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When things don’t go smoothly

When things don’t go smoothly

 

The third annual Rastin Challenge has came and gone with participants from around the area competing against each other for prizes and to raise money for a local scholarship for first responders.  Rastin Challenge is an amazing local event that was started and is held at the Ariel Foundation Park in Mount Vernon, Ohio. If you haven’t seen photos of it or heard of the place, check out the spiral staircase around an old smokestack that is the tallest point around the county.

My department put in another team this year, made some changes, and competed, but the course was done that things didn’t go smooth.  Despite all four of us being highly competitive, driven, and athletic in our own unique ways, things just didn’t go as planned.  In the grand scheme of things the entire event for us continues to get better every year, but in the end it was the little things that snagged us the most.  From the start I knew something was going to be off for me because the hosepack was different than I trained with, a different setup.  The launch up with the pack was perfect, my breathing perfect, but when that pack hit my shoulder, it slid back, didn’t sit, and threw off the first 8-10 steps from the video review that I did.  The little things.  The little things add up to big things, and much like how the first line goes into a fire that’s how the fire goes, well the same could be said of events like this. Overall there were strengths though, improvements, better speed, better strength.

Looking back at the event I couldn’t be happier that with the size of the department we are, put together a team to compete.  After all, how many other local departments are in the county and surrounding that didn’t even strap up to try.  Looking at the day we succeeded in challenging ourselves, getting fire cadets involved from our department to volunteer, and recognizing that we would rather have these small things happen at a competition or a training rather than on game day when we are needed to be at our best.

When they don’t go smoothly, the important part is recognizing the fact, seeing what broke down, and then improving.  I am looking forward to some HUGE events that are coming up in the next year that I’m involved with and making changes to push even harder.  I can still feel it in the way I’m training, that while I have made some huge strength improvements that I am still trailing in some of the cardio from two years ago.

What must change?  What adjustments need made?  Are they the small ones like the attention to detail on the hose pack, are they gear issues, equipment, or are they bigger cardio and training issues?

Two weeks away from my first 9/11 Memorial Climb since early 2018, we’ll see if the endurance is there like it has been in the past.  Columbus, Ohio up the Chase Bank building five times to make it to the top.  From there its on to some 5k events, stair climbs in Ohio, Indiana, Washington, and potentially if I can get the sponsors, Florida! Lots of exciting things, happy to be back in it again!

Hello….this thing on?

Hello….this thing on?

You’ve been looking…checking back…wondering whats going on, the answer is plenty!  Updates coming soon.  Chile, Scott Firefighter Stair Climb, 9/11 StairClimbs, Rastin Challenge, FDIC, and probably some gear and equipment stuff as well.  I’ve got a lot to catch up on with the site.

Several posts coming before heading out to FDIC to network and get another much needed dose of brotherhood.

Air is free, why are we afraid of using it?

Air is free, why are we afraid of using it?

Last year I put together an article titled, “Taking air for granted,” that highlighted the importance of VO2, touched on training on air, knowing your SCBA, and broke the ice.  After continuing my training, competing, and preparing for the fireground, the importance of air continues to tug at me, why?  Without air, we are dead, simple, that’s it.  With the exception of divers, frequent swimmers, and other oddities, the ability to hold your breath for an extended period of time is impossible.  As I trained last week I knew I was into my emergency air supply as I climbed my training tower racing for time, how far can I make It I kept thinking.  We as firefighters go into the IDLH with a limited supply of breathing air and a stamp stating how many minutes (a misconception) right on the cylinder.  

We yearn as firefighters to cut things up in extrication, train in acquired structures with live burns, work on specialized areas of firefighting that have sexy names and equipment, yet we are afraid of training on that one thing we wear on our backs.  Why is that?  The number of firehouses with cascades and breathing air compressors can’t be that few and far between, but we really are scared of running those tanks down.  The exception of this rule seems to be on the fireground where we charge forward, many still relying on the low air alarm to signal it being time to exit the IDLH.  I would even go as far to say there are departments working through that bell, staying on air because, “its just a single family residential fire and we’re in overhaul.  Maybe its a department that pops off air during overhaul because, well the fire is out.  Sadly, many departments do this because, “thats the way we’ve always done it,” and don’t want to or don’t know how to utilize ROAM.  When that first cylinder is empty you’re ready to get back in the fight, a statistic in the waiting.  

