Eating Your Own Cooking

The following article, written by Bart Wright, Asst. Chief/Admin., Maitland Fire Dept. has been used by permission.  This article originally appeared in the May 2011 edition of the FFMIA Safety Matters newsletter.

A few months ago, I had the occasion to attend a pension board meeting relative to my department's pension plan and it turned out to be quite an experience. That experience resulted in a more useful application than I ever imagined, starting with the words used by the investment managers making up the board. Those words are the subject title of this article - 'Eating Your Own Cooking'.

Having never heard them before that night, as it turns out, that phrase is quite the business mantra. Do an internet search and see for yourselves. During the meeting, I learned from the investment people attending our meeting, it meant that the recommendations being made to our pension board were recommendations that these very people were also applying to their own situations. And then it hit me; does our industry "Eat our own cooking"?

To answer that question, we must first recognize the rhetorical nature of the question as well as recognizing what my late father was known to observe when he suggested, "In every piece of truth there is some rhetoric and in every piece of rhetoric there is some truth." To illustrate how these two ideas relate to one another, we need only look to the things we do each day as we carry out our fire service responsibilities.

As managers it has long been said that we have the proverbial 'open-door' policy which means we want disclosure of information so that we can best operate our various organizations. But alas, every time an employee invokes that allegorical open door opportunity, fire administration drops the hammer on them. The result - eventually people stop coming through the door, the door that turns out not to be quite so open. Have you eaten your own cooking when that happens? Arguably, not.

What about the rhetoric and truth you ask? Well, the rhetoric here is in the truth that while there is actually an open door policy, it's really not in truth open, but masquerading as such; hence, that's in reality rhetoric; symbolic only, ergo of no real use.

Another way of understanding this concept about eating our own cooking might be to recognize it from the parental posture; you know it all too well. Mom and dad have been adamant about their children not smoking and as they admonish the children not to smoke, they light up their own. We kind of do that in the fire service too, do we not? As my Operations Chief Kimberly Neisler notes in one email signature line, "Leaders lead by example, whether they intend to or not." If we say one thing and do another, we're not eating our own cooking. Rhetorically, do you admonish personnel one way and then not apply it yourselves? (compare Romans 2:21)

We admonish our personnel to treat people decently and with respect, and yet when given the situation for us to actually do that, we do not. In fire operations that may well be about a performance issue, in our life safety services divisions, it may involve a property owner, architect, or developer. Instead of demonstrating deference to the other person and this business mantra, we sit and we sit hard on them forcing them to an unfair labor practice (ULP) claim or to a third party board of overseers (DEC statement as an example) to settle what might well have been settled without such trumpet blast.

Whenever we as industry officials and managers force a matter to go outside our own spans of control, we're not 'eating our own cooking'. Why is that? Because in review, resolution was all too clear, yet not applied. Why not? In part, because that resolution did not uphold the findings of the superior ranking individual involved.

When a subordinate comes in with a remedy through that symbolically established open door, why not take in what they bring? Why does it have to be the Chief's way? Why can't it be the subordinates? When a property owner, developer, designer, or engineer brings in a resolution, can't that work or does it actually not work because it came from them? We need to be circumspect here, it is all too critical for an appropriate outcome. There are three kinds of people (managers in this concern) in this life; which one are you?

The person that makes things happen, the person that watched things happen, or the person that wondered what just happened?

So as we go about our daily activities, can we not do a better job at eating our own cooking and not make our roles as difficult as many have. Frankly, it's simply not that tough - Let's do a better job of eating our own cooking.

Article Provided by:

Bart Wright, CFPA

Asst. Chief, Maitland Fire Department

Dodger Stadium Fire

The following story from Yahoo! Sports

Sing it with me: The roof! The roof! The roof is on fire!
Thousands might have dusted off that old-school hit at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night as it appeared that the roof literally was on fire in the right-field upper deck. Smoke began billowing into the seating area of the ballpark during the fifth inning of the Los Angeles Dodgers6-1 lossto the Florida Marlins.
Thousands of fans were moved from the affected sections and relocated to another part of the stadium. (As L.A. Times reporter Steve Dilbeckpointed out, there were plenty of empty sections to move to, with an announced crowd of 29,971 on hand.)
No one was evacuated from the park, but some reportedly suffered from smoke irritation. The smoke wafted from the upper tiers of the ballpark down to the lower levels, and eventually reached center field. Marlins outfielder Chris Coghlan(notes)definitely noticed something wrong in the air.
"I could smell that smoke and I was like, 'That ain't a hot-dog stand.' Then I saw this huge puff and I said, 'Oh, my God, this place is on fire and we're still playing,' " [he] said.
No, it wasn't a hot dog stand ablaze.
According to the Los Angeles Fire Department, the fire originated from a small warehouse below the reserved level. Officials on the scene said a small fire of paper products was the cause of the smoke, and was put out by firefighters in 20 minutes.
The stadium's public address announcer informed the crowd of the situation during the sixth inning, assuring them that the fire was under control and there was no need to evacuate the ballpark.
Ultimately, it was yet another bizarre incident in a season full of off-the-field embarrassment for the Dodgers.
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Memorial Grilling

Each year fire departments respond to approximately 7,700 grill related fires. As Memorial Day approaches, here are a few tips to ensure a safe grilling day.

