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Simple Maintenance – The most important feature for fire department gas detectors

firefighters with hose

From Industrial Scientific, July 2019

As information on the hidden dangers of fire smoke proliferates, a growing number of firefighters are realizing that gas monitors are a vital part of their turnout gear. Atmospheric testing at fire scenes has shown toxic fumes at every stage of the fire, and without a portable gas detector, there is no sure way to determine whether the air in the cold zone is actually safe to breathe.

Acquiring the right gas detectors for your fire station is a double-edged sword, however. On the one hand, it’s an invaluable tool for atmospheric monitoring, but it’s also one more piece of equipment that needs regular maintenance. This leads to one of two unfortunate scenarios: to avoid the maintenance hassle, a department will neglect gas monitoring altogether, or it will make the purchase but fail to maintain the equipment. The latter choice can be catastrophic, resulting in a failed sensor that always reads zero, regardless of how much toxic gas is in the air.

The good news is that owning a gas monitor doesn’t have to be a high-maintenance relationship. There are systems currently on the market that offer simple, automated maintenance; so, when you’re looking to add gas monitoring capability, it’s important to look beyond price and warranty. You need more than a gas monitor, you need a system that offers simple and worry-free maintenance.

At Industrial Scientific, we’ve solved this gas detector maintenance problem with our DSX Docking Station. This docking station automatically performs maintenance tasks like bump testing and calibration that all gas detectors require. The station is compatible with several models of Industrial Scientific’s gas detectors, including the Ventis® MX4 and Ventis® Pro5.

How Does the Docking Station Work?

When you’re not using it, place the gas monitor on the DSX Docking Station. The station, which is plumbed to a cylinder of calibration gas, will automatically charge the gas monitor, bump test daily, and calibrate according to your company’s safety requirements. Bump test records and calibration certificates are stored digitally and can be accessed when needed. The station even tracks calibration gas levels and cylinder expiration dates and can order new cylinders automatically.

The docking station handles basic monitor diagnostics, as well. This is important because all sensor cells (the small cartridges that respond to the target gas) have a limited life expectancy. If the docking station detects a problem (e.g., the sensor cell’s sensitivity has dropped), it will order a replacement.

Another benefit is the docking station’s data logging capability. Each time it docks with a gas detector, The DSX Docking Station downloads data showing what gases the unit encountered and when, then stores it on the docking station, a local server, or in the cloud. This automated record keeping is invaluable when you need to see gas data from a previous response call.

Look Past the Sticker Price of Gas Monitors

Again, it’s important to look beyond the initial purchase price and warranty terms when choosing your next gas monitor. Examine the hidden costs in both dollars and manpower required to maintain the monitors. Since all portable gas monitors use sensors that can lose sensitivity, every gas detector requires the same kind maintenance: daily bump testing, regularly calibrating, and periodically replacing sensor cells.

The important questions are:

  • Who will handle the maintenance?
  • Can our team afford to spend time on gas monitor logistics?
  • When things get busy (and it’s always busy!), will the detector maintenance get done?

Unfortunately, some manufacturers will obscure the need for ongoing maintenance. Some even claim their product “requires no calibration.” But the laws of physics show no favoritism. All manmade devices require upkeep, especially precision instruments like gas detectors. Anyone serious about safety understands that faith in your equipment is based on testing and validation, not on promises made at the point of sale.

It’s not enough for your fire department to own a gas monitor. It must be reliable, accurate, and ready to go any hour of the day. Industrial Scientific’s gas monitors paired with a DSX Docking Station are engineered to make that possible— and simple.

If you’ve been holding off on adding gas detection to your fire response, now is the time. Read more about how Industrial Scientific is serving the gas detection needs of fire and emergency response teams around the world.


This article was originally published at:–the-most-important-feature-for-fire-department-gas-detectors/

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Could your EMS or Fire Response Team miss dangerous levels of carbon monoxide?

firefighter with gas detector

From Industrial Scientific, September 2019

An EMS team, dispatched from a major metropolitan fire department, rushes to a local hotel where they find a woman nauseated, weak, and unable to get out of bed. The evidence leads to a straightforward diagnosis: it’s flu season, it’s been a bad year for the bug, and the woman seems to have all the symptoms. Bingo. They load her onto a stretcher and transport her to the hospital.

