Weekly Fire Service Icon Review- Dave Dodson

Dave Dodson


Dave Dodson is a 34 year Fire Service veteran, 25 years on the street, starting his first service career with the US Air Force. After the Air Force Dave spent almost 7 years as a fire officer in training officer for the Parker fire district in Parker, Colorado. He became the first career training officer for Loveland fire rescue (CO) and spent time as an Engine officer, hazmat tech, duty safety officer, and emergency manager for the city.   He accepted a shift battalion chief position for the Eagle River fire district in Colorado before starting his current company, response solutions, which is dedicated to teaching safe and practical incident handling.

Dave is the author of Fire Department incident safety officer, and the Art of Reading Smoke. He continues to develop and deliver classes on firefighter safety and survival issues and first due officer procedures. He also co-authored the new book “The Art of Reading Buildings” with John Mittendorf.

Chief Dodson has served as the chairman of NFPA 1521 and served as the fire service occupational safety and health technical committee for NFPA. Dave is also a past president of the Fire Department safety officers Association. In 1997, Dave was chosen as the ISFS I George D. Post fire instructor of the year.

Dave is perhaps, most known for being the “Smoke Guy”, and has taught the American Fire Service what the smoke is telling you and how to “Read” it. There is too much information to include in this post about Smoke Reading, but please check out these resources for Reading Smoke.





The Full Video of Reading Smoke Volume 1 Can be found HERE for FREE!!

Note: We would like to acknowledge that much of the information was taken from multiple sources in the form of books, articles, and pictures.

Thanks for Reading, 


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5-29-15 Run Down

The Company Officer- An Embedded Leader HERE

Check for Bunk Beds HERE

Throw Back to the Basics- Ladder Locks HERE

Thoughts from Tom Brennan HERE

Smoothbore or Fog? HERE

Reading the Building- Look for Clues HERE

Divided Attention Test HERE

The Company Officer Drill HERE

A Day in the Life of a Company Officer HERE

Night Club Fires- A Dance with a Tragedy HERE

READ THIS!!! The Training Notebook HERE

LOOK AT THIS!!! Sutphen at FDIC 2015 HERE

Thanks for Taking the Time, 


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Weekly Fire Service Icon Review- Tom Brennan

Tom Brennan


Tom Brennan was born in 1940 in Brooklyn, New York. He was a third-generation Fire Department of New York (FDNY) firefighter-his father and grandfather were FDNY firefighters. His grandfather was killed in the line of duty in a gas explosion in 1920. His father, who retired after 35 years of service in FDNY, was up to that time the most decorated firefighter in the department.

Brennan answered the call to promote fire service education nationally in 1983, when he accepted the position of editor of Fire Engineering. He used his intelligence; personality; ability to “turn a phrase”; and authentic, intense love for the fire service to sustain Fire Engineering’s prominence in the industry.


Among Brennan’s most commonly voiced observations shared at national meetings and in his writings were the following:

  • Leadership is getting things done through the efforts of others through strength of will or character.
  • We’re losing firefighters because we don’t know where they are because nobody is around to check on them because there aren’t enough people …. We’re losing our people because they’re not being marketed correctly. Administratively, we’re giving our OK to this by very scared leaders whose jobs are in the pockets of people hired to save the city 5 percent-city manager types ….
  • [It] comes down to tactics …. I don’t want to do anything [task] first. I want to do seven things all at once. Now, you have a safe building and you can operate within that structure with an acceptable level of risk …. Today, we have these explosive bombs because there’s nobody showing up to make [the buildings] behave.
  • To do your job, you have to know the tactics and their interrelationships-how one works with the other. You must be able to tell people if one is missing what it’s going to cost inside the burning structure …. You must be able to [explain it] in three languages-around the table in the station, to the press when you have a chance, and to the financial people-to make them understand your job in their language.
  • The company officer is a dying breed in the fire service. The company officer has been relegated to being a butt man on a portable ladder and the number 2 person behind a 1 3/4 -inch automatic nozzle …. Lack of staffing has caused the company officer to become a tactician. The company officer who puts his/her hand into the tactic is absolutely useless. There is no company officer. The company officer is the last person who, by saying yes or no, has the last word about whether that firefighter is going to be injured or killed ….
  • To new recruits, he issued the following: “Word of caution-You will arrive at many plateaus in your career from here on. And this moment is most assuredly one of them. You have successfully completed training, and you think it’s over! Nothing could be further from the truth. No firefighter is worth anything to himself, his department, or his community the moment he believes that he knows enough or knows it all. Training is and must be an ongoing concept-from day one until day last. That idea should be accepted by the probationary firefighter and nodded to in agreement by the chief ….

