Tuesday, October 8, 2013


It has been a while since we have had a chance to post anything. Both Zach and I have both been busy with work, family, and all that comes with that. As I write this I realize that that we started this blog one year ago last week. It is crazy how an idea in your head can transform into something bigger and connect with so many people that you have never meet but share the bond of brotherhood. We are not where we want to be yet but slowly but surely getting there. On a personal note, October 1st marked my 13th year in the fire service, and I'm very proud of that.

Speaking of time and how things can change brings up something that has been on my mind for a while now, but not had the time to write about it until now. 7 months ago my department went from being a 100% volunteer department to a combination department. In a previous post I wrote about growing pains and how it was going to be a big adjustment for everyone.

In the last 7 months morale has dropped to an all time low, turnout has fallen off the map among the volunteers, and training has fallen by the wayside.  I for one, and I'm ashamed to say it, am disgruntled. I feel like those that volunteer have been pushed to the back burner and all the focus has been put on the full time guys. I know I'm not the only one that feels this way either.

As a Captain, I feel like rank and chain of command mean nothing anymore. Things that I used to take care of have now been handed off to others, and things that I should know about I find out through the grapevine. Now to be fair I will not put all the blame on others. I realize that a lot has gone into the switch from one type of department to the other and certain things need to to be done. Maybe some of the blame is mine and my disgruntledness has gotten the best of me. I feel as though mine and a lot of others hard work and dedication over the years has been forgotten.

I have been to the point where I wanted to give up rank and to the point where I just wanted to turn all my gear in and walk away completely, but my passion for the job won't let me, I love it to much. I have given 13 years of service to this community and don't want to stop. I sometimes let my emotions get the best of me, but at the end of the day I can't walk away. 

I know that time has a way of working things out. I hope so in this case. I want to see the department back the way it was 13 years ago when I joined. I want to see the morale go back up, pride, ownership and passion return. I need to be better myself. I can start with me and maybe it will be contagious and we can get back on track. Only time will tell.

Until next time,
Y'all be safe

Monday, July 8, 2013

"I Will Give My All For....."

There is a sign above the door in the University of Tennessee football locker room. The sign reads "I Will Give My All for Tennessee Today". It is the last thing the players see as the exit the locker room and enter the tunnel to take the field. All the players touch it as they go under making a promise to give there all for their teammates, school, fans, and state on any given Saturday.

As a life long Vols fan, I have seen this sign many times. I never really thought a great deal about it until I saw it on a bumper sticker sitting at a red light the other day. As I thought more about while driving behind this vehicle, this should be us as a fire service. Are we (you) giving our all for our station, department, citizens, etc?

I am not talking about giving your life, we are all wiling to do that, its a given when you sign up for the job. I am talking about giving your very best, to the best of your ability, day in and day out for the profession. Do you come in ready for work or just show up cause its your day in the barrel? Are you checking equipment to make sure its ready to go or just assuming because it was there yesterday it is there today?

Do you come in and ho hum around, no desire to train, workout, or make sure you and your crew are ready  at the drop of a hat? Do you spend the day doing recliner Olympics? If  this sounds familiar then you are not giving your all. You owe it to your family, crew, department, citizens and most importantly yourself to make a change.

I will be the first to admit that I am pointing the finger directly at myself on this one. I am guilty of not giving my all as of late. Some things have happened that left a bad taste in my mouth, and instead of working through it I just threw my hands up and sit back. It was not what I should have done as an officer, but taking a step back allowed me to see that I was failing and not giving my very best. I have changed something's both personally and professionally, not only for my benefit but those around me.

So the question is, are you giving your all or just enough to get by? If you are doing just enough to get by, maybe you need to look for something else to do, or maybe you just need to sit down and evaluate what needs to be done and work on changing it. Like I stated before, this is mainly for me and my experience but maybe it helps someone else needing a little pick me up. We should all strive to wake up everyday and say "today,I will give my all".

Until next time, y'all stay safe

Saturday, May 18, 2013

National Police Week

I know I'm coming in on this at the end of the week, but trying to play catch up on a few things. This past week was National Police Week. I know not something that you think you would see coming from a firefighting blog, but I for want to say THANK YOU to the boys in blue.

