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All the blogs I’ve ever written.

A Veteran of Many Things

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I’m blessed to be the keeper of a three-ring binder that details my father’s entire military service history from his enlistment in World War II through his survival from the Korean War. Military campaigns, the boats he traveled overseas on, the camps he received his training at, the medals he received, and more — it’s all detailed in this book created by my first cousin Jim Schmittendorf, my father’s godson and a retired Lt. Colonel in the US Army.

It’s Time to get SAFER!

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Are you SAFER than you were last year?

That is, did you submit a grant application under the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) “Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response” program for recruitment and retention?

If you didn’t, you missed out on a great opportunity to better your fire department, or in our case, the entire volunteer fire service in our region.

Here’s the good news. You get another chance. DHS just announced that the application period for the 2009 SAFER grants opens November 16, 2009.

Is this our best approach?

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Unfortunately, I think it follows a growing pattern of articles and news pieces that focus on the problems — and not the solutions to our recruitment and retention challenges.

While we certainly need to identify and acknowledge what the challenges are, I don’t think that promoting them, making a news story out of them — is our best approach to motivating people to help us overcome our staffing issues by volunteering. Do you?

Listen Up: Recruitment Radio

This was the second installment of “Sound Magazine” that focused on volunteer recruitment and more are planned for the future.

It offered me the opportunity to talk about being a kid who “ran to the curb” whenever I heard a fire siren and all of the great things that come with being a volunteer firefighter.

Make It Personal

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The following article is a reprint from the June-2009 edition of Fire-Rescue magazine. It is also a companion piece to my blog titled: Clean the Litterbox.

I recently attended a seminar on preparation for line-of-duty deaths and firefighter funerals. If you’ve ever read one of my blogs here or at FirefighterNation.com, you know that I have very strong feelings about firefighter deaths.

But, for the first time, the subject really hit home with me. While it’s important to plan that stuff, if we really think about it, doesn’t the need for proper funeral planning only further acknowledge our acceptance of failure in protecting our own from the risks we face?

Too often we focus more time, energy and attention on those types of activities instead of the things

Dig In.

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ToolkitDig in.

“Early on in my fire service career, we responded to a report of a tractor-trailer rolled over on a nearby state highway. We arrived on scene and found a truck lying on its passenger side. The wheels were facing the roadway and the top of the cab was on the shoulder of the road. The truck driver was being treated as walking wounded. It seemed like a relatively benign accident.

As we approached the curb side we realized that this was no ordinary call. It

Fortune Tellers

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Fortune Tellers:

In my last blog titled “Dig In.” I talked about the importance of story telling in the fire service and how it serves as a means of sharing experiences, traditions and values from generation to generation. In this article I try to tell a story, and in that story, I hope you can find a lesson to share for generations to come.

Almost every firefighter I meet speaks of how they always knew, from the time they

Albion FD Says: You Have to Want It!

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you-have-to-want-it-jd-patch-87x212“You Have to Want It!” is the message that Albion Volunteer Firefighters and EMTs are sending to their community in a new effort to challenge more citizens to become part of their local volunteer emergency response team.

Thanks to a four-year $134,500 grant from the US Department of Homeland Security specifically for the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters, the all-volunteer fire department will have the funding to develop recruitment efforts and marketing materials with the help of Tiger Schmittendorf, who also helped them write and secure the grant.

“The reality is that firefighting isn’t for everyone, but volunteering can be. We offer flexible memberships for non-emergency personnel to join our Support Team,” says Rocky Sidari, the fire department’s deputy chief.

“Volunteering

From X-Box to the Box Alarm

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img_5855-cropAs I travel around the country talking with other firefighters, a commonly recurring theme of our chat is the future of the volunteer fire service.

The conversation always comes around to the topic of today’s firefighters and the next generation of firefighters. Some “more experienced” firefighters (notice I didn’t use the term older) share that they don’t understand the “kids” coming into the fire service today.

The veterans don’t think today’s recruits share the same values as those who are currently leading us. And they certainly don’t have the same appreciation for the traditions and discipline of the fire service. Community service is not in their blood as it is in ours. Or at least that’s their complaint.

The first question I

There’s at least Four Cs in NBFC

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img_6153Earlier today I had the pleasure of joining lots of other folks who  participating in the dedication of a new fire station for the North Boston Volunteer Fire Company in the Town of Boston, NY.

As I was sitting here remembering the ground breaking ceremony they held last fall, I was reminded of how proud I am to be associated with their fire company.

Many times when we discuss incident management, training and collaboration in emergency services — we refer to the Three Cs of: Coordination, Communications and Cooperation. For a small rural fire department, the North Boston Volunteer Fire Company (the NBFC) is far ahead of the curve when it comes to the Three Cs.

Those three Cs have become the hallmark

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