Tuesday, December 11, 2018

A Visit to W.L. Gore

Yesterday, the 10th of December, Hanna Oh and I visited the Gore-Tex factory in Elkton, MD. We’d like to show you photos of our incredible tour, but photography was prohibited.

Gore-Tex is a product that was discovered by W.L. Gore while an employee of DuPont. DuPont wasn’t interested in the application and gave Mr. Gore the rights to pursue what would become a multi-million dollar business.

You’re probably aware of Cross-Tech, the membrane barrier in your turnout gear. And, the Gore product that’s in the liners of your gloves and boots.

Then, there’s sporting apparel, for skiing, hunting or whatever.

Gore has been a sponsor of the Challenge for neigh on 20 years. And, all indications are for another 20.

We visited their environmental chamber- a one-of-a-kind, where not only the temperature can be controlled, but relative humidity and thermal loads, via radiant heat and wind velocity. An animated mannequin can be used to test a whole variety of human movements while wearing any number of garments.

Other laboratories were testing abrasion or resistance to delamination or integrity for bursting under pressure.

So, a big shout-out and expression of appreciation to a company that is uniquely American with a huge contribution in industry, sport and more recently medical applications such as stents and grafts.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Challenge Advisory Board

The CAB met on the course, Saturday morning, October 27. The intention was to meet in the white tent, at the finish line side, but the group never migrated there and other members joined the discussion on the course.

John Granby kept the minutes and I'm going to address a number of the topics. We're listening and my comments will be included in the rules and procedures, as published on the official website, effective for the next season.

The first topic that I'm going to address is the concerns about the PPE as worn by some of the teams from outside of North America. We agree. In some countries, interior fire suppression is not a part of the Op Plan.

First, all gear must include liners. Period. Second, boots must, at a minimum have a protective shank and toe cap. If they do not, then loaners are available. As per NFPA 1971, a vapor barrier is an integral part of the protection. So, we see no hardship in being required to check out a pair of boots.

As far as gloves are concerned, liners must be present. Again, we'll have an ample supply for those who do not present with regulation structural fire suppression gloves.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Season Count Down

Road Crew at Work at Keiser Sports Health in Fresno
As I write this, we’re assembling the massive end of year mailing. Thousands of certificates, sorted and collated by country, with the precise postage affixed.

This is a daunting task, but it will get done this week.

Another topic that we’ll be addressing will be the recommendations of the Challenge Advisory Board (CAB) meeting that took place on 10th Street in Sacramento on Saturday morning.

There’s a number of innovations suggested and I’ll be writing about them, in singular Blogger postings, starting with my next one, later this week.

I’m also working on an exhaustive discussion of the physics of the shot mallet, adding what I hope is new insights and dispelling some myths- like the fact that the shot is not lead; that was outlawed by California decades ago.

For you loyal readers of this space, I thank you for your dedication to our sport.

In the meantime, Todd, Gunny Daly and Joey Campbell are in Freno, deep into the off-season M&R (Maintenance and Repair) that is so necessary to keep this fleet on the road.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Intellectual Property and the Firefighter Combat Challenge®


If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, we should be flattered. But, there's something a bit more sinister afoot here. The proliferation of “knock-offs” is having a deleterious effect on the quality of our brand, and its associated trademarks and copyrights. Unfortunately, there are less scrupulous people who ignore Intellectual Property (IP) rights, business ethics, and rules-based conventions that have been developed over decades.

Most recently, our Title Sponsor, Scott Fire and Safety was acquired by 3M. 3M is an international company with thousands of patents and trademarks. They appreciate the value of the Challenge, and like us, vigorously protect their IP. Imagine for a moment that someone would create an adhesive tape and call it “Scotch Tape™”. This brazen act would not go unnoticed and orders to cease and desist would follow through legal challenges.

Since our creation of the Challenge, there has been pirating of our Intellectual Property virtually around the globe. There is no form of firefighter testing or competition using a tower that has not been a derivative of our original creation. The Challenge was the work product of years of applied research in the fields of exercise science and occupational and environmental physiology.
If you were to ask any of these imitators for an overview of their professional background in creating from their own imagination the origins of what they’re doing, I sincerely doubt that they would be able to provide a believable response.

Our tower, the prototype, was a huge investment in design, engineering and construction. There’s not another tower in use anywhere in the world that was not based upon our copyrighted blueprints. Unfortunately, with thousands of photographs and videos on YouTube, it’s not very hard to steal another person’s creations.

To protect our brand, we have registered our trademarks, and enforce our IP in the US and the EU. As a small business, it is an expensive process to seek protection everywhere, especially in countries that do not recognize IP. We, therefore, appreciate your support of us- the one true Firefighter Combat Challenge and our shared interests through licensing agreements.

