Pre-conference Workshops

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

8:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Five-Alarm Leadership

This dynamic program is designed to energize and motivate the people in your department to perform and excel in everything they do. This program outlines many of the common situations that fire departments and fire companies find themselves in and presents suggestions and solutions to those situations. The presenter is a 33-plus-year veteran of the FDNY and has experienced many of the challenges and hurdles that your fire department is facing. He has learned through his experience as a lieutenant, captain and chief how to treat people, how to motivate them and even how to discipline them so that they want to come back for more. Issues such as integrity, inspiration, interest, Innovation, insight and initiative are all discussed and applied to life in the firehouse and on the fireground. Join us as he guides you through your most difficult but vital role as a leader in the fire service.

John Salka
Not All Buildings Are Created Equal: A Tactical Approach to Building Construction and Fire Behavior

This dynamic and fast-paced class is intended to be presented to all levels of fire service personnel from the candidate firefighter all the way to chief. The presentation utilizes video, audio and pictures from incidents that emphasize the importance of knowing the construction type of the building and how it affects EVERYTHING we do on the fireground from size-up to overhaul. Time is allotted for discussion, feedback and experiences of attendees related to the program. This is unlike any building construction class you have ever attended.

Prioritizing Your Department's Training Program

Making training a priority in fire departments can be a struggle. This can lead to catastrophic results such as an increase in risk for injury and/or death and failing to meet the expectations of the communities they serve. This course will help the firefighter determine the need for training for themselves and their department, and how to make it the leading priority. Topics to be discussed include: organizational training needs and expectations; the selection of a training officer; training program delivery; and personal responsibility in maintaining a healthy training environment. Attendees will leave the class with knowledge of how and why to make training a priority in their department as well as in their personal lives.

Justin Bailey
Size Up Videos and Tactics for the First Due Engine

This workshop will be a highly dynamic and interactive class that utilizes audience participation as a key component. Raw fire scene videos are used that start prior to fire department arrival or just as operations are beginning. The videos are then broken down at the strategic and tactical levels with all the emphasis being on the first-due engine. Heavy emphasis will be placed on points of entry and their pros and cons, flow path identifications and predictions are made and how they may influence the first line. Build construction is discussed with emphasis on extension routes and how it can affect tactics. Direct, transitional and blitz attacks are also discussed based on what we see in the videos and gpm is also broken down based on fire volume. After the videos, case studies are reviewed of similar fires in similar styles of construction with the lessons learned.

Tom Sitz
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thru-the-Lock, the Not-So Forcible Entry Method
Life Safety, incident stabilization and property conservation are the three incident priorities we follow in the fire service. At every incident, these priorities must be maintained. One of the many tasks firefighters must be proficient in is forcible entry. The Thru-the-Lock method of forcible entry conserves property damage while obtaining the goal of gaining entry. This method is utilized when life safety and property conservation come together to make access to buildings and homes for a vast array of incident responses. When seconds count and lives hang in the balance, it takes trained professionals to do their job and get it done right. Thru-the-Lock has proven effective to access patients, making entry for water flow activation, as well as maintaining door control for smoke conditions. An additional benefit of Thru-the-Lock is the ability to secure the entry point upon termination of the incident. Thru-the-Lock is a skill every firefighter needs in their proverbial toolbox.
John Hayowyk Jr.
Walking Columbus: Talking Tactics and Construction

Greg Lash and his cadre will lead an interactive, full-day walking tour of Columbus to discuss building construction and tactics. Attendees will spend the day exploring all building classes, including legacy and new construction, via interior and exteriors tours, followed by frank discussions on fireground tactics, from apparatus placement, hoseline positioning, search and how building construction affects fire behavior and survivability. This program is designed for all ranks to better understand fireground operations from veteran firefighters away from PowerPoint programs.

1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Big Buildings, Little Fires, Big Problems – Emergency Response to Big Box Stores, Large Warehouses, & Distribution Centers

The building of distribution facilities, warehouses and big box (warehouse) stores are popping up in almost every community in the United States. It’s not uncommon to find hardware stores, grocery stores and warehouse clubs with more than 100,000 sq. ft. of space. Distribution facilities can be more than 1 million square feet. Recent history in the United State has documented several large losses of these facilities. The fire service is finding themselves in litigation in their responses or perceived lack of response to these facilities. This class is largely based on NFPA 1700: The Guide for Structural Firefighting (2021 edition/1st edition) as it applies to large-volume facilities. This class will address the importance of building familiarization, pre-incident planning, and fire prevention. This program will also discuss the presence and limitations of fire protection systems. Discussions will include building construction styles and features utilized in these facilities. Additionally, the class will look at the scientific study of modern fire behavior within large-volume structures. The presenter will discuss the strategy and tactical considerations when fighting fires in large-volume structures.

Brian Gettemeier
Courageous Company Officer Success Through Challenging Times!

