News

What are the Current OSHA/PESH Training Requirement for Firefighters: A Review

August 17th, 2021

Are your firefighters taking their annual OSHA/PESH training, and if not, who do you think is going to answer for the lack of training if something unfortunate happens to one of your members?  You, the Board of Fire Commissioners.

The pertinent OSHA/PESH requirements which require annual refresher training are those designed to maintain proficient firefighter knowledge, skills and abilities in according to 29 CFR (Code of Federal Regulation) 1910.156(c)(2) and increase overall firefighter safety in accordance with other applicable OSHA/PESH standards.

What is PESH?  PESH is the Public Employee Safety and Health division of the NYS Department of Labor.  The Public Employee Safety and Health Bureau (PESH), created in 1980, enforces safety and health standards promulgated under the United States Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and several state standards.  Public sector employers include:

  • State
  • County
  • Town
  • Village governments
  • Public Authorities
  • School Districts
  • Paid and Volunteer Fire Departments

The Public Employee Safety and Health Bureau responds to:

  • Deaths related to occupational safety and health
  • Accidents that send two or more public employees to the hospital
  • Complaints from public employees or their representatives

The Public Employee Safety and Health Bureau also:

  • Inspects public employer work sites
  • Gives technical assistance during statewide emergencies

The OSHA/PESH required annual training for all fire departments both career and volunteer is conducted so that all members can demonstrate knowledge and proficiency in the topics required.  Those topics include; Hazardous Materials/Emergency Response, Respiratory Protection, Blood Borne Pathogen, Right to Know, Workplace Violence and Fire Extinguishers (if required to use them) which most firefighters are required to do at some point of their career.

In addition to the above required training, OSHA/PESH Standard 29 CFR 1910.156(c)(2) requires that Fire Department Training Programs be designed to address annually the proficiency of each member’s knowledge and abilities as it relates to that member’s expected assignment. Such assignments may include Exterior Firefighter, Interior Firefighter, Apparatus Operator, Fire Officer/Incident Commander and Fire Training Officer. The annual refresher training should be comprised of current content and of sufficient duration so that each member can demonstrate knowledge and abilities in their assigned duties. It is important to maintain documentation of all training conducted to comply with these requirements While no specific time is allotted to the annual training or specific topics, this clarification is not intended to shorten the previously established timeframe, but to provide you with the flexibility to adjust the length of time spent on specific topics that your department feels are more or less necessary.

The OFPC Best Practices for Fire Department Training Programs document outlines subject matter that can be considered for annual refresher training for each member’s expected assignment. Fire Departments must document each member’s annual proficiency training to maintain knowledge, skills and ability proficiencies as related to that member’s expected assignment. This annual refresher requirement does not take into account special operations or activities that would exceed the requirements for this refresher training and should be considered separately based on the needs of the firefighters assigned to those activities.

Suggestions: In addition to subject area topics discussed in a firefighter’s initial training, additional topics for annual refresher training may include those listed below. It is also important to maintain an awareness of current fire service trends and advancements as they relate to your Fire Department and response area.

Some suggested topics may include:

  • Hazard Recognition
  • Fire Station Safety,
  • Response Safety,
  • Fire Scene Safety,
  • Protective Clothing,
  • SCBA Use,
  • Tools and Equipment.

Summary: The overriding consideration when determining the appropriateness of fire service training intended to address annual firefighter refresher training is:

  • Does the training relate to the expected duties and assignments of the firefighter;
  • Does it provide a means to refresh or evaluate competencies the firefighter is expected to perform; and
  • Does the training increase the level of safety for the firefighter.

Volunteer Firefighter Cancer Benefit Program Improvements

August 15th, 2021

It’s a well-known fact that certain types of cancer are a health risk for firefighters. With that diagnosis come major costs. Thanks to the signing of GML-205CC, volunteer firefighters throughout New York State have been entitled to an enhanced cancer disability benefit insurance program provided by their fire district, department or company. It’s why the AFDSNY, FASNY and NYSAFC, have partnered with The Hartford to bring you a way to help protect our 110,000 volunteer firefighters and their families: the New York State Volunteer Firefighter Cancer Benefit program.

