Igniting Spontaneous Banter

Episode 031 - When Does Hollywood Get Firefighting Right?

Some of us had never really considered that some of our listeners might not be firefighters, up until one of those listeners asked us to talk about the reality of fighting fire vs. what shows up on television and film.

In this episode, the crew goes over what they think about some of the better-known firefighting films and discusses how those films might negatively affect the non-firefighting public. We also talk about the irony of Hollywood exaggerating aspects of the job for the sake of entertainment, when most firefighters already find the job entertaining.

Episode 028 - Shane's Mulligan

Our Mulligan Series continues with Shane’s tale of regret about an apartment fire that probably should have gone a little better. But like all of our mulligans, we let bad early decisions, shortcuts when we know better, and our own egos get in the way of doing a great job. It happens to the best of us. What also happens to the best of us is that we learn from our mistakes and become better firefighters. Learn from this one.

Episode 026 - Hatch's Mulligan Part Two

In this follow-up episode, Hatch gives us a second mulligan involving his role as Safety Officer at a particularly aggressive fire. His first mulligan episode was about a weak leadership moment, centered around something he said that he shouldn't have. This mulligan is where Hatch wishes he had said more.

Episode 025 - Hatch's Mulligan Part One

In this episode, Hatch surprises us a little when he reveals his mulligan. It wasn't exactly within the parameters we had established for the mulligan episodes, but that's kind of Hatch in a nutshell. And it ended up being a really interesting story that we think will seem pretty familiar to anyone that's been in a supervisory role before.

Episode 023 - What Motivates Someone To Be Unmotivated?

A listener wrote to us about some senior firefighters being disengaged with less experienced firefighters in the station and basically asked why won't they share their knowledge? Is it deliberate or just lazy? Are they holding their knowledge hostage as a means to retain power? Or are they simply at a point where they just don't care about the newer firefighters? D) All of the above.

Episode 021 - Lessons From 30,000 Feet

In this episode, we explore the lessons that can be gleaned from Captain Tammie Jo Shults' radio traffic after her Boeing 737 lost an engine on April 17, 2018, killing one passenger and endangering the remaining 148 souls on board. Her radio traffic has been held up as an example of how to remain calm in truly desperate circumstances. So what lessons in that radio traffic are there for the fireground? Clear and concise communication is a must, right? Well, if you know our podcast, you know it probably won't be that easy. We don't always agree, and sometimes we end up surprising each other. Maybe there's a surprise in here for you.

Episode 020 - Moneyballing It: Leadership Lessons Of The Film Moneyball

Moneyball is the story of the Oakland Athletics' 2002 season; a season in which General Manager Billy Beane used the unconventional theory of "Sabrmetrics" to field a competitive team. It's a compelling sports film filled with drama, humor, and suspenseful moments that was nominated for Best Picture. But we also think it's a really good movie for the fire service.

On the surface, the team's situation at the beginning of the film is quite similar to many of our own departments: you are expected to field a winning team while being challenged by a lack of staffing, equipment, support, etc. But if you watch the film with your leadership lenses on, you start to realize there are real leadership lessons in this film. Billy Beane does a lot right and a little bit wrong as he tries to get everyone to buy in to his new idea.

Through this discussion, we take our favorite leadership moments in the film and talk about what we think, how the lessons can be applied, and how we (like Billy Beane) fall short in our execution from time to time.

Episode 016 - Firefighter Perspective vs Chief Perspective with Cale Hamilton

Cale Hamilton was a self-described mediocre firefighter until a 2010 mayday incident prompted him to explore what it means to be more engaged in firefighting as a profession. Since that time he has become more "plugged in" within the department he works for, but he is still very much a firefighter's firefighter. So he was an obvious choice for us to sit down with and talk about some of the differences between how the firefighter sees the scene and how the chief sees it.

Episode 015 - Professional Development with Lt. Colonel Bill Smith

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The fire service is a para-military organization. But what does that mean? Are there things the military does that we should be doing? For this episode, we sit down with Lt. Colonel Bill Smith (United States Air Force) to talk about a couple of things that the military does much better than the fire service: professional development and recognizing our own people for their great work.

Our military does an excellent job of setting the path for anyone within their ranks that wants to promote; "here's where you want to be and here's what you've got to do to get there." It's a pretty simple idea, so why do so many fire departments struggle with it? What lessons for the fire service are there in how the military fosters growth with their personnel?

We also speak with Lt. Colonel Bill Smith about the hesitance of most firefighters to accept the recognition for "doing their job." The military does a pretty good job of it. They wear their medals on their Class A's to tell the story of their career; where they served, and what they've done. What lessons are there in that approach for all of us?

Also with us is Capt. Tom Burrell who has known Lt. Colonel Bill Smith for a very long time, and who was instrumental in getting us this opportunity to sit down.

Episode 014 - Criticism, Condemnation, and Complaining

Is there a place for criticism in your fire station? It might seem like a somewhat silly question, and most of those of us who consider ourselves do-ers within our departments might reflexively say "Hell, yes!" But if we dig a little deeper and ask ourselves who gains by criticism, the answer to that question gets a little more muddy.

How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is on 3 of 4 of the reading lists on our site. Mr. Carnegie advocates avoiding criticism at all costs. 75% of us like his book enough to recommend it. So how do you recommend a book telling you not to criticize, but also effectively operate around folks that you want to hold accountable? We've got some ideas about reconciling that. Give this episode a listen, sit down with a couple of peers, and then talk about what you all think.

And if you want to criticize us or this us at