Before the day is over, the fire station receives an alarming phone call from the hospital: the woman does not have the flu after all. Rather, it’s carbon monoxide poisoning. Immediately, firefighters are dispatched back to the hotel, this time to evacuate the building. Upon arrival, responders begin searching rooms, looking for those who might be incapacitated from breathing dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Lawsuits soon follow.

If you’re interested in learning more about this tragic episode, talk to retired Fire Captain Joe Buckley. He served as a firefighter in the Pittsburgh area for twenty-five years, and having met fellow firefighters all over the nation, he’s heard this kind of story numerous times. Each story differs in the details, but the key facts remain the same —well-meaning but ill-equipped EMS personnel fail to recognize carbon monoxide poisoning because the symptoms are so similar to common afflictions like the flu or food poisoning.

Having retired from firefighting, Buckley now works for Industrial Scientific as a training specialist, teaching first responders how to use portable gas detectors. He believes, based on years of experience, that any EMS personnel entering a structure ought to be equipped with a portable carbon monoxide (CO) monitor. The detector is a critical diagnostic tool that helps first responders understand what’s really going on in their environment.

Consider the EMS team responding to the woman in the hotel. As can happen to any of us, they succumbed to tunnel vision. They were convinced the data was pointing to a compelling and simple conclusion: this woman has the flu. Imagine, though, if the team had been equipped with a compact CO detector. It would have alarmed as soon as the team entered the building, alerting them to dangerous levels of CO. They would have known immediately that everyone in the hotel was in danger and would have evacuated the building.

Carbon monoxide is an insidious toxin that seems tailor-made to fool the unsuspecting. It’s invisible and odorless, so it’s impossible to detect without specialized equipment. CO poisoning is easily mistaken for the flu because they share many of the same symptoms, including nausea, malaise, headache, and fatigue. And the risk of CO poisoning is greatest during the cold months of flu season. When temperatures drop, people fire up furnaces and kerosene heaters — both sources of CO leaks when defective or improperly ventilated.

Even worse, the remedy for the flu can be fatal if a person is actually suffering from CO poisoning. For the flu, it’s best to stay at home and rest. But if CO is present, immediate evacuation is the proper response. Tragically, it’s not uncommon for victims of CO poisoning to be sent back home to rest— right back to the toxic environment that sent them to the hospital in the first place.1

Here’s the good news. A firefighter doesn’t have to carry around bulky air-sampling equipment to monitor the environment inside a structure. Industrial Scientific’s handheld gas detectors are user-friendly and small enough to be worn as a standard part of a responder’s turnout gear. An audible alarm will sound when dangerous levels of CO are detected so there’s no question about what to do next.

These compact detectors are highly configurable and can monitor up to five gases simultaneously if desired. In addition to CO, a fire department might elect to install additional sensors to alert them to other common hazards such as hydrogen sulfide (H2S), hydrogen cyanide (HCN), and low levels of oxygen (O2).

With colder weather on the horizon, cases of the flu and CO poisoning will rise. This is the perfect time to explore Industrial Scientific’s full line of gas detection solutions for fire and emergency response teams.

1 “Carbon-Monoxide Poisoning can Mimic Flu Symptoms,” from Consumer Reports News: January 07, 2010.


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5 Tips For Washing Your Fire Apparatus

cleaning supplies on vehicle

Keeping your fire apparatus clean is important for several reasons. Not only is it a representation of your fire department and community, it is an investment that must be washed, waxed, and cleaned as part of general preventative maintenance. Keeping fire trucks clean and polished not only clears away potentially harmful dust, dirt, smoke, and chemicals, but also provides an opportunity to closely inspect wear and tear. Why?

Mechanics like a clean truck because they have an easier time performing maintenance and diagnosing any issues when there isn’t a layer of grime or grit.

Regularly washing the apparatus makes it easier to inspect wear and tear, which prevents corrosion and can prolong the life of your department’s investment.

Here are five tips for washing your fire apparatus.

1. Use Cotton Microfiber Towels

Cotton microfiber towels are a cost-effective way to wash a fire truck. They have a soft, absorbent material that won’t mar the finish. They can also be washed easily. Make sure the towels are separated appropriately. Use some towels for washing and drying the apparatus, and reserve other towels for cleaning up spills, like oil or fluid.

