In this episode of the Side Alpha Podcast, Chief Marc Bashoor speaks with Fire Chief John Oates, who was recently named the new CEO of the International Public Safety Data Institute. Chief Oates offers simple ways fire departments can leverage technology and data, addresses how fire chiefs can use data to inform decisions, and details the utility of NFORS and FireCares. He also speaks to the mission of the IPSDI and what it's like to follow in the footsteps of IPSDI's founder, Dr. Moore-Merrill, who was recently named the U.S. fire administrator.

This episode of the Side Alpha Podcast is sponsored by L3Harris Technologies. When the heat is on, you go all in, and L3Harris will be right there with you! The XL Extreme 400P radio is tailor-made to meet the most rigorous fire standards. Learn more at L3Harris.com.

In this episode of the Side Alpha Podcast, Chief Marc Bashoor speaks with Jonathan Tate, a DC Fire & EMS firefighter and the founder of Food on the Stove, a nonprofit organization that’s working to improve the health of firefighters in the DC metro area and beyond. Firefighter Tate shares how losing loved ones has been a key inspiration for focusing on firefighter health and wellness, ultimately working toward reducing the number of firefighter deaths from cardiac incidents. He also details the work of Food on the Stove, which offers a healthy meal-delivery program for firefighters.  

This episode of the Side Alpha Podcast is sponsored by L3Harris Technologies. When the heat is on, you go all in, and L3Harris will be right there with you! The XL Extreme 400P radio is tailor-made to meet the most rigorous fire standards. Learn more at L3harris.com/fire.

In this episode of the Side Alpha Podcast, Chief Marc Bashoor speaks with Chief Dave Downey about one of the biggest stories of the year — the structural collapse in Surfside, Florida. 

As the deputy coordinator for Florida's Statewide Emergency Response Plan (SERP), Chief Downey was asked to represent the State Fire Marshal’s Office at the incident to coordinate the state USAR response. Downey offers a unique perspective on the incident, having been so closely involved in the rescue and recovery efforts. 

Read more from Chief Downey: The Surfside condo collapse: An operational play-by-play, from deployment to AAR

"How many times does it take for a chief to hear near-misses before they recognize there's a systemic problem?" This is the question posed by Chief Marc Bashoor in this week's Side Alpha Podcast. 

Chief Bashoor has been following several mayday incidents as well as trends found in mayday incidents, as found in the research of Project Mayday, and identified three key areas to address:

  1. The need to recognize conditions that could lead to a mayday;
  2. What firefighters should do when they find themselves in trouble; and
  3. How to change a culture that discourages firefighters from calling a mayday "too early."

Bashoor argues that it's time for firefighters to move beyond their fear of defeatism and ridicule and instead focus on their safety.

Learn more about Project Mayday.

Read Chief Bashoors article, "Here we are again, evaluating our mayday procedures after a tragedy."

Stay tuned for FireRescue1's upcoming special project series, "Your Mayday Survival Guide," launching in January 2022.

In this special crossover episode of the Side Alpha Podcast, Chief Marc Bashoor speaks with Chris Cebollero, the host of Inside EMS, about the major news and trends impacting fire and EMS in 2021.

Bashoor and Cebollero unpack issues related to apparatus and ambulance safety, the COVID-19 vaccines, ET3 and telehealth, the use of ketamine, mayday training, and staffing shortages. 

Read more from our 2021 year-in-review special coverage.

And check out these related stories:

In this episode of the Side Alpha Podcast, Chief Marc Bashoor speaks with Dalan Zartman about everything firefighters need to know about incidents involving electric vehicles and energy storage systems. Zartman details the increasing need for firefighters to have the skills to tackle these incidents and breaks down the basics of fire operations. 

In this episode of the Side Alpha Podcast, Chief Marc Bashoor speaks with Reginald Freeman, the new fire chief for the City of Oakland Fire Department in California’s Bay Area. Chief Freeman talks about the cross-country move from Hartford, Connecticut, and the differences between Hartford and Oakland. He also speaks to the pressure of joining the Oakland Fire Department upon the five-year anniversary of the deadly Ghost Ship warehouse fire. 

In this episode of the Side Alpha Podcast, Chief Marc Bashoor speaks with Chief Bob Horton from Fire District 3 in Jackson County, Oregon, about his debate-stirring article, "'This is not what I signed up for': Why some firefighters simply don’t understand the job." The article charges that fire service leaders must be honest about the realities of the job when engaged in recruitment activities, as too many members join the ranks unclear on how much non-fire activity exists in the fire service. The article elicited a significant number of comments from the FireRescue1 community, mainly on Facebook. Chief Horton reacts to some of the comments, explains the role of marketing in recruitment efforts, and takes a look at the long-term identity of firefighters.

In this episode of the Side Alpha Podcast, Fire Chief Marc Bashoor reflects on the news of a Columbia, S.C., fire station that was investigated for its reportedly “over-sexed culture.” Columbia police ultimately decided not to press criminal charges, but that didn’t stop word from spreading about station antics that reportedly involved butt-slapping, wedgies and an “overwhelming infatuation” with comparing male genitalia.

Chief Bashoor argues that while fire stations aren’t always sanctuaries of purity, they must be sanctuaries of public trust where members are expected to do the right thing, even when no one is watching. And this involves cultivating a positive culture, not glorifying a culture of sexism or childish or sex-charged behavior.

On this episode of the Side Alpha Podcast, Fire Chief Marc Bashoor speaks with Frank Leeb, a deputy assistant chief with the FDNY, currently serving as chief of the Fire Academy and chair of the department’s Contamination Reduction Workgroup. The chiefs discuss Leeb's recent FireRescue1 article "Marketing the message: How FDNY spreads the word about firefighter health and safety," which details simple steps fire departments can employ to best connect with members about important health issues. Leeb also shares what it's like to run training at the FDNY Fire Academy, aka "The Rock."

Bonus resource: Captain John Haseney's master's thesis identifies seven barriers that are preventing fire departments from implementing occupational cancer-focuses best practices: fire department culture, firefighters’ ignorance of the disease and prevention methods, complacency caused by cancer’s long latency periods, funding, pathways to compliance with national and departmental policies, groupthink, and motivation. Haseney's thesis examines the health and safety efforts that two departments have taken and reviews literature from other fire departments, national fire service organizations, subject-matter experts, researchers, and academic studies. 

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