ResponderSafety.com Podcast

The Emergency Responder Safety Institute presents the ResponderSafety.com podcast, a closer look at hot topics, new information, innovative approaches, and case studies in responder safety at roadway incidents and in traffic incident management. Listen for practical, actionable information you can implement today at your next roadway incident response to improve safety of emergency response personnel and the public, no matter which agency you work for. Come learn from interviews and special features with experts and leaders in emergency services. All agencies who respond to roadway incidents — fire, EMS, fire police, law enforcement, DOT, safety service patrols, special traffic units, medevac, and towing and recovery — are all welcome and will find value in what we discuss.

2021
Episode 3: Rich Marinucci - On Episode 3 of the ResponderSafety.com podcast, Chief Rich Marinucci, Executive Director of the Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA), offers his take on the biggest safety risks to firefighters today, the role of the safety officer at roadway incident responses, why preventable deaths from operations like backing up apparatus are still happening, and the FDSOA’s new Certified Traffic Incident Management Technician credential.
Episode 1: In the Beginning - Steve Austin and Jack Sullivan from the Emergency Responder Safety Institute discuss how the organization and ResponderSafety.com got started and plans for the future. Bob Beamis of the Pennsylvania State Police recounts his experience being struck and injured while working at a roadway incident scene.

Rod Ammon: Welcome to our second episode of the ResponderSafety.com podcast brought to you by the Emergency Responders Safety Institute, a committee of the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Fireman's Association. To remain mindful of why we do this work, we start every podcast with an update of emergency responders struck by fatalities. As of June 23rd 2021, 27 emergency responders have been struck and killed while operating at a roadway incident scene. We have information on the loss of these responders and a Memorial tribute available at respondersafety.com/fatalityreports. Our thoughts are with their families and colleagues.

Today we're going to take a closer look at the emergency services unit of the Loveland-Symmes Ohio Fire Department. As a shining example of how a volunteer unit with a career fire department can add tremendous value and advance the cause of responders safety by providing traffic incident management and other services at roadway incidents. One of our goals with this podcast is to shine light on successes around the country. We want to shine light on them and share them nationwide.

Well, we're very lucky today to have two leaders from the Loveland-Symmes Fire Department to talk about their ESU. First, we have Billy Goldfeder, he's the executive fire officer and deputy fire chief of the Loveland-Symmes Fire Department. He started the ESU 15 years ago and continues to command it today. I'm sure Chief Goldfeder is a familiar face and voice to our listeners from the fire service, not least because he's the co-founder of Firefighter Close Calls. He's also the chair of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, safety, health, and survival section, as well as a member of the board of directors of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the September 11th Families Association. He has received numerous awards, including the Loveland-Symmes FD departmental award of excellence, the ISFSI fire instructor of the year and the IFSTA Everett E. Hudiburg Memorial Award.

He is an associate contributing editor for Fire Engineering, Fire Rescue, Firehouse, and Firehouse.com. This spring Chief Goldfeder received one of the highest honors in the fire service, the 2021 Mason Lankford fire service leadership award from the Congressional Fire Services Institute. Joining Chief Goldfeder is his Chief Otto J Huber. He is the fire chief of the Loveland-Symmes Fire Department, which is ISO2 rated and CAAS and CFAI accredited. Chief Huber is the CFO and OFE with 33 years of experience as a fire service leader. Chief Huber has been featured as a conference speaker many times and authored many articles for a number of publications, including Fire Chief Magazine and Fire Rescue Magazine.

He's been a member of the Loveland-Symmes Fire Department since 1976 and a commissioned law enforcement officer since 1982. This has enabled him to work with the Clermont county sheriff on projects like a cross-discipline underwater search and rescue team and tactical medical support for the local SWAT SRT teams. In 1988 he was fire official of the year in the state of Ohio and in 2012 Fire Chief Magazine named him one of the top 10 career fire chiefs in the nation. Thanks to both of you for being with us today.

Chief Billy Goldfeder: Absolute pleasure.

Chief Otto Huber: Good morning.

Rod Ammon: Good morning. Chief Huber, why don't you start out by telling us about your department and the community you serve?

