Army Firefighting: A Historical Perspective

Army Fire Fighting: A Historical Perspective  by, Leroy Allen Wardcaptures the previously undocumented aspect of the army fire service history. What started as research to assist a former World War II army firefighter in gathering data for his website grew into a desire to capture the fragmented history of the Army soldier/firefighter into a book devoted to the army’s military occupational specialty, “21M Firefighter”.

Until now, writers have given army firefighting little more than a brief quote in a much larger book or article. This book covers the origins of the MOS beginning with the Civil War and continues through the War on Terrorism. It includes not only the training, vehicles and equipment used throughout the years, but also dates and locations of deployments for firefighting platoons and detachments, unit rosters of World War I and II and in collaboration with Ted Heinbuch, webmaster of and James Davis, webmaster of and author of, Fire Fighters in Fatigues, Army Fire Fighting includes a comprehensive list of Line of Duty Death (LODD) of soldier/firefighters. 

The purpose of this book is to present a concise history of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers military occupational specialty 21M, Firefighter. With this object in mind, it addresses several audiences.
  • First are the young soldiers who may be unfamiliar with the historical underpinnings of their MOS. For them, the evolution of the MOS' past reveals insights into its future and provides them with knowledge and pride of the past.
  • The second audience is the scholarly community of historians. For these professionals, the work serves as a tool for further analysis of this small unknown MOS within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
  • The third audience consists of those who served in the MOS or its precursors, as well as other members of the firefighting industry and the public at large. For this group, the book endeavors to detail the history of this low-density MOS which represents a small section of the Corps of Engineers.

This book belongs to those firefighters, past, present and future. Above all it belongs to those American soldier/firefighters who have given their all.

The book, Army Fire Fighting: A Historical Perspective , is available in Hard or Soft Cover from AuthorHouse. Or you can order online from your favorite bookseller by using the following ISBN numbers:

978-1-4685-2369-0 (HC ISBN)
978-1-4685-2370-6 (SC ISBN)
978-1-4685-2368-3 (ebook ISBN)

Free Codes and Standards

State codes, standards, and regulations should be free and accessible to all.  Carl Malamud, creator ,has taken action on this belief, and provides .pdf files of all state building and fire codes free of charge.

Here are a few general codes and standards that they have available:

Visit the site for more codes and standards and state adopted editions.

My ICC Experience

This past week I attended the ICC code action committee hearings in Dallas.  My purpose was to testify against some damaging code change proposals on  behalf of the Patient Fire Safety Coalition.

It was my first time being involved with the ICC codes.  Being part of the fire service in Florida, I have become intimately familiar with the NFPA codes.  Getting a grip on the International Fire Code, how it works and how to use it, provided a challenge.  It is a good experience, although not a code that I will use often in my daily job as a Fire Inspector, it is a tool that is definitely good to have a working knowledge of, especially since most of the nation seems to base their codes on the IFC.

Testifying at the code action committee hearings, was a stressful undertaking for me.  I was in a room full (about 200 people) of individuals that had more experience than me, were smarter than I was, more familiar with the material than me, and had more "skin in the game" than I did.  I have taught many classes, and given countless presentations, but I have never been more nervous than when I stepped up to the mic to give my arguments at the code action committee hearings.  It is kind of embarrassing, I am a grown man, yet in the presence of these knowledgeable people, and the task at hand, I felt like a little girl at her first talent show.
I have found that the greatest growth comes when, and only when, we are required to act outside of our comfort zones. 

For the record, two of the code change proposals that we opposed went in our favor and two did not.  We will oppose these at the ICC Committee Conference in October (Atlantic City, NJ).  I would encourage all those in the business of fire prevention and fire codes to attend these events at least once.  It is a valuable experience that provides a new depth of understanding to the code development process.

I will also say, that seeing the ICC in action has given me a new appreciation for the thoroughness of the NFPA.  Some of the arguments brought forth at the ICC were to take care of, or put into the code, issues that the NFPA has long required.  The IFC is more broadly adopted and therefore more easily applied to communities across the country, however, the NFPA seems to be more clearly written, with more precision, and guidance, and more enforceable. 

I do want to encourage those in the fire service to become involved in the code development process at some level (even for just one round), ICC or NFPA, to gain a greater perspective on the importance of fire prevention and life safety in everything that we do.
"...stepping out of your comfort zone sometimes is the most courageous thing of all." - Steve Peifer