Member Since: November 2016
Tell us about yourself and why you decided to join the fire service.
Currently, I'm a Lieutenant with the Bristol (RI) Fire Department; a volunteer department with four engines, a ladder, a heavy rescue, and a Marine Unit. I'm a fifth-generation firefighter in my family. I started out in the fire service when I was sixteen years old as a junior firefighter in Watchung, NJ (where my brother and father are still members) and joined the Bristol Fire Department when I went to college in Rhode Island. My full-time job is working for Quantum Sails, where we design and build sails for sailboats.
Who or what has inspired you to transition into a role as an instructor?
Growing up, I always begged my father to take me on calls. I even plugged in his old Plectron in my bedroom, so if a call came in, I would wake up and listen in. I was inspired to be an instructor from growing up in the fire house, listening to the older generation telling stories and showing the new kids how to do things and why to do those things. I had and still have many "Uncles" that taught me the ropes.
Growing up, we lived fairly close to a department that would get a lot of fires, and if the call was close enough to the house, we would take a ride to check it out. I was always watching the guys work, the Chiefs on the outside and how they coordinated things; watched the fire conditions and smoke and always tried to remember what I saw to ask questions later.
What are some things you are currently working on in your department?
Currently, I am a putting together at thermal imaging training that will go over a review and all the different cameras we have including their various functions, operations, and incorporate some hands-on training, and not just a power point lecture. After this, I have a few pending projects: Fire Behavior, Extrication Day, and some other concepts being worked on.
Tell us about a project or training accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
One of the things that I feel is an accomplishment is when a newer member has that "A HA" moment; after lecturing and hands-on training during the ‘probie school’ for hours and the student finally gets their first call where something happens, and say "I get it now" or "I see why they said that.” That is when I feel like we taught them something they remember.
What do you hope to accomplish as a fire service instructor?
As an instructor, I hope to accomplish a few things: First, that everyone I had the privileged to instruct goes home at the end of every call and doesn't get hurt. Second, I taught them something...beyond the ‘book stuff’; a little trick of the trade or a better way of doing something. Lastly, the pride in traditions and the respect of the "old school" and history of the way and why we do things. I have a strong belief that we can't understand where we going as a fire service, if we don't know where we came from and why.
What is the biggest change you have noticed in the fire service since you started?
Technology; apps, computerized this or that! I am not against technology by any means and I do embrace it and try to learn it all.... but give me a hardworking crew with a straight bore nozzle, an ax, a halligan, and a six-foot NY Hook....most of those don't need updates and work every time.
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
My full-time job with Quantum Sails affords me the opportunity to Race Sailboats, (yes, I know that may seem like an oxymoron) up and down the East Coast. Thankfully, I have a very understanding boss that allows and understands that fire calls come in at all hours, including late at night or during work hours, and that I might be late or have to leave depending on the call.
Sailing is my second past time. I enjoy getting out on the water whenever I can. The apartment where I live is part of the Herreshoff Marine Manufacturing Museum, where I also volunteer. The area was the major manufacturing area of Yachts for the Vanderbilt's, Brown's, Rockefeller's, many America Cup Winners, and several other major yachts of historical value including building boats for the navy. There is a ton of maritime history which also coincides with a lot of local fire department history.
What advice do you have to give another instructor or to somebody who is just starting out as an instructor?
Embrace the technology but know where that technology came from.