I Am Exhausted..

I’m Exhausted…anyone else?

There is a reason you don’t see the Fresno video up on our page right now. I knew it would be widespread and easy to find for anyone looking to learn from it. What I knew was going to be even more common was the flood of “brothers” that would watch it and just let the expert comments rain on all forms of public media about each and every detail that they thought this Captain did wrong in the video clip.

I don’t have the energy or the interest to spend all day trying to argue with someone that has a perspective so flawed and an ego so big that they feel they must pull up the old keyboard and fire away on Facebook/internet instead of simply sitting back and reflecting on how easy this job could sneak up and bite you.

I watched the video several times and had an immediate knot in my stomach. I watched once completely horrified that one of our own would have to go through that including all of the other members on scene. I watched several more times trying to learn and understand what went wrong. I took the time to sit back and think about the whole situation and learn a little bit about Captain Dern and the Fresno Fire Dept. Then IN PRIVATE with trusted mentors, friends and crew members we sat and talked about everything and did our absolute best to learn and do Captain Dern some justice. From what I have read about Capt Dern it seems like he would want each and every one of us to learn from his situation and try our best to prevent it from happening to ourselves. He sounds like a leader, mentor and student of the job. Friends don’t describe you that way unless it’s true.

I will tell you what we didn’t do. We didn’t discuss this on Facebook, we didn’t blindly kick around assumptions, and we certainly didn’t compromise respect and brotherhood because “thats how we all get better”

I have sat and watched different so called firefighters today broadly claim how poor fresno tactics are and in the same line state they have never done roof work in their 5 years on the job. I have watched others say “not to monday morning quarterback” but instead I will beat the piss out of everything in this video.

On the positive side many productive discussions have gone on about tactics, roofs, ventilation, etc, with experienced and trusted firefighters leading the discussion. They managed to do it without even coming close to disrespecting Fresno or Capt Dern. All in the name of truly learning without assuming. Funny how that works huh?

I don’t have any specific route I am going with this post other than to say please take a step back and think for just a few minutes. If you are someone claiming to be on this job but can’t handle but to blast his actions all over the internet than you should really reevaluate yourself. At least do me a favor and the next time you want to wear your favorite FD shirt out to the bar and say cheers to brotherhood, take the time in your toast to let everyone know that the brotherhood ends at the door when the drinks aren’t flowing and there is no one around to see your sweet ass hero t-shirt.

Irons and Ladders trys to keep ourselves separated from politics, money grabbing, making a name for ourselves, Facebook Likes, or any other self serving characteristic that can infiltrate our profession. We appreciate the followers we do have and think your a good bunch of people that probably believe in the same mentality that we described above.

Support Capt Dern and Fresno Fire however you can. Learn from the video and his situation the best you can in private. Keep a bold line between yourself and the ones out there that just can’t hold up to that end of the deal.

Hang tough Captain, a lot of us out here support you and can actually understand how things go wrong.



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84 Comments on “I Am Exhausted..”

  1. Steven Scalia Says:

    Damn good post.

  2. Steve McDonald Says:

    Amen and GOD BLESS Capt. Dern and his families personal and Fire family.

  3. chiefcos1@gmail.com Says:

    Well said we are at a turning point in the tactical side of what we do. The recent NIST and UL studies on vertical ventilation must be carefully reviewed. I would also hold any judgement until we have all facts, fuel load, protected or unprotected ceiling etc. Too early to know what really happened.

    Sent from my iPhone

  4. Matt Werner Says:

    My stomach dropped as the Capt did and I was so happy to see his legs move at the end of the video. My first thoughts were “thank God, at least he has a chance” I am just now starting to feel comfortable talking about this as training. It’s always terrible to see the comments the internet can bring as people don’t seem to think they are accountable to what they write. Can you imagine some of these guys standing up and saying some of their comments as FDIC during a large group lecture? They would be thrown out in a heartbeat. Integrity is part of what I believe makes a great firefighter, the lack of integrity is always brought out by these videos in the age of the Internet.

    Thank you for you post and the effort you have taken to put the integrity back the the forefront of the fire service.

  5. Jamie Jent Says:

    “Keep a bold line between yourself and the ones out there that just can’t hold up to that end of the deal”, great quote. This guy went up there to do work in a place some “brothers” wouldn’t even think about going. Unexpected bad things happen all the time, it’s the nature of the beast. The weight of the Capt’s brass balls pulled him through that roof, ’nuff said….

