Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs

Read this first: Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs

I find this article very interesting, and very applicable to the fire service today.  Particularly in the parallels between Goldman Sachs lack of customer/client priority, and the fire departments (some, not all) lack of placing community needs first.

"...the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money."

 It seems that of late, our citizens, and communities are being sidelined in the way that fire department and union officials approach contract negotiations, and pay scales (nobody should have gotten into public service to get rich), and in the way that municipal and department policies are written with more emphasis on protecting the organization than on providing service (which without people desiring the service there would be no need for the department or the policy). 

I was attracted to the fire service, because of its role in serving the community, and for what it stands for.  We should be proud every morning to put on our badge and fulfill the tenets that it stands for: loyalty, piety, frankness, bravery, honor, contempt of death, assistance to the weak, and respect.  Failing to uphold any of these values, is failure to do the job that we are hired to do (paid or volunteer).

United Liberty
 Are we consistently making decisions in the best interests of our citizens and the communities that we serve? The communities needs should take priority over all else, including pay scales and pay raises, union contracts and negotiations, and policy creation.

"The firm changed the way it thought about leadership. Leadership used to be about ideas, setting an example and doing the right thing."

Leadership speaker and author, John Maxwell, says that everything rises and falls on leadership.  The truth of this statement is nowhere more evident than in the fire service.  A chief that is focused on serving the community creates lietenants, and firefighters that are focused on community service.  A chief focused on personal power and authority, revenues, and acquiescing to municpal leaders (town managers, mayors, or county commisioners) breeds more of the same in his officers and firefighters.  In many departments the "good old boy" system is alive and well.  However, this system does not produce the best leaders for the department, or the best representation for the community.  Leaders should be promoted through observation of those that demonstrate setting a good example, doing the right thing, pouring into the lives of other employees, and generally excelling at being a public servant.

"...not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help clients."

When was the last time anyone at your department asked, "what's best for the community and our citizens"?  How does this contract or policy implementation benefit those that we have vowed to serve?  Many of the decisions that we have to make(that often get us into a snowball of problems) would solve themselves, if we framed them all in the context of the question, "In this instance what is best for the community and our citizens?"

"If clients don’t trust you they will eventually stop doing business with you."

Communities are beginning to lose faith and trust in the fire department, as they increasingly feel, a decline in level of service provided.  As this level of service continues to decrease community support will cease, and the citizens will turn to alternate sources for fire services. They start seeking out privatization of EMS, outsourcing of Fire-Rescue services, and merging fire inspection responsibilities with building departments.  If your community is currently seeking one of these alternatives, you should be asking "why?".  What can these other options offer that we can not? What needs to be done for us to offer this service and prevent outsourcing/mergers/privatization?  Sometimes, the best answer for the community might be one of these other options (privatization/outsourcing/merging).

I close this call to take up the role of public servant with the closing paragraph of Mr. Smith's resignation letter.

"I hope this can be a wake-up call to the board of directors. Make the client the focal point of your business again. Without clients you will not make money. In fact, you will not exist. Weed out the morally bankrupt people, no matter how much money they make for the firm. And get the culture right again, so people want to work here for the right reasons. People who care only about making money will not sustain this firm — or the trust of its clients — for very much longer."

How quickly we forget...

Legislation introduced last week in Rhode Island proposes to ease the states fire codes, codes that were put in place after the Station Nightclub fire in 2003.  What was the reason these codes were enacted in the first place?  Is fire prevention and life safety no longer a priority - 9 years later?

Juxtapose this image...

With this one...

It seems the loss of business ("a few dozen") and tax revenue pales in comparison to the loss, pain, and grief experienced by the Station Nightclub victims and families.  A business that is not safe for customers, or employees, and does not want to comply with fire/life safety standards should not be a welcome business in any community.

I find it interesting that in the article by NBC Channel 10 News in Providence, it mentions that the Lombardi club that had been in town for more than 50 years, and claimed more than $3.5 million in sales, had to move to Massachusettes to avoid the "near $500,000" in improvements to  create a fire safe establishment.  It seems that $500,000 out of $3.5 million is a small price to pay.

2012 Fire Blog of Year

Every year The Fire Critic sponsors the 2012 Fire and EMS Blogs of Year.  Below are the 2012 Fire Blogs of the year.

Readers choice:  STATter911

Judges choice:  Backstep Firefighter

See the whole list of nominees (including yours truly!) at The Fire Critic.

Chevy Volt Fires - the Truth

A few weeks ago, there was rampant media coverage claiming a common and incredible fire hazard in the Chevrolet Volt.  The media, being what it is, did, however, neglected to mention some minor details that would disprove the Volt fire hazard.

Bob Lutz, former GM Vice Chairman, in a recent article for Forbes, gives the following facts regarding the Chevrolet Volt, and the false safety claims that it has received.
  • Not one Chevrolet Volt has ever caught fire under normal use or in a real accident.
  • The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) conducted a highly artificial crash test, and still award the Volt it's highes safety rating: five stars.
  • The crashed Volt that did catch fire (three weeks after the test), was a result of leaking coolant, from the vehicle being upside down.  Additionally, the three week period should be more than enough time for any of the vehicles occupants to get to safety prior to burning in a firey crash.
  • According to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) 278,000 gasoline engines caught fire every year from 2003-2007.  Check out Electric Vehicle Safety Training from the NFPA.
Here are some facts, lest any fire investigator come across a Chevrolet Volt fire, and quickly disimiss it as defective manufacturing common to this type of vehicle.

Safe House

The Fireproof House
Your home should be a place of safety, protection, and refuge.  Inside a locked home we feel secure from the outside world or criminals, danger, and inclement weather. What about attacks from inside the home? Annually, 2,135 people die and 8,550 are injured in 248,500 residential fires (totalling $5.9 billion in property loss).]

In 1907 architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, published the article "A Fireproof House for $5,000", in Ladies Home Journal.  In this model he advocated for concrete construction, as opposed to the standard wood frame, or lathe and plaster common at the time. 

Now, in the 21st century, with the technological advancement in fire protection and detection systems, we have even more tools to employ in creating the "fire proof house".  Among these tools are smoke alarms,home fire sprinkler systems, and ready access to fire extinguishers.

Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home, inside and outside of each bedroom/sleeping area.  Smoke alarms should be tested monthly, and batteries replaced at least two times per year.  Home fire sprinkler systems are rapidly growing in popularity, and cost per foot is relatively cheap (especially when installed in new home construction).  The Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, offers a wealth of information, and free resources.  Fire extinguishers can be easily, and cost effectively, obtained from your nearest hardware store.  These should be installed in the areas of greatest fire risk, typically, the kitchen, and garage areas.

Very Tall Buildings

“Very tall buildings" are characterized by heights that impose fire protection challenges, and require special attention beyond the protection features typically provided by traditional fire protection methods.  Very tall buildings are typically those above 420 feet in height.

Five Characteristics of a "Very Tall Building":

1. Height beyond available resources of fire department ladders.
2. Extended evacuation time.
3. Pronounced Stack effect.
4. Greater challenges of mixed occupancies.
5. Iconic nature. (Tall buildings generally are considered iconic because they are generally unusual in height, design or other feature, and recognizable as unique.)

The Society of Fire Protection Engineers is seeking input on a new guide entitled, "Guidelines for Designing Fire Safety in Very Tall Buildings".  A draft of this document and comment forms can be obtained from this link,

Powerful Pub Ed

Ensure that every fire prevention/life safety public education experience is done with excellence.  Avoid these common behaviors:

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How To Build a Fire Hydrant

Enjoy this interesting video showing the process of how a fire hydrant is made.