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 and as the “blogger in chief” for this blog. Chief Avsec makes his home in Cross Lanes, WV. Contact him via e-mail, [email protected].

Book review: “Hot zone”–Memoir of a Professional Firefighter

I've read many other books about the firefighter experience over the years, but none of those authors managed to give me that same feeling that “I was there,” like Dennis Smith's "Report from Engine Co. 82." But that came to a screeching halt when I started reading “Hot Zone” written Division Chief (Ret.) Chris Howes. Howes has written what I believe will become “the book” that accurately describes the journey of a person in a fire and EMS department from the day they start their probie (entry-level) training to the day they retire.

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Where are the Champions in the Fire Service?

I'm not referring to individuals or teams that have attained the #1 status in their sport. Rather, I'm going to discuss the dearth of champions in fire and EMS departments who can turn the word champion (the noun) into champion (the verb). The key difference between mentors and sponsors is that mentors are “one-way streets”, giving their chosen mentee a gift of wisdom, time, and advice. Sponsorship requires reciprocity and commitment; sponsors serve as champions.

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Five Reasons Why You Should Attend Class at The National Fire Academy

This past Friday and Saturday, I attended the 32nd Executive Fire Officer and Leadership Symposium at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland. It was the first time I'd returned to NFA since about 2005 or 2006. This was my first time, however, returning as a freelance writer and not an active fire officer with the Chesterfield (Va.) Fire and EMS Department, where I served for 26 years. Nonetheless, I still got the same “chills down my spine” as I drove onto campus (After having my car inspected by campus security), that feeling I was returning home to what I and many others consider “the home of the American Fire Service.”

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Are Fire Departments “cutting off their noses to spite their face” with Age Discrimination?

By: Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer I participate in several fire service-related Groups on Facebook whose target audiences are women in the fire service. One, Female Firefighters & Male Champions of Change, even let me join because of my previous advocacy for women firefighters in this space and others where my writings have appeared. How many fire departments are missing ...

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Gordon Graham: The “Go to Guy” for Understanding Risk Management in Public Safety

I first heard Gordon Graham speak about risk management in the realm of public safety many years ago when he was the keynote speaker at the Mid-Winter Conference of the Virginia Fire Chiefs Association. From that moment I became a true believer in one of Graham’s core tenets “Predictable is preventable,” along with his concept of evaluating risk in public safety by asking two key questions. What’s the level of risk for an activity or operation? What’s the frequency for that risk?

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Why do firefighters continue to work 24-hour or longer shifts?

During the Question-and-Answer segment following the presentation, one of the first questions posed to me was “Why do firefighter keep working 24-hour shifts?” The second question was “Why would firefighters want to work a 48-hour shift?” The latter question was prompted by the segment of my presentation that described the 48-hours on, 96-hours off, schedule that some fire departments have adopted. And I did not have a satisfactory answer for either question.

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