Igniting Spontaneous Banter

Recommended by Bill


Trapped Under The Sea by Neil Swidey

This is the story of a ten mile long tunnel under Boston Harbor, the problem at the end of the tunnel, and the men sent in to fix it. Some barely escaped with their lives. Some didn't. More importantly, and why it makes my list, is the fact that this tragedy is like most tragedies involving the fire service. When we look back at what went wrong, it isn't one glaring problem. Instead, it's a series of very small problems; so small that they may have been overlooked accidentally, or tragically considered so minute that they couldn't possibly matter (but ultimately do.)

Confined space. IDLH environments. High Risk/Low Frequency event. Specially designed new equipment. Never tried before tactics. This story about divers could just as easily have been one about firefighters. And as you read, you'll see similarities between this story and some of our profession's worst tragedies.

There is a strong lesson here for the leaders: if your idea is so great, it should be able to withstand scrutiny. The lesson for the followers is as important: when something doesn't feel right, it's your obligation to voice your concerns.

Recommended for all ranks (Because we are all leaders and followers)