  6. Matt Hoffman Springfield fire dept. illinois Says:

    Your post should be etched in the front doors and every day room in every fire house in America. I’m glad I read it, thank you guys for being a beacon of hope and what’s right in the fire service.

  7. Kurt Krodle Says:

    Thank you! My brother, Dallas Fire Lt. Todd W. Krodle, died in the line of duty on August 14, 2011 after a roof collapsed under him while working to vent a roof. I have never watched the video of my brother on that roof; it was horrifying to watch Capt. Dern’s fall. But, it was absolutely infuriating to, again, watch all of the “experts” publicly question tactics, fireground operations and the wisdom of a veteran firefighter, much like I saw when we lost my brother. Thank you for standing for Fresno FD, for Capt. Dern and for his family. I’m humbled and grateful that someone has.

  8. Nick Rasmussen Says:

    Agreed. I’m praying for the good Captain, along with his family and friends. Hindsight is always 20/20, but what’s done is done, we all should be praying for him!! That’s all that matters at this time!

    In solidarity,
    Nick Rasmussen

  9. Demetrius Freeman Says:

    Thank you ! We are all praying for Capt.

  10. Art W Says:

    Thank you.

  11. Tony Says:

    Consider the Nail Squarely Stricken!

  12. Bill Richardson Says:

    I retired after 31 years having survived 2 back surgeries, neck fusion, cancer, and a few other injuries. My post on Facebook:

    Firefighting is not an exact science, sometimes you just have to go with your gut. Unfortunately sometimes that is a mistake. I don’t think that Capt. had any intention to find himself in that situation. Anyone who has been on the job any length of time will tell you we have all been one step away from something like this, I know I was several times in my career and survived only by the grace of God. I literally got sick to my stomach watching the video, I know how many times I almost took the step he did. I’ll simply pray for his recovery and strength for his family.

  13. Michael Robitaille Says:

    This is by far the best comment that I have read so far. I agree with your summary of the event; lets all just learn from it and lets all pray for a speedy recovery that allows our brother very little pain. I too have not wanted to comment as this is one of those events that has been done countless times; lets learn. Be Safe

  14. Manuel Rangel Says:

    Good to hear a cool head state the obvious, anything you see from a single perspective is only that, one point of view.

    Phoenix Fire had a similar fall and we adjusted. It’s what a good organization does. The people on the ground have a lot to do without being cautious about how it looks on the Internet.

  15. Kirk Schuster Says:

    Great read an perspective on this. People need to remember the only way to master our craft is to keep our minds and eyes open… In private there are a lot of topics about this situation that can be brought up and turned into a learning experience. 1 example is how would you react if you were on the fire ground and this happened to another brother or sister? Are you prepared? Do you have a back up plan!

  16. Steve Gallagher Says:

    Freaking epic post, Cap!!

  17. Cam White Says:

    Damn right! None of us were there and as much as we don’t want our actions judged we shouldn’t judge a fellow brother and Department in their time of need. Let’s support one another cause no one else will.

  18. Howard Coleman Says:

    Spot on post…..Capt. Dern you and your family are in my prayers.

  19. Rachel Rawlings Says:

    Well said Sir!!!!

  20. Step down, next case

  21. Battalion Says:

    well kudos to you, it doesn’t how or why the fire started, I posted and I will continue to post on social media about the mistakes, yes the mistakes made by Fresno Fire and Captain Dern, a two year guy a 25 year guy could tell you there was absolutely no reason for ANYONE to go to the roof. I would tell Captain Dern to his face because that’s BROTHERHOOD, telling a brother when they fucked up. Stuff your little brotherhood bashing commentary and shove it.

    • Battalion,
      Thanks for not using your real name like everyone else. It is a common theme for people who like to rip this apart. Clearly the boot fit when you read this article because you seem to be offended and angry. I am sure Captain Dern has been waiting for you to tell him to his face like you claim, in fact most of Fresno Fire is probably wondering your opinion on the scene and there is no way we would possibly maintain the brotherhood unless you call and critique this for them. If you happen to be in the area you should swing by a Fresno firehouse. I am sure they would love to hear it face to face. Don’t let me waste any more of your time, you have a long drawn out day of surfing the internet and telling guys what there doing wrong on their fires (because thats brotherhood). Irons and Ladders would be happy to post your last fire on here for critiquing if you interested?
      Take care
      Ryan Royal

      • Dave Harris Says:

        These are the ones who retire or leave the fire service and no one gives a shit that they’re gone. It’s easy to second guess. It’s also easy to sit on your ass and criticize from the front of a computer. It’s different if you have any real experience on the fireground. But I’m sure that the brothers in Fresno would love for Battalion (translation: terminal shithouse mouse) to come and tell them everything they did wrong. Remember, stupidity will be dealt with using a haligan tool. Maybe when he gets out of rookie school he’ll get it. I doubt it. But there’s always a chance.