Chief Otto Huber: Well, we're a suburb of the City of Cincinnati. We're a four station career department, that's a nationally accredited for EMS and nationally accredited fire. We're an ISO1 department and we're a small suburb that serves a mostly residential small amount of industry and a lot of retail on the 275 belt just around Cincinnati.

Rod Ammon: Okay. So Chief Goldfeder tell us for those of us who are not familiar, what is an emergency service unit or ESU?

Chief Billy Goldfeder: So at the Loveland-Symmes Fire Department, emergency service unit is a component of the community. As a career department some of our members don't live in the community, obviously like most career departments and Chief Huber number of years ago, actually about 18 years ago, felt that we have an opportunity to get people involved in our fire department. And we're not a volunteer fire department, we're a career fire department, so what could we do to get people involved. Right after 911, there was a lot of things going on with Fire Core and things like that. And we talked about that, but really didn't feel that Fire Core was the answer because unfortunately Fire Core is rarely if ever used in most communities. While it was a great idea, we just didn't think it would work for us. So we started looking and really the Chief was very familiar with what many east coast departments do, and that's have a fire police unit and that's for traffic control and support on the scene.

So we kind of created a super fire police unit, if you will, where they do traditional fire police duty, such as traffic control, but they're also trained in rehab. They can function as aides at an incident command post. They do ride alongs and so really the benefit for us and I'll let the fire Chief talk more on this. But the benefit for us was direct community involvement and a benefit for the department is an extra set of hands to help out during emergencies, as well as non-emergency details. ESU consists of about a dozen members, we're at about a dozen now, we were at about 18. We had a couple of members move out of the area, things like that. We keep it to a limit of about 20 people, just because of the cost of gear and uniforms, training. It's just more manageable that way.

Chief Billy Goldfeder: They are alerted in the same way as the fire department, they have pagers, phone alerts, active 911 responding, that sort of thing. And they on a structure fire or any accident within entrapment are automatically dispatched in our district. Their first priority when they report to quarters is to take whatever ambulance is left. The career personnel at the firehouse that they respond to are what we call either or staffing. They either staff their Quint or they staff their ambulance. If they're in quarters, they take their Quint, their apparatus and the ambulance is left behind.

So the first couple of members from ESU are expected to get that ambulance to the scene for obvious reasons to assist with patient care or whatever the case may be. But if the ambulance is out, then they respond in an SUV that's designated as their unit. And the SUV also responds second, due as well. That's for structure fires, on any crashes with entrapment, they respond with their SUV and their primary job on an auto accident with entrapment is to protect the scene and protect the responders as well as other people operating at the scene. But that's kind of a snapshot of ESU and I'll get more into that as we talk later.

Rod Ammon: Okay. Sounds good. Chief Huber, what stimulated you to decide to start the ESU and what was the charge you gave the Chief Goldfeder to get it rolling?

Chief Otto Huber: Well, we were looking at the CERT teams after 911 and being an organization that has quite a few special teams. We have a dive team, we have the SRT medic team and knowing that these types of teams either have to be used on a regular basis and train on a regular basis, or they will lose interest and wane away from their original mission. So when we were looking at the CERT teams and there was a big push by the government to have these CERT teams, we wanted to have that ability within our community. However, we needed to have them engaged on a regular basis. So to do that, we looked at the professionals in our community that wanted to be involved. And we thought, how could we not only use them and the emergency services aspect on details and runs and public relations events, but how could we also get them involved with their profession and bring that into the organization?

We had accountants, we had attorneys, we had chemists, we had professional people who wanted to be involved. So we thought, how can we get their profession involved and how could they help us with that? So we took a mixture of what they were putting out on the federal level for the CERT teams, and then took what we were seeing on the east coast with the police and fire special services units, and blended that into one unit here for us that would get the people involved.

We were also very interested in making sure that we had our finger on the pulse of the community, that we understood what the community was expecting from their fire department. And what better way to do that and to get the residents themselves involved, they don't necessarily want to be, or could be firefighters online for us all the time, but they could bring that flavor of what was going on in the community and use that for our emergency support. So when I'd asked Chief Goldfeder to put that together with some folks that was the main mission, how do we reach out to the community? How do we get them involved? How do we maintain an active force of volunteers that could come in and help us with special type of incidents, as well as getting their profession and bring their profession and how could they help us as an organization and how can we learn from them as much as they learn from us?