What is it that makes pulling those SCBA off the rigs and running through the air so scary?  Is it fear of being put on the spot that you might breathe through the bottle quickly?  Does it take too much of your time to fill bottles?  Is there fear of being able to instruct something like air management and discuss simple math and numbers?  Perhaps it is laziness and complacency because, “it will never happen to us.”  I believe in most cases it is a combination of all the above answers.  Air management may not be sexy, but it sure as hell is pretty important to us as humans.  So important and interesting enough that the “Seattle Guys” put together the Bible about the subject titled, Air Management.  It. Goes back to the ABC’s from EMT training.  Airway, Breathing, Circulation, you mess any of those three up and you have problems.  

It starts with the truck checks…  Checking those SCBA on the rigs, and not just checking that yep we have 5 SCBA on this truck and they “look” ok.  It’s pulling the pack, checking the straps, checking the pressure, checking any attachments, battery levels, turning it on and actually seeing that it will really function.  Many problems can be fixed prior to the call when you need to enter the IDLH by just really checking your SCBA.  Each time gets the firefighter more comfortable with the functionality and all the bells and whistles of the unit. 

It means putting something in writing…SOG/SOP are great, if they are actually known and applied properly.  It’s something that is necessary so that your department HAS a standard to uphold and train from.  Have clear standards of what is acceptable and what is not.  Clearly state that SCBA will be functionally checked, not just that they exist on the rig.  Clearly stating that you have an acceptable cylinder pressure when checking.  Clearly stating the expectation that firefighters will know how much air is in the SCBA, and managing it so that you will leave the IDLH before the low air alarm activates is a key piece.  Look up NFPA 1404 and do some reading, the SOP/SOG should easily write itself.  

It’s the little things…Really it is not too terrible to start implementing change at the very most BASIC level.  Checking your air supply and knowing what the pressures are of your entire crew that’s going in together.  Routinely monitoring what your air levels are, for me that’s when I turn it on, at the door, moving into another room, changing floors, once you have the knockdown, once overhaul begins, and sometimes just because.  It takes a second, and just another moment to check your crew, isn’t your life worth that?  Now that you’re staying more in touch with what your air supply is, it is also knowing to get out of the IDLH BEFORE your low air alarm activates.  Sure that doesn’t seem like much, until it hits the fan and there is an entrapment, or sudden change in the interior resulting in you needing that air.  Here’s a key thing for the finance people, the budget people, the people downtown, the chiefs watching the budget…  These “little things” take ZERO dollars to implement.  This comes down to training, now add in that SOG/SOP and now we are really getting somewhere.  

Training on air…  Here is a key piece because its one thing to be standing in front of the firefighters with a PowerPoint only, and talking about air, its another to do that and then follow it up with a hands on portion.  I’m not saying take every pack off the rig and put your house out of service, but a few SCBA will be required.  I’m not going to steal someone else’s work out there, hit Google and do a search for air management training.  There are several power points that will show you an obstacle course of tasks to do with your SCBA while starting from a set pressure point and calculating how much air your firefighters are using.  If your firefighters have no idea how much pressure they go through per minute, how will they ever be able to tell how long their air will last or what their personal work cycle is?  Obviously every job will be slightly different, but they will have a good ballpark of time to keep in their mind.  Now take that one step further beyond figuring out the ACR and train your firefighters on your SCBA and how they function or react when the EOSTI warning bells/buzzers start signaling that they are into their emergency supply of air.  Are your SCBA the new compliance where it is 33% or are they the older 25%, perhaps depending on your department you have a mix?  What pressure does the alarm sound, what will they hear, feel, and how does it react?  At what pressure does it stop making its noise signifiying that you are in a really bad situation if the RIT/RIC is not close with a supply of air?  So many department trainings I see, watch YouTube videos of, and even have been involved with, deal solely with plenty of air supply, a known victim with plenty of air and maybe not even on a mask.  How are you training that victim or the crew properly.  