        Dave Harris

  22. clarkfire Says:

    As a Fresno Fire Wife, know we appreciate these comments. Hopefully everyone will learn from this. Know that Captain Dern’s crew went on 172 structure fires 1st alarm or greater (Not car or trash can) last year alone. He works the busiest station in the city by choice. Our city burns!
    In Fresno’s history, the last catastrophic roof collapse severely injuring a FF was over 40 years ago. These men are well train. This community of over 500,000 and a fire dept covering 325 square miles, is home to many migrant and large immigrant families who often live in garages. Our firefighters treat every structure as occupied, because they usually are.

    • Becky Wilbur Says:

      Thank you for your service. As a firefighter spouse you have the hardest job in the world. Thank you for standing by your family and helping your firefighter through all the crazy emotional stress that we try to never bring home but we all know that without a amazing, caring, understanding family to help us when needed we could never do the job we do. Our thoughts and prayers are for your family and the Fresno Fire Family. We all pray for a speedy recovery. Sending much love and support from Washington State.

  23. Ron Ayotte Says:

    Amen, Captain. Instead of keeping Captain Dern in their thoughts, too many “keyboard incident commanders” are quick to make judgements, even though they may have been a couple of miles or three thousand miles away.

  24. Jeff Scheuer Says:

    Well said and thank you for saying it.

  25. JB Says:

    This is EXACTLY what I’ve been thinking

  26. Chad Says:

    Thank you.

  27. What Royal said!!!!

  28. Erik Enersen Says:

    Well said.

  29. Todd Winder Says:

    Excellent. Thank you for saying publicly what I’ve been telling the folks at our station. Every day, I feel like the “brotherhood” no longer, truly exists. To many people, it’s just a catch-phrase.

  30. Rick Wson Says:

    Well stated!

  31. Robert K. Swartz Says:

    Well said Sir.

  32. Trevor Peyus Says:

    Well said

  33. It’s a job very few will do. And yes, sometimes it will bite your ass. It’s WHY we train! Sometimes things go wrong. God bless you all.

  34. Scott Determann Says:

    Excellent post! I wish all of our brothers and sisters could read this… and learn from it.

  35. Derek Dinges Says:

    Yes. Thank you.

  36. Randall Bradley Says:

    What an absolute perfect perspective! I am so pleased to finally read a post that 1) does not make any judgements or assumptions based upon a short video clip 2) does not disrespect a fire department or its members who are going through an extremely challenging time and 3) provides some insight to those who are too short-sighted and self-absorbed to understand the importance of numbers 1 and 2.

    I can tell you this…The Fresno Fire Department is an extremely well-trained and busy fire department that has a history of being a very “safe” fire department. Their number of working fires compared to the number of firefighters they have on duty per day makes them one of the busiest fire departments in the country. They are experienced…

    With that said, due to their professionalism and commitment to firefighter safety, they will conduct a thorough investigation and share any “lessons learned” that will help to prevent future occurrences of this horrific event. Until then, I hope that we all choose to refrain from making assumptions and negligently filling in the blanks with information that is not yet available.

  37. Tim Clemens Says:

    Very well stated. To learn from someone else’s accident/mishap/tragedy/or mistake is part of the job. We don’t go pointing fingers, we try to figure out what went wrong and what went RIGHT. The actions of the rest of the crews on the scene were commendable. I was very surprised that they got their Cap out of there that fast.

    As a retired firefighter with 26 years on the job, I saw things in the video that I may have done differently but that is why we always critique our fires and other incidents. I tried to learn every day, there is no perfect firefighter, only firefighters who commit to learning. We don’t put blame on actions, but ask if there were other thoughts on what occurred. You can’t better yourself if your mind is shut. Your job as a firefighter is to always learn and to TEACH WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED TO THE NEW GUYS. That way, we all get to go home.

    My thoughts and prayers for the Captain and his families (blood and fire), may God bless and grant you a healthy and speedy recovery. Be safe.

