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FDIC is just around the corner! April 10, 2013

Posted by Jim Silvernail in Events.
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Fire Department Instructor Conference (FDIC) is almost upon us!

Thank you everyone for sharing your insights and experiences. The varied points of view have helped me prepared for my third year delivering Suburban Fire Tactics at FDIC. This year SFT will be a 4-hour pre-conference workshop on Tuesday, April 23, 1:30-5:30 pm. I certainly hope to see you there.

Also – the Suburban Fire Tactics book has arrived!

The completion of the book project has already been incredible. The initial feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Everyone is invited to attend our official launch and first book signing will be 11-noon on Wednesday April 24 and Thursday April 25 at the Pennwell/Fire Engineering bookstore.

If you can’t make it to FDIC this year- please feel free to visit the PennWell website to order a copy. Or if you’d like information on receiving a custom presentation of Suburban Fire Tactics for your department or industry event, please email us.

Gearing up for FDIC March 14, 2013

Posted by Jim Silvernail in Media.
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In preparation for our FDIC launch of the SFT book, Fire Engineering has released a sneak peek:

SFT CoverSUBURBAN FIRE TACTICS is a guide for suburban-based fire operations. All fire departments share common objectives: to save lives, protect and conserve property, and limit harm to the environment. How urban, rural, and suburban agencies differ is the delivery of tactics and strategies. This new book explains the factors that limit suburban operations and depicts the differences between urban and suburban capabilities.

ISBN 978-1-59370-294-6z

This book will debut at FDIC and Chief Silvernail will be available to sign your copies there!!

If you noticed the reference made in the last line to “Chief” Silvernail instead of Captain, that wasn’t a typo.

Earlier this week was one of those bitter sweet moments in a persons life. I was promoted to Battalion Chief. I leave the best job in the fire service as a Captain to one of the finest Rescue/Engines in suburbia and the United States. However, I look forward to my new journey and accept the new challenges which will come my way.

If you haven’t yet registered for FDIC – tomorrow is the last day for the “Early Bird” registration discount. There are a lot of great learning opportunities at FDIC and I am fortunate enough to again present SFT as a workshop on Tuesday, April 23.

Thank you,


Thoughts from MUFTRI Winter Fire School February 19, 2013

Posted by Jim Silvernail in Combat Ready for Suburbia, Events.

JimatWFSRecently, I had the pleasure of delivering Suburban Fire Tactics at the University of Missouri Fire and Rescue Institute (MU FRTI) Winter Fire School (WFS). If you didn’t attend this event, you missed a great experience and exchange of information!

WFS offered participants and excellent opportunity to develop and discuss ideas. In addition to interacting with students during two deliveries of Suburban Fire Tactics, I was fortunate enough to discuss concepts with fellow instructors, including the crew from Engine House Training.

Some of our hot-discussions involved fire fighter safety:

  • How do you interpret ICS/NIMS for structure fires? Where does the first due officer belong? One student reported when arriving first due with only two firefighters to a structure fire, both firefighters make entry and “leave God at the pump panel.”
  • Is compressed air foam system (CAFS) effective prior to flashover? Will a CAFS line effectively cool down an eminent flashover atmosphere without actually hitting the seat of the fire? Students questioned if CAFS would cool at the ceiling level without actually hitting the body of fire. Is it theory, or is it proven?

What is your opinion of #GodAtThePumpPanel and/or CAFS cooling?

NIST fire researchers gathered data from experimental burns January 29, 2013

Posted by Jim Silvernail in Combat Ready for Suburbia.
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I wanted to make a quick comment about the work conducted by NIST down in Spartanburg, SC. It is so beneficial to our industry that organizations like this (including ISFSI) are conducting this research. You have to adjust your tactics to the situations and the times. This research is so important to suburban communities (really all fire agencies) who do have limited personnel and resources. Yes, I consider myself an aggressive firefighter and fire officer. But getting caught in a flashover is not aggressive and is not smart, especially if you are an officer (don’t put your people in this situation). The transitional fire attack is a valuable tactic and is definitely apart of Suburban Fire Tactics……Once again, thank you Sean Gray for sharing your article emphasizing this earlier

Things Change: Attack from the Burned Side, Part 2 January 25, 2013

Posted by Jim Silvernail in Combat Ready for Suburbia.