At the start of the program the following firefighters were eligible BUT read to the end, now even exterior volunteers can be covered:

  • Served at least 5 years as interior firefighter.
  • Passed a physical exam with no evidence of cancer upon entrance as a volunteer.
  • Pass 5 annual mask fit tests.

What Types of Cancer Are Covered under the Enhanced Plan?

  • Cancers affecting the prostate or breast; lymphatic, hematological, digestive, urinary, neurological or reproductive systems; and melanoma are covered by this policy. As required by New York law, lung cancer, mesothelioma, sarcomas, non-melanoma skin cancers, or certain cancers of the endocrine system are not covered by this policy.

What Types of Cancer Are Covered Under the Premium Plan?

  • All cancers are covered under the Premium Plan, as defined in the policy.

Coverage Amounts for Cancer (Lump-Sum Cancer)

  • $6,250 per diagnosis for less severe forms of cancer as defined in the policy.
  • $25,000 per diagnosis for more severe forms of cancer as defined in the policy.
  • $250 once per lifetime for non-melanoma skin cancer (under the Premium Plan only).

Coverage Amounts for Long-Term Disability

  • $1,500 per month
  • 36-month maximum

Death Benefit

  • $50,000

WHAT’S NEW?

  • For 2022, following discussions with Hartford Insurance, there will be a 15% decrease to the base and enhanced/premium plans.  This rate discount puts us at $132.50 for the base plan and $169 for the enhanced plan.
  • Contract Changes by Hartford Insurance:  The two changes approved by the NYS Department of Financial Services are: #1. allowing the AHJ to use any form of documentation to validate eligibility; and #2 allowing the AHJ to add exterior firefighters with five years of service…period, no other requirements!
  • Fire Districts should budget now to cover this expanded group, you will be receiving information in the near future and insurance agents across the state are being informed of the changes.

Compensation May Increase for Chair’s, Election Inspectors and Fire District Ballot Clerks

August 15th, 2021

On August 2, 2021 Governor Cuomo signed A6296 (Griffin)/ S4064 (Gaughran) into law as Chapter 347 of the Laws of 2021. This amendment of Town Law §175 increases the compensation permitted for fire district election board members. It increases the maximum pay for the chairmen, election inspectors and ballot clerks for fire district elections from $35 for a three-hour election and $50 for a longer election to a sum not to exceed $70 for a three-hour election and $100 for a longer election.  This amendment to Section 175 of Town Law shall take affect upon signing.

  1. The question was asked if this includes the workers who may come into the station to prepare the election rolls or to become familiar with the electronic voting machines and the answer is the law is silent on this matter and those workers could be compensated separately by a resolution of the Board.

Soliciting Competition for Professional Services

August 4th, 2021

Soliciting Competition for Professional Services

Tom Rinaldi, President AFD-CA

This article is being provided as an educational service for the fire districts represented by the Association of Fire Districts of the Capital Area.

Through the first seven months of 2021, the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) has issued 21 reports on audits they have performed on fire districts. The majority of them address the lack of oversight the board of fire commissioners has over financial activities (and the treasurer). However. two recent reports addressed the procurement of professional services and the perceived lack of competition sought in securing those professional services. The most recent was released in July, 2021. The OSC further addressed professional services procurement for all local governments in a report issued in July 2018. The Office of General Services also maintains a website specifically dedicated to procurement for municipalities. Links to these reports and resources are below.

We believe competition is good for the consumer and/or the taxpayers of a fire district. There are few options, it opens opportunities for vendors to seek their own interest and not that of the consumer. Without competition, there tends to be less innovation, higher prices, and a lack of customer service. On the other hand, competition keeps potential vendors sharp – they tend to pay more attention to the needs of fire districts and create products and services that will meet their needs at reasonable prices.