Another tip – skip the sponge. Sponges are not ideal for soap application, and they can trap dirt and debris which will end up scratching your truck.

Also (and this can’t be stressed enough) if the towel hits the ground, grab a fresh towel. A towel that has been on the ground collects dirt and debris which can scratch the truck.

2. Use the ‘Two-Bucket Method’

Washing an apparatus the correct way starts with just two buckets. Fill the first bucket with soapy water and fill the second with just water to use for rinsing. First, dip the microfiber towel in the soapy bucket. Once the area is washed, or if you require more soap, rinse your microfiber towel off in the water bucket. After the towel is rinsed, wring it out to remove excess water and dip it back in the soapy bucket. Repeat as necessary.

The goal of the two-bucket method is to reduce the amount of dirt particles that the microfiber towel accumulates. If only one bucket is used to rinse and apply soap, the towel will get dirty very quickly. That dirt will then spread across the apparatus, and the debris will leave scratches in the paint. Grit guards can also be used to further separate dirt from the towel.

3. Wash Panel by Panel, from Top to Bottom

washing tires

Take a look at the truck and map out where different body panels meet and surfaces change. Use this as a guide to effectively wash your apparatus. To make the washing process efficient, go panel by panel. Rinse the microfiber towel and gather more soap each time there is a transition to a different panel. This will keep the soap application consistent and reduce the amount of dirt the towel is picking up each time it is rinsed.

Start from the top of the truck and work downward toward the wheel wells and wheels. Most of the dirt will accumulate around the lower areas of the apparatus, so this will avoid bringing that dirt up and spreading it all over the apparatus, even when using the two-bucket method.

It’s also a good idea to wash the apparatus wheel wells and wheels in a separate washing area. As the dirtiest areas of the apparatus, it is best to contain the dirt and grime to one spot without contaminating the rest of the wash. Many people like to do these areas last.

One final recommendation — don’t forget about the undercarriage! This can be a challenging spot to wash but is critical to keep clean since dirt, debris, and road salt can collect in the nooks and crannies of the undercarriage. Even a simple water rinse of the undercarriage is beneficial.

4. Dry the Apparatus with More Microfiber

Drying a fire apparatus may seem easy, but there are a few things to consider to avoid streaking and water spots. For optimal drying, use large microfiber towels. These are incredibly absorbent towels that will allow you to dry large areas before you grab another dry towel. If you’re stuck washing the apparatus in direct sunlight, water the truck down as you wash to avoid water spots as the truck dries. To avoid streaking and water spots altogether, try to keep the fire truck wet through the wash process, and keep it wet when you begin the drying process.

5. Final Apparatus Cleaning Tip: Instant-Detailer and Polish

washing bumper

After the truck is clean and dry, take some time to polish any chrome or shiny metal. Manually applying polishing compound keeps the apparatus looking its best and also creates a protective barrier between the metal and environmental dirt and small debris. Using a bit of instant-detailer does the same for painted surfaces. Instant-detailer should be applied regularly to help water bead up and run off effectively, keeping your truck looking better, longer. The regular application of polishing compound and detailer will also make it easier to wash the truck in the future since the dirt and grime will come off easier with a simple water rinse.

There are many different methods to clean fire apparatus, but with the tips above, you should be off to a great start.

About Pierce Manufacturing

Pierce Manufacturing Inc., an Oshkosh Corporation [NYSE: OSK] company, is the leading North American manufacturer of custom fire apparatus, including custom and commercial pumpers, aerials, rescue trucks, wildland trucks, minipumpers, elliptical tankers, and homeland security apparatus. In addition, Pierce designs its own foam systems and was the first company to introduce frontal airbags and the Side Roll Protection system to fire apparatus. Pierce markets its products through the industry’s largest and most comprehensive dealer and service network. The company enjoys a nationwide web of dealerships with over 600 certified and factory trained Service Brigade technicians and over 50 service centers. Visit to learn more about Pierce.

MMFSS is proud to supply Pierce Vehicles to Atlantic Canada.

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Fire simulator just like the real thing

fire simulator

AMHERST, Nova Scotia – Amherst’s new fire simulator is so life-like, it’s already led one citizen to believe there was an actual fire.
“We’d just received the panel and had it on the floor simulating different types of fires,” Fire Chief Greg Jones recalled recently.

