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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Weekly Fire Service Icon Review- George D. Post

George D. Post

George D. Post was a long-time member of the ISFSI. He was a member of the Fire Department of New York, an illustrator for fire service publications, and a developer of instructional materials. Many consider him to be the father of visual training material used to train fire service personnel around the world.

Each year an instructor is recognized, With The George D. Post Instructor of the Year Award, for their continued commitment to furthering the cause of the fire service through training by going above and beyond the call of duty in training with creativity and innovation to fire training programs and shown great persistence as a positive model for other fire instructors and firefighters throughout the country.

The award is one of the most highly recognized awards in the fire service for a fire instructor, and recognizes individuals for extraordinary accomplishments in fire service training. The award is presented during FDIC in Indianapolis.

Past Winners of the award include:

1974 – Harvey Grant

1975 – Floyd “Bill” Nelson

1976 – George Shonske

1977 – Glen Boughton

1978 – Curt Holter

1979 – Milo Jacobs

1980 – Billy Harris

1981 – Matthew Jackson

1982 – Morton Shurtleff

1983 – Dr. Jeffery Mitchell, PhD

1984 – Ronald E. Moore

1985 – Julius Halas

1986 – Peter Duran

1987 – Christopher J. Naum

1988 – Michael Callen

1989 – Willa K. Little

1990 – Frank Schaper

1991 – Dennis Compton

1992 – Frank Docimo

1993 – David Ross

1994 – Kevin Coleman

1995 – Michael T. Reimer

1996 – Robert Fleming

1997 – David Dodson

1999 – Doug Cline

2000 – Francis Brannigan

2001 – Robert M. Linsinbigler, Jr.

2002 – Alan Brunacini

2003 – Mike Wieder

2004 – Billy Goldfeder

2005 – Jim Crawford

2006 – John Tippett

2007 – Forest Reeder

2009 – Daniel Madrzykowski

2010 – Robert Colameta, Jr.

2011 – Brian P. Kazmierzak

2012 – Anthony Avillo

2013 – Mark Emery
2014 – Steve Kerber

2015 – Eddie Buchanan

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.

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Emanuel Fried

Emanuel Fried joined the New York City fire department in May 1936. He rose through the ranks and retired in 1958 as deputy chief of department. After serving some two years as a consultant and as chief instructor for the Mount Vernon, New York, fire training conference, he assumed the position of chief of Hinsdale (Illinois) fire department.

Chief Fried wrote numerous articles for fire service Publications and lectured for state and national organizations, including FDIC and IAFC conference. He was staff instructor for the Illinois fire college, lecturer for the New York City fire college, and had several teaching certificates including one from the New York State education Department. He conducted private schools for firemen and officers and served as consultant an investigator.

In 1947 he was awarded the Franklin Delano Roosevelt medal and department metal for honor and meritorious service at extreme personal risk.

He invented the pry-Axe forcible entry tool.

Pry Axe

Fried was widely known as the Author of the 1972 book Fireground Tactics.  If you don’t have this book, I highly suggest it. Though it’s dated, it is as relevant today as when it was written.

FG Tactics BookFried Quote

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Weekly Fire Service Icon Review- James Braidwood

James Braidwood



James Braidwood, One of the most influential and progressive-thinking fire officers in modern history, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on Sept. 3, 1800. Braidwood, trained as a cabinet-maker and builder before moving into fire-fighting, was the founder of the world’s first municipal fire service in 1824, and was the first director of what was to become the London Fire Brigade. His training as a surveyor gave him exceptional knowledge of the behavior of building materials and housing conditions in the Old Town of Edinburgh. He recruited to the service expert tradesmen – slaters, carpenters, masons and plumbers – who could apply their various fields of expertise. He also recruited experienced mariners for an occupation that required heavy manual work in hauling engines and trundling wheeled escape ladders up and down Edinburgh’s steep streets, as well as nimble footwork when negotiating rooftops and moving through partially destroyed buildings. His many original ideas of practical organization and methodology, published in 1830, were adopted throughout Britain. He was, however, resistant to the introduction of steam-driven engines. In 1833 he left Edinburgh to lead the London Fire Engine Establishment.