Rod Ammon: Yeah. It also sounds like a great recruiting story for a lot of departments to be able to take a look at this model. That's wonderful.

Chief Otto Huber: Let me comment on that Rod, because that's an interesting point. This model would absolutely work for communities that are looking for recruitment and stuff. We don't do that specifically. And I'm very much attuned and I've written a few pieces on the entire issues related to the volunteer fire service. So absolutely, where in our situation here, I would say it would be rare because as the Chief said, most of the people that we recruit as members of ESU, our volunteers are professionals in their own right. HR, military, things like that, but yes, so these are not necessarily, many of them are middle-aged things like that. So that's not necessarily the model, but yes, for other departments, especially volunteer combination departments that are looking for recruitment, this model certainly would be something they'd want to look at.

Rod Ammon: I'm glad you feel that way. Chief Goldfeder, how did you design the program initially? Were there models available for you to use? Like what key decisions did you make about what the mandate was and how it would work? How would people be eligible and what would the unit do?

Chief Billy Goldfeder: I did exactly what the Chief told me, to that was the success. So the model, as the Chief said, we looked at a couple of different services around the country, the traditional volunteer fire department, fire police, emergency service units, things like that. And so one of the most critical things that we talked about is we did not want our... And you know in a lot of areas where you bring the volunteers and you have volunteers and career mixed. It can be a real disaster and there's for a variety of reasons. And one of those is because the career personnel are feeling, "No, wait you're bringing volunteers in. Is that going to be a threat to our job?" We eliminated that from day one, not only from a liability and training standpoint, that we decided that these were not going to be interior firefighters, and these were not going to be primary patient care providers.

Firstly, because of the amount of training required, an ESU meets for a couple of hours every two weeks, there's no way they're going to keep up on the necessary training, whether it be fire and certainly not EMS, but also we wanted good relations. We wanted our career personnel to welcome these volunteers and not see them as anything other than an extra set of hands to catch a hydrant or to direct traffic or handle accountability. And that's what they do. And I'm really proud of this, of many, many things that we've done at LSFD, but I'm really proud that we've had zero issues between our current volunteers, because everybody knows what their job is. Everybody stays in their lane as the Chief says, and it's worked out very, very well, but it was very much by design that we looked at what's working, what's not when communities are using volunteers.

And one of the biggest concerns was the relationships. The second, in the United States and actually North America and Canada right now is the unfortunate failings of the volunteer service. People just don't have the time anymore. So what we love about ESU is they're a great to have, but if they don't turn out, which on occasion, they won't because it's a volunteer unit. We're okay, We'll supplement them with other personnel. We'll supplement them with the police department handling traffic or whatever it is. Now normally they do turn out typically nights and weekends, like most volunteer units. And so they do their job, but it's not where the public will suffer if they don't. However, when they do respond, not only do our firefighters benefit, but of course our community benefits as well.

Rod Ammon: Can you talk about how the unit is structured?

Chief Billy Goldfeder: Well, sure. So obviously in our department, the fire chief, Chief of department, as a deputy, I report directly to the fire chief and then under me, due to the lack of a better term. But the command structure under me is there are lieutenants. They understand people and that's what we need. We have the technical stuff. We've got a fire department full of technical people, but we need people who can manage the very unique aspect of our volunteers. And then under that, some of our members have what we call AORs areas of responsibility. For example, one of our most active members, young man named Dean Osborne, Dean is responsible for the apparatus and equipment. That means the SUV, which is a brand new SUV for ESU about a year old, which is chock full of traffic cones, rehab equipment, tents, all sorts of command support equipment. So that's his area of responsibility and so on and so forth. So that's kind of the structure of ESU.

Rod Ammon: So what other responsibilities are tasked to the ESU? It sounds like they're showing up to roadway incidents, but like you said, they're also doing rehab. Overall, what are their responsibilities?

