Safe Spooking

Did you know that home decorations are the first thing ignited in over 1,000 homes each Halloween season; or that Halloween is one of the top five days for candle fires?

Follow these basic rules for a safe and happy Halloween:

• Buy only fire-resistant/flame-retardant costumes, that are not flowing or billowy.

• Provide children with small flashlights to carry with them.

• Keep decorations (cornstalks, hay bales, crepe paper) away from flame and other heat sources.

• Consider using battery operated candles in jack-o-lanterns; if using candles exercise extreme caution (including placement of jack-o-lantern)

 Have fun this Halloween season and enjoy the creepy decorations, costumes, jack-o-lanterns, and all that candy! For more on Halloween fire safety check out the National Fire Protection Association at

Planning your own haunted house? Check out these posts:

Haunted Castle Tragedy 

Haunted House - "OPEN"

Be a Presentation God

Witness testimony, community events and appearances, public education, all these put fire prevention in the public eye.  How many of us have witnessed some fire official completely blow it while speaking to the public, delivering a training class, or giving a presentation?  How many seminars have we sat through, where a prominent presenter on an interesting topic, completely bores us to death?  How many times have we experienced a near-miss at death by powerpoint?

Many fire officials seem to consider their  public speaking responsibilities as secondary, something not to be worried with.   John F. Kennedy once said, "The only reason to give a speech is to change the world."  In the fire service we have something to offer that no one else does.  We are in the business of saving lives (whether through EMS/fire response/fire prevention).  Scott Schwertly says, "The reality for both audiences and speakers is that a presentation that does not move something - be it people, products, ideas, or values - is merely wasted time."

I offer some resources that can take your presentation skills (and your public image) to a whole new level.

By far, the best resource out there for making presentations is Scott Schwertly's book, How to be a Presentation God:  Build, Design, and Deliver Presentations that DominateScott is CEO of Ethos3 a presentation design and training firm.  This should be required reading for anyone that will ever be tasked, at any point in their life, to give a presentation.

If you don't subscribe to the blog of author/marketing guru Seth Godin, do it now at  Two essential posts regarding presentations that you must read are, The atomic method of creating a Powerpoint presentation, and Really Bad Powerpoint.  In these posts, Seth provides four components to  great presentations, and five rules for creating a great Powerpoint experience.

Another blog you should immediately subscribe to is that of Michael Hyatt (author/speaker/chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers), at  Michael blogs about various topics, including leadership, productivity, publishing and social media. Check out several of his posts on presentations.

Roast Yourself

What does Charlie Sheen, David Hasslehoff,  Donald Trump, William Shatner, and Flavor Flav have in common?  They have all been featured roastees on the Comedy Central Roast.  In case your unfamiliar with how the roast works, one at a time comics like, Tom Arnold, Gilbert Gottfried,  Kathy Griffin and others, take turns making fun of the roastee (more like ripping them to shreds).  It is all done in good fun, when the camera pans over to the roastee, even they can be seen laughing uproariously.

Jason Fried, of 37signals, had the idea to feature a roast at one of his companies events.  Instead of roasting a person, they roasted one of their products, their main product, Basecamp.  Every employee had the opportunity to knock on this product, accentuate the various problems that customers have found annoying with it, and point out flaws without hurting feelings.  This exercise was simply to make the product better. Fried says, of the product roast, "...we started fixing some of the stuff that was brought up in the roast...we began working on solving some deeper problems that emerged...The roast hit all the right notes: It brought us together, generated some laughs, broke the ice on the first day of a long week together, highlighted a bunch of issues, and motivated us to dig in." (read more at Inc. Magazine, Oct. 2011)

Perhaps what we need in the fire service is a roast.  Perhaps at our next large gathering we spend some time roasting ourselves.  Bring together operations, prevention, and administration, and give an open forum to express things that need changed, both within the department, and outside the department (community).  Put the jokes (that we all have) about each side of the house out in the open.  Perhaps this exercise could be the start to closing gaps that have long existed in your department (gaps between operations/prevention or between the fire department/community).  Maybe this might be the start to realizing new programs and initiatives that need to be started or revamped for your community.  Everyday we all hear different opinion of what the community thinks about our service (and we have our own opinions).  A roast can serve as a non-threatening way to have these opinions heard and realized.

What happened?

Top headlines and stories of interest (that you might have missed) from this past week:

Education Debate - hiring of Florida chief stirs up debate over the necessity of college education

Fire Prevention Week Reading - from the American Red Cross blog, various fire prevention week articles

Commissioner Putnam Encourages Firewise Behavior - Florida Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services commemorates National Fire Prevention Week

Stoking the Flames - live video from inside a home training burn

Disney Ride Fire - small fire on Disney ride started by lightbulb

Firefighters Save Their Own - from Bonita Springs

How was your fire prevention week?  What special activities did your department take part in?

National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend - LIVE

Watch the Candlelight Service, live Saturday at 6:15 pm.
Watch the Memorial Service, live Sunday at 9:30am.


Bells Across America

For the first time in the 30year history of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend the bells of the Memorial Chapel will ring on Sunday, October 16 to honor the fallen. As part of this tribute, fire departments and places of worship and other community organizations will join the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation for Bells Across America for Fallen Firefighters, the first nationwide remembrance for firefighters who died in the line of duty.

“When a firefighter dies in the line of duty, the sadness resonates through an entire community. Through Bells Across America for Fallen Firefighters, everyone across the country has the opportunity to pay tribute to the lives of these brave men and women who willingly take risks to protect and serve their communities,” said Chief Ronald J. Siarnicki, executive director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

About the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF)

The United States Congress created the NFFF to lead a nationwide effort to remember America's fallen firefighters. Since 1992, the nonprofit foundation has developed and expanded programs to honor fallen fire heroes and assist their families and coworkers. The NFFF also works closely with the U.S. Fire Administration to help prevent and reduce line of duty deaths and injuries. For more information on the Foundation and its programs, contact us at 301-447-1365 or visit

  • Watch the candlelight service live from on Saturday, October 15, at 6:15pm.

  • Watch the memorial service live from on Sunday, October 16, at 9:30am.