1397320037_80.177.117.97 He was the first to promote entering burning buildings to fight the seat of a fire. He trained his men at night to get them used to dark conditions and instructed them to carry rope to escape from burning buildings, practicing their climbing skills on Edinburgh’s North Bridge.

James Braidwood

Braidwood became the first Superintendent of the new London Fire Brigade in 1833, with a team of 80 full-time fire-fighters at 13 stations. In this capacity, he carried out fire prevention surveys. Braidwood’s wrote a manual on fire-fighting which includes many basic principles which are still quoted during fire training today.


He also invented one of the first forms of breathing apparatus to be used by firemen. He put two canvas bags together lined with rubber. The airtight sac was worn on the firefighter’s back and secured with shoulder straps and a waist belt. Two rubber hoses connected to a mouthpiece allowed the wearer to inhale fresh air. Different size sacs were filled with air by a set of bellows and sealed with corks until needed. Firefighters also wore goggles, a leather hood, a nose clamp, and a whistle to complete Braidwood’s invention. To supply air and protect the firefighter from smoke, a tube was connected to an air pump attached to the engine outside the fire building. A stout leather dress and hood were worn to protect the wearer from heat and flames. Thickly glazed eye holes were provided in the hood. To furnish light a powerful reflecting lantern was worn on the chest. A shrill whistle was attached to the hood for emergency communications.

Braidwood tested his invention under severe conditions during experimental fires in the vaults of the Fire Brigade Headquarters in Wattling Street. The system was used to rescue three small children from a burning house on Fetter Lane. Numerous men and women were also reportedly saved at other fires by men so equipped.


On June 22 1861 his life was claimed in the Tooley Street fire at Cotton’s Wharf near London when a falling wall crushed him to death, three hours after the fire began. It took two days to recover his body and his heroism led to a massive funeral on June 29 where his funeral stretched one and a half miles behind the hearse, a public spectacle equal almost to the Tooley Street fire itself. The fire, which continued to burn for a fortnight, caused £2,000,000 worth of damage. A London fireboat was named in his honor in the 1930s.

Braidwood is buried at Abney Park Cemetery, Stoke Newington, London, within sight of the Stoke Newington Fire Station.


There is Currently a Statue of Braidwood in Edinburgh, which was unveiled in 2008.


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

Also Note: For a Very Detailed Account and Story of James Braidwood Please Refer to April’s Firehouse Magazine, or The Article is HERE

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Weekly Fire Service Icon Review- Ray Downey



Ray Downey began his fire serviced career in 1962, after serving with the United States Marine Corps, following in the footsteps of his 2 older brothers. Chief Downey’s phenomenal 39-year career with the FDNY was built upon success after success and rescue after rescue.

After finishing probationary firefighter’s school, he was assigned to Ladder Company 35 in Lincoln Center area of New York City’s West Side. Looking for more action, he transfer to Ladder 4, “The Pride of Midtown,” and worked in Times Square before moving on to his next assignment as a firefighter in Rescue Company 2 in Brooklyn.


In 1972 he was promoted to lieutenant and assigned to Harlem. After a few months covering in various firehouses, he was assigned to Engine 58 the “Fire Factory”. For the next 5 years, he worked in Engine Company 58 and transferred across the floor to Ladder Company 26 for 2 years.

In July 1977 he was promoted to captain and reassigned to Brooklyn. He was detailed to the Division of Training. He than was selected by the fire commissioner to form and organize Squad Company 1, a fully equipped engine company that carried a full complement of Ladder Company tools. The Assignment included responding to all working fires in selected areas of Brooklyn.


