Fire Department Cyber Security Basics

The City of Riverside, OH Fire Department was hit twice in Spring 2018 with cyberattacks that wiped out department data. Pawtucket, RI Fire Department computers were hacked in June 2019, interfering with dispatch and potentially compromising data. Smaller government entities, often less protected and just as valuable, are increasingly becoming targets of cyber attacks. That means fire departments must think about cyber security. Here are the basics elements to know to better protect your fire department today. 

Firefighters: What’s in Your Gear Pockets? Here’s My Answer.

We have been asked several times what we carry in our gear - AKA “what’s in your pockets?” I try to keep it simple. What are the most important items I will need if the next run is a working fire? The image above shows what I carry on the outside - wooden wedge on the left side. Right side flashlight, knife and elevator keys.

Free Online Fire Department Resource (VFIS)

Volunteer Firemen’s Insurance Services, Inc., better known as VFIS, recently activated a new one-stop-shop online resource for fire departments - ResponderHelp. Free of charge, VFIS has consolidated a vast library of resources, ranging from sample standard operating guidelines (SOGs), technical bulletins by industry experts, checklists, informational flyers, and articles/research papers on a variety of fire service topics.

Firefighter Tool Modification: Halligan w/ A Rex Tool

For this tool modification, I started with a 24’ Fire Hooks Unlimited (FHU) ProBar. I cut the pike off and added a Rex Tool in its place. This tool modification provides a firefighter with a decent size bar for forcible entry and pulling locks.

Fire Department Exit Survey

The departure of a firefighter provides an often missed opportunity for valuable data collection. Through conducting exit surveys with each departure, both career and volunteer fire departments gain a final opportunity to receive critical insight about how firefighters perceived their experience with the department. Here is how to get an exit survey started in your fire department.

FD Story: Five Things My Mom Taught Me About the Fire Service

In the 1980’s, my mom dreamed of becoming a firefighter for the City of Hartford, Connecticut. She passed the required tests, but due to life changes at the time, was not able to complete the final step and get on the job. About twenty five years later, that passion to be a firefighter still burned brightly. Three months after I joined my volunteer fire department, my mom joined too at the age of 45. While father-son firefighting duos are pretty common in fire departments, less common are mother-son teams, and I couldn’t have been more proud to serve alongside her. We completed Firefighter I together and had a solid decade protecting our community as part of a great fire department. To this day, I am still inspired by having had the opportunity…

Teaching Major Fire History

Passing on history is important because “those who do not know the past are condemned to repeat it.” This is of particular relevance to us firefighters as most of our fire codes and standards were developed in reaction to tragedy. When I was a junior firefighter, our Chief developed an excellent program for teaching the history of major fires and their impact on today’s landscape. He wrote the names of 15 to 20 major fires on pieces of paper and put them in a bowl. We each drew the name of a fire out of the bowl and were instructed to research what, where, and when the fire occurred, as well as standards, codes, and tactics attributed to it. At the start of each subsequent dril…

Secure the Garage Door

Secure the Garage Door

Garage doors play a significant role in firefighting operations. They may function as a primary entry/egress point for interior operations. They could serve as our secondary building access. Given the nature of their use, the garage itself is often the location of the fire or hazard we’re responding to. In any case, however, the garage door can also become a major hazard. Heat from fire can damage and melt the springs, causing the door to release without warning. Garage doors can be extremely heavy and this release can cause life threatening injuries or trap firefighters engaged in fire suppression operations.Be sure to secure the garage door if you need it open, even if the springs are completely intact. Here are a few ways to secure the door.

Know Hose Bed Size

Familiarize yourself with the size of your apparatus hose bed and know how much hose you have stored. For example, if you need 100 feet of 2 1/2-inch hose line and know the bed is 10 feet deep, you know you need to pull ten lengths. You’ll grab five folds of fire hose and unload…

Internal Firefighter Survey (4 Ways)

Firefighters love to complain, providing fire department decision makers with plenty of anecdotal information. But how can we implement a new standard operating procedure or make major changes to personnel programs while lacking concrete, defendable data? We often operate in a silo about our own fire department when we make decisions with lasting impact. To better understand your department, use a survey to collect credible data.

Fire Department Social Media Resources

It’s critical that if your fire department is going to have a social media presence, accounts are active and maintain a steady stream of content. You can’t just post during fundraising events or to garner support for the Town budget vote. Here are some great resources for social media content that you can use on your fire department social media accounts.

FD Story: Five Lessons My Grandfather Taught About the Fire Service

My grandfather, Jerry Levitan, Sr, was a volunteer firefighter in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania for over twenty years. He didn’t start his firefighting career until he was 48 years old, completing fire academy training with recruits 25 years younger. He went on to have a successful tenure, serving as captain, lead instructor for department driver training, and as a trustee on his department’s executive board. Here are the five most important lessons my grandfather taught me about the fire service.

Halligan Carry Idea

Every call it seems there is a point when you end up with more gear than hands or need to accomplish a task that requires you to put your halligan down. But ditching your halligan, even briefly, could result in it being stolen on-scene by the second due crew! Here’s a solution for carrying a firefighter halligan.

Fire Department Ultimate Frisbee

Our volunteer department started playing pickup ultimate Frisbee one Saturday per month from May to October. We create a schedule at our April meeting, post it on the bulletin board in our meeting room, and email it out to all the members. There are a few ultimate Frisbee fans on the department who had been meeting up behind the firehouse randomly a few times per month for a pickup game. We proposed making it a formal activity for the department two years ago and it’s been a success.