From our fellow suburban friend, Sean Gray, of Cobb County Fire Department (Georgia) and FDIC instructor (Attack from the burned side)….Great stuff, we have a lot in common.

“Things Change”

After “Attack from the Burned Side can Save Lives” was published in Fire Engineering November 2011. A firestorm (no pun intended) of controversy ignited. The article was negatively criticized by the “Old School group” and was applauded by the “New School group”. Some folks told me- “We will just have to agree to disagree”. Well, that adage is fine if were discussing politics or religion in the firehouse. But when it comes down to keeping firefighter’s safe and saving citizen’s property I have a much more passionate opinion. I’m willing do the right thing, even if it takes admitting that I have been doing it wrong for the past 20 years.

Take a look back at where or who you gained your knowledge from, it was probably from some old salty captain or chief that you looked up to when you were a rookie. There is nothing wrong with that. All of us have had someone that took us under their wing. However, where or who did they get their knowledge from? Probably from their mentors and their own experiences, and it continues like this today.

Is it possible that we have just been telling stories all these years?

The American fire service has 150 years of tradition that is unimpeded by progress. We are often not ready to change. Unfortunately, it takes a death or critical injury of a firefighter for someone to ask the question, “How could this have been prevented?”

Let’s review a couple of scenarios that are classic examples of fire tactics that can be changed. Many of you may have been on similar fires to these and may have made the same mistakes. It’s not that we have been doing a bad job. We’ve been doing what we were taught.

Scenario #1

contributed by Sean Gray

Figure 1

The above picture (figure 1) was the result of a c-side deck fire and the initial size up showed smoke in the attic. The first hose lines were sent through the front door after forcible entry and by the time that they pulled ceiling and attempted to extinguish the fire, the roof was beginning to collapse. The point here is that it takes time to force entry, hump hose to the 2nd floor and then pull ceiling to start extinguishment. It’s much quicker to pull a line to the c-side exterior, extinguish the fire on the outside that is extending into the attic. During this time, more units will have arrived and the forcible entry should have occurred while you were extinguishing the C-side fire and maybe even a secondary hose line will be headed to the attic, possibly avoiding the need for aerial master streams.

Scenario #2

contributed by Sean Gray

Figure 2

The fire shown above (figure 2) is an Easy scenario right? Hit it with the deck gun or 2 ½” on the A-side. Unfortunately, because attacking from the UNburned side has been drilled into our heads for so many years. The initial hose lines were stretched through the c-side door. How do you think this looks to the citizen standing across the street watching this fire?

It’s simple. Put WATER on the FIRE as soon as possible. You can make all the excuses in the world for not putting water on the base of the fire, like there was a fence, or a firefighter eating dog, or the rookie did it! Sure there can be extenuating circumstances, that’s the nature of our business but recent studies have shown that anytime water is applied, the hostile environment gets better. It doesn’t matter from which direction the water is applied.

Our hose streams have plenty of reach. Knock it down from a distance and then go inside and finish it off. We are paid to make sound decisions in a moment’s notice. If we make poor decisions it looks unprofessional to the people that we protect. Unfortunately, we are not viewed as the post 9/11 heroes anymore. In 2002, we could burn a house to ground and the citizens would thank us. Those days are gone.

Our fire tactics need to be constantly reevaluated. Let’s get away from the Burned vs. Unburned or the Smooth Bore vs. Fog nozzle arguments. In my mind there is no reason to argue because the engineers can give us the answers.