Chief Downey was then put in charge of Special Operations Command, a team of specialists who aid regular firefighters with unique or highly critical situations, which include Hazardous Materials, Marine Units, Rescue Companies Squads. Downey was also promoted to Deputy Chief at the time.


In April 1995, Chief Downey spent 16 days at the ruins of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, serving as operations chief for the Urban Search and Rescue teams, which worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He was involved in the evacuation of thousands of workers in the 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center.

Chief Downey was also a member of a national advisory commission on domestic response to terrorism.


Additionally, Chief Downey was a task force leader for the New York City Urban Search and Rescue Team as well as the National Disasters Team. He was also a team leader in response to Hurricanes Hugo, Andres, Fran, Marilyn and Opal, Chief of Rescue Operations at the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, all of which contributed to his being called “a charismatic national legend in rescue circles” and he was credited with creating the modern search-and-rescue system adopted by FEMA and fire departments worldwide while pioneering a national network of eight search and rescue teams under FEMA.


One of the most – if not the most decorated men in the Department, Chief Downey received five individual medals for valor and 16 unit citations.

Additionally, he was awarded the Administration Medal in 1995 for his efforts on the Bunker Gear Program and interim quartermaster system.

All of this led to Downey commanding rescue operations at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, where he was ultimately killed when the North Tower Collapsed.

It would take eight months after 9/11 for his remains to be identified through DNA testing before Chief Downey was then laid to rest on May 20, 2002.

Of the 343 firefighters lost on 9/11, Special Operations Command lost a total of 95 men with 1,600 years of experience that day.

Ray Downey’s life and career are commemorated each year with The Ray Downey Courage & Valor Award, which is presented to an extraordinarily courageous American firefighter at FDIC in Indianapolis.PW-Courage-Valor-RayDowney1

Chief Ray Downey’s Fire Department accomplishments are legendary and monumental. Here are just some:

  • He pioneered techniques for urban rescue and responding to terrorist attacks.
  • Panel member of the presidential committee on terrorism known as the “Gilmore Commission,” which has been assessing domestic response capabilities for terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction
  • Task force leader for the New York City Urban Search and Rescue Team, which responds to disasters both around the country and within New York State
  • His team was recently selected by F.E.M.A. to be trained for weapons of mass destruction and will be on standby for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City
  • Recipient of the “Crystal Apple Award” issued by Mayor Giuliani on July 23, 2001
  • National Wrestling Hall of Fame (Medal of Courage, awarded in June, 2002)
  • Author of the book The Rescue Company and a series of videos on collapse operationsdowney ray snapshot

Ray’s Book The Rescue Company offers guidelines and recommendations on how to start a rescue company, the equipment needed, and the operational planning that is necessary for company development. It also discusses Elevator Emergencies, Air Bag Use, Confined Space Rescues, Vehicle accidents and, Rope rescues. I highly recommended the book, even if you don’t have a rescue company. There are also many drills within the book that you can take back whether you are a big department or not.

the rescue company jpeg

Downey also created a DVD to go along with the book that addresses Building Construction, Collapse Causes and Types, and the Strategic Considerations of Structural Collapse. Again, I highly recommend it to go with the book.


The Book can be purchased HERE, and the DVD 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. HEREHEREHERE, and HERE is where Information was taken.

Thanks for Reading, 


Weekly Fire Service Icon Review- Edward Croker

Edward Franklin Croker


Edward Franklin Croker Was Born June 18, 1863 in New York City and Appointed to the FDNY on June 22, 1884 at the age of 21, he shocked everyone with his promotion to Assistant Foreman (now called Lieutenant) just 47 days later and with equal speed to Foreman (today’s Captain) on February 25, 1885. This rapid advancement was said to have been for one reason only; that he was the nephew of the most powerful political figure in New York City at the time, Richard Croker, head of Tammany Hall (who served as a fire commissioner 1883-1887.) The fact was that over the next 27 years, Chief Croker proved himself, time and time again, to be an outstanding firefighter and leader.