  38. Ronnie Davis Says:

    Right on target great read

  39. kirk wanless Says:

    From a brother in Fresno, let me thank you wholeheartedly for what you’ve said here. While I think it is a great thing that we have a profession where we critique and analyze our work–the good, the bad, and the ugly–it has always been, especially so now as I grieve the inuries to my co-worker, a source of frustration and anger to read the lengthy dissertations from arrogant know-it-alls who condemn entire departments, regions, policies, practices and, most importantly, people, from the cozy, smug vantage point of their keyboard hundreds of miles away. There is one thing I guarantee these self-proclaimed experts have never experienced: a serious line of duty death or injury to their immediate fire family. If they had they would have responded more like you did in this post. What I want everyone in the fire service to know is this: Trust us to do a thorough review of this incident as we are dedicated professinals with a very good track record of not injuring members and serving the public. Please review this video with your crew and ask “How can we avoid this happening to us?” recognizing that we’ve all made mistakes and sometimes bad things happen. Lastly, and most importantly, support YOUR brother, Pete,with your prayers and kind messages.


    a wounded brother in Fresno.

    • Becky Wilbur Says:

      Our thoughts and prayers are with you and Your Fire Family. I couldn’t imagine the emotional roller coaster you are all going through. Just know that you have many like myself that truly support your dept and knows that even the best trained FF doing what they do can get injured. Stay aggressive and do the job. Keep positive!!!! Always Do The Right Thing. Support your Brothers!!!! Sending much Love and support from Washington State.

  40. George J. Novak Says:

    Thanks for your integrity.

  41. Valerie Says:

    Excellent post Royal. Excellent.

  42. L. Williams Says:

    Excellent testimony. Well thought out & supportive. Wish I could shake your hand in person.

  43. Gerald Pecar Says:

    Thank you saying what should have been said all along.

  44. truckeewads Says:

    Thank you for saying what needed to be said.

  45. T. Olmsted Says:

    Yes, good viewpoint. None the less. Basic reading a structure would have prevented this. Plenty of white hats around. I pray for his speedy recovery.

  46. Richard Ozuna Says:

    Hard to watch. Prayer for the Capt. and everyone there. Live and learn. Learn and apply. For all of you out thete that don’t sound the roof as you make your way across. Capt. Dern did. See what happened to him. Sound it like a 225 lb. Fitefighter wanting to walk on that roof

    Great post. I retired my badge so I ONLY support firefighters.

  47. Richard Ozuna Says:

    Great post. Prayers for Capt. Dern and all that were there. I tetired my badge so I ONLY support firefighters.

  48. Rick Chorney Says:

    I can only add that this incident is one we can all learn from, and your words put things in a perspective that any right minded person should be able to understand! From one brother to another, thank you!
    Our department is sending positive thoughts and prayers for Captain Dern, his family, the Fresno FD and our brothers and sisters in the service.
    Thank you…

  49. Ric Jorge Says:

    Nicely put …there’s a lot to be said about respect, it starts with maturity.

  50. Michael Doub Says:

    Well said brother. You need all the facts before you start throwing a 25 yr man under the bus. Even with that said there is a brotherhood in the fire service that few others have or will ever have. Got to love Monday morning quarterbacks.

  51. Joyce Says:

    So sorry you guys are having to put up with the self serving arm chair quarterbacks! Let’s concentrate on prayers for Capt. Dern, his family and the rest of the fire department.

  52. Jay Tracy Says:

    From a proud Fresno Firefighter Thank You for your insight and words of encouragement in this post. For those whom feel the need to comment negatively, despite your many years of experience, thousands of fires and decades of “doing it” better than anyone, please don’t. I would follow my friend, my brother and fellow firefighter Captain Pete Dern to the gates of hell.

    • Chris Buechele Says:

      Jay from the officers and firefighters from Manchester,Connecticut we offer our prayers and well wishes to Captain Dern and his family and peers.

  53. Anne Koz Says:

    Thank you for your thoughts, and let me say my thoughts and those of my department are with you and your brothers and sisters. If only we all were as strong as you and willing to stand up to the cyber-bullies and Monday morning quarterbacks out there. Positive thoughts and prayers are headed your way, and toward Captain Dern and his family.