“You are now a member of the world’s greatest profession. You will ascend to personal highs that only another firefighter will understand. You will also be brought to tears that only you will understand. Our job is truly unique in its humor as well as in its sorrow. I only pray that you will always be able to function between those two extreme feelings so that one never overshadows the other ….

“It’s now up to you to make people better off because you came this way, because you responded, because you showed up. You are your brothers’ keeper-keep them safe ….”

Brennan had a bachelor’s degree in fire science from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He was awarded the College’s Distinguished Alumni Award some 20 years later. In 1998, Tom Brennan was the recipient of the Fire Engineering Lifetime Achievement Award. He was co-editor of The Fire Chief’s Handbook, Fifth Edition (Fire Engineering Books, 1995), was featured in the video Brennan and Bruno Unplugged (Fire Engineering/FDIC, 1999), and was a regular contributor to Firenuggets.com.

Tom Wrote “Random Thoughts” Monthly for Fire Engineering Magazine.

Tom has indelibly imprinted his unique impressions on “his beloved fire service”

  • As the consummate, passionate “Tommy Truck.”
  • As a 20-year veteran of FDNY, where he responded to some 30,000 fire calls, and from which he retired as captain.
  • As one of the most important fire service educators of his generation.
  • As a writer and as the editor of Fire Engineering, and as its technical editor.
  • As the chief of the Waterbury (CT) Fire Department.
  • As someone who wanted to make a meaningful difference to what he termed “my thinking fire service.”

Every year at FDIC an award is given in his Name, “The Tom Brennan Life Time Achievement Award”.


In 2007 Pennwell Published all of Tom’s Writing in the book “Tom Brennan’s Random Thoughts”. I highly recommend you purchase a copy and look at it almost daily! A Sample of his book is HERE

Note: We would like to acknowledge that much of the information was taken from multiple sources in the form of books, articles, and pictures. HERE, and HERE is where Information was taken.

Thanks for Reading, 


Please, Pass It On!

Line of Duty Death 5-6-15

Dwight Greer

Approximately one hour after returning to quarters from a carbon monoxide response call, Firefighter Greer suffered a cardiac related medical emergency at the station while participating in fire department mandated physical training. Greer was treated by fellow responders and transported to the hospital where he succumbed to his injury.

Philadelphia Fire Department, Philadelphia, Mississippi

Fatality status is provisional and may change.

Age: 44
Rank: Firefighter
Classification: Career
Incident Date: May 6, 2015 17:08
Date of Death: May 6, 2015
Cause of Death: Stress/Overexertion
Nature of Death: Heart Attack

Weekly Fire Service Icon Review- John Mittendorf

John Mittendorf


John Mittendorf is a 30 year veteran of the Los Angeles city fire department and held the rank of battalion chief until his retirement in 1993. He is been a member of the national fire protection research foundation on engineered lightweight construction technical advisory committee and has provided training programs for the national fire Academy and the British fire Academy in England. He has also acted in an advisory capacity for 5 college fire science advisory boards and is the author numerous fire ground articles for magazines in the United States and Europe.

Chief Mittendorf is the author of the books Ventilation Methods and Techniques, Truck Company Operations, Facing the Promotional Interview, and the recently released DVD program 10 Commandments of Truck Company operations, from fire engineering/Penwell. He also just released a book co authored with Dave Dodson, called the Art of Reading Buildings. He currently lectures in the United States and United Kingdom on strategy and tactics, truck company operations, fire ground operations, ventilation operations, and the complete fire officer. John is also a member of the editorial advisory board of fire engineering magazine. In 2008, chief Mittendorf receive the Tom Brennan lifetime achievement award at FDIC.



A Great Podcast Interviewing John HERE

John’s Books can be Purchased HERE

Note: We would like to acknowledge that much of the information was taken from multiple sources in the form of books, articles, and pictures.

Thanks for Reading, 


Please, Pass It On!

The Fireground- Trains and MCI Incidents

Welcome to a new segment here at Pass It On Fire Training.

In this segment (The Fireground) we will expand on current events and the goings on in the fire service as well as reviewing reports and recommendations to keep all of us safe.

Trains and MCI Incidents 

Today I want to hit on the recent incident in Philadelphia where an Amtrack commuter train derailed and crashed. The incident has resulted in 6 deaths as of this writing, and more than 200 injuries.

