Code 3 - The Firefighters' Podcast-logo

Code 3 - The Firefighters' Podcast


The podcast for and about firefighters, "Code 3" covers topics of interest to those in the fire service, in about 20 minutes, through interviews with those who know it best. From Chiefs to Probies, Engineers to Firefighters, and Paramedics to EMTs, award-winning journalist Scott Orr talks with them all.

The podcast for and about firefighters, "Code 3" covers topics of interest to those in the fire service, in about 20 minutes, through interviews with those who know it best. From Chiefs to Probies, Engineers to Firefighters, and Paramedics to EMTs, award-winning journalist Scott Orr talks with them all.


United States


The podcast for and about firefighters, "Code 3" covers topics of interest to those in the fire service, in about 20 minutes, through interviews with those who know it best. From Chiefs to Probies, Engineers to Firefighters, and Paramedics to EMTs, award-winning journalist Scott Orr talks with them all.




A Career as a Sister in a Brotherhood with Cindie Schooner-Ball

A while back, firefighter Cindie Schooner-Ball started a blog where she wrote about her time as a “Sister in a Brotherhood.” She had plenty of material to work with–for 28 years, Cindie was a career firefighter in Broward County, Florida, Fire-Rescue, promoting to Captain before retiring. I spoke with her for a Code 3 episode in 2018. Since that time, she realized she had enough stories to fill a book, so she wrote one. It's a great trip through her years of working in–and excelling in–what...


How to Prepare Officer Candidates (and Their Departments) with Paul Watlington

There’s a lot of advice floating around that explains what a firefighter needs to do to get promoted to an officer position. And there’s quite a bit about leadership and what to do once you ARE promoted. On this edition of the show, we’re going to look at a couple of different sides of the promotion equation: How to prepare yourself for a promotion…and what impact on the department promotions may have. Both are important, and both are often overlooked. My guest to discuss these topics is...


Preparing Women for the Fire Academy

Depending on who you ask, women make up roughly four to five percent of US career firefighters. That’s why it’s still a news story when a woman is promoted to a leadership position in a major fire department. How you see this situation likely depends on your age and your gender. Older male firefighters may recall a time when women were unwelcome in firehouses. They may claim quotas allowed women who weren’t qualified to work alongside men to get hired. Younger male firefighters may wonder...


California firefighter plans aid mission to Ukraine | Guest: Eric Hille

A firefighter in San Diego County, California, has started Operation Joint Guardian, an effort to help the people of Ukraine. Eric Hille, a veteran of the US Army, planned to just send USAR equipment over there. Many civilian structures are being heavily damaged by Russian rocket attacks and local USAR resources are unable to keep up. Then, when he found out that aid workers on the ground wouldn’t know what to do with the supplies, he decided to take some volunteers to Ukraine and pitch in....


Is This What You Signed Up For? with Bob Horton

If you’ve ever walked into a firehouse and heard someone say, “This isn’t what I signed up for,” or if you’ve thought it yourself, let me relate a quick story. About five, six years ago, I was visiting station 71 in Prescott, Arizona. The engine was dispatched to a lift assist. Now, you may think you know what that is, but this call was not that. Engine 71 arrived to find a woman who needed help getting up into the cab of a U-Haul truck so she could move to a new home. I asked a firefighter...


Mayday and the Aftermath with Steve Conn

The evening of March 21, 2003 was normal for the crew of Colerain, Ohio Township’s Engine 26. The guys were cleaning up after dinner. Then the dispatcher interrupted them with a call to a structure fire. When they arrived on scene, the crew found a single-family residence with flames showing. Police said there might be someone trapped inside. Lt. Steve Conn and a rookie partner made entry and began to search. Minutes later, Steve found himself in a world of trouble. What happened next taught...


What happens to you if Qualified Immunity goes away? | Guest: Brad Pinsky

If you’re a firefighter or medic, especially a volunteer, you’re able to do your job because the law grants you the ability to do it without fear of legal reprisal if someone decides you made a mistake. That’s thanks to “qualified immunity” laws. But two states have passed new laws that have the effect of eliminating that protection. And it could mean firefighters and medics in those states are in major legal trouble if a taxpayer believes they did something wrong. My guest today is Brad...


Earning (and Saving Lives) While They're Learning with David Mattox

There’s an unusual fire department in Fairbanks, Alaska. It’s called the University Fire Department. It serves a University of Alaska campus and nearby North Star Borough from two stations. What makes this department special is that all the rigs are staffed by full-time University students, over 50 of them. They work side-by-side with 11 career firefighters, who act as mentors. The students work 48 on/96 off shifts and are certified in firefighting and ALS. And they can make up to $30,000 a...


VEIS - Is it still a good tactic? with Eric Dreiman

Once upon a time, there was VES. Then, thanks to the FDNY, came VEIS-vent, enter, isolate, search. Problem is, while the concept is still sound, it’s becoming harder to isolate rooms. The so-called open floorplan is eliminating walls and doors. It's also making searches tougher because following the walls won’t let you reach far enough into the room. My guest today has some thoughts on the merits, and some limitations, of VEIS. Eric Dreiman is a captain with the Indianapolis Fire Department....