  54. Simon Says:

    Amen to that. It’s easy to criticise, but let’s be adults and pray for Capt. Dern, family and friends and learn. Firefighters are courageous, valiant and bold, they go where others run and always put theirs lives in danger to rescue persons in need. Pray that all firefighters will be kept safe in their line of duty, but when a colleague does suffer, let us remember them in prayers and as a large global family suffer with them!!! Let’s not forget our collegue in Missisipi who is seriously injured in hospital through what appears to be a fault of a 3rd party!!!

  55. Ted Serna Says:

    Amen. Hang tuff brother. Praying for your recovery, and for your family. God bless.

  56. Melody Says:

    Well said.. Thank you for putting into words how so many of us feel

  57. Jenny H. Says:

    Thank you for this blog post. I stumbled across it, and reading it made me hope that others take your words to heart. I met Pete 26 years ago when he and my husband were in flight school together and become “stick buddies” in the helicopter. My son is actually named for Pete. I know that pilots do much of the same trash talking when one of them goes down. In some ways they do it to lesson the pain of losing one of their own, in another it is to discuss the way in which they wouldn’t have made the same mistake. They do this amongst themselves, and I would not expect to see them do it on the internet. God bless all of the firefighters who do jobs some of us could never imagine. Please keep Pete, Kelly, and their daughter in your thoughts. Thank you again for the reminder to watch what we say and how we say it.

  58. Fred Pfeifer Says:

    Thank you for that great responce.

  59. Darrell cooper Says:

    It is so easy to second guess and throw stones after the fact. Every fire service veteran knows that each event can suddenly change and be devistating. As the bible says, let he who has not sinned cast the first stone. Basically don’t judge, find answers. D. C. Retired, 31 yrs service.

  60. Cyndi Young Says:

    Nicely written. NOTHING POSITIVE is ever accomplished by tearing another person down. It doesn’t change a bad situation. It doesn’t mend injuries or bring back the dead. AND YES, it is absolutely possible to learn from things that “go bad” without being critical of anyone.

    Captain Dern and his family are in my prayers, as are all public servants who put their lives on the line every day to keep the rest of us safe and protect out property.

    THANK YOU!!!

  61. Chris Buechele Says:

    Thank you for this post. THAT is what the brotherhood is about. I will do Capt Dern due justice by using this scenario not to point out what the “experts” call mistakes , but to convey that an experienced,disciplined leader is not infallible in this dangerous profession. That things CAN and WILL go wrong. And most importantly to be part of the support group , not the critics when something so terrible occurs. Hang tough Captain. The brothers and sisters ARE here for you……

  62. Dan clegg Says:

    47years in fire service and never hard it said bitter Chaplain dan Cleeg Fishers In retired For Indy IFD

  63. mike holiday Says:

    Well said…..you speak for many who feel the same way.

  64. Terri lajoie Says:

    Sending lots of good thoughts and prayers to the entire family…fire family…friends…and to anyone else out there who feels this deep inside…to strangers and fellow firefighters and families around the world….get Well soon!!



  65. Max Says:


    Thank you for the blog post and I think you make a lot of really strong points. There’s a difference between critique or after-action analysis and making derogatory comments that serve no purpose. I agree, a lot of the comments you read online are poorly thought out and don’t contribute anything of substance.

    I have been in the fire service for 13 years now and been fortunate enough to work in three different counties in California over that time. My heart aches for every single near miss or LODD — both in fire and law enforcement. We have one hell of a job to do and rely on the “family” dynamic to keep us from going crazy. We can attempt to explain aspects of the job to the public, but unless you’re part of the brother or sisterhood, you’ll just never get it. I can even go one step further (though unpopular) and say that unless you’re a career firefighter, you still may not get it either.

    Whether it’s this tragic incident, Yarnell Hill or even the events of the September 11th attacks, we continue to fail each other by falling victim to tragedies that can be avoided or heavily mitigated. Yes, Facebook is probably not the best place for criticism, but when your agency makes the conscientious decision to post raw video footage to the internet and major news outlets, then you open up Pandora’s Box. Though social media comments may not be “politically correct,” factually, they contain a lot of truth.

    Being the victim of something does not automatically admonish one from culpability. All of us, irregardless of rank or position, are responsible for safety on the fire ground. There are a ton of YouTube videos set to some cliche rock tune, where large Southern California fire departments are showing us their “bad ass” skills, cutting on some roof they have no business being on. In fact, a number of these videos show firefighters running for aerial ladders and nearly losing their life. We pride ourselves on how black turnouts get and how charred our helmet shield looks. We don’t know how to say “no” or speak out when an order places our lives in jeopardy. It’s not in our nature — we don’t sit idle, we don’t question officers. We provide aggressive fire attack and knockdown. If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen, right?