We all like to give the cops a hard time, and we have all heard or said the famous cliche`s that exist about firemen being the cops heroes and if you cant stand the heat become a cop. All joking aside, i have been on many scenes where i was glad to see blue lights coming down the road.

I have a personal stake in this as well. My youngest brother is a Sheriffs Deputy. Now you can imagine in a firefighting family that he gets picked on a lot. He was dropped on his head ,intentionally, a lot when he was a child so that could explain his career decision lol. He was a firefighter for a while but decided that law enforcement was what he really wanted to do and I couldn't be more proud of him.

I know when it comes to Firefighters and Cops that we don't always see eye to eye, but they are out there laying there ass on the line the same as us to protect the citizens in which they serve. Take the time to say thanks to your fellow law enforcement officers because whether you want to admit it or not we need them just as much as they need us. We are all on the same team.

A special thanks to Deputy Tory Womack and his
K-9 partner Trucker for keeping us safe. Be Safe
Deputy Tory Womack and K-9 Trucker visit a local school

Until next time, y'all stay safe

Monday, May 6, 2013

Great Leaders...

Hey everybody, hope you are all doing well. We are doing great here, just trying to stay dry with all the rain we have been having.

Who can be a leader/company officer? Anybody can I suppose. Just because someone is does not make them a good one though. What makes a good leader/officer? I would say that there is several characteristics, qualities, and more that one must possess to be good. Drive, attitude, heart (as we recently learned about in Captain Wines article which can be found here You Can't Teach Heart ), empathy and more are a few things I think a good leader possess. I also believe that before anyone can become a good leader that must first master the art of being a follower.

While we are on duty we expect our leaders and officers to teach us everything we need to know to do our jobs, especially after they are retired and gone. We sit around the table discussing fire this and rescue that to sharpen our knowledge to become better firefighters. They will do more than that however if you will really listen and pay attention to them. A great leader will pass things on to you that help you become a better person in your life on and off the job.

Just remember that when your leaders and officers tell you to " Take an old man's advice " you probably should start taking notes. Chances are what they will tell you won't even have anything to do with the fire service but just about life itself. Don't be afraid to ask them questions either, I bet most have been in a similar situation themselves at some point in life. If your officer is one that teaches you the things to succeed on and off the job you probably have a great leader.

Until next time, Be Safe!

New Product

Check out these new boots from Thorogood!  The Hellfire Knockdown Elite. If anybody would like to send me a pair I will gladly wear them lol. You can find more information @ www.weinbrennerusa.com

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    Tuesday, April 30, 2013

    Make It Work

    As I write this, I am sitting outside the school in the car line waiting to pick my daughter up. I have just awaken from a brief sleep after working a 12 hours night shift in dispatch and 3 more nights coming up. My wife is in day 1 of technical rope rescue at the academy, the calendar keeps filling up, and its only Monday! Not complaining, there is a point.

    My shift consist of 7-12 hour night shifts followed by 7 days off. My wife works 24/48 shift. Add in overtime shifts, training, and all the things we can't say no to, and time seems to fly, and this is just work related. Throw in the adult things we have to do at home like cutting the grass, laundry, dishes, cleaning, and all the fun stuff, there is no time. Now factor in our 6 year old, her school schedule and activities, t-ball practice and games, and her want to do list, and I am looking for a way to fabricate time! (I wouldn't trade it though)

    I know everyone feels overwhelmed at times with the lack of time they have. I know everyone's time is valuable and you cram the most into whatever open time you can find, trying to accomplish all your goals and all the things everyone else wants and needs of you.

    So the question is, how do we make it work? Best answer I have found is, we just do! We are firefighters, nothing we do is easy. We adapt to the situation and choose the right tactics to get the job done. The same goes for our personal lives as well. We shift and adjust things around to make things work for the good of ourselves and our families. We may miss a ball game here and there, show up late for dinner or family function, or put off cutting the grass until next week, just to get everything in and still function normally.(whatever normal is)

    Time away from work is important, but not always easy to come by. Family is the most important thing, so do whatever it takes to make the time to spend with them even when it seems there is none. Making things work is what we do no matter what the situation.