Chief Billy Goldfeder: So in an emergency side and Chief certainly chime in if I miss anything in an emergency aspect side, they are automatic on anything to do with a structure, smoke in the building, a structure fire, what we would call maybe a box alarm that kind of a full response. And they're due to any accidents with entrapment.

Chief Otto Huber: I think they're an important face of the organization to the community. They're a part of the community. So when the community sees them out at public relations events, we have a event that they pretty much handle most of and that's our Kids Fest and they really want to be there. They want to be part of that. And so they always have a smile on their face and they're part of the community. So using them as part of our public relations and our community risk reduction program is really important to us. And so we're really putting our best foot forward in these community risk reduction programs by having the ESU folks involved.

Rod Ammon: It sounds like quite a win-win for the community.

Chief Otto Huber: Most definitely.

Rod Ammon: So either one of you could take this, what are the qualifications and application process for somebody who wants to get onto the ESU?

Chief Billy Goldfeder: With social media and local postings, it doesn't take long. We'll put something out there looking for members, we do a very, very thorough background check. We make it very clear what the expectations are. We welcome people who have disabilities. We like to say that there's a role for everyone at ESU. They may be just assisting with some office details or some public education, but our members are the ones who do the initial interview. And I think that that's really worked out well because they know what's best with our organization. Now they follow a department protocol, they follow our strict interview policies. So they understand exactly what they can and cannot ask. But after that, we then will review the application. I'll talk with them and if I'm comfortable and the officers are comfortable with the applicant, then we'll send it to the fire chief's office for his review and ultimate approval through our HR department.

Chief Otto Huber: And then we have a set of criteria that we expect our ESU members. Location, how close are they to the fire stations? We want people to live within the community versus outside the community. And so we go through that and then we want to make sure number one, that they're here for the right reason. And I think that's the biggest part of the interview process like Chief Goldfeder said, this is not a stepping stone to be a firefighter. There are avenues for that, but this is not one of those. This is strictly an avenue to be part of a give back type program to the community. And so I think the interview piece of this, the psychological piece of this, through that testing process is the important piece to make sure that we have the right fit, the right personality, that's going to fit in the community and fit with our firefighters, our career firefighters.

Rod Ammon: It seems that you set things up a certain way so that these candidates go through milestones. Can you talk a little bit about that, describe the way you've set up the ESU personnel so that they achieve certain things before they ever respond.

Chief Billy Goldfeder: Yeah, sure. We have a new member checklist and we'll appoint a mentor to that new member. Yeah, there months before they can respond, we don't even put them on the alerting system. Everything has to be earned. You don't even get a car sticker. I mean, you're going to earn every aspect of it. And once you get the testing process, you're probably two years away from a class A uniform, and this is not hazing. This is not anything at all like that. This is the opportunity to earn the right to wear the uniform. Once you're cleared to run you're issued a pair of pants, a couple of t-shirts, a ball cap, things like that. So you fit in, you're issued a used set of bunker gear, but it's a very earning process. And you got to understand, I think we give them a couple of hundred bucks a year as a clothing allowance or gas allowance or whatever.

So they're not getting anything. This is not a part-time job. It's going to cost you a whole lot more to belong to a Loveland-Symmes Fire Departments, emergency service unit. What you're going to gain is community pride and community involvement. The privilege of wearing the uniform, the pride of putting that sticker on your car, and then being told one day, "Okay, your phone's on alert. Here's your pager. You can now start to respond." They all go through the VFIS driver training program. Our in-house instructors run them through a road course. Again, it takes a while, not so long that our bureaucracy makes it where you're not interested, but I think it's a good balance. So you just don't arrive one day, we give you everything, you're going to earn it. Chief, some thoughts on that?

Chief Otto Huber: This program is you have to be involved, you have to be engaged, you have to come to the training, you have to participate and be part of the program. That's why we keep it as such a small group. We could have a hundred of them. I mean, we get applications requests all the time and we could have hundreds of people doing this, but the bottom line is we want a core group of people who are truly interested, who are going to give us a hundred percent all the time. And I think that's what this group does. We have an amazing group of people that really put forth and do a great job.

