Friday, December 28, 2012

Journal Entry 22-The Next Inventor Is You

For some strange reason our year always ends in tragedy, or so it seems. The Newtown (CT) school shootings, the two brothers gunned down Christmas Eve in Webster, New York responding to a fire, only to be purposely ambushed and murdered, and the two people pushed on to the subway tracks in New York City. These are tragedies any time they happen but I guess they’re just amplified in December. Billy Goldfeder recently published a list of fires with LODD’s all in the month of December. Maybe we petition the government to skip December from now on and go from November to January? Probably not. I’m trying not to hate December but it’s getting hard not to. 

Let’s all go forward with positive thoughts for a happy, healthy, successful and safe New Year.

Been thinking a lot lately about what has transpired within the fire service especially over the last 50 or 60 years in the way of technological changes. (No, I didn’t start 60 years ago. Feels like it sometimes and looks like it most days but no.) Tools and tactics today didn’t just appear by magic. Hard working, thinking firefighters for generations brought these things about. Some have their names forever emblazoned in our minds like the Browder Life Net, the Halligan bar, the Bresnan Distributor, the Hannigan Backwards Spray Nozzle, the Cooper Hose Jacket, the Kelly Cellar Nozzle and the list can go on into Journal Entry 23. The first hose wagon was invented by a Fireman named Reuben Haines in Philadelphia. It cost $96. Good old Reuben like the others listed above saw a need and invented something to satisfy it. It’s true but necessity is the mother of invention. We went from horse drawn to motorized and wood to aluminum for ladders (except San Francisco of course). For those of you who have not been around longer than 15 minutes, just in my lifetime I’ve seen turn-out gear go from rubber to canvas to Nomex, and hand lines go from 1 ½” to 1 ¾” and to 2” as well. Automatic nozzles, composite nozzles, and nozzles that you can break down on scene and go from fog to smooth bore. Large diameter hose, thermal imaging cameras and a device for hi-rise fires called a Hero Pipe that you can set up on the floor below and goose neck the nozzle to the floor above. Did you know that in the early 1980’s two Tampa (FL) firefighters walked in to the Betten Roll-up company and told them they could “put an awful lot of hazmat response crap on than tuck like this?” For the next 25 years, Betten sold more trucks to the emergency services then to Coca Cola and Anheiser-Busch combined. 

These were ordinary guys like you and I who saw a need and put their minds to it. I heard an old chief once say that you can take four pieces of wood and three pieces of metal and leave it in the day room and in a few hours, the guys would come up with something useful. Here’s a quick guide;

  •   If you think it’s a good idea, try it.
  • If it works, share it.
  •  If it’s really good, write about it.
  • If it’s tremendous, patent it.

We will progress only if we keep thinking about what we do and how we do it. You are the next inventor. Now get to work!

Happy New Year and be safe,
Ronnie K