JD DuCharme, Firefighter, Beaver Dam (WI) Fire Department

NICE LOOKIN’ TOOL TEAM.  A while back, we got a note from Southern Wisconsin firefighter JD DuCharme with a shot of his well-put-together tool team, a Lone Star Axe “Piglet” and a five-foot Hawk Versatool (Hawk head with a Raptor end).

JD DuCharme Hawk:Piglet EDC

OBVIOUSLY, NOT JUST FOR LOOKS.  A short time later, JD sent a couple of helmet cam snaps of his tools getting into mischief at a residential job. At first glance, the Hawk Tool isn’t all that obvious in the bottom shot. JD’s ex-military.  I think he must have his hook wrapped in some kind of high-tech “worker” camo scheme, or something? It blends right in.

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THE PIG AND HAWK: A POPULAR COMBO. JD is good comapny– two other of our favorite heavy hitters have commented on frequent use of the Hawk/Pig tool team– Wichita’s Isaac Frazier and Baltimore’s Tim Brozoskie.

Nevada (IA) Community Fire Department

THE NEVADA COMMUNITY FIRE DEPARTMENT.  Having worked for 35 years with the Nevada Community Fire Department (NCFD), Nevada, Iowa, it would be unthinkable to consider anyplace else the birthplace of the Hawk Tool.  The department has tolerated an infusion of Hawk Tools (and other experimental equipment) on its apparatus for years.  And, Its members have effectively become Malvenworks’ primary research and development team.

Nevada is the county seat for Story County, approximately 30 miles north (on Interstate 35) and 7 miles east (on US Highway 30) of Des Moines, Iowa’s capital.  NCFD  serves a suburban/rural fire district of approximately 144 square miles and a population of approximately 9000.  Within its boundaries are 12 miles of Interstate 35 (connecting Kansas City, MO and Minneapolis/St.Paul, MN), 12 miles of US Highway 30 and the junction of Union Pacific Railroad’s former Rock Island North/South “Spine Line,” and its busy double-track, East/West “Overland Route” mainline, roughly 45 linear miles of the busiest rail line in Iowa.

EVOLUTION OF THE DEPARTMENT.  Iowa was designated as a separate territory in 1838 and became the 29th state in 1846.  Nevada was first platted in 1853. Its fire department was established in 1860, a year before the start of the American Civil War (as a point of reference, the Iowa City Fire Department– arguably the oldest in the state– was authorized in 1842).

The department is now part of Nevada’s Department of Public Safety and is, itself, comprised of two divisions, Fire Protection (which includes selected technical rescue incidents, Haz-Mat first response, and initial response to environmental emergencies) and EMS (which performs medical first responder services).  It is staffed by a career Chief (Director of Fire and EMS) and a nominal membership of 50 volunteers, most of whom are cross-trained for both functions. The agency responds to approximately 700 calls a year, roughly 70% of which are calls for emergency medical services.

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CURRENT APPARATUS.  The department currently operates a Sutphen 70′ “Mini-Tower” and two Spartan engines– one a Spartan/Toyne engine-tank, the other a new Spartan/Toyne rescue engine.  Nevada also houses two tankers, two 4WD Ford wildland units, and a medium-duty 4WD Ford rescue squad.  For several years, the department operated a heavy rescue squad staffed primarily by EMS providers.  However, over the years the extrication function has shifted to fire personnel. Now both of the departments engines are equipped for extrication service, providing greater flexibility in responding to rescue calls and freeing more EMS responders for medical service at motor vehicle and technical rescue incidents.

Nevada Apparatus
Nevada’s principal apparatus, counterclockwise from left center: Truck 110 (70′ Sutphen Tower), Rescue Engine 210 (1500/750 Spartan/Toyne), Engine 310 (1250/1000 Spartan Toyne), Colo Fire & Rescue’s Rescue Pumper 904 (background).