Rod Ammon: Yeah, it's interesting. It doesn't sound like hazing at all to me, it sounds like total professionalism and that's probably respected. Who assigns tasks to ESU and how has that integrated into ICS and unified command?

Chief Billy Goldfeder: So ESU members fit in like an engine company, like a ladder company, like a medic, like a rescue. Everyone has an assignment through command, all ESU members have gone through incident command training. They all have accountability tags. They're not going to get there and just freelance and run around, no different than any other fire company arriving in our region. Everyone has a very clear role and responsibility and that's managed through our incident command system. And again, I can't emphasize enough the regional aspect of that and how proud I am of what we've accomplished. And quite frankly, the Chief has had a lot to do with that. There's a, a few scars and a few ladders had to be climbed in order to get that done in our area, but we're very proud of it. And ESU is just another unit when it comes to one incident, they're just another unit arriving in another unit being assigned as needed.

Chief Otto Huber: We're a blue card department. And we train to create a safety system on the fire ground. So our ESU people are no different than responding than any other company. They go on level one staging, if there's a task for them to be assigned, the incident commander will assign them that task. No differently if they were a ladder company, [inaudible 00:22:50] an engine company, we look at the critical fire ground factors and we determined what ESU can do. I'm looking at those critical fire ground factors and if there's a place for them to play a role, a support role, and helping us be able to achieve that, that's where they get assigned. Everybody goes through the incident command system. Nobody bypasses that everybody has to have basically a ticket to play at the game and they come in with their passports. They go into level one stage and they get assigned out from there.

Rod Ammon: It sounds almost too good to be true. I mean, when I think about the stories that I hear from people in different fire departments, about how they're just trying to get there with the right number of people on an engine, and then to be able to have all of these additional support services being taken care of, just sounds wonderful from the community's perspective and from a firefighter's perspective. So Chief, what's the budget for an ESU? What does it cover?

Chief Otto Huber: Well, I would say that the budget is multifaceted because of the equipment. Currently we can run a 20 person counting all of their turnout gear and all of that. We can run that organization on about $25,000 a year or less. Because these people are long-term people they stay, once you've bought that equipment that capital expense has already been made, but the annual operating budget for that really runs for those people, it really runs about $15,000.

Chief Billy Goldfeder: You sort of honed in on earning things. They only got their first brand new truck last year. Everything else has been hand me downs. I mean their last truck had holes in the floor. I mean, I'm kidding, obviously, but I mean, these are vehicles that were passed on and passed on and passed on and only did the fire chief brought me in his office one day, a year ago and said, "We've ordered a truck for them." I mean, I don't know that I got emotional, but I felt a sense of pride that they earned a vehicle and when they got it, it was a big deal. And it's still a big deal, that is the cleanest truck in our fleet. They take great care of that vehicle. And especially the member we have in charge of that apparatus, God help you if you move a flashlight or something, he's going to know it and all hell will be raised because of the pride he takes and they take in that apparatus. But yeah, it's a low cost operation.

Rod Ammon: Sounds like it with a big return. So tell me about some of the roles or maybe a couple of roles that specific team members have.

Chief Billy Goldfeder: Well, I mean, my job is I have dual roles at the department. I'm the safety officer, and I kind of oversee that aspect. I function as an aid to the fire chief and then ESU, the volunteers are my responsibility as well. So starting down from there, and then we have our two lieutenants. Eric handles the training, Mike handles logistics, people, stuff, gear, things like that. Dean handles the vehicle, Judy typically will do... I mean, I could go through the names of which doesn't mean much to the audience, but there are certain people that want to do more kind of EMS stuff. Oh, we're doing a kid's event, I want to show up for that and so on and so forth. So those are the roles that the individuals can play.

But I mean, let me give you an example. We've got a young man, a member whose name is Bill and Bill is a career paramedic instructor, and he's also a career fire instructor, but he wanted to join in his community and get involved. So Bill now does a lot of our training. Now, most of our training details involve the on-duty career captains and I can't say enough about them as well. We have an on-duty shift commander and then each of our firehouses have a captain on duty and they never bark at wanting to help out because I think they see that people are really interested in wanting to learn that stuff. And we're taking an hour or two out of their schedule and it's usually an evening. And most of our captains are pretty gung ho fire people. They love what they do, they're into the job, so to speak. And so there's that interaction as well. Chief, anything that I'm missing?