    What’s the 10th and arguably most important Standard Firefighting Order? “Fight fire aggressively, having provided for safety first.”

    This isn’t just a rule when working in wild land, but should apply on every fire. I don’t blame Captain Dern for this incident, I blame EVERYBODY on the incident that day. Everybody failed in safety on this incident — the white helmet at the foot of the ladder, the sawyer blindly following and anybody else who didn’t see anything wrong with this tactic.

    I don’t need some in-depth analysis as to the how’s and why of the incident to understand that the last thing that structure needed was a hole cut. I also don’t need to know how many structure fires the department runs a year to somehow negate the fact that poor tactics and decision making contributed to this very preventable tragedy — everybody failed.

    Instead of criticizing the “armchair quarterbacks,” we should be talking about changing a culture that’s rooted in breathing smoke, dirty turnouts and unnecessary risk. Lung cancer is not cool. Falling through a roof is not cool. Chicago just started wearing turnout pants a few years ago and a lot of “large” departments find being on air while on the roof cumbersome and unnecessary. It’s time to change our thinking folks.

    I get the point of your blog post — believe me, I do. However, I don’t believe all social media comments are unwarranted. There’s a lot of truth in some of these comments — though they may not be popular or tactfully delivered. Sometimes it takes outside pressure to create internal change. Who knows, perhaps the firefighters of Fresno need more public pressure and scrutiny to influence a failing command staff. Not saying that’s the case, but I find it curious whenever a department releases raw video that shows obvious bad tactics before a formal investigation has been concluded.

    I am not discrediting the overall service delivery of Captain Dern, the Fresno Fire Department or all those men and women who risk their lives daily for the City of Fresno. However, we all need to look after each other on incidents. I’m personally tired of hearing about “preventable” tragedies. Instead of criticizing those who point out the obvious (and what we’re already thinking) in online comments, we should be working towards preventing these types of incidents from happening again. Hiding from the ugly truth and keeping our thoughts private won’t help solve the problem.



    • Max,

      I agree with some of your points but not all of them. However I am posting your comment and responding because I believe you took the time to present them respectfully and put thought into each part. This is not the same for many others in my mailbox right now that have told me to eat shit, my viewpoint sucks and that they will continue to tell everyone they know how stupid they think the firefighters involved in this situation are. Weird thing is, each and everyone that sent that to me did it anonymously. I don’t care to share most of those and they are specifically the people I am talking about with this post.

      Your first point that I think we need to clarify is that this video was filmed by a citizen and submitted to the news outlets. I saw this on the internet before any fire website even had it up. It was removed and than at some point came back up and went all over the place. Fresno did not take this video and post it as quickly as they could for the sake of publicity or internet exposure.It was out there and they responded.

      I agree that sometimes non politically correct comments contain a lot of truth. There is definitely a time and a place to have the hard conversations with people that are far from PC because it has to be said. I have been involved with a lot of these. Truth and recognition of it is important. As I said to another comment in this post, I am far from your person that looks at a fire ground and thinks we should walk away patting ourselves on the back because the fire went out and no one got hurt. That is a low standard to set for your fire ground. I am hyper critical of myself and have let a lot of people view my own helmet cam videos simply for the sake of letting them see me fail in an attempt to make them better and hopefully prevent them from being in situations I should have avoided.

      If you take a look again at my original post I encourage and agree with everyone trying to do everything they can to prevent themselves and their fire company from having to go through what Fresno is dealing with right now. Last shift my own firehouse put in several hours that morning discussing the video, talking about vertical ventilation, building construction, fire behavior, etc. There was a ton of good learning and review for everyone involved. I truly feel like these guys were able to critically look at the situation and instantly become a little bit better at their job. Our fire department utilizes topside vent as one of our options for ventilation. We operate on lightweight roofs. We deal with structures just like the one in the video. It is all right up our alley and applies to our fire department. 6 hours after this discussion we were working a fire that had vertical ventilation utilized and was very successful. My point is that we applied everything we could from his video directly to how we operate and somehow managed to do it without having to go on Facebook and voice ridiculous accusations or opinions to an open forum that has no valuable discussion or training being tied into the video.

