus his “TIC for leadership” mindset.
As the city of Nashville grows, building construction, operating guidelines and training practices have been evolved to keep up with myriad fire service challenges and he shares how the department keeps members trained for the next call, plus some early goals for growth at the academy.
Jefferies shares the background of his leadership development program, “The TIC for Leadership,” with TIC meaning: transparency, integrity and consistency with a focus on communication and character as a leader.
They also talk about his commitment to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, including the emerging leaders program, as an instructor of leadership and safety programs and as a champion for the NFFF’s programs at the state and local level.
Resources:
Moses Jefferies IV on LinkedIn
Nashville Christmas Day Explosion with Fire Chief William Swann
National Fallen Firefighters Foundation – Everyone Goes Home

Wednesday Feb 07, 2024

Firehouse Editor-in-Chief Peter Matthews is joined by AJ Kehl, who currently serves as fire chief of the Misawa Air Base in Japan. Kehl, a Master Seargent, is an author and speaker who has worked in 75 countries.
Kehl, talks about how military-trained firefighters manage their duties as both military soldiers and firefighters and how they manage training and duties for both roles. He also highlights skills and actions that the fire service has learned from the military, and attributes the military has picked up from the fire service over the years.
They talk about his instrumental role in connecting the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation with the Department of Defense to death benefits to fallen members, but also an offering of firefighter safety, training, and leadership programs and how they introduce those programs around the world.
As a veteran of the military who wanted to pursue education and seek promotional opportunities, Kehl talks about this book, “My Rich Uncle: An Informal Guide to Maximizing Your Enlistment.” He wrote the book to help members find the myriad benefits that they are eligible for. He also shares tips and advice for joining the military to find a career in the fire service, including obtaining needed training requirements.
Resources:
My Rich Uncle: An Informal Guide to Maximizing Your Enlistment – link https://www.amazon.com/My-Rich-Uncle-Maximizing-Enlistment/dp/161121467X
AJ Kehl on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrewkehladdsvalue

Tuesday Jan 23, 2024

Firehouse Editor-in-Chief Peter Matthews sits down with Marc Aloan, who was recently promoted to battalion chief with the West Columbia, SC, Fire Department. Aloan, a champion of firefighting culture and tradition, talks about the transition from company officer to chief and shares what he has learned over the last couple months.
The two talk about Aloan journey from the volunteer fire service and military to joining the career fire service and how experience and education prepared him for his current role.
Finishing up the show, Aloan shares advice for firefighters looking for firefighting jobs in in the Southeast and how it varies from the Northeast where he is from.
Resources:
The Fire Inside
First Due: Preserving the Calling
First Due: The Engine Bay—One of Our Best Traditions

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Firehouse

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