This is the next in an occasional series of the “points of view” of retired Fire Chief Glenn Gaines.
* * * * *
The loss to two firefighters and the several injured in the recent incident in Chicago, Illinois, on December 22, 2010 reminds us all that this is a very dangerous profession we have chosen. Just about the time we believe we have this strategic and tactical fire attack operations thing figured out, something like this occurs.
We will all learn the details of what occurred and how similar occurrences can be prevented in the future. One of the many attributes making our profession so successful and honored is the we do not have deep corporate secrets. When something bad happens we share the details with our peer professionals so that others will not suffer from the same misfortune.
Federal, State and local officials will study the incident and issue a report. The great Chicago Fire Department leadership will help us better prepare ourselves as leaders, fire safety and prevention officials, educators and fire fighters. We at the Untied States Fire Administration and National Fire Academy will stay tuned very closely to the results of critiques, investigations and other data that is made available so that we might share what is learned from this tragic incident with future fire chiefs and EMS leaders. I encourage you to do the same.
In my career as chief or chief officer, I never experienced a line of duty death, although as the number two chief officer of our department (Fairfax County VA, Fire and Rescue) I was in position when our chief (Warren Isman) died unexpectedly. He was visiting in a foreign country, so I was the one who had to notify his wife and family of his death. Each time I am notified of firefighter fatalities, the emotional pain these unfortunate organizations are experiencing resonate with me. I cannot imagine the how difficult it must be for our brother and sister Chicago Fire Department members at this time.
At this time of joy, hope and peace, American firefighters across the nation and firefighters across the world are thinking and maybe saying a prayer for our friends and compatriots in Chicago.