“Someone driving by thought it was a real fire. He actually came into the station to report it.

“We showed him the simulator. He was impressed because from the street, he said it looked very real.”

During a recent Thursday night training session, several firefighters echoed the man’s comments, saying the simulated fire they doused was the closest they’d come in training to the real thing.

Known as a Bullex Attack System, the approximately $40,000 simulator contains an electronic nozzle, a weighted fire hose that simulates a fire hose full of water, a digital simulation panel that simulate flames and a smoke generator. The panel can be used in wet or dry conditions.

All of these components are linked through a Wi-Fi network to a portable control panel that lets the operator determine the amount of smoke being generated and the intensity of the flames.

“The system lets us train as close to the real thing as possible in a safe environment,” Jones said, noting the smoke generated by the system is non-toxic.

On this training night, firefighters were facing a simulated structure fire that was set up in a garage located at the back of the firehall. Wisps of smoke could be seen leaking out around door and window frames as firefighters approached. Through the windows, you could see a flickering, yellow light.

Working in pairs, firefighters, wearing full protective gear and breathing apparatus, were met with a wall of smoke when they entered the “burning structure” via a “window.”

Like a real fire, visibility was better close to the ground. Through the haze, they could see and hear the flickering flames. Hauling the hose over, under and around obstacles, they approached the flames.

When they got within range, they used the nozzle in the normal manner, but instead of water jetting out, a circular beam of light poured onto the simulated fire. Using the same techniques as they would with a regular hose, they extinguished the blaze.

On some occasions, Chris Clark, the man handling the remote control, would increase the amount of smoke, other times he increased the amount of flames, sometimes he increased both, and other times, he would make it appear the fire was knocked down, only to have it flare up.

“That’s what is great about the system,” Jones said. “We can simulate what happens in a real fire. So just like a real fire, where it could appear to be extinguished, we can make it reignite, and the firefighters have to use their training react to it in the proper way.”

While each pair was going through the drill, they were monitored by another firefighter holding a hand-held thermal imaging camera.

Some of the firefighters were wearing new breathing apparatus recently obtained by the town that contains a major advancement – a thermal-imaging camera built right into the apparatus’s control panel. It enabled them to see through the smoke, without having to use the large hand-held camera.

The fire simulated during the training session was known as a Type A fire, which means basic combustible materials, like wood, were “on fire.”

There are three other classifications of fires. Type B is liquid fire, like gas or oil burning. Type C is an electrical fire, like those found in burning electrical panels and Type D is a combustible metal fire like magnesium.

“What’s great about the simulator is we can simulate all the different types of fires, which means during our training sessions we can have our folks experience what those fires are like and practise the different techniques used to put them out without the danger inherent in a real fire,” the chief said.

Another advantage is the simulator is portable.

“We can set it up almost anywhere. In a classroom, in the firehall, our garage or some other location,” Jones said. “So, if the public sees us training in a location where there is a lot of smoke, they shouldn’t get too worried.”

Special thanks to the Town of Amherst for the story and images.

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Holmatro becomes official supplier to FIA

World-class safety and rescue company to provide equipment to FIA World Championship circuits

Having supplied tools for the IndyCar safety team since 1991, Holmatro has become a leader in manufacturing rescue equipment to assist in the quick and safe extrication of race drivers following incidents on track. Holmatro’s cordless and powerful tools are ideal for the motor sport environment, where drivers need to be extricated from carbon fibre monocoques and high-strength roll-cage structures. Over the years it has been Holmatro’s goal to translate their learnings in racing into innovative rescue tools that raise the level of global post-crash response.

As officially announced at the FIA Conference 2019 in South Africa, Holmatro has become a FIA Official Supplier and will provide its latest hydraulic cutting and spreading equipment to FIA sanctioned circuits worldwide.

As part of the new agreement Holmatro will work with the FIA Safety and Medical departments to provide equipment along with training to support local crews and ensure the highest standards. In addition, FIA National Sporting Authorities will have direct access to FIA approved and standardized Holmatro rescue equipment for its racing series.


Adam Baker, FIA Safety Director, said: “We are delighted to be able to provide Holmatro’s state-of-the-art equipment to our circuits worldwide. It is crucial that rescue teams have access to the latest rescue tools which meet the rigorous standards we set and to training programs that further enhance safety.”