Generally, a fire district is not statutorily required to seek competition or use a request for proposal (RFP) process when seeking professional services. One exception is when hiring a certified public accountant to audit the fire district’s financial statements. Rather, a fire district is bound by its own adopted procurement policy, which each fire district should have based on their circumstances. The reports released by the State do not state that a fire district requires the use of an RFP process, but they do make it clear that a fire district should go through the process of seeking competition before awarding a professional service contract.

From our viewpoint, the challenge with using an RFP process when soliciting a professional service is that an RFP is generally about meeting a certain specification – can the proposer meet all the stated requirements (specifications) of the request. There is no opportunity for intangibles of value such as experience, diligence or dedication that are difficult to define in an RFP.  There are several inherent problems with using RFPs for professional services:

  1. Most times, the fire district doesn’t actually know what it wants (doesn’t know what it doesn’t know) and so the RFP is incomplete and/or inaccurate and may eliminate qualified vendors for unnecessary reasons.
  2. RFPs usually result in longer detailed contracts and if the fire district is unhappy, it is hard to make changes until the term of the contract expires, which could be as long as 5 years.
  3. Conversely, if the contract awarded through an RFP process is too short or vague, vendors may not bid as the effort isn’t worth it, and may result in unhappy customers as costs increase when customers realize what is really needed, adding more time and cost.
  4. Myriad of other reasons likely stemming from fire districts that are unable to define their specific needs.

When you as an individual make a purchase, you rarely make the purchase purely on specifications. In reality, most people buy a story. A story that typically makes them feel good about their purchase, in addition to the product meeting a certain specification. Apple is great at selling a story in order to get consumers to pay more for a phone that doesn’t offer significantly better benefits than other phones (or, the benefit it does offer are not that valuable to the consumer to justify the additional cost). In professional services, relationship, chemistry, loyalty and overall “fit” are very important in the decision-making process. However, when those factors are prioritized, it could lead to a fire district paying more or perhaps not getting all the services they could receive from a competing vendor. In other words, the story a fire district might tell itself about working with a certain professional (such as how long they’ve been a client or the good things that vendor might do for the fire service) may be preventing that fire district from getting a better experience elsewhere. Soliciting competition at least gives a fire district the opportunity to see if “your guy” is offering the best service at a reasonable (not always best) price.  While OSC may be looking for an RFP, what they are really looking for is the process, are you going through the process of determining if your fire district is getting the most bang for its buck, not because you like the company logo.

As a fire district commissioner, you should be looking closely at each of the vendors and the fees that they charge for the services they provide.  We can also learn from the guidance issued by OSC in their audit reports.  Fire districts should seek out vendors who want to partner with them and not lock in long term obligations so they can drive up billable hours.  Keeping professional services providers hungry and honest will discourage bad behavior.  A fire district should delineate clear expectations in writing, so a determination can be made at the end of each year if all services were provided and if they were performed adequately.

References:

Professional Service Procurement: Considerations for Local Officials

https://www.osc.state.ny.us/files/local-government/publications/pdf/professional-service-procurement.pdf

Local Government Management Guide – Seeking Competition in Procurement

https://www.osc.state.ny.us/files/local-government/publications/pdf/seekingcompetition.pdf

Bidding 101

https://ogs.ny.gov/procurement/bidding-101

Procurement for Municipalities

https://ogs.ny.gov/procurement/procurement-municipalities

Contact the NYS OSC Division of Local Government and School Accountability,

518-408-4934  or  at  localgov@osc.ny.gov

Capital Area Association of Fire Districts Picnic

July 31st, 2021

Our picnic at Gansevoort Fire Department went very well today, we had a happy crowd and as a matter of fact we are going to do it again next year.  Mark Saturday July 30th of 2022 for next year’s picnic at the Gansevoort Fire Department pavilion.  We want to thank Jim and Tom for their efforts to make this successful. Also kudos to Tony Hill for all his efforts to get members to respond and attend.  Thanks to Chaplain Fred Richards we have photos of the event.  While the crowd was small we all enjoyed some great summer food and each other’s company.  Make a note on your calendar and make plans for next year.  We have plenty of room, so lets make the crowd a bit larger next year.