On January 22, 1892 he became a Battalion Chief, and was named Chief of Department on May 1, 1899, he went on to fulfill his role with extreme diligence. He was the first Chief of Department who did not serve during the volunteer period. He was also the first Chief to use an automobile to respond to alarms.

In 1902, Chief Croker returned to work only several days into a 2 month vacation. A vacation of such length was unusual but deemed justified for the hard-working Chief. In granting it, Commissioner Thomas Sturgis re-assigned other chiefs within the Department to cover Croker’s absence. But when Croker returned to work less than 2 weeks later and sent the chiefs back to the original assignments, the Commissioner saw it as an overstepping of bounds and a rescinding of the orders of a higher authority. Sturgis relieved Croker of command and preferred formal charges. A 2-year court battle ensued with a final decision in Croker’s favor resulting in his re-instatement.


The horror of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire caused him to fight for life-saving measures in fire prevention and safety. Chief Croker carefully studied the Asch building to determine the cause of fire and to make a case for changing the law.

In his book, Fire Prevention, he used photographs to show the results of fire in non-fireproof buildings. Croker stated that the simplest way to prevent fire death is the simple drill. Knowing the location of exits and the use of clear signs and directions (which seem obvious today) were radical ideas at the beginning of the 20th century. In a city filled with immigrants without a common language, the giving and following of directions was not a simple task. For this reason, Croker proposed that, “…all instructions for fire drills should be printed in the language of the majority of the workers in a given shop; in two or three languages if necessary, in addition to English.” He recommended training a manager to take charge, and teaching workers how to behave in a calm and orderly fashion in the event of a potentially dangerous situation.


Chief Croker suggested alternatives for constructing fireproof buildings, such as eliminating all wood and using metal, terra cotta, or concrete, and for establishing adequate exit routes. His ideas were the foundation of the Fire Prevention Law of 1911, a direct result of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory tragedy. The law was amended the following year to increase power of the Fire Commissioner to enforce fire drills in factories, businesses, hospitals, schools, and other institutions.

After the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911, Chief Croker testified before the New York State Factory Investigating Commission (established to determine fault for the deaths of 146 people). The following statement illustrates the fact that he found immediate enforcement of the law critical and would not tolerate its negligence by business owners: “I have found that the owner with any intelligence is more than ready to bear this trifling expense in loss of workers’ time, once he has been shown the inestimable advantage to himself, from the practical as well as the humanitarian point of view, which the drill will inevitably bring.”


Croker epitomized effective leadership of the fire service; that is to put their expertise to use in fire prevention. He was an outspoken advocate of improving fire safety throughout the City’s commercial and residential buildings. As early as 1894 he testified before the Tenement House Committee that a fatal fire was due, in part, to “the combustible nature of the building and its open construction.” The culmination of this was when he used the fatal sweatshop fire in Newark, New Jersey to once again call attention to the threat of such a catastrophe being repeated in New York. Just four months later it did at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company. As a result, he retired and turned over command of the Department on May 1 to Chief John Kenlon. Croker spent the next forty years in the fire prevention business. His company was a leader in the field and exists to today. In 1912 he authored the seminal book, “Fire Prevention.”

A man who dedicated his every ounce of energy to increase his knowledge of the fire service, Chief Croker would describe his infectious passion by saying, “It may seem strange to say that a man will grow to love a business that constantly places him in danger of being killed or crippled for life, which entails disagreeable work, and which keeps him on duty day and night, but the true fireman literally comes to love his profession. He likes to fight fires, and he will fight to keep on fighting.”

Croker retired from the department in 1911, but went on to be an advocate of Fire Prevention.

There are few in the history of the American fire service who have represented more fully what it means to be a firefighter than Chief Edward Croker. But if a man so impassioned by the task of firefighting would step back and look at his years served and say, “There’s a better way,” isn’t it time we do the same?


