Wednesday, August 10, 2011

We're Not Moving!

So given the outcry of the rumor mill of having blogger change to Google Blogs and forever be associated with Google +. Google came out with some sort of press release stating that they would not be doing such a thing. So with that, Smoke Before Fire will not be moving. (A big apology to those who updated their links to reflect the wordpress address.

Please look forward to September when Smoke Before Fire will come back from Summer Vacation. But while you are waiting I would love for you guys to check out a new personal blog. Go to it by clicking the image below.

With that, stay tuned and stay safe!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

We're Moving!

Given that Blogger is changing to Google Blogs and further integrating with Google's own, very new, social network I did not want my blog integrated with my profile so I will be moving my blog to So update your browsers and stay tuned. By the by if you head on over to that link now you will see a filler post and not much excitement, give it time, it will be up to snuff very soon!

Update: I was recently promoted to manager of the Billings branch of Eagle so I am currently trying to get that figured out. So as of right now, Smoke Before Fire will be going on hiatus until the end of July. Not much of a hiatus but don't abandon hope! I will return!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Next Update

What's going on ladies and gentlemen? Again it's been a while and I do apologize. Here is what I have been up to in bullet form:
  • Moved to Billings
  • Survived a hellish thunderstorm with tornadoes. Not in Billings exactly but in surrounding areas. 
  • Playing catch up on I-99 studying. (Taking most of my time)
  • Building the Eagle web site. (You will be linked to it as soon as I get it up to par)
  • Took over on managing supplies and airport security stuff for Eagle.
All this coupled with the lack of stable internet means I can't get a good post on here. However we will be getting internet soon and posts galore! So stay tuned for that and stay safe!

P.S. Also here is a link to a video I took of the swirling clouds. Stay tuned for next time where I post a video of the gas explosion that happened!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Life Goes On: The Comeback

So as you can see (for those of you that check) it's been a long time since my last update and I have a bunch of reasons why. First school was ending. Firefighter one was taxing an unsurmountable amount of time, coupled with working about 25 hours a week with the i-99 class I was struggling to find any spare time as it was. Then I graduated with a 3.79 GPA and right after that my fiancee and I moved to Billings. Finally after getting unpacked  and back to Helena to finish cleaning the apartment, gotta get that deposit back, I finally had a moment to breathe.

The aftermath of living such a busy life includes:

- Little time with my sweetie
- Putting off getting a beer with a buddy and not being able to anymore because he was killed in a work related    accident.
- Falling really behind in I-99 class but not too far behind.

The middle one really bothers me in that he was my friend and roommate and someone who I could count on. The first one bothers me because well, I love spending time with her and not getting to see her much was pretty lame.

But in that busy time my firefighting/ems career is moving forward. I am currently applying for a reserve firefighter position with Lockwood Fire Department which involves:

- Two 12 hour sleeper shifts a month
- One 24 hour on call period.
- General Alarm on call covering should the need arise.

Couple that with my full time EMT position I will have my fill of EMS. More on that as soon as I pass their physical and written consoritum tests. I will keep you posted.

As for everything else, that's about it, look for all the back posts I started that I will now have time to finish. Until then, stay tuned and stay safe.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Coming Soon

so it has been a while since I have updated this. not out of abandoning but more out of
the fact that I have no time to edit the blog. I have had a few things to write about and I
will be updating the blog this weekend probably with everything that is going on firewise.
stay tuned!!!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Patriot Flag Ceremony

On the third day of my internship was a ceremony for the Patriot Flag. For those that don't know the Patriot Flag is a giant, 30ft x 58ft to be exact or the size of a regular volleyball court, flag that will be flown at Fort McKinley. There is another flag that is signed by those participating in the ceremony along with a sort of guest book style book that you could sign. The flag will be displayed in each of the 50 states before it is flown permanently.

We started by shoveling the sidewalk of snow then brought weights up from the gym to weigh down the banner of the names of those that died in the terrorist attacks during 9/11. Afterwards we placed the banner and worked on the row of flags that adorned the side of the Civic Center. Afterwards the firefighters signed the flag and I stood back, not wanting to overstep my bounds in signing it I was told by the chief to sign it. As I was apart of putting the ceremony together I should be able to sign it. A humbling moment I am truly grateful for. Being able to sign something that will be on display at the memorial at Ground Zero was simply daunting. I didn't register it at first. I just signed it, but as the day drove on and I continued in helping with the ceremony the magnitude of it started sinking in.

