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The Secret List

The Secret List is an independent newsletter produced since 1998 by Chief Billy Goldfeder in an effort to bring forward the issues involving injury and death to us...often issues that are ignored, quickly forgotten or just not talked about.

TSL is e-mailed at no charge and produced as time allows. With the attitude that in order for us to survive the dangers of the job, they must learn how we have had "Close Calls" and even been injured or killed, TSL brings forward issues in an effort to enforce that philosophy-and get us to refocus on "what's important."

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Did You Hear The One About The IC...(The Secret List)

Thursday, October 30, 2014  Hey,

The term "did you hear the one about..." is usually related to a joke that's being told...or  story,.usually a good one-but not always. This time it's no joke.

Did you hear the one about the Hartford FD incident commander at the fire that tragically killed Hartford FF Kevin Bell? If you read (and especially watched) the news report we passed on earlier-you did hear "the one about." But, like every Line of Duty death-at this early stage, the facts are not out.

In nearly all line of duty deaths, the facts do come out...and I said nearly because there are some where the facts do not come out for a variety of reasons-from confusion to impossible determination to even political. Yeah-political. How about that.

When you watch the news report-it is confusing to you-because you are when you listened and watched the report I have to assume - word used intentionally - that you, like me, were confused and perhaps even annoyed-because of the way general aspects of the incidents were described in that story. 

This was not at all the first fire that the IC had command of. 

Why would the media report that? 

Who would be a "source" to the media and give them that information? 

It's easy for spectators on a Sunday to yell and scream at the football coach-especially in the comfort of the stands-and especially when they have never been coaches. The same fits to some extent to those who command fires. I remember as a young firefighter it was easy to criticize the IC's (we called them Chiefs back then) - and then in 1982, I became one. Things are a bit different when one goes from player to coach-you gain required perspective in now understanding you own this. Every aspect of the incident. 

In this latest case, who knows what happened? No one yet. NIOSH? Not yet. State FM? Not yet. HFD. No-not yet.. 

Was a mayday call missed? I don't know-and neither will any of us until every aspect of the investigated. "But the tape shows it!!!" Yeah-but that doesn't mean it was heard by the IC or others for that matter. In other fires across the US, maydays were transmitted - but not heard by radios on the fireground-even thought the "tapes" show it. The facts aren't out yet.

"Sources reported....." So-called sources can be the most credible-or incredible-folks to those who may have a certain motivation for being a source. We don't know yet.

Hose lines in front and back? Not unusual on any fireground. It sounded like the rear company asked for a line. Were the front and rear companies opposing and flowing at the same time? Were they communicating? How does fire science and fire behavior play into this? What about "modern" fire behavior?  Don't know yet-at least we don't-because the HFD, the SFM and NIOSH have not provided that info-it's way too soon.

30 minute's on an SCBA? Were they "30 minute" packs? Were they 45? Were they properly maintained and tested? What were the conditions of the masks? 

Did they run out of air too soon? 

Facts? Not yet.

The Hartford Fire Department has some of the best Firefighters and Officers out there-that's been proven over time. They also have had a solid record of fireground survival-backed up by the fact that this was their first LODD in 40 YEARS. The fact is that the only thing that's really been proven-tragically-is that some Firefighters were injured-and a Firefighter, Kevin Bell-gave his life while serving Hartford. The rest - hopefully - will come out as facts - so that all of us can honor Kevin's life by learning about exactly what happened.

A fire department is most fragile following the loss of one of their own. It can get very, very emotional, ugly and even nasty as every member on the scene-or not-deals with the loss of their Brother. The next layer are those members-all of them-who were there when their Brother or Sister was lost. Fragile? That doesn't even begin to describe it. And "it" is different for everyone involved-at every we each grieve and deal with an insane range of emotions is just that-different for everyone involved. 

Mark Twain said "Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel."...(meaning don't fight with the media) ...but on the other hand, Abe Lincoln said ""If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what's said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference."

Let's hope that as the professionals determine the facts in exactly what happened on October 7, 2014, the media goes easy with the "ink" - especially from info pushed by "sources"---understanding that the volatility of the family, the firefighters and the officers are directly impacted by what's said and printed. Fact or not.

RIP Kevin Bell, God Bless his family, friends and all those impacted by this tragic loss.

Take Care. Be Careful. Pass It On.


The Secret List 10/30/2014-1534 Hours





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