I had an emergency…  As I said, last week on the training tower, one of my evolutions up/down 13 floors I ran into an air emergency.  I knew it was coming, no I was not in an IDLH environment, and yes if I wanted to I could completely disconnect and go off air.  That’s not the point that it was safe.  The point is that during this training I ran into an air emergency and I treat it as if its the real thing.  Immediately I checked my gauges, quickly went over my pack, my location, distance up the tower, and formulated in my head the next statement.  MAYDAY.  I verbally made the MAYDAY call aloud and not in my head.  Whether you use LUNAR or WWW or some other acronym out there, you need to be practiced in it if you want it to come out well.  Now is not the time to panic and lose it.  As I progressed up the tower I continued to monitor my location, change my breathing technique, and again issue the MAYDAY and relay information as to my new location.  More intense than that alarm bell or vibralert going off is when it slows and then stops, telling you there is almost no air remaining.  How much can you control your breathing now to make it last, will it be 12 breaths or maybe 24 before the mask sucks to your face?  If you’ve never experienced this, training is a far better place to find out rather than in the middle of a fire situation.  Train like its real, every time, and build the muscle memory so that your mind and body will react accordingly.  

Sadly, it doesn’t take much looking around on the Internet to find that air emergencies and close calls still do exist and are a contributing factor to injury and death, but little is being done to help it still.  NFPA moving to 33% EOSTI was a huge change, but only for those with updated or new SCBA.  In the end, this still comes down to the training in your house and the changes that you make.  This doesn’t have to start from the top down, this can start with YOU and build the change from the bottom up.  Air is free, train with it.  These changes for the most part are free, discuss it and work on implementing it.  The potential cost lies in maybe having someone work on the SOP/SOG and then reissuing it.  

Train hard!  

We’re going International

We’re going International

It’s absolutely hard to believe that I am almost down to single digits before my first International competition in Santiago, Chile.  When I started competing in Seattle back in 2007 I never even imagined it possible or that I would want to.  The people that I have met, the places that I have been, the opportunities, the challenges, the adventures, EVERYTHING has been so amazing.  It was through Seattle that I met my International friends….brothers….bomberos, and now here I am ready to embark on venturing to their climb on September 3.  

I will be competing with over 1000 other firefighters in the Run for Life, firefighter stair climb at the Constanera Center in downtown Santiago.  We will ascend 62 floors up the tallest building in South America, all to raise funds and awareness for organ donation in their country.  Why does this mean so much to me you ask?  Organ donation, more specifically bone marrow donation was the live saving piece for my mom to beat leukemia in 1990 at The Ohio State University Hospital.  

I’m very thankful for my Chilean friends that have kept touch over the years through the Scott Firefighter Stair Climb, who got me interested in their climb and ultimately are why I’m headed down there.  When we speak of brotherhood, it knows no bounds and is International.   “Just get down here,” “just take care of the airfare,” and you have a place to stay.  The hospitality of my brothers and the department of Santiago has been amazing already and I haven’t even touched down in country yet.  The assistance in getting through the registration process, the coordination of getting picked up at the airport, the ability to stay in their firehouses throughout the trip, the invitation to their company anniversary, and so many things that I don’t know yet.  

As my departure date comes closer, check back for more updates here and on Instagram as well.  If you look up jasonb911 you will find me up there and hopefully see more updates and some live shots at some point.  

What is FF4CURES

What is FF4CURES

For those that are checking out the website recently, or who have seen the jersey or sign at an event and wanted to know a little more, I decided to post a small bio about FF4CURES.  

I sat down a little over three years ago and began brainstorming a way to tie my love of writing, philanthropy, and competitions all together. Every event that I would compete in had a separate page, every year was different, and It gave me no place to really live at online. Hence, out of that desire to do more, promote, pay forward, and get the word out even more, my blog FF4CURES was born.

What do I support

When I started competing 11 years ago, the event that got me hooked was the Scott Firefighter Stair Climb, which benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Even with all of the events that I participate and fundraise for, the Scott Climb for the LLS is my premier one that I do the most for. Over the past 11 years I have raised almost $23,000 for the LLS AND I’M NOT DONE YET!!! Why? Because in 1986, my mother was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia and fought until 1990 which she received the first unrelated and not a full match bone marrow transplant at The Ohio State University Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Why is this important, because I watched what my mother and many others have went through and something must be done to eliminate these terrible diseases. Its easy to champion for such an amazing cause when your ties run so deep

What else do I champion for? Great question! In addition to being an ambassador to the Scott Firefighter Stair Climb for the last three years, I also support Big Climb Philly, another amazing LLS event. Here are a few others and organizations that I enjoy supporting:

  • Tunnel to Towers – Climb and Run Series – http://tunnel2towers.org
  • Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland – http://www.rmhcleveland.org
  • 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb series for the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation – https://www.firehero.org/events/9-11-stair-climbs/
  • Riley Children’s Hospital of Indianapolis
  • Arthritis Foundation of Central Ohio
  • Numerous local and regional firefighter runs and competitions for great causes that put money to work directly helping people!

