Sunday, October 29, 2017

World Challenge XXVI Wrap: Let’s Hear it for the Ladies

Right now, my head is ready to explode. If you were here in Louisville, you’ll know what I mean. Over the next several days, I’m going to hit the highlights of what has been a fantastic week.

First, the ladies. Or, ladies first. Depending upon your source, women occupy 3.5% of the career firefighter positions. And, the numbers are reflected in the census in the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge. But disproportionate to their numbers, their influence has been huge. You’ve never met a more energetic and impressive group of athletes. Anywhere.

I’m going to request posts here from some of our women but in the meantime, here’s a photo of all the women who attended this year’s Lion’s Den Induction Dinner.

They organized and obtained the photo below.

Women Competitors, World Challenge XXVI, 2017, Lion’s Den

Friday, October 27, 2017

Chief Walt White Makes it Official: Sacramento

At the Lion’s Den Induction Ceremony, Walt White, Challenge legend and fire chief of Sacramento on a Skype Connection told the 400 attendees that the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge World Championships for 2018 will be hosted by Sacramento, October 22-27.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Only The Brave: A Review from the Wall Street Journal

Today, October 23, the Fire Chief of Jeffersontown, KY secured 165 tickets for Only the Brave. For those of you who took advantage of the generosity of the AMC Stoneybrook, I believe that I speak for all that this is a “must see” movie. 

Below, is the Wall Street Journal’s review by Joe Morganstern. 

‘Only the Brave” could hardly be more timely, since its larger subject is the wildfires that have been bringing grief and devastation to vast areas of the nation with what seems to be increasing frequency. To dramatize the courage and dedication of the crews that fight these conflagrations, the film celebrates the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite group of firefighters that faced its greatest challenge on a hill near Yarnell, Ariz., in the summer of 2013. Their homegrown spirit is so appealing, athe nd their history so affecting, that you want to overlook the shortcomings of a dutiful, derivative script, with its several inspirational strands and dearth of essential details.

The story the movie tells, at a leisurely pace over the course of 133 minutes, is one of hardworking, hard-partying young men finding a sense of family, discipline and purpose in a firefighting crew created by the city of Prescott, Ariz. The unit is supervised by Eric Marsh, a veteran firefighter in his early 40s; he’s a man with a checkered past, played with laconic resolve by Josh Brolin. Other members of the team are played by James Badge Dale and Taylor Kitsch.

As the narrative begins, Marsh is struggling to upgrade his crew from Type 2 status—unsung grunts doing dirty work—to Type 1, meaning hotshots in ability as well as in name and attitude, who fight wildfires on the front lines. (That he succeeded was a signal achievement. The Granite Mountain Hotshots were the first such group in the nation to grow out of a municipal fire department.) A lot of the early action borrows from films about World War II: rookies going through the hell and hazing of basic training. The main rookie, Brendan McDonough, has been doing drugs and is bound for no glory until Marsh takes him in and mentors him. He’s played by Miles Teller, who gives a fine, understated performance that’s all the more moving because McDonough, in fact, emerged from Yarnell Hill with a singular distinction he never sought. (“A skunker down in Yarnell” is how someone first describes the fire. “It’s no big deal.”)

Brendan McDonough (Miles Teller) and Chris MacKenzie (Taylor Kitsch) in ‘Only the Brave’ PHOTO: COLUMBIA PICTURES

The cast as a whole, under the direction of Joseph Kosinski, brings gleeful energy to a group portrait of good souls in the American heartland, working one fire after another and living it up in between. Jeff Bridges is Duane Steinbrink, an elder lawman who helps Marsh achieve his ambitions for the group, gets to sing and strum a few bars of Johnny Cash’s “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky” and has one moment of heart-rending anguish. Jennifer Connelly, as Amanda Marsh, Eric’s veterinarian wife who must share him with a succession of fires, sweeps aside the clichés of her role with marvelous ferocity.

Yet the screenplay, by Ken Nolan and Eric Warren Singer, keeps strumming the same chords, as if the studio were afraid the audience wouldn’t understand that “Only the Brave” was about the crew as a surrogate family, and the heroism of its members. (“You’re all heroes,” a nurse says helpfully when McDonough, who’s been bitten by a rattlesnake, is brought by his buddies to a hospital for treatment.)

Jeff Bridges and Josh Brolin PHOTO: COLUMBIA PICTURES

What’s missing is density of detail. Early in the film there’s a striking shot—the cinematographer was Claudio Miranda —of a huge hose descending from the top of the screen. Soon we see that it’s being lowered from a helicopter to gulp water from someone’s swimming pool before the chopper flies off to help smother a menacing blaze. I kept looking for similar specifics of how hotshot teams operate on the ground. Some information is dispensed, but it’s rushed, perfunctory and not very edifying. During the evolution of the climactic fire, we know where the Granite Mountain Hotshots are, more or less, but not what’s happening around them in real time.