Harm Hermans, Holmatro CEO, said: “Holmatro is proud to be chosen as an official supplier to the FIA and bring our rescue equipment to circuits worldwide. We believe in constant improvement and innovation when it comes to safety, and this is a further demonstration of the quality of our world-class tools and extrication training & consultancy.”

FIA logo

About FIA

The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile is the governing body of world motor sport and the federation of the world’s leading motoring organizations. Founded in 1904, it brings together 240 national motoring and sporting organizations from more than 144 countries, representing millions of motorists worldwide. In motor sport, it administers the rules and regulations for all international four-wheel sport, including the FIA Formula One World Championship and FIA World Rally Championship.

Holmatro logo

About Holmatro

Holmatro is a leading rescue equipment manufacturer founded in the Netherlands in 1967. It is the single biggest global supplier of innovative high-pressure hydraulic rescue tools worldwide, with manufacturing facilities in the US and the Netherlands. With over 400 employees, it has three headquarters worldwide to serve authorized business partners in more than 160 countries.

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Lavender Ribbon Report – Best Practices for Preventing Firefighter Cancer

Lavender Cancer Report cover

The fire service is faced with one of the most important cultural changes in our history. This change will dictate the way we do business and the way we take care of ourselves on the fireground and at our stations. It starts with the realization that cancer is an epidemic that is currently decimating our profession.

Fortunately, there are specific actions that individuals and departments can take to protect themselves. As the realization of the magnitude of firefighter cancer is becoming more and more evident, the International Association of Fire Chiefs’ Volunteer and Combination Officers Section and the National Volunteer Fire Council, along with the Fire Service Occupational Cancer Alliance, Firefighter Cancer Support Network, with support from California Casualty, developed the 11 Best Practices for Preventing Firefighter Cancer. This report is an expansion of these best practices in order to provide specific guidance on how to adopt these actions into the everyday culture of fire departments.

11 Actions to Mitigate the Risk of Cancer

  1. Full protective equipment (PPE) must be worn throughout the entire incident, including SCBA during salvage and overhaul.
  2. A second hood should be provided to all entry-certified personnel in the department.
  3. Following exit from the IDLH, and while still on air, you should begin immediate gross decon of PPE using soap water and a brush, if weather conditions allow. PPE should then be placed into a sealed plastic bag and placed in an exterior compartment of the rig, or if responding in POVs, placed in a large storage tote, thus keeping the off-gassing PPE away from passengers and self.
  4. After completion of gross decon procedures as discussed above, and while still on scene, the exposed areas of the body (neck, face, arms and hands) should be wiped off immediately using wipes, which must be carried on all apparatus. Use the wipes to remove as much soot as possible from head, neck, jaw, throat, underarms and hands immediately.
  5. Change your clothes and wash them after exposure to products of combustion or other contaminants. Do this as soon as possible and/or isolate in a trash bag until washing is available.
  6. Shower as soon as possible after being exposed to products of combustion or other contaminants. “Shower within the Hour”
  7. PPE, especially turnout pants, must be prohibited in areas outside the apparatus floor (i.e. kitchen, sleeping areas, etc.) and never in the household.
  8. Wipes, or soap and water, should also be used to decontaminate and clean apparatus seats, SCBA and interior crew area regularly, especially after incidents where personnel were exposed to products of combustion.
  9. Get an annual physical, as early detection is the key to survival. The NVFC outlines several options at “A Healthcare Provider’s Guide to Firefighter Physicals” can be downloaded from
  10. Tobacco products of any variety, including dip and e-cigarettes should never be used at anytime on or off duty.
  11. Fully document ALL fire or chemical exposures on incident reports and personal exposure reports.

Download the full report (pdf)

Published by International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC)

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Memorial Grant Program for First Responders

man and child silhouette

The Government of Canada established the Memorial Grant Program for First Responders to recognize their service and sacrifice in keeping Canadians safe. Through the Memorial Grant Program, families of first responders who die as a result of their duties will receive a one-time lump sum, tax-free direct maximum payment of $300,000.

What are the eligibility criteria for the Memorial Grant?