I think the moment in which the gravity hit me was as we were raising the giant flag. It took a bunch of us to unroll the flag and as I looked up (picture left) to see the flag towering over me, blocking out the sun and casting a deep shadow. We waved the flag and as you can see from the pictures below it was a pretty impressive view.

Folding the flag was a task in itself. It took all of Helena Fire and a few others to fold it. The flag weighs 60lbs. We folded it up then set it inside it's case until the ceremony started.

We dressed in turnouts except those who were in the honor guard. They wore their Class A uniforms. We stood in a line as the honor guard brought the flag up to the podium. We watched as the governor, mayor, and a few others gave speeches and then we folded the flag. The ceremony finished and we packaged the flag and sent it to FedEx where it could be shipped to the next place of ceremony.

Those who died in the Towers; Police, EMS, the 343 firefighters, and civilians were given a fitting ceremony. They were honored and will forever be honored by the thousands of people who will share in seeing the flag flying in the breeze, those who signed the flag, and those who scribbled their chicken scratch in the signature book. They all came together with respect for the fallen. They all parted with the ceremony engraved in their minds.

I shared in a once in the lifetime moment with a brotherhood that I haven't fully been welcomed into but being able to participate in this, and having them share something so special with me put me one step closer. It's a memory I'll never forget.

You can read the Helena IR article here and watch the YouTube video here. Until next time, stay safe, and stay tuned!

Integrity: More Than Just a Word

We are faced with choices everyday. Some are mundane as what we want to eat for lunch, others define who we are, our very character. Everyone has a price, that point in which they put aside their integrity for convenience. Why am I writing about this you ask? Well we watched a scene like this play out at our own local fire department.

I recently received a press release in my email about two Montana City Firefighters being arrested. At first I didn't think much about it but I wondered whom.  We had a meeting that I missed but later found out the details of. Turns out that two of our firefighters, one a ranking captain that had been in the department for over 20 years were using the credit cards from our apparatuses to buy gas for their own cars. The amount totals somewhere between 8-12 thousand dollars. A felony. The captain had been doing this since 2005. His brother for a little over a year. However his brother, had also stolen an airpack from the station.

They were arrested and could face up to 5 years in jail. It created a need in the fire department for more accountability. What could have become an anti-trusting backlash turned into a push for everyone to be held accountable and a continuation of the trust officers have in the rest of us.

We all have a price. Watch the news, you can see it daily. I don't know what my price is. I don't know if it can ever be discovered. I don't look forward to the day it is. Those that chose to steal, commit fraud, etc choose to for a variety of reasons. Be it personal gain, be it falling on hard times, be it convenience and so on, we do it for benefit. Our captain fell on hard times in a lack of money. He found his price, his lack in integrity.

However it's not so black and white, with the human race it never is. I feel bad for the guy. He did what he had to because he was desperate. However, with the fire department it becomes that much more intense. We are held to a higher standard than most. Mostly because of the image we have to maintain. Pure, strong, moral are just three of the many positive traits we take on to maintain on and off duty. Does that make us infallible, not a chance.

Like I said, everyday we are faced with choices and everyone has a price. I don't know mine, and I don't know which direction I'd take. I like to think that because I have worked as hard as I have, overcome the upbringing I've had to get where I am that I am unmoving in my integrity, but everyone has a price. My drive will help me in keeping my moral compass true north, and each choice I make will continue to define who I am. That is all I can hope for, because hey, I'm only human.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sexism and A Delay of Care

The other day at work I witnessed something that has plagued my field for years. A call came in for a lady complaining of chest pain and shortness of breath. One of our ACLS EMT's was going to go on the call and we sent one of our EMT-B's up from Billings doing 911 ride a longs. Well the Advanced EMT needed a partner so I told one of our female EMT's to go with him, and as I did he bluntly stated that he wanted a male partner in case the patient was heavy. After stating that the female EMT partner would still go the other EMT refused to go on the call, delaying care for what could potentially be, a serious call. Luckily we had a paramedic on duty at the time who went in this EMT's place.

This to me is a shocking and yet common case in Firefighting, and EMS. We talk of the fire department being a boys club. I've heard firefighter's talking about women in the fire department will never be a common thing. There has been a major boom in the opposite direction though as more fire departments are hiring females to shatter this image. Even in volunteer departments this designation of it being a boy's club is starting to go by the way side. So why is it that even with the move towards more balanced fire departments does this problem of sexism come play over and over?