  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.

  • The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.

  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area. 

  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.

  • Never leave your grill unattended. 

  • Use only charcoal starter fluid.  

  • When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.
More grilling safety tips and fact sheets available from  the National Fire Protection Association at

Specific codes related to grills can be found in NFPA 1:10:

1:10.11.3 - Open fires and cooking fires shall be constantly attended by a competent person until such fire is extinguished.  This person shall have a garden hose connected to the water supply or other fire-extinguishing equipment readily available for use.

1:10.11.7 [applicable only to multi-family residences] - no hibachi, gas-fired grill, charcoal grill, or other similar devices used for cooking, heating, or any other purpose, shall be used or kindled on any balcony or under any overhanging portion or within 10 ft. or any structure.  Listed electric ranges, grills, or similar electrical apparatus shall be permitted.

Grill the perfect steak at Kingsford Univeristy.

Code Violation?

Where do all these fire codes, standards, and regulations come from? How can I find out what fire codes apply to my business or property? What are they looking for during an inspection? Is that really a code violation?

All these fire codes are available on-line at (National Fire Protection Association). 

Here's how to access them:

  • From select 'Codes & Standards'

  • From 'Codes & Standards' select 'List of NFPA Codes & Standards'

  • Select the desired code based on code number or name (most relevant codes are found in NFPA 1 or NFPA 101)

  • Scroll down to the section that says 'View the document online', click on the desired edition

  • At this point you will be prompted to enter or create a login (quick and free).

  • Click 'I agree' to the terms and conditions

  • Select 'Open' at the top of the screen that follows.

You can nowly freely read any codes and standards that you may need.

Many municipalities have their own fire codes that go along with state/national adopted fire codes.  Many of these city/county ordinances are available from Here is a sample from my jurisdiction Martin County Code of Ordinances.

This video was produced by

Redneck Mansion

There's a code for that:

NFPA 501A:

Vertical Positioning of Manufactured Homes.  Manufactured homes shall not be positioned vertically, stacked with one over the other, in whole or in part, unless the structure is designed and approved for such installation and permitted by the authority having jurisdiction.


Hailed as the world's smallest, first non-toxic, and eco friendly fire extinguisher, the PFE-1 boasts no maintenance costs, no mess/residue, and increased user compatibility. 

Interesting developement:

This is available from Fire Stryker.

Fire Prevention, an Appeal

The only persons who can prevent loss by fire are the owners or occupants of the premises; upon them rests the responsiblity for heavy loss in nearly every fire. -Edward Atkinson

That is the fire problem in a nutshell. It is up to the owners and occupants, who neglect the fire danger. With our current building laws, non-combustible construction, and strict fire codes new buildings are not the issue, the great danger is the old buildings. The way to remove that danger is to make the present buildings safe.

Do not run the risk of financial ruin by a conflagration in your business, home, or community. Do not be responsible for a loss of life, loss of property,or loss of capital panic caused by a big fire in your community. Do not depend on insurance; it never pays for the loss of business.  Do not ask firemen to risk their lives in dangerous buildings. Partner with your local firefighters by making your property safe against fire.

Prevent fires in your building by applying a few basic principles:
1. be aware of and remove the causes of fire.
2. decrease fire loss and damage by having available, and maintaining, fire extinguishers, and fire sprinkler systems.
3. provide and maintain fire alarm systems to facilitate early fire/smoke detection (a monitored system will ensure quick response by the fire department).

4. confine the fire to small areas by building per UL fire-resistant standards.
5. maintain doors, and exits for easy accessibility (for exiting occupants, and entering fire/rescue personnel).
6. maintain life safety by regularly conducting fire drills.

Business longevity can, practically, be guarnteed by following these 6 fire prevention principles.

Juvenile Fire Setter Intervention

This is a training video, that demonstrates the juvenile fire setter and intervention process. This accompanied a PowerPoint presentation.  Hopefully, the video will help the crews remember the juvenile process.

This can also be viewed on YouTube.

Zig Ziglar's Success Habits: Journey to the Top

from Success magazine:


Personal development icon Zig Ziglar told SUCCESS in October 2008, "I'm a constant learner. You need to be a constant student because things change and you have to change and grow. And I emphasize the word grow," he says. Here are Zig Ziglar's five habits for your journey to the top:


     1.  Be a constant leader. Seek out information that you can learn and teach to others.

     2.  Encourage others and help them get what they want.

     3.  Express gratitude. "Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions," Ziglar says.     "The more you   express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even  more to express gratitude for."

     4.  Recognize the value of relationships and their role in creating balanced success.

     5.  Be consistent in your words and actions. "When you make a promise, keep it."

For related content from Zig Ziglar visit