  • The date of death must be on or after April 1, 2018.
  • The deceased first responder must have been employed or formally engaged to carry out the duties of a police officer, firefighter or a paramedic. This includes all volunteers, auxiliary and reservists.
  • The death of the first responder must have resulted from one of the following:
    • A fatal injury while actively engaged in the duties of a first responder in Canada;
    • An occupational illness primarily resulting from employment as a first responder; or
    • A psychological impairment or occupational stress injury (e.g., PTSI) resulting in suicide.
  • The deceased first responder must have resided in a province or territory that has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Government of Canada
    • The families of first responders who worked for an Indigenous emergency service are eligible, regardless of whether the province or territory has signed an MOA or not

How do families apply for the Memorial Grant?

Public Safety Canada is the process of contracting with a company to assess applications for the Memorial Grant Program.

In the meantime, surviving family members of a fallen first responder can ask Public Safety Canada to notify them when the chosen company is in place and ready to accept applications. Survivors can email contact information to Public Safety Canada using

What types of information or documents will families need to submit as part of the application?

The Memorial Grant Program is being tailored to recognize and respond to the needs of grieving families with an emphasis on a sensitive, client-service approach. Once selected, the chosen company will help guide applicants through the process, and identify all necessary documentation.

While individual circumstances may vary, most applications will require:

  • An application form indicating the identity of the first responder, the identity of the applicant, and the relationship between them
  • An attestation from the employer organization confirming the duties of the first responder
  • Any medical records or reports necessary to confirm the injury/illness and causes of death of the first responder
  • A certified copy of the death certificate
  • Any other documents to support the application as may be necessary

Why is there a requirement for a Memorandum of Agreement?

The Government of Canada wants to make sure that families of fallen first responders get the full $300,000 without reductions or offsets from other sources. The MOAs seek a common understanding of the intent of the Memorial Grant, and set out the framework for collaboration with the provinces and territories to facilitate its implementation.

Meetings with provinces and territories are currently underway, and a list of signed agreements will be published online.


Where can families find more information about the Memorial Grant?

Additional information about the Memorial Grant Program, including the Terms and Conditions, can be found at:

Should you have any additional questions, not relating to eligibility, please feel free to contact Service Canada toll free at 1-800-622-6232 or TTY at 1-800-926-9105.


“Your government and your country can’t ever thank you enough for what you do in your professional lives, but we hope that you will see the new Memorial Grant as a reflection of respect and appreciation for the bravery, the service, and the sacrifice of all public safety officers.”

The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

– Remarks for the Canadian Police Association Legislative Meeting, April 16, 2018


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6 Characteristics to Recruit for in Volunteer Firefighters

tired firefighters

When it comes to personnel, volunteer fire departments are no different than corporations or nonprofit groups. They all need people in the boat rowing toward the same agreed upon destination. And while that rowing requires hard skills, like a strong back, it also requires soft skills — such as the ability to work as a team. In firefighting, the hard skills are critical for a successful fireground or rescue operation.

Whether it’s rolling a dash or repacking a hose bed, hard skills are essential. The soft skills also play a part in these successes, and just as importantly, they are critical for running a successful volunteer fire department — that is, everything that happens in between the tones.

Hard skills can be taught. With practice and guidance, people can learn to ladder a building, run a pumper, set up a dump tank and vent a roof much the same as they can learn to code software or manage a business’ tax obligation. The soft skills, how we approach others, are often learned as children. Volunteer fire departments may not be able to teach something like ethics the way they can teach removing a car door, but department leaders can set expectations and live by example to promote those soft skills.

While not an easy task, it is important to approach recruiting and hiring volunteer firefighters with those soft skills front of mind. It will make running emergency scenes and the department much easier with people on board all willing to row in the same direction at the same time.

Here’s a look at the six top characteristics, soft and hard, to look for when recruiting volunteer firefighters.

1. Integrity and Ethics

This may be the most important and the hardest to test for. There are some low-cost test options that volunteer chiefs can include in their application processes to help weed out those who don’t adhere to a high standard of professional and personal ethics. Background checks are also a must to determine if the individual has a pattern of bad behavior. Of course, the first step is to ensure you have a sound application and interview process that includes background checks.

But ethics is more than an individual thing, it’s cultural. Volunteer fire department leaders can steer the culture by setting clear expectations for its members’ ethical behavior — and following through when those expectations are not met. They also need to set an unwavering example for department ethics. This needs to be conveyed from the grand scale — don’t steal items from a house fire — to the everyday behaviors — if there’s an honor system coffee fund, pony up every time you take a cup, without exception.