Chief Croker may indeed have achieved his greatest ambition the day he became a firefighter, and his words about the task of firefighting will always be remembered. But it’s my hope that over time, we remember him most for a very different quote: “There is no case where the old adage, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ is as true as with fire. We have been stingy with our ounces, and it is costing us dear in pounds.”

His career was both colorful and tumultuous. In 1914 he built a “completely fire-proof” house in Long Beach, said to be the first of its kind in the country. The house warming party he held there was covered in the New York Times.

Chief Croker died on February 7, 1951 of “chronic myocarditis at Tenderling”. His body was cremated and his remains were turned over to his estranged wife. Their final disposition of are unknown.

As a Side Note, Chief Croker’s maternal grandfather was Thomas Franklin who was a member of the NYFD beginning in 1783, serving as Chief from 1811 through 1824.

Some of Chief Croker’s Famous Quotes Follow:

  • “Firemen are going to get killed. When they join the department they face that fact. When a man becomes a fireman his greatest act of bravery has been accomplished. What he does after that is all in the line of work. They were not thinking of getting killed when they went where death lurked. They went there to put the fire out, and got killed. Firefighters do not regard themselves as heroes because they do what the business requires.”

— Chief Edward F. Croker, FDNY, speaking upon the death of a deputy chief and four firefighters in February of 1908

  • When a man becomes a fireman his greatest act of bravery has been accomplished.  What he does after that is all in the line of work.  ~Edward F. Croker
  • “I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a fireman.  The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we who know the work which a fireman has to do believe that his is a noble calling.
    We strive to preserve from destruction the wealth of the world, which is the product of the industry of men, necessary for the comfort of both the rich and the poor.  We are the defenders from fire of the art which has beautified the world, the product of the genius of men and the means or the refinement of mankind.
    But above all, our proudest endeavor is to save the lives of men – the work of God Himself.
    Under the impulse of such thoughts, the nobility of the occupation thrills us and stimulates us to deeds of daring, even at the supreme sacrifice.  Such considerations may not strike the average mind, but they are sufficient to fill the limit of our ambition in life and to make us serve the general purpose of human society.”


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

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Weekly Fire Service Icon Review- Hugh HALLIGAN

****NOTE: Welcome to a NEW Segment at Pass It On Fire Training. Here we are going to be doing a weekly post (To be Posted Every Saturday) Featuring a Fire Service Icon/ Legend. This segment has been based off this past week’s Firefighting Weekly Roundtable, where we discussed Fire Service Icons (HERE).

It is my hope that if you have never heard of some of these legends that you go forth and do your own research and study on the individual. Some of the legends we are going to feature have literally changed the way the fire service operates, and it is our hope to preserve them, their legacy, and the dedication to the fire service.

By doing these weekly posts, we hope to keep fulfilling our mission of Passing on Vital Fire Service Information.

If you would like to have a icon featured in this segment, please contact us!

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Hugh Augustine Halligan


Hugh A. Halligan, born on September 16, 1894, was appointed to the FDNY on June 16, 1916 and was assigned to Engine 88. His career was interrupted by service in the Army during World War I where time he served with the 342nd Fire Guard. Upon his return, he was reassigned to Engine 35 and worked there until he was promoted to Lieutenant on April 16, 1922 and assigned to Engine 20 for two years before he was promoted to Captain on February 1, 1924. He was successively in charge of Engines 86, 92, 35 and 73. Moving up to Battalion Chief on June 1, 1929, the youngest to do so at the time, he commanded the 6th Battalion for three years and the 18th Battalion for an additional two years.

Изобритатель-Хулигана-Hugh-A.-Halligan101997384_135517861958 On October 1, 1934, two weeks before his 40th birthday, Hugh Halligan attained the rank of Deputy Chief. On August 20, 1941, Commissioner Patrick Walsh appointed Halligan to the post of First Deputy Commissioner. Politics being what they are, Halligan was removed from that “civilian” position in March 1942 and assumed his role as Deputy Chief once again.