Here is the real point to take back. I am willing to bet that everyone has some form of railroad tracks in their community or in a neighboring town.

  • Even if it’s not a commuter train that can carry thousands of people, you need to know what’s moving thru your area. Sometimes it’s going to be difficult if their are no placards or markings, but make an attempt to contact the railroad and find out for yourself.
  • Also know how to contact the railroad personnel in general, if we have to shut down the tracks due to a fire or some other emergency.
  • If you do have a large commuter train running thru your community, have a plan in-case it jumps the tracks and derails.
  • Know who you going to call.
  • Have a plan B, C and D in case plan A doesn’t work.
  • Work and plan with you local law enforcement personnel.
  • Plan for the possibility of a MCI mass casualty incident.
  • Do you have enough medics,
  • Where can you get them from do you have a MCI plan with neighboring communities?
  • Can your hospitals handle the possibility of 500+ patients with 200 in critical condition?
  • Can your fire department in general handle a train derailment?

Hey there’s an idea for you next drill look at what happens if a train jumps the tracks in your own community.

***I really would like to thank each and everyone of the readers and listeners of pass it on fire training I am truly humbled each and every week of how many people take the time to look at what we do with the site thanks again and we will talk next time!

Train Hard and Stay Safe,


5-13-15 Run Down

Studies and Reports HERE

The Firehouse NCO- Discipline HERE

Forcible Entry Tip HERE

Demise of the Senior Man HERE

Responding to a Mayday HERE

Radiant Floor Heating Panels HERE


Tips for Being a More Effective Fire Instructor HERE

Building the Model Rig- A Common Sense Approach HERE

Going to the Bathroom HERE

Vacant Residential Building Fires HERE

Turning CAN into CANOE HERE

Do Large Departments Get a Pass? HERE

Expose the Gap HERE

Lightweight Building Collapse and Firefighter Fatalities 1984-2013- A Guest Post by Bryan Lynch

Lightweight Building Collapse and Firefighter Fatalities 1984-2013- A Guest Post by Bryan Lynch

I reached out to Bryan after listening to a podcast he did on“The Kitchen Table” where he discussed this project he did and though it was absolutely worth sharing to all of you. Please read through this great study and form your own conclusions, It’s Pretty Eye opening!


The purpose of this research was to gain empirical evidence regarding building construction and firefighter fatalities. It’s important to me that people know and understand that this report is not an endorsement of vertical ventilation. Rather a collection of data as it relates to fire ground operations and firefighter fatalities. This report does nothing to validate any fire ground operation if you can’t apply experience and common sense. Any task is dangerous if you don’t have the knowledge and training to back it up. Education is paramount and any fire ground operation can be extremely dangerous if we don’t make educated decisions on the fire ground. All too often the fire service teaches you how to perform a certain task but rarely emphasizes WHEN and most importantly WHY. This report provides statistical information. Information, coupled with education and training, that we can use to make intelligent fire ground decisions.

Thanks, Bryan Lynch

Building Collapse and Firefighter Fatalities 1994-2013 HERE

Lightweight Building Collapse and Firefighter Fatalities 1984-2013 HERE 

The Original Podcast can be found HERE 

Thanks to Bryan for doing and sharing the research, and thanks for taking the time to read it—


Please, Pass it ON!

Weekly Fire Service Icon Review- Dick Sylvia

Dick Sylvia

Dick Sylvia was a former chief of Noroton Fire Department, former editor of Fire Engineering Magazine, author and instructor. He also served in the United States Coast Guard during World War II from 1942 through 1945.

In 1958 he became a member of the Connecticut Fire Department Instructors Association, serving as its president in 1962 and 1963 and continuing with the organization, first active and then as a life member, until his death. He was also twice a recipient of their Harry Kelly Award in 1985 and 1988. He was appointed to the State of Connecticut Commission on Fire Prevention and Control by Governor Ella Grasso in 1975 and was re-appointed by her in 1978 and in 1981 by Governor William O’Neill. He also served in the capacity of vice chairman of that organization from 1982 to 1984. Among his other fire service activities were honors from the Fairfield County Fire Chiefs Emergency Plan and the Connecticut State Fireman’s Association and memberships in the Connecticut Parade Marshals Association, The NFPA, ISFSI and the IAFC.

He was well known for his series on residential fires-and authored several fire service books on the subject. His work mattered!! Chief Dick Sylvia made a positive mark in this business that carries on today!!!