Little is known, even now, about the essential mystery of the event—why a well-trained crew with a deeply experienced leader made the decisions they did. All the same, “Only the Brave” might have expanded our understanding by framing that mystery with greater precision since the supposed skunker down in Yarnell proved to be the biggest deal of all.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Battalion Chief and Firefighter Combat Challenge Competitor B/C Bill Kocur

Oct. 17--SARASOTA COUNTY, FL-- When Sarasota County Battalion Chief William "Billy" Kocur was at a fire, nothing could go wrong. He was always on top of making sure everyone knew their jobs, according to Assistant Chief and longtime friend Rod VanOrsdol.

"He was a supporter of his line personnel and an extremely confident firefighter," VanOrsdol said. "He could run a structure fire call to the ninth degree of perfection."

Kocur, 63, a lifelong Sarasota resident, served the Sarasota County Fire Department for 25 years before his death this weekend in a motorcycle accident in Georgia.

Kocur was visiting his family's cabin. The cause of the accident is under investigation.

Riding motorcycles was his passion, VanOrsdol explained.

"It's tough to even think about," VanOrsdol said. "We all kind of think of ourselves as being Teflon -- those kinds of things don't happen to us. They happen to other people and we go and we take care of them."

Kocur and his wife were members of a motorcycle club and were often at events such as Thunder by the Bay. They had a son and a daughter and one grandchild.

About 10 years ago, Kocur started to teach himself the bagpipes, according to his daughter Hally Kocur.

"He actually got pretty good at them," she said. "He was in great shape and very active."

Kocur enjoyed boating, as well, and he was a Mason. He was a member of the Widow's Sons Masonic Riders Association.

"He's helped countless people," Hally Kocur said. "He was an amazing man. He had a great sense of humor. He was a loving husband, father, a wonderful grandfather."

He was Sarasota Memorial Hospital's New Year's baby of 1954.

Kocur first joined the Bradenton Fire Department, but in April 1992 he was hired by the Sarasota County Metro Fire Department -- an agency that existed before the city and county merged.

Kocur was the lieutenant at Station No. 1 beginning in 2005 and was promoted to Battalion Chief in 2013. He served as the Battalion Chief for Stations No. 3, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 23. He was also heavily involved in training personnel and supervision.

VanOrsdol said Kocur's sudden death is affecting the entire Sarasota County fire service "family" as news of his death is passed along.

"Twenty-five years is a pinnacle," VanOrsdol said. "He reached that and to be that you become one of the rocks -- this community lost a rock and a stable base of the fire department."

Kocur had planned to retire in March.

"Everybody will miss his mustache," he said. "The guy had the best mustache in the whole department and the smirk that went beneath it. ... That's classic Billy Kocur."

A celebration of Kocur's life will be held at 2 p.m. Oct. 22 at Sahib Shrine Temple, 600 N. Beneva Road. The family has asked, in lieu of flowers or anything else, that donations be made to the Sarasota Firefighters Benevolent Fund.

___ (c)2017 Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Fla. Visit Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Fla. at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Remembering Allen “Bruno” Brunacini

I first met Bruno when he was the assistant fire chief at Phoenix. We were attending a conference in College Park, sponsored by the US Fire Administration. I believe that the year was around 1977. He was the heir-apparent and asked me about coming to Phoenix to consult on a fitness program. Bruno would go on to achieve near heroic proportions as a mover and shaker in the North American fire service.

Our paths would routinely cross over the decades. His list of accomplishments would extend far beyond the limitations of this Blog. A huge tree on the horizon has fallen. The changes in thinking about everything from Customer Service, Accountability, Incident Command and more, as result of his creativity are epic. I’m not sure that there’s another sole that can fill his boots.
Image result for alan brunacini
Chief Allen “Bruno” Brunacini

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The “Cal Ripken” of the Firefighter Combat Challenge Streak Continues

I first met Walt White back in the last century when he was a firefighter with the American River Fire Protection District. It would have been around 1990 and we had just launched the On•Target fitness initiative. Our mobile teaching teams roamed the nation, conducting 40-hour certification programs, largely based on the learning objectives of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Walt was one of the first to avail himself of this program. As soon as the Firefighter Combat Challenge was launched, Walt was a member of the American River team.

This past week in Tyler, Walt, now the Chief of the Sacramento FD was there, keeping his streak alive. His time was faster than his original run some 26 years ago!

Chief Walter White, Sacramento FD and Dr. Paul Davis

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Underwater Recovery Efforts in Carlsbad

CFD Dive Team Members recover the Challenge’s Shipping Container
Well, this is a new one. We’re packing up and one of our Keiser-fabricated roller storage boxes is missing. These shipping containers weigh north of 400 pounds (181kg). They’re eight feet long, four feet wide and 2 feet tall.

It’s highly unlikely that someone put it in the back of their pickup truck and made off with it.

So, what do you do? Call the fire department. The event in Carlsbad is adjacent to a widened area of the Pecos River. There’s a dam that’s created a lake and the very real possibility is that the box is at the bottom.

With sonar equipment, the box is located in 2 feet of silt. This is going to take some serious recovery equipment. Equipment that CFD has. Their underwater recovery team brings in the airbags.

The crew of 9 brought the box to the top; no worse for wear, the box was quickly loaded and restored to its rightful place in the back of the semi.