Chief Otto Huber: And I think when we talk about roles on the fire ground, you're looking at the idea and the concept that they're changing air bottles, they're helping in rehab. Like Chief said they could be throwing some ladders, they could help in many different roles there and that's what they do. They might be assigned to help command with demobilizing after the incident, canceling the fire service is a really big thing right now. So keeping the junk off of our people is really important to us. So, hosing down our folks and scrubbing them down after an event and helping with that process is really important role on the fire ground. So there are many, many rules on the fire ground that they can help with that aren't just standing around and per se, directing traffic or making coffee or something of that nature, they actually get engaged in the process. And because of that, it makes our scenes go much smoother and a lot safer for our firefighters and for our committee.

Rod Ammon: The more details you give me, the more excited I get about the idea of this ESU. And you've talked a lot about the chores tactics, the things that they're doing on the fire ground. Can you talk a little bit about the roadway? I mean, that's a lot of what we do at responder safety. Can you talk about how the ESU supports your activities on the roadway response?

Chief Billy Goldfeder: I think probably as far as ESU's responsibility in life safety and life saving, that is between the rehabbing and the deconning at a fire for cancer prevention, which is a more passive responsibility. Because cancer obviously is a long-term issue, but I think ESU, and they know this, if you speak to some of their members, they will tell you their greatest risk and their greatest responsibility is roadway, safety and control highway safety. All of them have been through the first responder programs. We had Tim's instructor, Bruce Varner came down and were probably due to have him come again soon to do that class. And then every year, either the Ohio state highway patrol or the Sheriff's office traffic unit will come and do a refresher, but a very significant amount of time is spent because that is their greatest risk as well.

If you were to ask what's the greatest risk of us losing an ESU member or getting injured clearly it's in traffic control. So they take it very, very seriously and they're good at what they do. They know the system, they know how it works, they know how to lay out the codes, they know how to communicate. I mean, the whole thing and a whole lot of time is really spent on that. So yeah, in not to respond to safety, Jack and Steve and Harry, yourself and the others, what you've provided in a Responder Safety, not only to us in Loveland-Symmes Fire Department, but to the ESU members, as well is a big deal. But yeah, traffic safety is absolutely their biggest risk, their biggest concern and their biggest focus from a survival standpoint.

Rod Ammon: Well, thanks for the kind words about Responders Safety and the people behind it. It's people like you with your expertise that share these things that make all of that work out. What have you seen as far as a difference when you're out there on the roadway, think pre ESU, and now that it's there, what are the differences? What do you see happening?

Chief Otto Huber: I think it's important that what we're seeing the improved safety is the fact that, while we're taking care of the emergency and we're focused on the emergency, they're focused on us. And I think that is what the improvement we have seen. So, a lot of times our police departments, our Sheriff's officers, state highway patrol, they're busy, they're trying to investigate the incident. Not a whole lot of people are focused on scene safety if you will, when it comes from the traffic perspective. And so having those folks there actually protect the scene for us, they protect it for the Sheriff's office or the state highway patrol. And so that enhanced scene safety, I think has been the key function for that group. And so over the years where we had folks who were sliding into us on these incidents, we've fortunately knock on wood, have seen an improved scene safety because of their presence.

Rod Ammon: That's great news to hear. I'm thinking of other things, the benefits to not only the department, benefits to the community of having an ESU, which I think you've clearly stated. Can you give me an example of a time that ESU really made a difference for your work or in your safety?

Chief Otto Huber: We have a lot of storms that come through Cincinnati. And so we're dealing with a lot of downed wires and trees and things of that nature on a regular basis, and being able to use our emergency services folks, to be able to make those scenes safe so that we could release engine companies has had the best impact, I think in customer service, so that we were able to get back to making sure that especially during those storms, that we're actually making the calls that we need to make so that they could do scene safety around downed wires and closed roadways and things of that nature. Billy, you had something to add to that?