    Until next time, y'all be safe

    Thursday, April 4, 2013

    Get Fit, Make it Fun!

    Good afternoon, welcome back to Hooligans and Halligans. We hope you all are doing well.

    Every year firefighters die from cardiac related emergencies. Most of these deaths occur during or shortly after a fire or training event.  Heart Attack/Heart Disease is and has been the number one killer of firefighters since LODD’s started being recorded.

    We all know a lot of this is due to the stress we are exposed to. The rush of adrenaline, going form 0 to 90 in only seconds and performing at full throttle in extreme conditions with no rest for extended periods of time. All of this is done while wearing an extra 65-100 pound of gear and equipment.

    To add to this not every firefighter is in the best of health or shape. Although round is a shape it is a bad one for firefighters to be in. It is common among firefighters to not have good eating or fitness habits.  Another issue leading to bad health among firefighters is alcohol and tobacco use.

    Now I am not a health and fitness coach and I am not in the shape I want to be in… yet. I am working on that. I have only been working my present job for 6 months. Before working for the fire department I worked for my local EMS agency. It was a really busy agency and we ate a lot of fast food, was not required to do fitness so I rarely ever did and it was a really stressful place to work. I was placed on medication for High Blood Pressure about 7 months ago, just right before leaving EMS.  Since I have been at the fire department I have lost a little weight, been able to stop taking my blood pressure medication and am getting in shape. I contribute this to being required to do fitness each shift. It goes further than that though.

    Like I said, our department policy states that each shift we do an hour of some sort of PT. We have weights, tread mills, exercise bikes, etc. It was the same mundane workouts using the same muscle groups and movements. I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere. However that has changed within the last month. Our department came into some money through a donation and was able to afford to send 2 firefighters to become cross fit instructors and purchase a large amount of cross fit equipment.

    Cross fit incorporates 10 aspects of fitness into one exercise. If you are not familiar with it you can research it at www.crossfit.com. Cross fit has made fitness fun. Not only is it helping us get into shape but also, it is building morale and camaraderie while allowing us to have a little healthy competition. The short burst of work at high intensity make you push yourself and your brother firefighters are there to push and motivate you as well. Along with cross fit workouts there are also some diets that are recommended to follow. These include eating lean cuts of meat, a lot of vegetables, some fruit, nuts and seeds. This allows you to cut out fast foods, processed foods, high sugary foods, etc. All the stuff that taste good but is bad for you haha. You can research paleo (caveman) diet, zone diet, and primal diet for more info on these. They can be hard to follow and my suggestion is to ease into he one that is best for you.

    Cross fit workouts also use a lot of the movement we are required to do on the fire ground. I believe if we train for fitness using the parts of our body like we do on the fire scene, which is every single part we were made with, then we can reduce injury. Also maintaining a healthy level of diet and fitness will allow us to act faster, safer, better. Allow us to make better, clearer decisions, and be a better firefighter all the way around. We can work smarter not harder when we are fit for duty.

    Whatever your department does or don’t do for fitness I would suggest you look into cross fit and give it a try. It will make fitness fun I promise. I also see cross fit becoming the main fitness program for the fire service as many fire departments have and are adopting it as their primary PT. A few places you can check out for more info and workouts are:

    There are also a few pages on www.facebook.com including first in, last out, health and fitness. The Internet is endless so research it, apply it, and change your life for the better.

    The main goal at the end of the day is for EVERYBODY TO GO HOME!!!!

    Brothers and sisters, be safe! 

    Sunday, March 31, 2013

    30 years...

    Happy Easter everybody, I hope you all had a wonderful day.  I enjoyed the day spending time with family and celebrating the life of Jesus Christ. It was a wonderful day.

    On April 1st, 1983 my dad began his career as a paid firefighter. Tomorrow he will celebrate 30 years of service to the citizens of our town.  He has been through good times, bad times, all those in between times… you name it. As you read in my previous post he has also had the health issues he has battled. What is most amazing to me though is through it all he has never stopped loving the job and even on the worst days he still showed up.