How does my fundraising work?

Fundraising is a very touchy subject with me that I am VERY open about. Unless otherwise noted, when I post links to fundraising pages…the funds you donate go directly to the cause. I don’t touch this money, I’d rather not, and rather it just go to my goals of making a difference. With that said, from time to time I will fundraise to meet a specific logistical need or have sponsors that step up with paying entry fees or other items so that I can go compete in the events. With that said, I do accept and seek sponsorships throughout the year with the ability to advertise for them and their products, businesses, and organizations.

What am I promoting?

Well, in addition to promoting some great events to encourage participation, fundraising, and getting their message out there, its about the actual causes and what they exist for. What does the LLS do? What is the need? Why are they needing help? On top of that, there is firefighter fitness and wellbeing, firemanship, and a variety of other topics. Its amazing to hear stories of those that I come across in my travels that have followed along and have started or kept going because of what they’ve seen here. The climbers and runners that have started pushing toward a cause or changing their life because of something I said is an ultimate reward for me.

There is SO much negativity and so many people out there just copying the same ol content that there is no need for more of the same. My content is just that, my own, and my own thoughts.

Who am I?

The reality… A firefighter, a writer, a photographer, an avid fitness guy, a techie, and a guy that just honestly wants to make a difference in the world. While FF4CURES may be authored by me, ultimately this is just a place to work from and support OTHERS and put their CAUSES out there.

I am that somebody

I am that somebody

I woke up this morning to recap the Bop to the Top and sort through a loss success even in failures. The first five words of that sentence are perhaps one of the biggest victories, “I woke up this morning,” how many people take that for granted? How many people have lost loved ones and wish for them to be here still? I love looking back an event like the Bop, many others, or any experience in life to seek out what worked and what didn’t, in order to get better….That all came to a head this morning.

As I struggled this last week I had been debating putting thoughts of why I struggled to a finished product, but found difficulty to “word”. I wasn’t even sure as I began to type that I would find the fortitude to express myself correctly, and then the phone lit up. As I parked my truck this morning to go in and type this at the coffee shop I received a call from a brother experiencing similar feelings and a past that we share.   That person had no idea I was coming in to write one of several posts where I hope to help people find their “cure” and maybe prevent more losses in our calling.  That phone call sealed the deal and the words came.

One of the biggest problems we have is that there is a stigma about discussing topics of anxiety, depression, fears, PTSD, suicide, and mental health in general.   The problem is that we don’t until after a loss of another and then we lash out in anger of WHY. Why are we doing nothing? Why aren’t THEY doing anything about it? WHEN will these PEOPLE wake up and do something… Then I realized that “somebody” was me.

This last week leading up to the Bop to the Top in Indianapolis was perhaps one of the most challenging for me in awhile. Took some hits and tried to keep on moving, forced myself, but it didn’t go as well as planned. One visit to my desktop last week and what I thought was going to be normal was flipped upside down. I went in an instant from cleaning off files and pics from my desktop to anxiety level 99 as I opened a series. This was my first competitive climb since losing Brian and seeing those, opened a whole slew of thoughts and memories that I thought I was dealing ok with. Anxiety is something that shows itself so differently from person to person and from time to time that for me to describe seems impossible.

I went into Saturday morning already feeling as if I was behind the eight-ball and I was struggling. That whole getting your “mind right,” prior to competition didn’t happen as I recalled memories, as I recalled a very sick plane ride two years ago, as I remembered sending words of wisdom to those fighting cancer while I was at this very building last year. Understand I’m not blaming anyone, I’m not pushing this off, but after every loss in life, competition, battle, business, the fire ground, we must recap the WHY. What happened, why did it happen?

I didn’t get the times I wanted to turn out, I didn’t finish where I wanted, I lost a timing chip in a stairwell, I fell but I kept on going, I burst out in tears under my mask, but I crossed that finish with head high.

