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Jim Spell

Tactical Firefighting

Jim Spell spent 33 years as a professional firefighter with Vail (Colorado) Fire & Emergency Services, the last 20 years as a captain. He helped create the first student/resident fire science program west of the continental divide, formed the first countywide hazmat response unit and was on the original Colorado Governor’s Safety Committee. As founder of HAZPRO Consulting, LLC, Spell advised businesses on subjects ranging from hazard analysis and safety response to personnel development and organization. His writing won six IAFF Media Awards. Many of Spell’s articles are available by podcast at His last book was titled “Boot Basics: A Firefighter’s Guide to the Service.” Spell passed away in April 2024 after a short battle with cancer. His last four articles detailed his cancer journey.

Your work as a firefighter is strikingly similar to the work you’ll face as a patient – and the team around you is similarly supportive
For firefighters facing an occupational cancer diagnosis, the days of feeling depressed, alone and tired can be tempered by the supportive nurses and techs around you
Inside the chemotherapy experience, from the team of helpers to our role as patients
We, as firefighters, have faced everything, but when faced with terminal cancer, moments of connection mean so much
The legacy of followership is true to the past and focused on the future
A back-to-basics review of communication center types and facility equipment, plus must-have dispatcher skills
Applying new concepts to accepted communication models could heighten fireground efficiency and effectiveness
Consider key factors like shell materials, durability, weight and comfort
A snapshot of the national, state and local requirements needed to advance in the fire service
At its best, tradition is a moral compass; at its worst, it’s albatross hindering progress