Chief Billy Goldfeder: I think when your question came up Rod, what I thought of is I've pictured in my mind, a couple of things, one, the ESU members dealing with the victims and a fire will often assign them to start that process, whether we're calling in the Red Cross for relocation or we're just going to handle it ourselves. So in my mind, I picture them talking to, the occupants of a burned down house and the role they play there. These are people who understand how to communicate. They're cordial, they're friendly and they're their neighbors. I mean, these are neighbors, right? And then the other I pictured it, as working fire is running back and forth with air bottles, filling bottles, changing bottles, doing rehab, things like that. And of course, what we already talked about is traffic control. So when you brought that up, those are the things that popped up in my head immediately.

Rod Ammon: Sounded like all good things, Chief Huber, what benefits have you seen to the department overall, since you put in an ESU?

Chief Otto Huber: From my office perspective, that interaction with the community is something you just can't buy. I can't write a purchase order for that. I mean, that's something that our organization has benefited from as their involvement. Again, like Billy said, they're our neighbors, they are our customers. So the people who live in our community. And so the biggest benefit is them being our cheerleaders, they've seen inside the organization, they see what the organization is about and they share that with their neighbors. And I think that's a return on an investment, it's very valuable. And we see it every day.

Rod Ammon: I'm sitting here while I'm listening to you guys, and I'm thinking of the fire department in my town thinking, man, I got to go talk to the captain I know and say like, "Why don't you guys have one of these?"But I think they use fire police as well. If you're thinking about putting together an ESU and you're another department that's listening to us today, what hurdles should you be thinking about and prepared for when you're setting up something like this?

Chief Billy Goldfeder: I think when the Chief brought me in and we had the conversation about this. What immediately came to mind was the quote unquote, a real or perceived threat to career personnel. So to me, this is a no-brainer for any career department that wants to get people involved. If you do it right and you explain it, these people are support roles that that's kind of a big deal. It can't be a threat to someone's job, right now you may be in a community with financial issues, and that's a whole nother discussion, but if you're in a stable department, but you're looking for people to get involved in from your community, but much more than a CERT team and nothing against CERT teams, ESU is our CERT team, but we decided, and the chief was a hundred percent right on this.

If you don't use them, you're going to lose them. And so it starts at the top, it has to be bought in at the bottom. If you're a union department, the unions got to buy into it. If you're a combination department, everybody's got to understand that this is a positive and it will be a benefit to them, but it's got to be really orchestrated very carefully. And secondly, if that sounds like you're interested, reach out to me or the fire chief, Chief Huber or I would be glad to talk to anybody about the program. We've had people come visit, the ESU has won some awards. One of them was the National Volunteer Fire Council, recognized them as a volunteer unit a number of years ago. And it's not a tough thing to do. It's all about the people and both the buy-in from the organization and the fire department and the people who you get in that they're committed to understand that it's about being engaged. As the Chief said, it's about being involved, being available, being engaged. So Chief, some thoughts on that?

Chief Otto Huber: Well, I think it's important that you're open and honest and have that communications with the entire department. So they understand why these people are here, that there's no hidden agenda that they're here for this mission and this purpose, and that is not to replace you. That is not so that we can reduce over time or anything like that. And I think once you have that conversation with labor, I think they understand that. And you have to walk the talk. I mean, if that's what your intentions are with them, don't change that role, don't change that mission. Because if you change that role you change the mission, you lose the confidence of labor and they think that the folks are there for different reasons. Our folks have been there for one reason and one reason only. And they do a good job at that and I think all of our firefighters appreciate them being there to help them and to look out after them.

Chief Billy Goldfeder: That was perfectly framed. And that's the point is that even from a training... In other words, you may see in a combination department somewhere we're low on staffing today so we're going to have a volunteer writeup. That's a big problem, that many organizations go through. That's not even in our realm of thought at Loveland-Symmes, our ESU members don't even have the training nor do we want them to have the training. We train them in what we expect them to do, nothing more, nothing less. And so we've completely eliminated that threat, so that's such a big deal.