      I don’t disagree that the internet has some powerful avenues to make the fire service better ( obviously we run this training blog because we see value in it)But I know a lot of great firefighters that are making more change through hands on training and human interaction while still critically looking and situations that other fire departments have been in and providing their opinion in the right setting. I am very confident in saying they are making far more cultural change and raising the bar higher than any of these firefighters on Facebook that feel a ranting negative comment about Capt Dern on major fire service websites is what will make a difference somewhere.

      This next part is not referencing you or your comment. I am saying this in general. The easy way out is to sit and talk about cultural change in the fire service, or what should be done better. It is very easy to sit and watch you tube videos of fires that look like a mess and immediately think your own fire ground always looks better than that. It is even easier to sit and wait for the next LODD or close call to happen and instantly assume it would never happen to your own department and know exactly why it happened to the one in tragedy. I am glad I realized this early on. There is a lot of lip service out there, but it sure is hard to find the guys that really want to put in the work. I mean the real hard work of developing good classes and training programs to raise the bars. The guys that will actually mentor their new guys and make them the best possible. The fireman that are willing to sit down and look at a horrible video and have the same gut reactions to it as everyone else, but actually think critically about the situation and comes up with the best solutions to prevent it from happening to the guys on his truck. This takes work and it doesn’t happen anonymously on the internet.

      To wrap this long winded reply up, heres my conclusion. You are right, we should learn from tragedy and try not to let it just disappear with time. We should minimize preventable parts of our job. We absolutly shouldn’t let being PC or hurt feelings be what prevents us from taking long hard looks at what we mess up on during our own fire grounds. But I say lets start with ourselves and our own departments. Lets make sure where we work gets better from this. I don’t care about other departments cultures as far as their dirty gear, 3/4 boots, who does topside and who doesn’t. I care about my own departments views on these topics and I want to do my part of making it as top notch as it can possibly be. Through training, critique, a ton of hands on work, and reviewing what goes wrong for other departments all while applying them to my fire department and not some stupid slanderous rant attacking other FD’s.
      Ryan Royal

      • Max Says:


        Thank you for dedicating the time to respond so thoroughly. It was very well said and I agree.

        Stay safe brotha…


  66. Baby Huey Says:

    I am in the minority with my view that I disagree with the idea that only positive post should be written The only way you learn is by sharing comments both positive and yes sometimes negative. While I pray for Captain Dern’s full recovery. We can all learn from what appears to be something’s from the video that were done not so right. Anyone who has been in the fire service for any length of time has made mistakes on incidents that could have had horrible outcomes, I know I’ve made them but was lucky nothing happened. Again I pray for Capt. Dern’s full recovery, but hope all that occurred on the incident are brought to light so no one else has to go through what he is enduring now.

    • We probably agree more than you think, but the context of when and how these comments are presented is what I am speaking to. If you read my thoughts again I think you will see that I am specific about everyone learning from this and encourage us all to take as much as we can form the situation to ensure we can do our best to prevent it from happening to our own company. I am far from a guy that thinks everyone should look at the fire ground with rose colored glasses and walk away patting ourselves on the back. I also can learn a ton from this video and fire without crawling around the internet stating my opinions about Capt Derns decision making, or even worse just bashing everything about this department with no other reason than to spew tough guys rants. If you look around that is what is happening. I assure you no one learns anything from guys that just get on to slander Fresno and Capt Derns name without any valuable input and discussion on making firefighters better. Appreciate you presenting your view point the way you did, many cannot and it is not worth the time to respond to them.

  67. padeff Says:

    Reblogged this on Pat Adeff Blog and commented:
    Well said … well said.

  68. Thanks for this great post. Pete is family. I’m his wife’s cousin. Because I am not a firefighter, I am not in a position to criticize anyone on either side of this debate.

    But if anyone where feels the need to criticize Pete, I ask that you have the decency to support this family and his recovery.

    Be decent. Donate here:


  69. Richard Nippleton Says:

    First and foremost, I hope the Captain fully recovers and there’s a positive outcome to all of this. Now im not sure of the websites you speak of or the comments on tyou found on them to be insensitive, harsh, demeaning the brotherhood etc…Though you chose not to post the video, it did manage to surface all over the internet and not just fire related websites like this. I have my own opinion about this incident, as do many others, but for the most part..I’ll refrain from giving it with a few exceptions.. With the experience this Captain has, I would not question him or come close to pointing fingers, blaming etc.. Sometimes when we see videos like this and say to ourselves why???..we don’t know things like, which side of the home he approached from, didn’t realize he was standing over the garage etc..also..what comes naturally for some to do on the fireground (as in go to the roof like the Capt did) is completely foreign or off limits to many others..maybe those were the people you feared would make the same comments, if you had posted the video. I don’t know, but this is social media and good conversation (minus personal attacks or the keyboard cowards) can come from posting a video like this…You can’t have a website/blog and expect a bunch of robots on here agreeing to whatever you say do you ? To me, that’s not how you discuss topics and that goes for both social media and public discussion.