++Note: We would like to acknowledge that much of the information was taken from multiple sources in the form of books, articles, and pictures.

Thanks for Reading, 


Please, Pass It On!

Line of Duty Death 5-6-15

Kevin McRae

While working at the scene of a high rise apartment building fire, Lieutenant McRae went into cardiac arrest and collapsed. According to media reports, McRae, in charge of the first due engine and crew, had just exited the structure after fighting the fire in a 9th floor apartment for 50 minutes. Lieutenant McRae was transported to the Washington Hospital Center where he was pronounced dead. Two others, including one firefighter, suffered non-life threatening injuries in the incident which remains under investigation by authorities.

Washington DC Fire Department, Washington, District of Columbia

Fatality status is provisional and may change.

Age: 44
Rank: Lieutenant
Classification: Career
Incident Date: May 6, 2015 08:10
Date of Death: May 6, 2015
Cause of Death: Stress/Overexertion
Nature of Death: Heart Attack

Line of Duty Death 5-5-15

Timothy Gunther

While engaged in rescue and suppression duties at the scene of a residential structure fire, Firefighter Gunther began to experience cardiac related symptoms. Firefighter Gunther was treated on scene and transported to Vassar Brothers Medical Center where despite all efforts, including surgery, Gunther’s condition worsened and he succumbed to his injury.

Poughkeepsie Fire Department, Poughkeepsie, New York

Fatality status is provisional and may change.

Age: 54
Rank: Firefighter
Classification: Career
Incident Date: May 4, 2015 10:58
Date of Death: May 5, 2015
Cause of Death: Stress/Overexertion
Nature of Death: Heart Attack

Line Of Duty Death 5-4-15

Ricky Thurman

While operating on the scene of a structure fire on April 24, 2015 Lieutenant Thurman suddenly went into cardiac arrest. Immediate efforts to revive Lt. Thurman were successful and he was airlifted to Regents University Hospital in Augusta, Georgia where he passed away on May 4, 2015.

Swainsboro Fire Department, Swainsboro, Georgia

Fatality status is provisional and may change.

Age: 54
Rank: Lieutenant
Classification: Career
Incident Date: Apr 24, 2015 17:34
Date of Death: May 4, 2015
Cause of Death: Stress/Overexertion
Nature of Death: Heart Attack

To Date, 32 Firefighters have Died in the Line of Duty in 2015

LODD 4-30-15

Timothy T Peters

Firefighter Peters responded to a medical assistance call with his fire company on the afternoon of April 30, 2015. Later that evening at 1930hrs, Peters was stricken by an apparent heart attack at his residence. Emergency responders were summoned and treated Peters then transported him to the hospital where he succumbed to his injury.

Pine Grove Hose, Hook and Ladder Fire Co. No. 1, Pine Grove, Pennsylvania

Fatality status is provisional and may change.

Age: 46
Rank: Firefighter
Classification: Volunteer
Incident Date: Apr 30, 2015 15:30
Date of Death: Apr 30, 2015
Cause of Death: Stress/Overexertion
Nature of Death: Heart Attack

LODD 5-3-15

Christopher Michael Blankenship

While working at the scene of a motor vehicle accident with fire, Firefighter Blankenship was seriously injured when a tree at the scene fell on top of him. Firefighters quickly removed the tree from Blankenship and rendered medical aid. Blankenship was then transported to the Jackson-Madison County General Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

Madison County Fire Department, Jackson, Tennessee

Fatality status is provisional and may change.

Age: 41
Rank: Firefighter
Classification: Volunteer
Incident Date: May 3, 2015 02:00
Date of Death: May 3, 2015
Cause of Death: Struck By
Nature of Death: Trauma

LODD 5-3-15

Larry Wayne Lawhorn

Engineer-Firefighter Lawhorn was responding to a mutual aid structure fire when the fire department tanker he was driving left the roadway and came to a rest in a field. Firefighter Lawhorn, who was alone in the vehicle, was found by other emergency responders as they were returning from the fire call. Resuscitative efforts were attempted but Lawhorn was pronounced dead at the scene from a nature and cause of fatal injury still to be determined.

Orchard Farm Fire Protection District, St. Charles, Missouri

Fatality status is provisional and may change.

Age: 60
Rank: Engineer – Firefighter
Classification: Volunteer
Incident Date: May 3, 2015 02:00
Date of Death: May 3, 2015
Cause of Death: Unknown
Nature of Death: Unknown