 

We were joined by Elizabeth Henry from Fire Districts Mutual (FDM), thanks for joining us.  We hope that more of our Business Partners can join us next year.

Best of Luck to Jill Wiseman

July 22nd, 2021

Just when you think all is right with the world and things are falling into place you get derailed.  I don’t remember exactly when but a gracious lady was introduced to us by Mike Podolec fa commissioner from West Glenville Fire District.  Jill Wiseman was a commissioner, a firefighter and was willing to join the group and make contributions.  What a find I thought; was it to good to be true and yes it was.  While Jill was part of the group she spoke up, made valuable contributions and was obviously going to be a rising star.  Jill made the commitment to be an officer and was elected to the office of 2nd and subsequently 1st Vice President.  Recently Jill’s husband had landed a technology position in NYC and of course during the pandemic was able to work from home, something a lot of us have learned how to do.  Then Jill’s mom was alone out in Oklahoma (Oklahoma?), which is not over the river or through the woods, and her and her husband decided to move to OK to take care of Jill’s mom.  I admire the fact that they were able to escape from the land of high taxes and questionable politicians, but the Capital Area has lost a valuable contributor who I think had a great future and I’m sure is also a loss to West Glenville Fire District.  We wish Jill and her family all the best and it was a pleasure to have her in our lives while she was here.  We will miss her and all the contributions that she made to not only our organization but to all of the fire districts that belong to the Capital Area.  Safe travels and all the best in the future, we will miss you don’t forget your friends back here in New York.

CoVid Update, Take Precautions

July 22nd, 2021

Public Health reports steady increases in COVID cases in much of the State (https://www.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/e56ae5bf0064452fb7b6aa2933f79f8e).

To maintain operational readiness of our law enforcement, fire, and EMS services, it is essential that everyone be aware of current DOH recommendations for exposures and quarantines.  Here are the key points:

  1. Any person with COVID signs/symptoms should be tested for COVID, whether they are

fully vaccinated or not. See a local provider that can do a rapid COVID tests for people with symptoms. Other test sites: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/find-test-site-nearyou. If the COVID test is negative, the person can return to duty (and work) once their symptoms go away.

  1. People who test positive for COVID are quarantined by Public Health for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status. While COVID infection is extremely unlikely in fully vaccinated people, no vaccine is 100% effective. Vaccinated people who contract COVID experience milder illness and are less likely to infect others.
  2. Unvaccinated people exposed to COVID (defined as unmasked contact within 6 feet of a COVID positive person for 15+ minutes in any 24-hour period) are placed on 10-day quarantine by Public Health, unless they have recently recovered from COVID. Fully vaccinated people without COVID symptoms are not subject to quarantine following an exposure; they are advised to self-monitor for COVID signs/symptoms for 14 days.
  3. As cases continue to climb, vaccination becomes increasingly important for continued operations of emergency services. Exposures will happen. Vaccinated people are not subject to quarantine following an exposure, unless ill. Vaccines are readily available: https://www.vaccines.gov/search/.

DOH Guidance: Quarantine for Community Persons Exposed to CoVid 19

update-interim-guidance-for-community-exposure-quarantine_042221

 

 

2022 Tax Cap will be Two Percent (2%)

July 17th, 2021

Property tax levy growth will be capped at 2% for 2022 for local governments that operate on a calendar-based fiscal year, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced today. This figure affects tax cap calculations for all counties, towns, and fire districts, as well as 44 cities and 13 villages.

“Allowable tax levy growth will be limited to 2% for a third time in four years for local governments with calendar fiscal years,” DiNapoli said. “As the economy recovers from the pandemic, local governments have seen some revenues rebound and have benefited from one-time federal financial assistance. At the same time, the risk of inflationary cost increases and the need for investments that will stimulate economic growth and fund essential services may lead to challenging budget decisions ahead.”

