Author Archives: Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer

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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.

Cleaning Your SCBA: Are You a Caveman or a Transformer?

During these types of events, and particularly during interior structural firefighting, the SCBA unit can be exposed to a toxic “soup” of chemicals, chemical compounds, and known carcinogens while it protects the firefighter’s respiratory system from those same hazards. And while much is currently being discussed and written about how to protect firefighters from those hazards, there is much to be learned about how to keep SCBA units clean and decontaminated after each use and ready for the next emergency.

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The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste

But perhaps the greatest threat to our psychological well-being is reluctance on the part of many in the emergency services field to accept that these hazards exist and that their negative impact on our lives, our families, and our organizations are real.  In many respects, to quote the adage, “We have met the enemy and it is us.”

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When Job Applications Leave You Speechless

As a PSAP [Public Safety Answering Point] manager one of the BIGGEST responsibilities is hiring and on-boarding new employees. Let's face it, this profession is one where the doors are constantly swinging open with turnover. It's easy to blame the management team, but the issues with retention in PSAPs are much more rooted than what's on the surface of workplace relationships. 

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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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