Through the rough competition and week, with all the tough and painful parts aside I find the victory. I find that while I could have given up and stopped, but I continued on. I find victory that these were climbs where I still pushed myself to limits and pushed max. I practiced solid breathing techniques, footwork, handwork, pacing, and that I have more climbs under my belt leading up to another competition and my main event in Seattle. I made it. I survived. I woke up this morning and maybe, just maybe I can help others.

Across the United States we are losing so many people, so many first responders because of their past experiences, their present struggles, and their future fears. While firefighters aren’t a daily loss to suicide, our numbers are in the hundreds per year and outpace those lost in the LODD (line of duty).   Our military loses 22 per day to suicide, they too are losing more to issues after the battle is done.

Be that “somebody” that helps. Be that “somebody” that steps up and does something. Be that “somebody” that reaches out to make a difference. Be that “somebody” that is a helper!

The sound of silence…

The sound of silence…

As I’ve said countless times with the blog, I am a seeker of all sorts of “cures”.  Cures for diseases, better fitness, better wellbeing, better health, better firemanship, and sometimes just being better.  A significant portion of my writing and work is truly about leaving this place better than we found it.  This post is one that truly fits that bill as I see organizations, businesses, departments, and my media feed showing this trend of how damaged our methods of communication are.  

As I’m constantly on the run and going here or there, I have a wide variety of ideas that come to mind that I want to come back to. This article is just one of the many that’s sat in queue for quite some time. A frustrated thought, brought back up to the surface by a remake of the song “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel by current artist Disturbed. The original has always been a favorite of mine, growing up exposed to a plethora of music as a child, the 60s and 70s genre were one that I loved with a passion.

Lyrics to the deep song have exactly the same meaning today as when the were penned.   Their thoughts are very pertinent and almost scary that they are a reflection of our society. The inability for man to communicate. They called it out in lyrics and today even with all the modern advances in communications technology, we are doing more harm than good.

Myself, born in 1978, we had a phone on the desk in the house, or on the wall, yes I used the rotary phone, knew what a party line meant, and experienced life before a lot of the techy stuff. You wanted to talk to someone, your choices were picking up the phone, sending a letter, drive to their house, ride your bike, or walk your butt over there. There were no cell phones (got the family bag phone in high school). Internet was scarce, slow, and a lot of text more than anything. Not everyone reading this remembers what came before “Windows”, AOL, the “sound” of getting connected, what a pain it was to keep connected, or understand what it was like to press LOAD and come back to a program running in a few minutes. Now we are angry when our Internet ping is over 17ms and a program doesn’t open in a few seconds.  Pagers, yeah those little boxes on your belt (not the Minitor) were king for awhile when you could get nothing more than what amounted to a “Tweet”. Texting, back when you started with T9, then the full Blackberry keyboards, bigger messages, and now the novel you can write in iMessage.

Present day we now we carry devices in our pockets that can be a full computer, phone, Internet hotspot, GPS, resource library, take pictures, record video, record audio, stream something live that once only the news crews could, have an array of apps, and with the right adapter even be a thermal imager! Our homes have faster connections and more technology than they had on many NASA space missions combined. Has technology changed us, it sure has! At what cost however have we changed, with all the good that we gained, what have we lost? While we gained all of these abilities to communicate and do our jobs, we lost the ability to communicate adequately. All of these technology changes, all these “improvements” that make things better all have a place and can help us if we augment, not replace how we communicate.

What does this have to do with the fire service or life in general you ask?

Communication, or the lack thereof, is damaging our fire service. Modern technology and trends have hampered and affected the way that we interact with one another. Communications, roll calls, and meetings modified greatly by emails, texts, and memos hung on the wall. For a calling that is so personal, so much about people and reaching out to be neutered in this fashion absolutely turns my stomach.

Impersonal… It is far easier to tell someone of a mistake or to address staff issues through an memo because it is completely one sided, you feel nothing as those under you feel everything and bear the whole burden. It is easier to tell of decisions through an email because you don’t have that face-to-face where meaningful discussion can be had. What used to be talking with your people has been replaced by talking AT your people.

Are our leaders afraid to talk to us? Perhaps there is some truth to this and that there is a fear, a fear of confrontation and dealing with situations in person. Don’t be afraid, you’re a firefighter at heart for Gods sake. No matter how much brass is on your chest or no matter if you’ve turned that brass in for a suit and are above the chief in another role, you are a firefighter at heart, have some courage! I believe there is some fear in our leaders to actually verbalize their thoughts and opinion. I think partly that fear is that they will actually have to listen to their people disagree and state their own opinion, which may not align with their own. Part of leadership is hearing that.