Thanks to UL and NIST we don’t have to rely on those stories anymore. The American fire service is changing and is now taking a dynamic scientific approach to firefighting, similar to what our brothers in other parts of the world have been doing for years.

For example, take a look at the recent studies performed on Governors Island, NY. The prestigious FDNY is arguably the most respected fire department in the world. If FDNY is willing to bring the science to the street and make changes to the ways that they operate, maybe the rest of us should follow suit. Things do change.

Funny thing- Several of my mentors have told me for years “If you put the fire out, the problems will go away”. I wish would have been listening.

Sean Gray is a 20 year veteran and a Fire Engineer with Cobb County (GA) Fire and Emergency Services Station 19-A shift. He has an Associate’s Degree and is currently working on a Bachelor’s degree in Fire Safety Engineering through the University of Cincinnati. He has taught at FDIC and has been published in Fire Engineering magazine.

Maplewood Memorial Stickers for Sale January 20, 2013

Posted by Jim Silvernail in Media.
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Ryan Hummert memorial stickers availableFor some of you who are not aware, we had a tragedy in St. Louis County in 2008. A young fireman by the name of Ryan Hummert was murdered on his first fire, exactly in the same fashion as West Webster, NY. I had the privilege of teaching this young man at the fire academy and his assignment was my first, the city of Maplewood.

I have always been very proud of the City of Maplewood. They send a delegation to the West Webster funerals and participated in this tragic event, just like they did in 2008.

To help with this tragedy, they are selling “Ryan Hummert” helmet stickers for $2/sticker. If anyone is interested, please contact Matt Wilcox. Thank you..Jim

Thank you Delaware… January 15, 2013

Posted by Jim Silvernail in Events.

Captain Jim Silvernail presenting SFT to DE State Fire School Annual Officer SeminarThank you to Delaware Fire School and participants of the 2013 Delaware Officer Seminar. Suburban Fire Tactics was presented on January 12 to a great number of firefighters. And thank you Tucker Dempsey for making the initial inquiry of us for this event!

Around the corner, SFT will be presented next at the University of Missouri Fire and Rescue Institute’s Winter Fire School. Registration is still open for this event and we sincerely hope to see you there!

In the meantime – happy hockey season!

Registration has opened for Delaware Fire Officer Seminar! December 11, 2012

Posted by Jim Silvernail in Events.
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Delaware State Fire School logoThe announcement has been made – Delaware State Fire School (DSFS) has published its 2013 DE Fire Officer Seminar registration form online. This event is open to Delaware fire service officers and administrative officers. For more details, please visit their website or Facebook page.

We would like DSFS for this opportunity and we look forward to meeting you there!

Suburban Fire Tactics is hitting the road! December 6, 2012

Posted by Jim Silvernail in Events.
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I’ll be headed to Delaware in January. I had the honor to be selected as the key note speaker by the Delaware State Fire School for their annual Fire Officer Seminar on January 12, 2013.

If not there, you can catch the next scheduled offering of Suburban Fire Tactics at the University of Missouri Fire and Rescue Institute‘s Winter Fire School. Registrations are currently open if you plan to be in Columbia, MO February 8-10.

In April, we will be returning to Indy for our third year presenting at FDIC.

If you’re interested in bringing Suburban Fire Tactics to an event or training near you, please contact us.

Preparing to publish in 2013! December 5, 2012

Posted by Jim Silvernail in Media.
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I just got off a conference call with my friends at Pennwell Publishing and we have officially kicked-off the marketing aspects of Suburban Fire Tactics. I am truly excited and blessed to be published by the leader in our industry! The people who represent Fire Engineering Books and Videos, as well as the Magazine, are the best at what they do. I am truly honored.

Currently, we are working on the cover page. I have some ideas which I will probably release once we start making some headway.

Almost there……We are on a schedule to have a finished product by FDIC (keep your fingers crossed).

Also, we’re are working on our 2013 conference deliveries. If you’re aware of any conference, fire school or department that might be interested in hosting our workshop, please connect us!



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