It is not our intention to punish the imitators, but to standardize the Firefighter Combat Challenge throughout the world and to raise the consciousness to the fact that there is only one Firefighter Combat Challenge. As the Challenge grows and develops internationally, enforcing the rules and procedures are imperative. It is this standardization that makes performance on the course objective and valid. For example, the term “World Record” has meaning throughout our 28 years of existence, because the course is the same throughout the world.

To this end, we have licensed organizers to compete on standardized Firefighter Combat Challenge® courses as part of an international league similar to FIFA, and we provide consulting services to establish and maintain standards within the fire service for those who need/want them, and to ensure that local records have currency.
In Sacramento, California, October 21-7, 16 nations and nearly 500 firefighters competed on the “Official Course.” It is my intention to promote and enforce the 3M | Scott Fire and Safety brand, providing a meaningful and standardized platform for performance, recognized the world around.

Paul O. Davis, Ph.D., FACSM

Monday, November 19, 2018

Video on Demand?

The Montgomery FR Team Blue after a repeat World Championship in Sacramento XXVII
For a number of years, we have uploaded all of the runs that we have webcasted from the Wild Cards through to the last run of the Relay. To start with, this year's programming was the most ambitious and costly. We had 16 cameras, CG (graphics with names), and color-coordinated elapsed time.

I feel that this approach, using ESPN3 is a cost-effective way of giving as much exposure as possible to our incredible athletes. When we were doing a post-production on ESPN, only a dozen or so races would make the cut. Now, virtually anyone with a web browser, anywhere in the world can watch the races live. And, later, with the upload, watch on demand.

But, I'm not impressed with our numbers. It seems that with smartphones, anyone who wants to archive a race can do so, reducing the need and the demand for visiting our Vimeo or YouTube channels.

So, we'll monitor the metrics and come back to you with some questions - perhaps in a survey format. If the demand is not there, then we need to spend our modest resources elsewhere.

Anyone with an opinion is invited to share their perspective as we plan for how we'll handle the webcasting for next year. Please send me your thoughts - any thoughts to my email address here.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

A Salute to Bill Christinsen




Apparently, the Baby-Boomers all have motorcycles.

Generation X is only buying a few, and the next generation isn't buying any at all.
A recent study was done to find out why?
Here are the reasons why Millennials don't ride motorcycles:
1.  Pants won't pull up far enough for them to straddle the seat.
2.  Can't get their phone to their ear with a helmet on.
3.  Can't use 2 hands to eat while driving.
4.  They don't get a trophy and a recognition plaque just for buying one.
5.  Don't have enough muscle to hold the bike up when stopped.
6. Might have a bug hit them in the face and then they would need emergency care.
7.  Motorcycles don't have air conditioning.
8.  They can't afford one because they spent 12 years in college trying to get a degree in Humanities, 
Social Studies or Gender Studies for which no jobs are available.
9.  They are allergic to fresh air.
10. Their pajamas get caught on the exhaust pipes.
11. They might get their hands dirty checking the oil.
12. The handlebars have buttons and levers and cannot be controlled by touch-screen.
13. You have to shift manually and use something called a clutch.
14. It's too hard to take selfies while riding.
15. They don't come with training wheels like their bicycles did.
16. Motorcycles don't have power steering or power brakes.
17. Their nose ring interferes with the face shield.
18. They would have to use leg muscle to back up.
19. When they stop, a light breeze might blow exhaust in their face.
20. It could rain on them and expose them to non-soft water.
21. It might scare their therapy dog, and then the dog would need therapy.
22. Can't get the motorcycle down the basement stairs of their parent’s home.


Monday, November 5, 2018

Webcasting- Behind the Scenes

Since our inception in 1991, at the University of Maryland's Fire Rescue Institute (MFRI), we've had some sort of TV coverage. CBS TV affiliate in Washington, DC was at our first and only event that year. The next year was FETN (Fire and Emergency TV), a subscription-based training program distributed by satellite. In 1993 we found a place on ESPN.

The great thing about the Internet is the ability to webcast through a browser so that just about everyone gets a chance to have grandma watch their run. As technology added more and more capabilities our program became more stable and high quality- now viewable in HD.

Over the past week, I asked almost everyone from one of the 16 nations present if the folks back home were watching. The answer was in the affirmative.

If you weren't able to watch it live, you can now watch it on line. We have started the laborious process of uploading blocks of runs to our Vimeo account. We started with content from Thursday with Race Numbers 681-700.

You can start with this link.

There were 16 camera angles and a crew of 7 to capture all the action. We'd like to hear your thoughts about what you saw. Feel free to send your feedback by posting below.

There was a lot of local media coverage, but one of the best pieces was by the Sacramento Bee. Anthony Tank” McMurtry did an outstanding job explaining why we do what we do.

We’ll continue to update daily until all the races are posted. Thanks for watching.