News Headlines
Fri. Sep 11th 2020
Image
Members of the department gathered today with local leaders and members of the community to remember and reflect on the tragic events of 9/11. While it is hard to fathom the worst attack on American s...
Tue. Sep 1st 2020
Image
A few photos from Retired Firefighter Albert Ash's Memorial Service. Ladder companies from West Reading Fire Company and Blandon Fire Company set up an arch for the funeral procession. Photos by T...
Tue. Sep 1st 2020
Image
Congratulations to Firefighter Steven Johnson on his retirement after 40 years of service to the City of Reading. Following in his father's footsteps a young Steven Johnson joined Explorer Post 29...
Tue. Sep 1st 2020
Image
ORDER#NameCurrent PositionNew PositionEffective Date2020-18Nathan MoyerMedic 1 "D"Medic 3 "Driver"8.12.20202020-19Daniel WasselMedic 2 Driver "A"Jumper "A"8.18....
Wed. Aug 26th 2020
Image
Our condolences to the family of Alber Ash Sr. on his recent passing. Al retired from Engine 9 in December of 1993. ViewingMonday, August 31st 6 pm to 9 pmBean Funeral Home, 1605 Rockland Street Fun...
News
Lieutenant James Miller
Fri. Jul 31st 2020
Congratulations to Lieutenant James Miller 
on his retirement after serving 13 years with the city. 
 

Jim was hired in June of 2007. After completing the Fire Academy, Miller was assigned to the A platoon and within a few months took an assignment on Engine 14. Firefighter Miller worked Engine 14 for several years until the city's distressed status closed the company in 2011. For the remainder of the year Jim functioned as a jumper firefighter filling vacancies in other units. In March of 2012, Jim took an assignment on Engine 5 with the "D" platoon. In October of 2019, Jim was promoted to Lieutenant in the Fire Marshal's Office. 

*One point of interest to note is that Lieutenant Miller came to us as a retired Allentown Firefighter where he served as a Lieutenant on an engine company. 

 

We asked Jim if he would share some of his experiences with both his time with both Reading and Allentown. This is what he had to say:

 

Was there anything Apparatus/Tools/Equipment-wise during your career that you felt had a special need, operated quirky, or you felt was a potential problem.

 

Other than hooking up the horses to the ‘Quick Hitch’? 🐴 LOL. I’ve seen many positive and technological advances since I first entered the fire service Columbus Day (Oct 11) 1976. Change is certain, embrace it.

Knot tying seems to give firefighters the most trouble when time is of the essence, as in setting up rigging/hauling systems for rescue. In addition to continued training, every Probie class should be given sections of rope and webbing on their first day and taught how to tie the knots the RFD uses. The first 10-15 minutes of every morning is spent on practicing their knots. I proposed this to previous academy monitors/instructors, but it must have fallen on deaf ears.

On the AFD we were taught to tie rescue harnesses using ‘hip-high bowlines on a bight’ for legs loops and the ‘Snap bowline’ for around the chest. I used it twice. Once during a training session to retrieve a ‘victim’ from a basement. The second time was on an actual rescue from an elevated water tower on top of Hess’s department store’s parking deck in Allentown. I tied the leg loops and handed them off to another FF that made his way into the tank. Commencing to lift the victim, the chest ‘Snap bowline’ came undone, flipping the victim upside down bouncing off the crossbeams in the tank. I made my way into the tank and tied a knot around his chest to finish the rescue, with men on the angled roof hoisting and me under the victim lifting as I climbed the ladder inside. The morale of the story…KNOW YOUR KNOTS!!!One other thing. Look up “Jet-Axes”. The AFD bomb squad purchased these ‘shaped-charge’ explosives to gain access in special instances. This square one we used in 1976 on a house due for demolition. We also used a round one to gain access to a stubborn fire in a metal stack. Neat things.

 

Tell us about any calls, incidents, or experiences that offer a lesson learned for other firefighters (especially new ones). I'm sure you could think of many things in your career, but just pick out one or two things that come to mind as being most important.

