Author Archives: Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer

Battalion Chief (Ret.) Robert Avsec served with the men and women of the Chesterfield County (VA) Fire and EMS Department for 26 years. He’s now using his acquired knowledge, skills, and experiences as a freelance writer for FireRescue1.com and as the “blogger in chief” for this blog. Chief Avsec and his wife of 30+ years now make their home in Cross Lanes, WV. Contact him via e-mail, rpa1157@gmail.com.

It’s Time to Limit Wearing of Firefighting Turnout Gear

Everybody is now starting to say, “Treat every structure fire like a hazmat incident” (Something I’ve been saying and writing about for about four or five years now). Well, do you ever see a hazmat team member wearing a Level A (fully encapsulated) protective suit unless they're working on an incident or training? No, you don't! And it's time every firefighter starts looking at their structural PPE the same way!

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What are the rules of interior structural firefighting?

Look, I’ve made this connection between the HAZWOPER standard and interior structural firefighting with about an hour’s worth of research. How long do you think it’s going to take for an attorney—and their legal team—representing a firefighter who’s developed cancer on the job to develop a solid case that their client’s cancer was caused by the inappropriate PPE and unnecessary exposure to toxic chemicals, chemical compounds, and carcinogens?

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A new structure fire response paradigm

We now know enough about the connection between firefighter exposures to the toxic chemicals, chemical compounds, and carcinogens present in today's smoke encountered during interior structural firefighting to know that it is not right to continue putting firefighters into that environment.

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Why interior firefighting will be obsolete by 2030

We've only seen the beginning of the firefighters developing cancer from their occupational exposures. The numbers for those cases are going to skyrocket in the next 10 years; and along with the number of cases will be an even more daunting rise in health care premiums (That many localities still pay for their firefighters) and workers compensation claims being paid by local and state governments.

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What’s so funny about the helmet?

Hearing loss for firefighters is a real risk of the job, so does your helmet provide hearing protection just by putting it on? Eye injuries are another risk of firefighting and other emergency service delivery tasks (e.g., auto extrication). Does your helmet have built-in full-face protection that’s protected from heat and physical damage until you need it?

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Overcoming the #1 Barrier to Cultural Change in the Fire Service

By: Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer Why does it take so long for new equipment or work practices to become the norm in the fire service? Case in point, the first commercial SCBA appeared in fire stations in 1920, though it wouldn’t be until the late 1970s before SCBA use began to gain widespread acceptance in the fire service in ...

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Pregnant women in public safety is not something new

Your efforts to recruit and retain women for your department are doomed to fail if you don't have those policies and procedures in place now. If every one of your male officers and firefighters aren't informed and educated about how a female colleague will be treated when she finds out she's pregnant, your efforts are doomed to fail.

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Climate change ain’t no hoax, just ask a California firefighter

As taxpaying citizens of the U.S., we all have “skin in the game” when it comes to how wildfires and all natural disasters in the U.S. are prepared for and handled when they happen. And if we don’t take climate change seriously and pressure our elected officials to take it seriously, we’ll only see more acres burn. We’ll only see bigger and stronger storms—from hurricanes to tornadoes to winter storms—affecting all parts of the U.S. And don’t even get me started on coastal areas that will become non-existent for future generations.

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