The simplest way of putting it is, tradition. Tradition is what holds a fire department together. The glue of the firehouse if you will. Long has the this been a boys club. Since it's earliest days in the United States the fire service has the fire department been staffed by men. This tradition, as with most traditions is slow changing.  Listening to the older, experienced guys talk about how firefighting has been and always will be a man's game. The new firefighter, wanting to impress the older guys and learn the FD ways will take on this mentality. On tradition begets tradition.

How do we change this tradition? The simplest way to do it is to let the older firefighters believe in the boys club tradition, but not to let it change the new firefighter's mind frame. Welcoming everyone that can do the task and watch our backs shouldn't be discouraged. It should be our primary goal. So keep a positive outlook, welcome those who are willing to help, and don't let tradition of the wrong magnitude change your view on who is welcomed in the fire department. Doing that we can focus more on our customers.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Coming Soon!

I haven't forgotten the blog, I am in the middle of a post on being Retired on Duty so look forward to that. Oh I also received a new laptop from google, so I will be talking about that some. Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Firefighter Anthem

I came home after a long day of work to find my sweetie bright eyed and grinning from ear to ear. I noticed her computer on youtube and she was like, "I have something awesome to show you." Well what she found was pretty awesome. In fact it is so awesome that it became my ringtone. These folk made a tribute to us Firefighters and I thank them for it. It does each one of us justice. So without further adieu... The Firefighter Anthem. 

The Weight Vest

Okay well I started this post and I thought I had finished and posted it but alas, I did not. That's what I get for taking 21 credits and working.  So without anymore stalling here we go.

The Weight Vest

So this past Christmas my sweetie got me a weight vest. For those of you that don't know it is pretty much what the name says. A vest that is weighted. You can add weight in 2.5lb increments. The weights I have add up to 70lbs. You can add more but 70 pounds is the equivalent of turn outs and SCBA pack weight. As this is a new tool for me I am currently looking for new workouts that will help me in using this to the best of my ability. So as I find work outs I will post them on here under the heading Physical Training. So look for that.

Stay safe!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


As described in the Fire Service it is a dulling of the senses, becoming content in routine and mulling over the day in/day out tasks. Complacency causes us to stop learning to look at calls as mundane. To not be prepared for the big one, if you will. 

I haven't been in the EMS field long. Certainly not long enough to be a victim of complacency but after a recent call I had I couldn't help but dwell on the fact that I had in the very essence of the word, complacent. Here's the back story.

It was this past Sunday and I had just started my shift. A bright and early 7am. I had just finished the daily check lists and the phone rang. I recognized the number, a local nursing home. I thought to myself oh great what could it be this time? A stubbed toe? A presumed fall that didn't actually happen? Who knows. I received the information from the nurse and it was what I had presumed. A patient with shortness of breath and had an 02 saturation of less than 90%. This is usually a pretty run of the mill call. Bring in to the ER, they check them out for pneumonia and we bring them back. Well we ran code to the Nursing home as per our directives. When we got there a scene unfolded that I wasn't quite mentally prepared for. We walked in and the nurses told us to run, the patient is coding. For those of you that don't know, when a patient is coding they are void of a pulse or any other vital signs, circling the drain or on the brink of death.

I ran to get the heart monitor and jump kit as my medic partner went to assess the situation. As I was running back the hospital medic service was pulling in. We went in and I fielded all the tools my partner needed and I was amazed at being able to remember where everything was. Thank you daily/weekly checks, I will never take you for granted again. I jumped in and started doing chest compressions. This was the first call where I was having to do them. My partner was working on establishing an airway and the hospital medics were working on hooking up an IV. Well sadly to say we couldn't get a line and had been performing CPR for too long and the hospital medics called medical control and called the guy.

Now I bet you are probably wondering just where I became complacent or maybe you have an idea. It was at the beginning of the call. Through countless Nursing home calls that turned out to be nothing I grew accustom to the routine. I did not treat each call like the big one. Did the patient receive a lack of proper care because of it? No. I was lucky, we showed up and did everything we could, the best we could. Could we have done anything differently on the call? I'm not sure. I could have gone into the call with a better attitude for sure.

What sticks with me and what will stick with me is I let a series of mundane calls cloud my judgment on other calls. What I swore not to do is the very thing I did. However what I came to understand is that it happens. Complacency hits everyone and no one is free from it. But if we are more proactive about our jobs, and we look at each call differently, or each shift differently, the job doesn't become mundane, it doesn't become routine. This in itself brings us closer to becoming less complacent and better care providers.