The tax cap, which first applied to local governments and school districts in 2012, limits annual tax levy increases to the lesser of the rate of inflation or 2% with certain exceptions, including a provision that allows municipalities to override the tax cap.

The 2% cap for the 2022 fiscal year is the third time since 2019 that municipalities with a calendar year fiscal year (Jan. 1 through Dec. 31) had their levy growth capped at that amount. In 2021, the allowable levy growth was 1.56%.

The Growth Factor for fire districts will be 1.0200%%

This is a Must Read Article About Silos – Applies to Fire Companies, Fire Districts and Other Organizations

July 14th, 2021

**Fire Service Organizational Silos: How To Emerge From The Depths And Foster Connection

Kristopher T. Blume

The organizational structure and rigors of the fire service make it susceptible to a critical stumbling block that is common within other industries. That stumbling block is organizational silos, or siloing.

Silos are organizational barriers that foster division, hamper functioning and limit overall ability. Organizational silos can limit creativity and kill organizational and individual morale. As much as siloing is a sign of overall organizational dysfunction, it is also an opportunity for organizational growth and transition.

SPOTTING SILOS

Silos are not always easy to spot; nonetheless, they can be discovered after peeling off the thin veneer of bravado and denial. Identifying the siloed organization is the first step. This requires candid, introspective conversions, and evaluations. An outside audit or assessment can reveal what those too close to the issue cannot see.

Most organizations do not set out to be siloed. And many in the executive ranks may tout the absence of silos in their organization. The truth, however, rests in demonstrable fact, not hot air and hyperbole.

In broad and general terms, siloed organizations are characterized by a lack of communication and cross-collaboration. The silo walls are created with us-vs.-them constructs. Siloed organizations often have teams or entire departments that work in isolation or bubbles, away from the rest of the organization. This narrow focus neglects outside stimulus, tunneling the siloed group into a survival mentality regarding their functional areas. The whole is subjugated by the parts. The insidious effects of silo construction are often not noticed in their incremental parts. Many times, the lack of awareness, energy or desire to remove silos expedites their depth. And once the groundwork of siloed organizations is laid, the rest happens with little effort.

PREDICTING SILOS

Gordon Graham asserts, “If it is predictable, it’s preventable.” Predicting silos means we need to pay attention to early indicators of their presence. Third-person pronouns – they, them, their, the department, etc. – can be isolationist terms. For example, “If only they would pull their weight, we (my team/silo) could get something done around here!” Sound familiar?

Variations of this statement have echoed from the station kitchen tables for as long as the fire service has been around. So, what’s the problem? Many conversions center around the officers at the station driving organizational tempo and culture. Before we dismiss comments like the one above, we need to understand where the silo is built.

When the internal dialogue among fire service membership turns into us vs. them, the inherent challenge of teams comes into focus and, without action, can become a significant problem. This disconnect can lead to tension, loss of productivity and, in the worst case, safety concerns.

Disenfranchised firefighters and officers are another concerning issue that arises in siloed organizations. When individuals are stripped of their formal or informal power and cannot speak up, the foundation is being laid for a significant problem. Employees and managers must feel as if they will be able to work together. When they are pitted against one another or just ignored, it shouldn’t be a surprise to then see an increase in turnover rates and organizational strife.

Another tell-tale sign of a siloed fire service organization is the duplication of tasks. This is the signature signal of miscommunication or the loss of communication. When people cannot decide who receives information or directives, or assign the job to multiple people, mass confusion occurs.

DISASSEMBLING SILOS

Disassembling silos is the key to stopping any further damage and challenges that may already exist within the fire department.

With remote work at an all-time high during the pandemic, more silos emerged and many existing silos deepened. The work disconnect was stronger than ever. To retain formality and a semblance of a schedule, many fire service officers at the administrative level allowed their employees to work on their own time when and where this is appropriate, with regular check-ins with their team throughout the day. Using various forms of communication gave members the chance to select one that works best for their situation and schedule. Some prefer to communicate in writing, while others might choose a video call. This helped promote connections and open lines of communication during a time that could naturally lead to increased siloing.

