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Lessons from History

As firefighters it’s important to understand how our history can and does teach us extremely valuable lessons. Unfortunately, our fire service and department leaders have a little bit of a history of failing to teach those lessons and pass them on so the "new" generation of firefighters doesn’t have to re-learn them.

If you happen to mention Hackensack, Keokuk, Waldbaums, Texas City, Adams Avenue or East Franklin to our new firefighters, will they instantly be able to identify the significance of those fires and the lessons learned from them? Hopefully the answer is yes, but if not, this presentation will help.

The presentation examines several serious and tragic fires from our fire service archives. It honors the memories of our brothers and sisters who have been seriously hurt or made the supreme sacrifice, and passes on the valuable lessons learned that still apply and can make a difference today – a huge difference if explained to and understood by our membership.

History doesn’t have to be thought of in black and white or boring. Rather it is something to pay attention to and learn from so we don’t become a history lesson of our own. As professional firefighters, we have a duty and responsibility to understand these tragic fires and pass on the lessons learned so we can prevent them from occurring in our hometown.

Legendary FDNY Chief Vincent Dunn summed it up best:

“There are no new lessons to be learned from a firefighter’s death or injury. The Cause of a tragedy is usually an old lesson we have not learned from or have forgotten along the way.”

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