In The Dark

Linus Picture

Linus is AWESOME! Just not on the Fireground.


In The Dark

Many individuals that are associated with the fire service are in the dark. They themselves don’t really get it and don’t care to get it. They have been in the dark from the beginning. They are the ones that really never wanted to do the work that firefighters do. They want to be firefighters until it’s time to do firefighter stuff. One example would be wearing full bunker gear when its 90 degrees outside and making a push to the inside of a working fire. They do not have the desire to throw ladders to create a more aggressive fireground.

In THe Dark 2

Photo By: JJ Cassetta

They are in the dark on what the fire service was built on. It was built on fighting fires because there is no one else to call. We, the firefighters, are the last call when fire strikes and we must be ready to perform in the dark under hostile conditions. We cannot have firefighters or perceived firefighters just hanging out in the dark. I have on numerous occasions during my career wondered what other firefighters who were operating inside were doing in the dark. Were they truly searching for victims or fire? Were they thinking and operating like they should? I have finally realized after 20 some years of operating in the dark, that not all firefighters like being in the dark. Some are like kids and do not want the door closed or they need their night light to give them comfort. The problem is in the fact that night lights and needing a door a certain way is not productive on the fireground. We must have the courage to operate without the night light and the door closed. There is a time to grow up and take responsibility for the occupation you chose. It didn’t choose you, you chose it. The American Fire Service is like our military; you voluntarily apply for the job. There it is; JOB! Yes this is a job with mission statements and expectations of the customer. The customer still expects us to operate in the dark and be good at it. So are you able to perform in the dark and provide a high level of service? Can you push beyond the reaches of your security blanket or are you like Linus? The problem is the fireground is no cartoon and we can’t afford to have cartoon characters operating in the dark.

P st FIRE line in front door

Look at the windows and smoke pushing from gables.

I write this thinking on numerous experiences where I felt that fellow firefighters were not operating in the dark. They were camping out and just wasting air. They were sitting in the corner in a comfortable chair or just standing and waiting to get back outside. How many fires went defensive or to a greater alarm because these want to be firefighters are like Linus? How many civilians were not found on the primary because of said want to be firefighters wearing bunker gear who were not able to operate in the dark? I have slowly found out what some were doing in the dark as I got better at using the thermal imager. The more I use a thermal imager on the Fireground and during training it reveals that some can’t operate in the dark or just don’t want to. The thermal imager not only assists us in searching and extinguishing fires, it is device that reveals who is truly operating in the dark. This post is to motivate you on wanting to evaluate yourself and how you’re operating in the dark. I think you should evaluate who you’re operating in the dark with and what are they’re doing in the dark. Also realize that you really don’t have to operate in the dark if you Flow Water, VENT, and use the thermal Imager.

P st FIRE venting windows

Engine Pushing through the front door Flowing Water while firefighters VENT the Bravo side. Fire has extended to attic. Ceiling tongue and groove with plywood on top.

P st FIRE B2 watching roof OPS

Most of you have seen this picture, but not the others from the same fire. Look at the smoke condition in the first one and then what happens after water application and proper horizontal and vertical ventilation. Ventilation with proper Water Application has always worked.


The after fire photo showing the results. Front windows were never broken based on fire and smoke location/conditions. They were operating in the dark and getting it done.

So Step Up and Turn the Light on so you can see what’s going on around you. The Fire Service is changing and we must be open to that, while still holding on to our Great Tradition of making the PUSH and taking Risk to save lives. So please don’t GIVE UP.

It’s Worth the Risk!

CF Tactics Training Calendar and Apparel

Curt Isakson


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