You're not going to bring this unit on, or even bring volunteer firefighters on to an organization and expect no problems with labor. If you don't do your homework. And again, these folks are designed for a specific role, it would be like, would you put a dispatch on an engine if you were low staffed? Absolutely not, it's not what their job is. And it's the same thing with our ESU members, they have a very specific role, and it's not even in the realm of thought that we would ever use them for anything other than that role. I think that's very, very critical and the Chief framed it perfectly, two separate things.

Rod Ammon: So this sounds like such a good thing. Again, I'm sort of sitting here going, wow, this makes so much sense. And you guys have done a beautiful thing and I'm trying to offer assistance to others who were interested. And I know you gracefully or graciously, I should say, have offered your own contact and helping someone out in another department to help set something up like this. Are there other places where they can get information, other things you think they should explore on how they might replicate the ESU in their department?

Chief Billy Goldfeder: One thing that just popped up Rod and you need someone who can fill the role that I'm filling, I will tell you from our fire chief, our assistant chief and our deputies, everybody's up to their ears with work. The chief of department needs to identify someone who's got the time and the interest to oversee a unit like this. This is not like you're going to bring a captain who's already up to his ears in training and say, "I also now want you to recruit, train, oversee, supervise, and lead a core of a dozen or so volunteers." It's going to collapse.

So it worked out at LSFD where I obviously have the time to do that, and I have the interest to do that. And the chief knew that, but don't bring them on, unless you've identified someone who's going to be the lead, not any different than any other specialty teams in a fire department. You've got to find that person who has that interest to do that. And I'm not patting myself on the back by any means. I'm just saying that there has to be someone in that slot to fill. And then within the group, honestly if it wasn't for the lieutenants, I'd be pulling my hair out at times as well. So you've got to identify who those people are Rod.

Rod Ammon: Okay. So before we wrap up, either of you want to help me out here, did I miss something? Something you wanted to get across?

Chief Otto Huber: I think one thing that for your listeners, especially the volunteer departments right now that are struggling for membership, I think this is a great program that can help volunteer organizations as they have people who may not be able to be as active, who may not be able to continue to keep up with the training of being a volunteer firefighter. There is still opportunity in a volunteer fire department to help. And I think a lot of times over the years, we've spent too much time just pushing those people out instead of trying to find a place for them in the organization.

Rod Ammon: Wonderful. Well, thanks to both be for your time today, it's a ton of really detailed and valuable information, but it's doing exactly what we were hoping to do with this podcast, which was to shine light on some great stories of things that are being done by fire departments out there around the country. So again, I'm very grateful to both of you and we'll look forward to getting this podcast up in the weeks to come. If you have any questions for me, please feel free to just give me a ring or send me an email.

Chief Otto Huber: Sounds great. Thank you very much for your time.

Rod Ammon: Thank you both once again.

Chief Billy Goldfeder: Yeah, we appreciate your interest Rod. Thank you.

Rod Ammon: Steve and Jack and everybody was around this, they were very excited about what you've done. And the more I learned about it, the more excited I get. So that says something about the content. You guys be well.

Chief Otto Huber: Bye buddy, take care. Thanks. Thanks [inaudible 00:43:48].

Chief Billy Goldfeder: Take care. Bye. Thank you.

Rod Ammon: Chief Goldfeder has generously offered to assist anyone interested in replicating this model in their own department. You can contact him at chgold151@gmail.com.

We also have some resources on this podcast page on rsln.org for you to see some of the Loveland-Symmes Fire Department, Emergency Service Unit vehicles, and equipment. We encourage you to check that out. Also, please share this podcast with your colleagues who may be interested in the work of the Loveland-Symmes Fire Department, Emergency Services Unit.

This podcast, Responder Safety and the Responder Safety Learning network are made possible by funding from a fire prevention and safety grant, from the assistance to firefighters grant program administered by FEMA and the US Department of Homeland security. We appreciate your support. And remember to share these podcasts with your colleagues to spread the word about safety practices at roadway incidents scenes. Thanks for joining us today on the podcast. Stay safe everybody and we'll see you next time. For ResponderSafety.com, I'm Rod Ammon.