A crutch? More so I think they feel that technology is an “easier” way out and ability to feel that they are communicating better and faster with their people. Technology is used as that crutch because who has the time to talk with the masses? You’re too busy, your people are busy, and we are an “instant” type society where we need to get our message out NOW. Don’t let that crutch that should be used sparingly completely hamper your abilities.

If it’s not written…   I get the legal aspects of communication. If its not written, it didn’t happen. Certainly with a background in business and the fire service I truly understand the concept of having a paper trail, but how many trees must die? You can still talk with your people; you can still engage in meaningful conversation about the topic and follow up with the necessary paper/digital trail.

Two-way? Not talking radio, but a similar concept in how you’re communicating with your people. Everyone has that officer or that Chief that’s on the radio all the time, maybe even carries two radios and a spare battery because they’ve been known to run one dead. It’s that officer that believes there is an NFPA guideline to “talk” the fire out. Over the last sixteen-and-a-half years I have yet to see a fire/rescue incident be talked out. That chief or officer standing there barking orders through a mic with the death grip on the button with their antenna held high like the Statue of Liberty. Do your firefighters some good and let that finger relax off the switch and take a listen to some feedback and open two-way communication with crews. If you’re spending more time penning emails, letters, and memos than you are taking to listen to your crews, you are contributing to the demise and destruction within your firehouse. Text, email, and memos are only a one-way form of communication and provide absolutely zero ability to show emotion, body language, or for the intended recipient to get a better feel for the message. In print or on a screen, there is nothing more.  It is not talking with, talking to, but talking at.  The same goes for businesses with their internal and external customers. Business managers, are you listening to the input from inside or just telling them the results without getting feedback on how to get there. Worse yet, if you’re doing that, are your customers feeling they are being told what they need?

Get in the kitchen… Look around your firehouse to where the members congregate and go about their business. Do your members constantly hang out on the computer to check their email? Do your members fill the Chiefs office? Are your guys hanging out around the memo board aching for that next fun filled memo to be posted? The answers are no, your guys are solving the problems of the world in places like the apparatus floor…or the kitchen! While there is a great amount of bullshitting, “ball busting”, and the like in a firehouse kitchen, there is a large value in the communication that can occur in solving problems.  The solutions are all around you if you allow yourself to hear them.  Use that opportunity to your advantage and open up, you might be surprised! I’ve had the opportunity in my time already to visit and experience some of the smallest and largest houses and the kitchen or around the table is where it’s happening, on the bay floor…its happening. This is somewhat different in the business world, but regardless those that are leaders in the company need to be engaging the employees in their areas. Engage, interact, listen to hear, don’t just listen to figure out your reply, let them be heard. Your employees are out there hammering out the details and discussing how to fix the problems, you just aren’t a part of it.  Its not that your employees don’t feel they will be heard, its the proven track record that business XYZ has for not hearing the employees.

Think your department, organization, or business is exempt? Think again! The ones that say this isn’t an issue or scoff at the idea typically are the ones suffering the most, but fail to heed the feedback. I’m sure we’ve all seen it at some point during our career and in varying levels.  It starts out slow and then begins to be the norm. First it’s a disgruntled person, which turns into a member leaving, which turns into a few more, which keeps repeating. Before you know it, the damage is done and it seems almost impossible to remember what it was like to actually have valuable conversations on matters.

Are there matters where technology or these other forms of communication be used effectively? Absolutely! As with anything, moderation is key.

Every now and then; pick up the phone, write a letter, or go visit someone. Talk to your firefighters in person, force yourself to show some emotion, open up, listen to what’s being said and take it in. Life is short, let us not be transformed and manipulated by technology to the point where we lose our abilities completely.

Its only time…

Its only time…

IMG_0338I get asked often about the 9/11 events and climbs throughout the year, but especially September when the schedule is packed. Why? Why is the question.

I guess the answer is, why not? The slogan “never forget” is something that I hold true to and I think anyone in the fire service should strive to find ways to remember. You see, we are already at that time when firefighters are coming into the calling that don’t understand “why” and “what” happened that day and since then. They didn’t see the changes since that point and where we were before then. Its up to us as veteran and senior men and women to educate and teach a little bit of history and implore others to pick up the irons and march forward.