In 1948, Chief Halligan worked with the Halligan bars two predecessors. The Kelly tool and the Claw tool.

The Claw Tool
The Claw Tool.

The Claw tool was considered to be one of the first forcible entry tool used by FDNY. This tool had been used on the job since the early 1920s and was difficult to use. As most had discovered through painful experience, the Claw Tool was heavy and the striking surface was off-centered, making it very dangerous for any firefighter holding it as it was driven into the door.

Then, a captain from Ladder Company 163, John Kelly, designed the next generation of forcible entry tool to be used by FDNY. Naturally, it was called the Kelly tool. This new tool did not have the large hook with the offset striking surface. The striking surface was inline with the entire bar and had a 90 flat surface (the adz) to the end..

The Kelly Tool.

The Kelly tool had a couple of downfalls; like the Claw tool it too was welded and still too heavy. And, in those days, firefighters needed to bring both tools to the building due to their specific advantages. Chief Halligan wanted to design a tool that could be held in one hand; one that would not chip or break at a critical moment; a tool that would not fatigue a firefighter; and one that could be used with safety and full efficiency. After many hours of trial and error the Halligan bar was born.

The Original Halligan, looks similar to Today’s Version of the tool with the exception of a shorter fork end.

The Halligan bar was made of cross-drop forged from one piece of No. 4140 (high carbon content) steel, weighed 8  lbs. Comprised of an adz, pick, and fork, the Halligan would prove to be one of the greatest forcible entry tools ever made. The standard issue bar is approximately 30 in length, with a 15/16 shaft shaped into a hexagon for grip. The fork is a minimum of 6 long taper into two well beveled tines. Spacing between the tines allows for a gas valve to be shut off. The adz has a gentle curve for additional leverage, with a beveled end. In addition to being used to break something, the pick and adz only when properly used, provide protection to the arms, hands, and body of the holder during forcible entry operations.ChiefHughHalligan

As soon as the tool went on the market it was a huge success. The Boston Fire Department was one of the first to place the Halligan bar on every ladder company in their department.halligan5halligan2halligan4Halliganimage006

No one would naturally think FDNY had been the first to have them issued to their ladder companies. Unfortunately, there was a small problem. It was determined by those in higher places that there was a conflict of interest to have a member of the department selling tools or equipment back to the department in which they worked in. The department’s hands were tied and the bars could not be purchased. However, the bars could be purchased by anyone other than the department itself. Ladder companies across the city began purchasing the Halligan bars with their own money. The first company in FDNY to receive one was Ladder Company 47. Coincidentally, they were the first due ladder to Chief Halligans home in Parkchester, NY.

The 2nd generation and later Halligan bars were printed on the forks with what looks like AM+D6. It is, however, believed to be AMDG, which is a Latin acronym for Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam or for “the greater glory of God”. This Latin phrase was a favorite of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of The Society of Jesus. Pope John Paul II routinely used it in his writings. He would print AMDG in the top left of every page he wrote.

halligan name

Chief Halligan was a very religious man. It has been told that he would hand make a rosary for each new member coming into the FDNY. After this task became too overwhelming, it was thought that Chief Halligan turned his religious influences into his bars by having each one printed with AM+DG.

Today, tools with the same basic design but slight improvements are still called Halligans.

Hugh A. Halligan mandatorily retired from the FDNY, with 43 Years Service, on September 16, 1959; his sixty-fifth birthday.

Halligan died on February 27, 1987 in The Bronx

Halligan Bar Uses

The value of the original Halligan tool can’t be understated—it was a clear improvement over the tools used before and was superior when it had to “be used for cutting, lifting, twisting, prying and wedging.” Although the tool may have been retrofitted or redesigned by many manufacturers, its basic concept of three workable ends continues to uphold its value to the fire service. In addition, it has helped countless numbers of firefighters do battle on the fireground and emergency scene every day.

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, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE is where Information was taken.

Thanks for Reading,