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Guest blog written for Action Training Systems by Battalion Chief Robert Avsec (Ret.) Since the early days of the Republic, volunteer firefighters have played a key role in providing fire protection in communities across the U.S. The last several decades, however, the number of active volunteer firefighters has continued to decline as older members retire and are not replaced by younger members. According to the most recent NFPA estimates, of the approximately 1,056,200 local firefighters in the US in 2017, volunteer firefighters numbered 682,600 (65%).    
Guest blog written for Action Training Systems by Battalion Chief Robert Avsec (Ret.) By now, most of us are familiar — or should be — with using our emergency vehicles as a shield against oncoming traffic to protect first responders and civilians while operating on a roadway. In addition, we use emergency warning lights and other items such as road flares and traffic cones to capture the attention of oncoming drivers.  Despite these efforts, we still see far too many stories such as this one that came out of Hanover County, Virginia: On October 11, 2018, forty-three-year-old Lt. Brad Clark with Hanover County Fire-EMS was killed, and three other firefighters
Guest blog written for Action Training Systems by Battalion Chief Robert Avsec (Ret.) Pop quiz: What is signified by the low-pressure alarm on your SCBA sounding? If you answered, "I have 5 minutes of air left," consider yourself to officially be a fire service "dinosaur." That low-air alarm—official name is the End-of-Service-Time Indicator (EOSTI)—has been a feature of SCBA in the fire service since the first units appeared on fire scenes more than 5 decades ago. But it's now "caveman" technology in the world where the current generation of SCBA is more a "Land a Rover on Mars" technology. Today's SCBA provides firefighters with more than just a supply of breathing air. Most units on the market today have: * Head's Up Display (HUD) that visually displays information and system condition status to the SCBA's user (e.g., available air pressure or current
Guest Blog written for ATS by Robert Avsec Create an environment that doesn't just support their individual motivation, but makes their motivational fire "grow"! How do you do that? By creating an atmosphere that supports "combustion." Firefighters learn early in their training on the necessity for fuel, heat, and oxygen to combine in the proper measures for the chemical reaction that we know as combustion or fire to occur. That process has been represented by the fire triangle: I believe the same principle—combining elements to create a chemical reaction—can be applied by volunteer fire service leaders in creating an "atmosphere" within their organizations that supports motivation. I also believe a volunteer fire department that has a high level of motivation amongst its members is also one that's not losing i
Guest blog written by Robert Avsec for Action Training Systems The fire service continues to evolve, and so do the communities that volunteer fire departments serve. Many of these changes have had a direct impact on volunteer fire departments and their ability to recruit and retain members. Just a few examples are: • Population growth in rural and suburban communities—the types frequently served by volunteer fire departments--add to number of calls for service.• Changes in the economy, and the way America works, requires more volunteer firefighters to work outside of the community they serve; many volunteer firefighters must work more than one job to support their families.• The training demands on volunteer firefighters—primarily their personal time—have increased, largely because of additional standards and regulations.
It's the middle of a gorgeous day in Kennewick, WA. The sun is shining, the springtime air is warm, and I'm standing here watching 25 high-school students coming together to practice putting out a car fire. They work with the discipline and focus of experienced firefighters 10 years their senior. There's an outstanding cohesion, and a genuine delight, to the way these students organize themselves to complete the task at hand. It's a level of teamwork you rarely see outside an actual department. Their instructor, Nathan Allington, guides them lightly, occasionally shouting out a reminder or an instruction to keep the teens on point, but for the most part this class works like a high-functioning machine. It's amazing, really. These are the students from the junior firefighting program at Tri-Tech Skills Center.