2. Desire to Serve

Fighting fire is exciting and there’s no denying it. But even the men and women on the Chicago Fire Department don’t see as much action as do the actors on “Chicago Fire.” And for volunteers running a few hundred calls per year, if that, there’s not a lot to satisfy the adrenaline junkie’s cravings. Most of our calls involve helping Mrs. Smith off the floor and into her chair, dumping oil dry at fender-benders, telling someone their CO alarm is going off because it’s 15 years old, and picking Mrs. Smith up off the floor, again.

To run calls like that, and to do it with the same care and professionalism as a smoke-showing call, takes a person who wants to help others. If helping others is not your potential recruits’ main driver, they will quickly grow bored and quit — or worse, grow disgruntled and stay.

Be upfront during the interview process about the less-than-exciting aspects of volunteer firefighting. And look for clues in your applicant’s past that indicates a desire to help. Ask to see what other groups, causes or events they’ve donated time and energy to. Those other civic groups are often fertile recruiting grounds for volunteer firefighters.

3. Respectfulness

As Chief Alan Brunacini often said, “Be nice.” That’s easy enough when you are helping someone you know, like or who looks or acts like you. But Mrs. Smith, who only seems to fall at 3 a.m. every morning, can be difficult. She may be a retired school teacher who busted your chops in the second grade, someone whose yard sported a political sign for “that” candidate, or someone who calls the council to gripe about you tracking on her carpet at 3 a.m. Yet, you have to be nice to her—she’s the customer. They all are.

It takes a high level of emotional maturity to set aside prejudices and personal pet peeves to treat everyone who calls for help with courtesy, respect and kindness. It is equally important that the new volunteer can treat fellow firefighters with courtesy, respect and kindness. Check with past and current employers to see how your applicant interacts with coworkers and customers.

4. Willingness to Learn

Technology is now advancing faster than the human brain can adapt to it. There are few places to hide from change, and the volunteer fire department is not one of them. Even if the department never gets all the latest whiz-bang gizmos, there are constant changes to firefighter training methods, to our understanding of fire behavior and to the new threats we face. A firefighter stuck in the past and unwilling to learn new tricks is a danger to himself and the crew.

As is true in the private sector, volunteer fire departments will be more successful when their members are life-long learners. Seek out candidates who exhibit intellectual curiosity. Ask interview questions like: “Tell about something you recently learned” and “What do you hope to be good at in the next two or three years?”

5. Physical Fitness

Physical strength and endurance may seem like a purely hard skill, but it’s not. Some individuals are naturally stronger than others. However, a lifestyle commitment to healthy eating, exercise and general good life habits speak to a person’s drive and ability to delay instant gratification for long-term achievements.

A physical aptitude test during the interview process is a good starting point. It not only gives you a baseline measure of how fit the potential members are, it also conveys the importance your volunteer department places on physical wellbeing.

6. Aptitude

A candidate with firefighting or EMS certifications and experience can be ideal. It’s why two hatters make such great additions to volunteer departments. But most candidates won’t show up with a stack of certs in hand. Question them in the interviews about their talents, hobbies, jobs and skills. Mechanical, carpentry and electrical skills are at a premium and help both on scene and in the apparatus bay.

But don’t overlook the other skills that can help your department. If your applicants are skilled accountants, publicists, computer technicians or a host of other professions, consider how those talents can be plugged in to fill your department’s needs or untapped opportunities. For many departments, running the department and raising money occupy more time than do emergency response. A good fire academy and ongoing training program will teach emergency-scene skills. But those other skills applicants bring to the table can be a terrific asset.


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 Storage and Maintenance of Struts & Straps

In order to complete a successful rescue, all equipment must be in working order. Along with struts, ratchet straps play an important role in vehicle stabilization and that’s why they are included in every Res-Q-Jack kit purchase. Below are a few tips on making sure your struts and straps are in good working condition. The time to find out they are in need of replacement isn’t on scene.


  1. Store jack in fully collapsed position.
  2. Keep jack in a dry environment. Exposure to too much moisture may result in rust and/or decreased effectiveness of straps.
  3. Beware of strap storage environment. Nylon and polyester have adverse affects when in prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light, when exposed to sunlight or arc welding, and when temperatures are above 200° F.