    He began just like all of us, a backwards riding Firefighter, also had his EMT license but that wasn’t really recognized until later on in his career.  In the mid to late 80’s he began doing public education for local schools and daycares and became quite involved with that. In the early 90’s, he was promoted to Lieutenant and placed in the admin division as the Public Education Officer.

    Over the years he has taught thousands and thousands of children and adults from schools to the workplace about fire and life safety. He has become one of the most famous people in our town. He can still walk through a store and hear people yelling “ Fireman Bruce “.

    He still holds the rank of Lieutenant/EMT/Public Education Officer and his duties also now include being the department PIO and we will also say go to man for anything that breaks lol. Usually that has to do with computers or communications equipment though.

    As I sit hear tonight and think about it the thing I keep thinking about over and over is in 30 years what have his eyes seen? What has changed in 30 years? And, if there is anything at all that he could change about his career up to this point what would it be and why?

    I know if he could remember everything he could write a book a mile long. 30 years of knowledge and experience is priceless. I am still young and beginning my career and I ask him questions every day about the job. I am a sponge right now and I believe that you have to know where your department has been to understand why you are where you are today and make the decisions to lead you into the future.

    To all you young guys out there, if there is anybody around your department that has 20-30 years or more on the job you need to asking them every question and learn possible thing you can from them today because tomorrow you will be the guy with 30 years and the rookie will be looking at you saying, “ What all have you seen in 30 years, what has changed?”

    Now to the senior guys, teach your rookies everything they need to know. They are looking up to you and depending on you. They are the guys that will be replacing you. You want them to keep your department going strong. You need to leave it better than it was when you began.

    30 years… I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for me in the next 30 years of my career. I look forward to every moment I get to be a firefighter!

    Dad… congratulations on 30 years of service. With no plans of retiring soon you still get plenty of time to keep teaching me. Thanks for introducing me to the greatest job on earth and I am honored to follow in your footsteps. I hope I make you as proud in my career as I am of you and what you have accomplished in yours.

    Be safe!

    Thursday, March 14, 2013

    Making Memories...

                Hello everybody, it has been awhile since we last posted so I decided since I had some free time for the first time in a while I would try to throw something together. Here lately I have had a little something on my mind so I will share that with you all.

                In November of 2000 I was beginning my career in the fire service as an explorer with my local volunteer department, my older brother had just joined up as a member of the department, and my now sister-in-law was somewhere along that time frame of joining too.  My brother and I were working on following our dad’s footsteps and excited to do so. Dad was so proud that we were joining up and wanted to do what he does.

                One night on a mutual aid fire, while I was still an explorer, I got the opportunity to do some firefighting with my dad. The fire had occurred at a local lumberyard and they had knocked the fire down but were digging through the hot spots. They decided it wouldn’t hurt to let me get in and dig with them… I am glad they did. You see, that was the first and last time I ever got to do that with my dad, my brothers never got the chance. Not because he passed, but because he received some terrible news and diagnosis with his health and was diagnosed with stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  You can bet that I have never forgotten that night though.

                Some time had passed and the doctors decided to do a bone marrow test to see if the cancer had spread to it or not. The day they did the test they took a piece of bone from his backside, they also told him no more firefighting. NO MORE…. WTF!!! That night there was a large carpet store fire across town. He asked me to drive him over there so he could at least watch. Before we arrived they had called for mutual aid from my volunteer department. When we arrived there he told me, “ Get your stuff on and go do your thing!” I did, but then later I returned to check on him. I found him sitting on the hood of a police car and could tell before I got there that there were huge tears in his eyes. That is another night I will never forget.

                Having to see him sit there and know he could never do again what he loved so much was probably one of the hardest things I will ever see in my entire life. If you have never experienced it with family, a co-worker, close friend, whatever, I hope you never have to. As you all know we live, eat, breathe, and sleep fire. That was he also.

                Another issue that hurt was he was told because the chemo would weaken his immune system that he could no longer go into the schools and teach fire prevention classes. That’s his job; he is the Public Fire/Life Safety Education Coordinator. So, BOOM, everything comes to a halt in the blink of an eye. He however overcame this. Kicked its ass!

                After he beat it he was released to start teaching in schools again, could respond to fires (without active firefighting), could get back into a groove. That is what he has done too. Has had a few health issues here and there but has been to work nearly every day even when he was feeling a little under the weather. The man is unstoppable.  The day he got released was a memorable day.