Another key step is to find ways to create empowered teams. General Stan McChrystal calls them “Teams of Teams.” For smaller fire service organizations, this might not be applicable, but for larger departments, it is essential to create teams. A large department will not have individual meetings and connections but rather team meetings. They have to communicate with one another as they work on projects together, highlighting the importance of staying on task and ensuring that everything is “on time, on target.” Creating chains of communication for these teams to talk with one another and other groups is essential.  Note: This is the decentralization of command. This isn’t the creation of more teams, but rather, empowering them.

No matter how it is done, it is essential to find ways for organizational members to come together in a collaborative environment. To stop the isolation of people within an organization through silos, senior leadership teams must explore and be open to new ways to connect and communicate with our membership. Without this, we will be unable to remain properly connected and informed. Whether through Zoom meetings or virtual chats, it is important for people to talk, share and stay on task – and support one another.

This also applies to finding ways to create organizational learning. In the fire service, we develop training and methods for people to share, learn and improve themselves and their emergency response skills. One of the most generic ways to promote connectedness rather than siloing is to encourage and incentivize the team atmosphere. Many fire service organizations don’t follow this approach, and it is shocking how many departments could be of better service to their communities and personnel if they chose to emphasize teamwork.

The integration of teams within an organization is accessible no matter the size of your department. Encouraging a team atmosphere is as easy as setting goals for the organization and company officers. If people feel they are all working toward something together, they feel more connected and purposeful in their obligations. If firefighters are feeling unsure about where they might be failing, they should feel encouraged and supported in their effort to perform a review at the company level and discover the leaks in their productivity and atmosphere.

STOP SILO RECURRENCE

Now that silos can be identified and dismantled, there are ways to retain the internal peace of the department. One of the best ways to ensure that silos do not return within your organization is through the practice of servant leadership.

Servant leadership is essential because it depends on the purpose of the team. Instead of focusing on the administration and quantitative data as the sole supplier of recognition, servant leadership looks at the people involved and seeks to improve individuals’ skill and make them more integral to the team. Teaching servant leadership is a pivotal way to retain employees and demonstrate the organization’s commitment to its mission, vision and values. With everyone on the same page and focused on the same goals, fire service organizations will find that they have more success than they can imagine in the future.

Preventing siloing is also essential due to the after-effects of the pandemic. Many administrative personnel for municipal fire departments want to remain at home, but fire service organizations need to ensure that people do not stagnate into silos and teams do not begin to fail in their communication abilities.

There are simple ways to improve these issues, including studying the optimal way to work from home. This would help their employees and create more unity with the company’s understanding of their employee experiences. Optimal scheduling and planning can be done by finding the best time and frequency of meetings, establishing freedom of schedule or at least blocks for people to work, and finding ways to incorporate offline updates. With the connectivity of the internet, programs and software are available at all times.

Such work-from-home approaches will differ for every organization, but it will be important that department leadership take the time to study the options to prevent silos. If they do not take the time to explore these issues and find ways to make the work-from-home schedule adequate, individuals will not be connected, might become disenfranchised, and then the siloing begins.

STAY CONNECTED

Siloed organizations can hinder the productivity and cohesiveness of the entire organization. When teams begin to shift focus from their primary purpose, and a battle among teams or managers and employees becomes the norm, collectively, as fire service professionals, we must find ways to stop the siloing.

The long-term losses from siloed organizations include failures on the fireground, frustrations at the individual and company officer level, and often lead to increased employee turnover rates. Working from home will not disappear, and it will likely even become more ingrained in society as an adaptive solution. Pandemic or not, fire service professionals will have to work harder than ever to prove their teams can remain connected and on task. Otherwise, we will continue to struggle with silos as an unwelcomed disruptive force in our departments.

Guidance for the Fire Service Unvaccinated!