    If you chose to which obviously you didn’t..the focus of this entire incident could easily be taken off the Captain and shifted towards someone on the ground who may have saw the smoke conditions from the garage area deteiorating, that maybe the Capt could not see.

    Doing so could allow you to post the video and discuss it from a different perspective and without blaming or pointing fingers…either way it doesn’t prevent anyone from posting comments that go against the popular opinion or comment.
    Since you did not post the video for your own personal reasons, you chose to write this instead and by doing so, you opened the discussion back up for anyone to comment. Now I don’t agree with the comment Battalion wrote, specifically..the part where he would say it to the Captains face, but like I said, had you just written this like an editorial..comments from people like Battalion, would not have appeared..you say you don’t do this for self gratification, so if that’s true.. you wouldn’t allow people to comment..i know if this were my website, id get some satisfaction from seeing positive points as well as negative…thats how we learn..

    • Richard,
      I agree with a lot of your points in the first paragraph and I hit on many of them during my post. I agree that many good conversations and trainings will come from this, as it should. However I didn’t refrain from posting this video because I didn’t want it to surface on the internet. You also assume that I didn’t want comments that opposed my opinion to be on here. That makes me think that you have not read other opinion based articles on this website. You will see that this isn’t the case and I encourage opposing discussion on a regular basis. Many of the articles written on fire service mindset that we have posted has created a large amount of opposing discussion. So robots that only agree with us is far from anything we have ever represented.

      You also say that I was worried about comments that go against the popular opinion. What I wrote about was very easily the minority of what was being said on the internet about this video. I decided instead of posting the video like most I would rather go against the grain from what I viewed as the most vocal and popular opinions around the net, which in the first 48 hours was the keyboard experts and slanderous rants.

      Like you say, I did write this and also allowed comments. I always do and I very rarely censor any type of comments on our site. People are entitled to their opinions and I don’t believe in covering that up because it is easier. But as you can see my post generated very little garbage comments like you find all over the internet right now. Your last paragraph is a little difficult to understand, because I agree with you that comments like “Battalions” are pretty far off base but if you think a different style of writing would have prevented comments like this I assure you that is not the case. Those will always be there and we will never all agree. Good enough I guess.

      Your last line is not very clear the way you wrote it so maybe I am taking it wrong, but I think it is way off base. If you think I run a hands on firefighter training company and website simply for self gratification of reading other peoples comments that agree with me, than I am willing to bet you have never followed this site or don’t have a clue what Irons and Ladders is about and how we operate. There is a lot easier ways for self gratification, I can confidently tell you that endless hours of preparation for hands on training, time away from family, and trying to put out very detailed and informative online practical training for firefighters is far from some extreme version of making myself feel better.
      Thanks for the comments and I appreciate you putting though into all of it.
      Ryan Royal

  70. Ralph Gaily (ret'd truck co. engineer) Says:

    God bless the American firefighter…..

  71. Richard Nippleton Says:

    Yes i probably didn’t make myself clear and yes I haven’t read other articles (though I plan too)…I’m not so focused on comments in general…What i was trying to say with this particular article, was though you didn’t put the video up on your website (your choice), you did write an article explaining why and though not your intentions, you opened the incident back up for discussion. That’s only my opinion and I said that because of what Battalion wrote…You fired right back at him and rightfully so, however, if you were disgusted by the comments others posted had posted to different websites..why would you write an article explaining why you didn’t post the video…clearly Battalion’s comment was cowardly in a way, as none of us know if he’d really tell it to the Captains face or not..im guessing he was flexing his keyboard muscles if anything…if this were my site id tear his ass up too and you did put him in his place…i guess to save you from having to hear comments like Battalion’s, you could have written this and not allowed comments..This particular video was sensitive because of what happened and everything you wrote about was correct..if this were posted..its not a place to judge a man who’s done it many times and has the t-shirts to back it up…

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