  1. Periodically oil crank handle lightly at each side of the jack body. Remove jack cap and grease internal gearing as needed (Chevron Black Pearl grease or equivalent is recommended).
  2. A light lubricant should be applied with a rag to outside of inner tube, being careful not to excessively lubricate. Remove any excess grease or oil. To keep the extensions sliding smoothly, this process is beneficial for all extension tubings and the inner tubing of all X-Strut® series struts.
  3. Inspect and clean all components of strut following each use. Visually inspect welds, hardware, retaining pins, straps, chains, hooks, and other parts. Look for cracks, dents, and other small imperfections. Replace torn, frayed, worn, broken, bent, or missing parts before use. See below for some examples of strap damage.
  4. Contact Res-Q-Jack at 1-800-466-9626 for refurbishing or component replacement requests, or if you have any questions about the safety of your strut.


Shown in extreme conditions below, straps should be removed from service and replaced if any signs of damage are visible.


  • Cuts, holes, surface abrasion, crushed areas, or any separation of load-carry stitch pattern
  • Burns or chemical damage
  • Hardware, fittings, or tensioning devices which are broken, bent, twisted, cracked, or have nicks and gouges
  • Knotted webbing or damaged loop ends
  • Splices or other makeshift repairs



By: Cris Pasto

Originally published at:

Posted on

Best-in-Class Ascendant 100’ Aerial Tower Unveiled at Fire Department Instructors Conference

Pierce Manufacturing introduces a new, uncompromising addition to the Pierce® Ascendant® Class of Aerials at the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) in Indianapolis, Ind. The Ascendant 100-foot Heavy-Duty Aerial Tower includes best in class features with superior maneuverability, drivability, operator functionality, and serviceability.

APPLETON, Wis. (April 26, 2018) – Pierce Manufacturing Inc., an Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE:OSK) company, today introduced a new, uncompromising addition to the Pierce® Ascendant® Class of Aerials at the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) in Indianapolis, Ind. The all-new Ascendant 100’ Aerial Tower includes best in class features including superior maneuverability, drivability, operator functionality, and serviceability. Answering the demand for the innovative Ascendant ladder to be available on additional configurations, the 100’ Aerial Tower offers heavy-duty capabilities and the highest level of dependability.

Reaching heights of 100′ vertically and 93′ horizontally, the Ascendant 100′ Aerial Tower packages a 5-section heavy-duty steel tower onto a vehicle with a low overall ride height of only 10’8″ and length of only 41’ 3”. Its 160″ rear overhang minimizes tail-swing offering superior maneuverability and even greater visibility than that of a rear-mounted tower.

“We listened to our customers’ feedback and incorporated elements that exceed expectations with the innovative features of the new Ascendant 100’ Aerial Tower,” said Lisa Barwick, director of business development, Pierce Manufacturing. “Exceptional horizontal and vertical reach capabilities, combined with superior maneuverability, drivability, operability, and serviceability functions, address firefighters’ essential aerial apparatus needs.”

This new aerial tower outperforms with a 1,000 lb tip load capacity, up to a 20-degree below grade operation, and a below grade 50-degree scrub area. All of this is accomplished with the truck at a mere 20′ set-back from the building. Its integrated ground pads eliminate time spent throwing ground pads, so setup is streamlined and faster than any other aerial on the market. The apparatus will be ready for aerial operations in under 30 seconds.

“Last year we introduced a class of aerials that set a new benchmark for performance in the industry, and we didn’t stop at taking the platform options and apparatus features a step further,” said Barwick. “The all-new Ascendant 100’ Aerial Tower is ideal for customers in the market for a mid- or rear-mounted platform and is unlike any other aerial apparatus available.”

The Ascendant 100′ Aerial Tower is available on a variety of custom chassis and body styles to meet fire departments’ needs. Additionally, the apparatus can be configured with a rear axle rating as low as 48,000 lbs. providing all of the benefits of a lighter weight vehicle such as shorter stopping distances and better performance from the chassis drivetrain. For a comprehensive review of the Pierce Ascendant Class of aerials, visit for complete specs, video and images.

Posted: Apr 26, 2018 10:28:06 AM by Pierce Mfg.