The company officer is the most important rank in any fire department. Success in your previous rank is not necessarily an indicator for the future in your new rank. New responsibilities, the changing workforce, increased service delivery demands, and a lack of preparation and adequate training often challenge the best company officers. What does courage, servant leadership, followership, trust and customer service have to do with the oath you swore and your professional level of commitment? This fast-paced, no-nonsense program addresses the hottest topics challenging today's company officers. Issues such as communication, trust, ethics, diversity, generational challenges, accountability, training, and social media are all addressed. The presenter has years of experience as an engine company lieutenant and truck company captain in one of the largest and busiest fire departments in the country. The program will follow the cornerstones of the fire service and reinforce our accountability during our biggest challenges: courage, trust, honor and service. The presentation will inspire the officers to recall the excitement they had when they first became an officer and step up their “Love For The Game” attitude in their own organizations. Case studies, first-hand experiences, and leadership accountability and responsibility are addressed.

Daniel DeYear
Fire Service Data for Dummies

Don't know a GIS from a GPS? Don’t know a NFIRS from a NFORS? Haven't figured out the difference between ERF and ERG? Don’t have the time or patience to read a manual, an academic journal, or 700-page book? We hear you! This session is designed as a primer for new chief officers and company officers to gain a better understanding of how data shapes their work, their department operations and the decisions they make. This session will walk participants through the various data sets, processes, elements, factors and platforms that affect modern fire service data awareness and understanding. The goal is to improve the user’s understanding of data flow, process, utility and purpose. At the same time, it will also enhance the attendees’ ability to understand how to find and use the appropriate data set to solve their current issue or question.

Rowhouse Fires: Stopping the Spread

Rowhouses are a prolific style of housing in much of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern region of our country. They are found from rural villages to small towns and in medium and large cities alike. It’s their unique construction and it’s inherent ability to allow rapid fire spread throughout many voids that can challenge firefighters from the most resource and staffing rich departments. Developing an understanding of these structures, their construction, their challenges and how we can intervein in a fires progression within them is key to a successful operation at a row fire. This program begins by looking at the history and development of the row house, it’s construction, fire spread potential and pathways, the neighborhoods they are often found in, exposure potentials and inherent life hazards. It then moves on to evaluating the strategies and tactics used to combat these fires from the command, engine co and truck company perspectives. It concludes with looking at some specific operational challenges and how we might overcome them.

Brian Bastinelli
The Fire Family

The Fire Family is a highly interactive program that delves deep into the foundation of marriage and family within the fire service. The program focuses on the reality that there exists two fire families. One is the station and department, and the other is home, spouse and children. More often than not, these two “families” compete for time and attention, and while the firefighter is caught in the middle, the spouse and children live in the unique world of growing up in what is often the secondary role to the fire department, and station/shift life. The program focuses on real issues, and was created with wives, firefighters and children of firefighters across the country. It also focuses on understanding the true advantage of having both families for the firefighter, spouse, and children, and to consider the following principles when navigating this unique life: 1) The importance of building a blueprint/foundation early in the marriage, that needs to be fluid, tended to and revisited on an ongoing basis. Having core values and agreements helps in navigating the crazy and difficult times. This foundation needs to include the children at an early age. 2) Merging the two “families” socially, and weaving them together from the onset is a key to the long-term success for the marriage and family, and to lessening the friction that can grow each year. As the firefighter’s career grows and needs more time, the home life and family also grows, and needs equal time. 3) Making communication and compromise a key in the entire family. 4) Understanding and knowing when to look for signs of stress, PTSD, and conflict triggers. Oftentimes, a shift can be overwhelming for a firefighter, and simply hopping back into home life within an hour of leaving a station is not possible. Working on those core agreements around this and finding ways to be honest about these issues are extremely important to the firefighter individually, and to the home life as a whole. 5) HUMOR! This program is presented with great humor, and full honesty. We fully engage the group, and learn quickly how their family dynamics work, and talk openly about the issues they face, and about what works best for them.

Kathy Edwards
The Morale Dilemma

Morale is a word that is often used to gauge the health of an organization. As such, it is closely tied to leadership because it measures the positive (or negative) influence on a group. It is a fluid concept with ebbs and flows; leaders have to monitor progress over time. Chief officers know there are aspects of morale that can be directly influenced within a fire department. There are other aspects, such as pay, benefits, and overall budget, that can be influenced, but are not in a chief's direct control to arbitrarily change. For membership of the department, these issues are often difficult to differentiate and can result in the department's leadership group being dehumanized within the organization. As a department moves forward, the concept of morale must be balanced with the concept of change management. There are definite timelines involved with trying to change an organization and a cognizant leader recognizes that we all operate within certain timelines and limitations related to change. These can certainly alter with different circumstances; however, change generally takes longer to accomplish than people want, if they are open to the change at all. These factors have to be weighed as a leader looks to position his/her department for present and future success. This session is about the topic of morale and how leaders can best have a positive, long-term influence on the organization. This is accomplished by looking for “wins” that are within control of the department's leadership team, trying to positively influence those things not within the leader's direct control, and paying close attention to the “human” side of being both a leader and a follower in the organization.

David Griffin