When our 'drive to make it happen' ends in tragedy

We never say "can't;" and almost never say "no"


Editor’s Note:

Editor's note: A self-made water-delivery system with inappropriate parts caused a pressurized water tank to explode during a brush fire, killing one firefighter and injuring another, according to a new NIOSH report.

Another NIOSH report from another death of a brother firefighter; I know we all support FF Seitz's department and family as they continue dealing with the aftermath of this tragic event.

Beyond the technical issues cited in this article and report, I think it's important to acknowledge one of the cultural characteristics I alternately love and hate about firefighters.

We are "CAN DO" people; and I don't think anyone would have it any other way.

It's one of the best things about our culture; a culture that doesn't always get enough credit for its positive aspects. (Yes, while we have a lot of things we can, and must, improve; there ARE things about our fire service culture that are truly outstanding.)

Need something built, modified, or demolished in short order? Call a firefighter.

Need someone taken care of who doesn't have anyone else to help them? Call a firefighter.

Have a problem nobody else can solve? Call a firefighter. Need donations for a local charity? Call a firefighter.

Unfortunately, our willingness and drive to "make it happen," regardless of the circumstances and constraints, sometimes gets us in trouble. We never say "can't;" and almost never say "no."

My great fear is that, as the effects of the recession continue to be felt in communities everywhere, we — as a service — will try to fill the budgetary gaps by doing what we always do: putting our lives on the line, even when we shouldn't.

Stay safe!

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel — FireRescue1's editorial advisor — is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.

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