July 14th, 2021

Mask update: while NYS lifted most COVID-19 restrictions, unvaccinated persons are still required to wear masks indoors including in fire and EMS stations. The attached summarizes CDC requirements currently in effect, upload this document HERE:

choosingsaferact__20210713145333 (1)

End of Legislative Session Report from Our State Lobbyist

July 14th, 2021

This is the end of session report provided by Todd Vandervort and the Vandervort Group.  It was a very busy and productive year for the fire service, we did very well.  Download the report HERE:

Fire Districts End of Session Report- 2021 (1) (1)

Top Ten Reasons Women are Perfect for the Fire Service

July 5th, 2021
Top Ten Reasons Women are Perfect for the Fire Service

Jill Wiseman

I recently came across an entertaining article about why NOT to become a volunteer firefighter.  When I was reading it, I realized why women are perfect for the fire service, which I would like to share with you:

  1. We don’t need sleep. Especially for those of us who have or have had children, sleep is a luxury we have learned to live without.  From cramps, to pregnancy, screaming babies, and hot flashes, we are doomed to interrupted sleep pretty much our whole lives.  Jumping out of bed in the middle of the night to deal with a crisis comes naturally to us.  It’s what we do.
  2. We want to help. From an early age we have negotiated fights, talked friends through break ups, sat in hospital waiting rooms, comforted those who have lost loved ones, sewn costumes, and occasionally stayed up into the wee hours building a diorama with a teary-eyed middle schooler. Your problems are our problems.  We got your back.
  3. We can handle the sweat. As a woman in midlife, I can say that we are well-prepared to deal with this particular challenge.  It’s my lot in life at this point. Putting on 45 pounds of gear and running around the fire ground isn’t that much different than carting around a set of twins, hauling groceries, or running up and down two flights of stairs delivering laundry to seven kids.  This is not to mention the hours sitting at the high school band fireworks booth in the blazing sun or at a soccer game, those long Saturday runs, hot yoga and sitting in the sauna hoping to drop a few pounds before my 20th high school reunion.  No big deal.
  4. Breaking down doors and using big tools is like free therapy. I have to say that forceable entry is one of my favorite things to do.  Bashing down doors is a great stress reliever for those tense days when I’ve had to let the dog out and in and out and in and out (I have a Husky), picked up yet another wet towel on the floor, and done the dishes left by the sink which is right next to the dishwasher.  Chain saws can be fun too.
  5. We fear nothing. Fires?  We’ve already put out lots of those.  We got this.  In fact, I think we will be joined by most mothers of multiples in saying that, “I’ve got twins. You can’t scare me.”
  6. Lights and Sirens. This is almost as awesome as forceable entry.  There is nothing quite like the rush you get from driving a fire truck, lights and sirens blaring!  Finally, people are getting out of my way.
  7. Volunteering is what we do. From volunteering at food banks, church garage sales, Boy Scouts, bake sales, road clean up, the animal shelter, and building a house with Habitat for Humanity, we’ve got this. We are naturals.
  8. Scene preservation. Want to figure out how this fire started?  We are experts in working around messes made by other people and preserving evidence because believe me, we don’t want to destroy any evidence that someone, like say your 26-year-old-boomerang son who keeps having midnight cooking sessions, has left behind to be able to prove how this all started and who’s Responsible.
  9. Navy blue is actually slimming. Our duty crew shirts, like most departments, are navy blue and are a great cover for the extra 5 pounds that you picked up over the pandemic or over the winter.
  10. Being part of a close-knit group who trusts one another with their lives.

My husband and kids have had their lives in my hands for years and I trust that they are prepared to back me up.  Right? Yeah, sure, dream on!

Being in a group of people who choose to face life altering events every day and help is truly inspiring.  Going that extra mile for each other, getting more training, practicing skills so the muscle memory is there and learning about the science of fire to be able to react as things evolve is proof that we are worthy of the trust we put in each other.

Ladies?  Do you have a fire in you? Its not unlike raising a family.