From now on a GENIUS

CarolinaFireJournal - By Bill Tricarico
By Bill Tricarico
01/23/2014 -

A few months ago while I was attending a class at an emergency services conference the speaker put up a slide which caught my attention. So much so that I made it into a sign that hangs in my office. It simply says, “Smart people solve problems ... geniuses prevent them.” Now, I’m not a genius, and smart is sometimes questionable as well, but I thought this was a great motto.


Shortly after the conference, I saw a story on the Internet about a fire department treasurer who had stolen over $100,000 from the department over a number of years. I clicked on the accompanying video to see a very nervous fire chief meeting with the press. He was obviously uncomfortable and attempting to answer the questions put to him. He said that they had implemented new rules to conduct oversight into the department’s finances. He said, “From now on, we will require two signatures on all checks.” And, “From now on, we will conduct audits on a quarterly basis.” As well as, “From now on, financial reports must be made at every meeting, no excuses!”

Smart chief, but he could have been a genius. I’m certain he had the knowledge about all of those preventative measures to have implemented before the funds were stolen but for one reason or another
he didn’t.

Then I thought about catastrophic events far beyond the simple loss of property. I thought of chiefs having to nervously say things such as, “From now on everyone will wear seat belts.” Or “From now on all members will be subject to an annual physical.” And “From now on there will be a spotter in place before backing the vehicle.” In these cases the difference between smart and genius could also be the difference between life and death; tragedy and just another call; or everyone going home or not.

The information and statistics are available to all of us. The answers are also there. They can be found in the NFPA Standards, OSHA Laws, websites, your insurance company’s recommendations, all of the fire service and EMS magazines — free on the Internet — and so many other places, which could have, even a questionably smart guy like me operating like a genius.

A great source of information is the NIOSH Firefighter Investigation and Prevention Program, which can be found at You can sort through reports by state, year, and cause of death, type of duty and many other areas. The reports not only contain information about the incident but also provide recommendations to prevent future occurrences, which make a great checklist for your policies and procedures. And if you think what you read there could not happen to you ... think again.

The NFPA Standards also provide a wealth of information on so many important topics and they are free to read on the organization’s website, and so many others such as,, and

There is no need to develop new policies or procedures. The information is all around us and for the most part available at no cost. You just need to fit them to your organization. And don’t forget training and enforcement of all policies.

Make your “From now on ...” really from “now on” and not “from after the next tragic event on.” Hey, if I can be a genius, anybody can.

Bill Tricarico, is a Senior Risk Management Consultant for Emergency Services Insurance Program with over 25 years experience as a firefighter/EMT with the North Bellmore Fire Dept. holding many positions including chief and also served as Fire Commissioner for the City of Cortland, NY. Chief Tricarico has also spent nearly 40 years as a risk management consultant and is on the faculty of several fire service and EMS organizations.
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