5-Alarm Task Force-logo

5-Alarm Task Force

Police, Fire, Aviation, Rail S >

News & Issues for Today's First Responders A podcast primarily for fire-rescue and EMS in particular, and all first responders, including law enforcement and tow/removal personnel, in general, stressing safety, fitness-for-duty, health and wellness.

News & Issues for Today's First Responders A podcast primarily for fire-rescue and EMS in particular, and all first responders, including law enforcement and tow/removal personnel, in general, stressing safety, fitness-for-duty, health and wellness.
More Information


Coral Springs, FL


News & Issues for Today's First Responders A podcast primarily for fire-rescue and EMS in particular, and all first responders, including law enforcement and tow/removal personnel, in general, stressing safety, fitness-for-duty, health and wellness.








Critical Thinking & Fireground Deceision Making

This job (whether you are career, volunteer, wildfire or paid-on-call) that we love to do, is rarely a “walk in the park.” No matter how simple the dispatch or phone call appears to be, it often turns out to NOT be that simple or easy and that requires us to think it through and fast! My guest on this podcast is Nicholas Higgins, the editor and frequent contributor to the Firehouse Tribune website (firehousetribune.com), a long-time supporter of the show and a repeat presenter at FIREHOUSE...


Our Turnout Gear - Safe or Sorry

It’s there, hanging on the rack, next to our bunk, in the backseat or trunk of our car. What is it? Our bunker or turnout gear; part of our entire PPE ensemble. It is designed to protect us from sharp or pointy edges, to prevent the heat from reaching our “civilian” bodies and to not allow wetness to pervade into the inner layers which might cause us suffering steam burns. Besides our boots, coat and pants, it includes our hoods and gloves – all playing a critical role in protecting us from...


The Value of Education in the Fire Service

Over the years, many men and women have entered the fire service with little or no prior training other than perhaps being a “junior” firefighter, an Explorer® or perhaps the departments basic training program. Yet, as we are all well aware, we are quite often, not fighting the types of fires that our forebears did and, as a matter of fact, we are responding to many different types of calls, altogether. Add to the mix is the fact that many people entering both the career and volunteer fire...


The Firefighter Cancer Foundation

As firefighters, we face some very difficult situations such as flammable liquids, concentrated atmospheres of flammable gas, heavy content fires, mass casualty incidents and more. Yet, many might agree that in 2018, there is one that could bring the bravest and “toughest” firefighter to his/her knees – and that is a diagnosis of cancer. Although today, more people are surviving cancer than ever before, our love for our work can often bring us together with strange, alternative forms of...


Heavy Content (Hoarding) Fires & Social Media Etiquette

Even though the premier example of “heavy content” or hoarding fire dates back to the Collyer brothers’ mansion fire in Manhattan in1947, the problem has taken on a new urgency in today’s fire service over the last decade or so. With television programs displaying various interventions for people who may be suffering from a disorder, the public has no idea what it is like for members of the fire service to battle a blaze that breaks out in a structure where extreme clutter is the norm. Our...


Are We Fighting Cancer or Our Own Egos?

We are the fire service. We’re all about fighting fires and kicking its butt. We have always believed that for most materials, we put the “wet stuff on the red stuff” and we’re done. Sure, we might catch a “snootfull” of smoke; perhaps suffer a small burn here, a steam burn there, maybe even a broken bone. Yes, we’ve had tragic losses too, from time-to-time, but those were usually the building’s fault! However, in the aftermath of 9|11, we suffered a strong dose of reality – what’s...


Firefighter Suicide - Stemming the Tide & Reaching Out

No one said, “Life is easy.” And for those of us who are first responders, we get to see life at its very worst sometimes. It may be just one call, or it could be several really serious ones in a row. Fires, auto collisions, shootings, tragedies involving children and more; they often seem to pile up, one on another. Add to that mix how little sleep we often get, maybe problems at home with family, money, and yes, even health, and the result is a toxic soup from which we may see only one way...


Clutter & Hoarding - Solutions Through Community Risk Reduction

If you’re a first responder, you’ve come across “heavy content” properties and homes. That’s “polite-speak” for severe clutter or hoarding. And many of us have responded to some type of call there, from a trip and fall or critical illness, to an actual working fire. All of us in fire, police and EMS want to do something about these problems in our community, but there never seems to be enough people, funding or motive to drive a solution, until sadly, it’s too late. Our returning guest is...


Tactics & Terminology

In the premier episode of Season 3 of “5-Alarm Task Force,” we are pleased to welcome back a dear friend and great supporter of the podcast, Capt. Robby Owens, Sr. (@averagejakeff) as we discuss “Tactic and Terminology.” As we have heard from other guests, especially line officers and above, no singular tactic is appropriate for every working structure fire. What almost all agree on, are the two words that they believe are appropriate, “It Depends!” The first arriving officer who assumes...


You STILL Don't Know What You Don't Know!