 

Always maintain situational awareness. During the initial stages of a ‘working fire’ only a few firefighters will be affecting a rescue or on the knob. There are still plenty of tasks to be performed. Think like an Incident Commander and consider ‘what else needs to be done’.

Three calls come to mind: 

First - While working Engine 5 on the D platoon we responded to a second alarm on Hollenbach Street. During the first few minutes of that incident a disabled girl was rescued from the second floor. After the rescue, and further along in the incident, I asked an officer if the basement had been checked. He replied it wasn’t, so I made my way there and located 4 dogs: 2 in cages and 2 running loose in about 4” of water. 

Second - I was working for the Fire Marshal's Office as Car #25, assisting in investigation of the double fatality on Schuylkill Avenue. I found a kitten stuck between window sash and storm window. I don’t know how everyone missed it, or maybe didn’t care. My issue is that it was HOURS after the fire was under control. I could hear a cat meowing, it took a few minutes, but I found and freed it and tried handing it off to several officers without success. I guess they were too busy to be bothered. Fortunately I was able to pass the cat along to a neighbor.

Third - While working in Allentown I was on a fire call with a rookie searching for the seat of the fire in a basement. The fire had burned through the kitchen floor above. During the search the firefighter was shining his box-lite around and he replied, "I can't see a thing, where's the fire?" I told him to turn off the light and listen for crackling and try to sense the radiant heat through your mask. We found the fire shortly after, but I thought that was something basic he should have learned in training. This is basic stuff; you can’t go wrong with mastering the basics.

 

Can you name something from the department that you feel we have lost over the years that might be good to bring back or recall? (procedure, policy, event, ceremony, etc)

 

Add another 2 (or more) categories to the annual awards ceremony; name a ‘Firefighter of the Year’ and ‘Fire Officer of the Year.’ There are lots of motivated personnel, recognize them, boost morale. 

Every firefighter worth their weight in Professionalism should embrace Fire Prevention, without having to be hand-held at presentations by someone from the Fire Marshal's Office. ‘nuff said’

Most important, Leadership, or lack thereof. In my time here, I’m sorry to say, very few chiefs held guys accountable; whether in the cleaning of their station or on the fire grounds. Yes, there are intelligent and capable officers. Yes, there are officers that are good/great IC’s, they just didn’t or wouldn’t hold men accountable. Some of the officers have no personality and will do whatever it takes to get promoted. Over the years this problem has grown and caused low morale and contempt. It would benefit the city and the department if they would offer some Professional Development programs for the officers. I believe there will be positive changes in the foreseeable future with the quality of the up and coming junior officers that would easily do a much better job. The top spot needs turnover, possibly from the outside, to make changes that are sorely needed. 

 

Can you write one thing that you feel would be helpful to pass on to new firefighter that could help them stay healthy & safe throughout their career?

 

NOOOO!!! Just as there are a myriad of issues that firefighters must deal with, there are myriad things they need to do. 

Start with these:

  • Do not become complacent, or lazy. TRAIN-TRAIN-TRAIN.
  • Keep learning and pursuing professional development whether for promotional gains, or to keep yourself safe from those around you that don’t.
  • Develop a workout routine that you will stick to. It should, at a minimum, include weight resistance and cardio aspects.
  • Eat healthy. It isn’t hard to develop healthy meals, nor are they expensive.
  • Don’t smoke!!!! If you do, QUIT!!!!
  • Stay hydrated.

I followed such advice. It got me through almost 44 years in a great profession. At the time of this writing, (my last day July 31, 2020, you might not ‘know’ this, but I’m the oldest guy currently on the RFD (66y 8m 6d); and I was 53y 7m 5d old when I started. Was hoping for a few more years before I called it quits, but…time to move on.

Be Safe Brothers & Sister and make the most of your time. Thank you for the memories, past and present Brothers. 

 THANK YOU D Platoon for the ‘low-key’ (my request) send off. I’ve had a great time at my 2nd rodeo and will miss you.

666 entries in the News

666 entries in the News


© 2020 ReadingPaFire.com