We’ve all seen pictures of firefighters undressed. Undressed as in not wearing their stuff – or not wearing it as designed. No eye protection, no gloves (or using extrication gloves at fires), wearing rubber pull-up boots, SCBA straps hanging down, stuff like that.

These members (who have never visited a burn unit) are pretending that they are operating in the so-called “good old days,” just like the fuzzy 1970’s fire video they watched last night. Youthful Firefighters who can barely grow facial hair pretending to be OGs. Or those who haven’t learned. 

Instead of us arguing about that, let me introduce you to some of the folks who have unintentionally caused our job to change, including a hero who impacted the way many of us, including myself, operate – a man whose horrific line-of-duty death changed his entire fire department. And all of us who were around at the time.

Then after reading about him, do what you want. If you function in a weak-leadership company or department, you can probably wear your bottomless PJs to a fire and no one would care. If you are in a strong-leadership department or company, you know what is accepted and what isn’t.


Joe Tynan was a firefighter in Brookline, Massachusetts, working overtime in 1982. Responding on a run, Joe was standing on the right-hand side of the apparatus as it rolled out of the bay door. As the truck turned left, the centrifugal force made Joe fall onto the apron of the station, and he sustained a severe head injury.

The crewmembers in the station ran to Joe, but he didn’t respond. For the next 20 years, Joe functioned at the level of a 3-year-old and was blind. He died in 2002. His death – and an attorney – forced change. Because of Joe, there’s a good chance you won’t fall off the side of an apparatus.


On Sept. 28, 1982, Prince George’s County (Maryland) Firefighter Sandy Lee jumped on a ladder truck to head to a call. As they turned out on a run, Sandy’s three-quarter-inch boot fell (this was before bunker pants were standard) from the jump seat onto the concrete ramp in front of the firehouse. In a split second, in reaching for the boot, Sandy fell from the apparatus. Her screams went unheard as she was struck by the rear wheels of the truck. She was dragged more than 30 feet across the front ramp and sustained severe damage to her body – and she was conscious the entire time.

Because of Sandy and her life-altering critical injuries, including losing a leg, odds are you won’t have to experience falling out of an apparatus, getting run over by your own rig and feeling your own organs shatter within you.


On March 28, 1994, three FDNY firefighters became trapped in a stairwell as they searched for residents reportedly trapped in a SoHo apartment building. Firefighter James Young, 31, was burned and died at the scene.

Firefighter Christopher J. Seidenburg, 25, and Capt. John J. Drennan, 49, a 26-year veteran, was rescued by other Firefighters and transported to a burn unit with third- and fourth-degree burns. FF Seidenburg died the next day. Captain Drennan lived for 40 horrific days….

The men had worn long coats and rubber pull-up boots, as that was the gear at that time in NYC.



Take Care. Be Careful. Please Pass it On.


The Secret List 2/21/2023-0800 Hours