When No One Wants to Train | Guest: Kevin Whitaker

If you want something done, sometimes the best solution is to do it yourself. That can apply to fire service training, too. My guest today was a young firefighter when he was assigned to slower station after being at a busy one. He found a crew that wasn’t much interested in training. About the time he was starting to get lazy, he realized he could do his own training even when no one else wanted to participate. At first, his DIY approach didn’t have much impact, but slowly, the rest of the...


Code Zero: No Ambulances Available with Scott Freitag

If your department doesn’t operate its own ambulances, a third-party operator is transporting your patients. But what happens when that company doesn’t meet your standards for response time? It can become a real problem, our guest today says. And it isn’t always easy to solve. Fire Chief Scott Freitag has been on Code 3 a couple of times before. He heads up the Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority, or CAFMA. Chief Freitag has been pushing his local ambulance provider to improve their...


Is Your Department Ready to Fight EV Fires? With Evan Gammage

Today, we’re talking electric vehicles. If you live in Los Angeles, like I do, you see them every day. Teslas and hybrids are everywhere! But there are a lot of places where electric vehicles –called EVs—or hybrids still aren’t common. Problem is, these cars can be really dangerous when you do find one in an MVA. Time was, we worried about electrical shock. But those were the early days, and the bright orange power cables have pretty well taken care of that. Now, the worry is thermal...


343 Brothers Lost - Sept. 11, 2001 Remembered

This is a special double edition of Code 3. We take a look back at the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, in New York City. By now, you know it’s been 20 years since that tragic day when we lost 343 members of the FDNY. But I still find it hard to comprehend. It feels like yesterday to me, and I’m sure if you were around for it, you feel the same. Today, I have interviews with two members of the FDNY who were part of the recovery efforts at ground zero. Tom Dunne is a now-retired deputy...


Fighting Wildland Fire with Charles Vaught

Fighting wildland fires is very different than structure fires. For starters, wildland guys sleep on the ground for days at a time. And then there’s the lack of hydrants on their firegrounds. They have to carry in all their gear, often walking miles to reach their assigned areas. But wildland firefighters, by and large, wouldn’t trade their jobs for structure firefighting. Today, we’re talking with a man who joined a Type 2 handcrew when he was in his thirties. That’s pretty old for a...


Becoming a Company Officer with Tim Cowan

Sitting in the right front seat of a rig means a lot more than giving instructions on the fireground. In fact, that’s a small part of the job. Sure it’s important—I mean, lives are at stake—but you need to be equally good at the rest of the job. Company officers need to understand that not only will they be in charge at scenes, but they will become parental figures, coaches, counselors, and much more to their crew. And that’s something that is rarely taught in company officer training. My...


Think Like an IC with Tom Dunne

Just about everyone in the fire service will—at some time—have the opportunity to be an Incident Commander for a few minutes at least. Then the Battalion Chief, or another chief officer, arrives and takes over. Whether you’re a firefighter in a small department and you end up in that position or you want to promote to chief officer, today’s guest has some tips for you. Tom Dunne will be giving his class on “Thinking Like an IC” at FDIC 2021 on August 3, and he’s here to preview that class...


Why You Must Be EMS Trained with Mike Wolfschmidt

Does your department require firefighters to be EMTs or Paramedics? Seems like most career departments do these days. What if it doesn’t? Does that mean you don’t need to get certified? Today, we’re talking about the need to be EMS-qualified. Think about this scenario: you respond to a structure fire along with a rescue ambulance. Almost immediately, you find a burn victim, package him up, and send him to the hospital. Now what happens when one of your firefighters is injured making the...


The Freedom House Ambulance Service with Ben Thompson

On this episode, we’re talking EMS history. I’m embarrassed to admit I was unaware of this background until I heard it on another, non-fire-related podcast. It’s the story of the first civilian EMS program in the U.S. Nope, not New York. That was 1968. Not Miami. That was 1969. Not even L.A., home of the “Emergency!” TV show. The law that allowed them to practice was passed in 1970. No, the first U.S. paramedics were from the Freedom House Ambulance program in Pittsburgh. In 1967. And they...


Managing Your Promotion with Ian Emmons

There’s a lot of advice out there about how to get promoted. There’s a little less about what to do when you are promoted. Suddenly, friends on your shift are your subordinates. So how do you work with them? Your first couple of days will set the tone for how you’ll relate to them for some time to come. If you screw it up, it could take months to repair the damage. My guest today has some insight about what they expect of you … and what you should do when you arrive at work in your new role....


When Your Volunteers Don't Want To Be In The FDNY with Dan Rogers

My guest on this show, Dan Rogers, created a firestorm online with his article, “’And that’s okay:’ Not all volunteers want to operate like FDNY.” Here’s a quote from the article, which appears on the website: “We often try to ‘push’ pride in our department onto the younger members. But many of them weren’t raised with the same sense of community as we were, so they will likely never carry that pride. And that’s OK.” Readers, as they always do, came to different conclusions...