                The last memory I want to share happened just the other day; last shift actually. In October I was hired at the department dad works at, the department I had grown up around. Until last shift I hadn’t caught a working fire yet. But, that all ended the other night. Right as we were preparing dinner at the station we caught a structure fire. We responded, put the fire out, and as I exited the building to doff my equipment the first person I seen standing at the bottom of the steps was my dad, smiling at me with a smile that was full of pride, joy, and love. You guessed it; I will never forget that.

                Not everybody is as fortunate as I am to get to work with his or her father, mother, brother, etc. If you are however, never forget the memories you get to make together on the job. There will come a day when you won’t be able to anymore.  I just started and dad will have 30 years on April 1st. he has no plans of retiring soon but I know he will one day which means I have to be making the best of time and get in as many memories as I can with him on the job.

                Thanks for taking the time to read this post and letting me share this with you.

    Be Safe!!! 

    Friday, February 15, 2013

    Growing Pains

    March 1st, 2013 will be a big day for my department. This day will be the first shift for the paid members of our department. We have had an all volunteer department since 1977. A combination department is something we never thought would happen. We have worked for years to get paid members and have always been shut down.
    So what now? Are things really going to change that much from the department I have known for 13 years? I am sure they are, but for the better...I hope. S.O.P changes across the board, restructure of  some duties for the personnel, and finally addressing issues that have been put on the back burner because of lack of time or people to do them are some positives coming from this. With the positives are also going to come the negatives. The hurt feelings by those that don't end up getting a paid position, the egos or power trips between the paid and volunteer members, and the " it's not my job" mentality that some are going to have are just a few negatives. We are going to have to work through them all and change the negatives into positives.
    Is the transition going to be all lollipops and rainbows? I don't think so, but it will all work out if we make it work. Some people are going get mad and feeling will be hurt. We all have to remember that we are all in it for the same reason. We are still a family and just like any family we are going to have growing pains. My hope is it will bring us closer together as a department. We will see but we can only get better.

    Until next time, be safe

    Tuesday, January 29, 2013

    Are you prepared?

    At a recent fire department meeting our Chief had everybody stand up and move against the wall if they would be retiring due to meeting their required years of service or meeting the cities retirement age requirement within the next 10 years. As I looked around I noticed the wall was full.  Counting them up there is 21 people who will be retiring. To fill these positions it will take 41 promotions. There is going to be some major changes in our department and the impact will be huge.

    Moving these 21 men to the wall and looking around at the other members it is very easy to see we are a very young and inexperienced department without the guys that are nearing the end of their careers. As a matter of fact at least 50% of our department has 5 years or less on the job. Which has got me thinking that we are already behind when it comes to preparing to become the next leaders of our department.

    Today fires in a lot of areas are few and far between. Due to advancements in fire retardant construction materials, sprinklers both commercial and residential, codes enforcement, public fire safety programs, and many other factors fire just don’t happen like they did 20-30 years ago. Fires today are also different in the way they burn. They are hotter and burn faster than fires of the past, mainly due to materials involved such as synthetics.

    Today’s firefighters will not see the fires that the firefighters of the past have seen.  That is why the experience, knowledge, and tactics to name a few that we will lose over the next 10 years are so invaluable.  No matter what we do now to prepare us for the future we can still never make up for what we are losing as these guys retire. We must start preparing ourselves right now to step up and become the leaders we need to be to take our department into the future, because we are the future and its rapidly sneaking upon us. This is the time we should make ourselves like a sponge to absorb everything that the experienced guys can teach us and pass on. 

    We must also look at where the fire service is going and how the types of calls we respond to in the future will be different than today. Think about the future of lightweight construction, sprinkler requirements, automobiles, etc. The list of all this could go on. To know where we are going though we have to understand where we have been and then make the necessary changes.

    This is not a problem that is only effecting my department, this is, has been, and will be going on all over the country. As my chief stated to us… “ It is up to you to decide where you want to be in this department and then make it happen. Prepare yourself today because tomorrow you will be the one calling the shots.”

    Are you prepared?

    Be Safe!