This podcast is not an old one from two years or so ago. Rather, it was on this past spring. However, it may be one of the most important podcasts you will ever hear. My guest is Battalion Chief (ret) John Cagno of the North Providence RI Fire Dept. Chief Cagno has a long and successful career. But it certainly didn’t start that way. His story will teach you one of the most important facts of this job, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” When we’re young and we first join a fire...


Firefighters & Cancer = The Deadly Mix!

As we once again return to the “5-Alarm Task Force” podcast vault during our summer hiatus, we turn to another excellent podcast that deals with the exorbitantly high rate of cancer in the fire service. Firefighters around the world risk their lives almost every day, running in when everyone else is running out. While it is well known that our job is inherently dangerous, over the last 10-12 years, we have learned about a different danger, one that hides as a microscopic "time-bomb," where...


The Firefighter Cancer Initiative: From the Docs!

Due to the level of importance this podcast bears, I am releasing today in hopes that many of you will have the opportunity of listening to it over the weekend. Keeping with this is important topic, I am following up the past two “summer” shows with one we recorded this past March, featuring Alberto Caban-Martinez, DO, PhD and Natasha Schaefer-Solle, PhD, RN of the University of Miami, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Care Centers, along with Exec. Asst. Chief Todd LeDuc and Frank Correggio of...


Fighting Back Against Cancer - Cindy Ell

Last week, I re-leased our interview with Bill Banks, a former Battalion Chief with Ft. Lauderdale Fire, who provided me with my first, real education in the cancer dangers that firefighters and other first responders face. Today, I am proud to follow that interview with my interview with Cynthia (better known as “Cindy”) Ell. Cindy Ell is a former firefighter/paramedic in Anne Arundel County MD and a founding critical care paramedic at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She has been investigating...


Firefighter Cancer - An "Awakening"

I was like many of you. I had heard on the news or had read in one of the trade journals, that firefighters had been diagnosed with cancer. It often pointed to FDNY and these were firefighters who had worked, so determinedly, on the Pile left after the collapse of the WTC on 9|11. However, as I was about to learn, this was just the tip of the iceberg, as they say. This “Out-of-the-Vault” episode of “5-Alarm Task Force,” takes us back to March 2017. My guest was Bill Banks, a former battalion...


Another Opportunity to Learn from Chief Brunacini

It’s hard to believe that it has been almost a year since we lost one of the greatest leaders and teachers of the fire service, Chief Alan Brunacini. If you have been a firefighter for a couple of years or longer, you know to whom I refer. Past Chief of the Phoenix AZ Fire Department, “Chief Bruno,” as he was affectionately referred to, was a firefighter’s firefighter. He rose up through the ranks in Phoenix and at the same time, not only took the American fire service along for the ride,...


Leadership: An Introspective Analysis

The word, “leadership,” especially in the ranks of first responders, is bandied about by many. And for all those that participate in this conversation, there are probably at least, twice or three times the number of definitions of what leadership is in emergency services. In this podcast, our guest, Asst. Chief John Luca of Boca Raton Fire-Rescue Services, provides us with a new and deeper definition of the term and strongly encourages us to look inward first, before we even think of leading...


The Thermal Imaging Camera: Friend or Foe (or Somewhere In Between)

One of the most important tools that the modern fire service is the T.I.C. or thermal imaging camera. While it’s first use that resulted in the saving of a human life is traced back to 1985 in London, due to cost and development factors, it is believe that the first U.S. fire department to purchase one for regular use was Seattle in 1997. Just over 20 years later, the tool is ubiquitous in the fire service, with most, but the smallest, having at least one camera for the department. And why...


"You Don't Know What You Don't Know - Part II

In Part II of of our interview with retired Battalion Chief, John Cagno of the N. Providence RI Fire Department, we hear how the young, injured, "firefighter" Cagno, had to fight against the odds of getting his old job back. While recovering from his severe injuries, he never took his eyes of the bullseye - coming back to the job he had idolized since he was a child. However, his wants and desires did not necessarily meet with those of the Town of North Providence. It was only after a...


"You Don't Know What You Don't Know!"

Many of us are pretty damn excited when the dreams of little kids to be firefighters comes to fruition in our usually, young adult lives. We are usually in our late teens or early twenties. We may have had some experience by “buffing” until we were old enough to ride the apparatus. We’ve watched the experienced members do so many tactics, that we feel we’ll know exactly what to do when that special day arrives. As our guest today explains in Part I of his interview, (the first time in our...


The Chauffeur - The "Unsung Hero" + More

Forget what you've seen in movies or those driving long, sleek, fancy limousines. In the fire service a chauffeur is the person who drives a fire apparatus, usually the engine, tanker, or one of the various types of ladder apparatus, the tiller, tower ladder or elevated platform. While the name "chauffeur" is most often used in the northeast area of the U.S., it aptly describes the unique services this firefighter provides. And to tell us all about this vital position is Capt. John Hayowyk,...