Participating in any one of the many 9/11 climbs and runs either from the Tunnel to Towers foundation or the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation is simple. In the case of the NFFF you are literally making a difference in the lives of our own brother firefighters. Sadly given the LODD statistics around the United States, you may be benefitting your own family in the future should they tragically need their services. Funds from the Tunnel to Towers group are benefitting our most catastrophically injured veterans who have served our country and coming home. The organization started by families of those lost on September 11.

IMG_8753How can you not help out, participate, or donate to keep the memories of those alive lost to the worst attack on U.S. soil since Pearl? You don’t have to be the fastest, the fittest, the best looking, the salty firefighter, or the strongest, its about taking a little bit of time. After all, its only time. If it’s a 9/11-memorial climb for the NFFF you literally are not being timed (although I do try to be very picky about my pace) there is no first place for these. NFFF is a memorial climb with plenty of thought, time to reflect, moving moments, and time to build brotherhood. In the case of T2T runs and climbs, yes these are timed, but the important part is getting out there and being a part of something bigger than yourself and letting people see WE WILL NOT FORGET THEM.

Being a part of these events, remember this. There are no planes crashing above you, no fire above, no victims screaming for your help, there are not buildings collapsing, and there is not the potential in the back of your mind that this is your last job. For us participating this is only time, we will go home in a 30 minutes, an hour, maybe a couple hours, we will go home to our loved ones. The pain of climbing, the heat from running will go away. Take the time, remember our fallen, teach our younger generations and carry on their names so that they are never forgotten.

We are only given so much time on this Earth. On your headstone there will be two dates, a beginning and the end with a hyphen in the middle. Make the most of that hyphen.

Then we were three…

Then we were three…

We’re here, we’ve made it to three years and what a crazy ride its been.  If you would have asked me three years or definitely ten years ago if this is was where i was going to be I would have said you’re crazy!  Three years ago I was pressing buttons and setting up the initial pieces for the website as we camped on vacation.  Unfortunately due to flood damage in West Virginia we won’t be stopping through there on the way this year.

The first year I wasn’t sure what to expect, fearing the worst from others as I hung my shingle out and utilized this new space as a blogger.  I thought I would face all sorts of negativity and backlash from the community, but I guess that depends all on what you’re going with your piece of the Internet.  Over the course of the last several years it has by far been the positive things that have happened, the good that has been paid forward, and the amazing things that have been happening.

Whats been happening the last year or so?

Well, the truth is a lot of things have been happening.  So far in the last year I’ve been involved with around 30-35 events depending on how you count them.  I’ve helped by sponsoring my first events as a “blogger”.  I’ve jumped on board with another two events to help in planning them and launching some awesome projects.  I finished up my second full year as an Ambassador for the Scott Firefighter Stair Climb back in March.  I was an honoree climber for the inaugural “Big Climb Philly”, something I’ve never done before.  My wife and I are now Ambassadors for the non-profit 24-7 Commitment and this is all just the start.  The real answer for the last year is that momentum has been building, and not just a little bit of it.

Sadly just a week ago I had a first that I am not looking forward to doing again.  The loss of my 2015-2016 honoree Brian Ford (six years old) was a first youngest loss that shook my to the core.  Two battles with acute undifferentiated leukemia, his cure was not found soon enough and his body had enough.  This is a first that I knew may be coming, but you can never prepare yourself for because you want to be very positive and hopeful that EVERYONE is going to be cured.

Whats in store for the next year?

Hopefully with any “luck” there will be plenty of new things.  As I mentioned in a post about a week ago there are some plans in place, you can check that one out for yourself.  In short, the answer is more content, more collaboration, bigger things, and more people.  With some work I’ll be seeking new partnerships and sponsorships to help raise funds for some awesome organizations and keep pushing forward.

As I stated three years ago…

With the variety of fundraisers, events, and goings-on it is difficult to remember every website to point people to, and thus FF4CURES.COM was born.  Not only does this give me a place to be able to link people up with ways to give, but it also gives me a way to outreach, blog, and educate many of the “CURES” that I am fighting for and to ENCOURAGE OTHERS!

That statement above really hasn’t changed and there is a proven and trusted track record for just that.  While I may be the writer, the guy behind the name, and the one running the site, its about making a difference for others!

Thank you everyone that has continued to check this place out and reach out over the last few years.  Hope you’re ready for more!