HAND TOOLS & EQUIPMENT.  Nevada has, for many years, carried a generous inventory of hand tools on its front-line apparatus.  And, the equipment carried by major apparatus has tended to be fairly uniform in type, number, and mounting locations.  For example, the cabs of each of the engines and the ladder truck carry two Hawk Tools, two Halligan bars, a flathead axe, a pickhead axe and two Clemens hooks.  The Hawk Tools are mounted by door on the officer’s side of the rear riding compartment as shown in the photos below (upper right and bottom): one is mounted by itself, the other is mated with a Halligan bar. The second Halligan bar is mounted with a flathead (conventional “married set” fashion).  Each paired set of tools (Hawk/Halligan and Flathead/Halligan) is secured in a PAC Irons-Lok.  On the opposite side of the riding compartment are the pickhead axe and a “closet hook-length” Clemens hook.

Elsewhere, in one or more tool compartments (example below, in top, left photo), these units carry a fairly standard complement of chainsaws, positive pressure ventilation blowers, forcible entry “married sets,” thermal imagers and a Pulaski axe, longer Clemens hooks, an Odd-job hook (also called a Universal hook), wrecking bars, crowbars of varying lengths, and bolt cutters.

BIRTH OF THE HAWK TOOL.  The Hawk Tool was most directly influenced by the development and delivery of “hands-on” courses on truck company operations.  However, the truck company course, itself, was a direct result of working with the Nevada Fire Department.  The department has long embodied a very active group of volunteer firefighters and emergency medical responders, outstanding community support and a moderate– but persistent and varied– volume of emergency calls.  The   most direct inspiration for the Hawk Tool’s development was the department’s long-standing tradition of “truck work.”  Its Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 was organized in 1913, making it one of the very earliest “truck company” operations in the Midwest.

All-in-all, the Hawk would be hard-pressed to find a better, more innovative, place to call home.

Jimmy Butler, EVO, District of Columbia Fire Department, Washington, DC; Captain, Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department, Hyattsville, MD

THE D.C. CONNECTION. Veteran Hawk-stalker Randy Jones called to advise that he’d spotted a Hawk Tool in a photo on DCFD Squad 3’s Facebook page of a DC apartment house job. A couple of photos pictured a firefighter staged on a fire escape landing with a Hawk, preparing for overhaul. But, it wasn’t clear what other companies had been on the scene. Actually, this was Randy’s second website spotting of a Hawk in DC– he’d seen an earlier showed a couple of Hawk’s perched under the tiller seat of a DCFD tractor-trailer aerial.  But, again, the unit wasn’t identifiable.  Hmmm?

But, there aren’t a lot of Hawk Tools in DC, and I knew long-time Hawk user Jimmy Butler was working at DC’s Truck 8. So, it seemed like a good possibility that Truck 8 was present at one or both of the sightings.  A few months later, longtime buddy Andy Levy and I were delivering tools nearby and decided to give Engine 33/Truck 8 a call on the off-chance that Jimmy was working. He was. So, we stopped by for a visit.

It had been a while since I’d seen Jimmy. He’s well acquainted with the Hawk Tool but hadn’t seen or used the production version of the recently introduced “Hallux” end. So, we left a 5′ Hawk/Hallus combination with him to get his feedback on that combination.

DC’s numerous tractor-trailer aerials have are designed with lots of convenient space for tools and equipment. And, it’s well utilized. But, like any other busy metro fire company, Truck 8’s assigned piece has to go out of service from time-to-time for maintenance. That means the crew gets to refamiliarize themselves with some of its more specialized tools by transferring it to a temporary reserve truck. Such was the case on the day of our visit; reserve Truck 42 was filling in for Truck 8. But, you’d never know it by looking in its compartments. It still carried a variety of resources that would be the envy of most of the Midwestern fire departments I’m familiar with.

As it turned out, we had a pretty short visit. The 3rd Battalion is a busy corner of DC and Truck 8 was in and out of the station 3 times during the brief time we were there. But, having missed them completely on previous occasions, I guess we were lucky to catch Jimmy and company in quarters at all. Life in the District.

As a footnote, if you go looking for shots of the 3rd Battalion in action, one of the best places to look is on the “DCFD Rescue 3” Facebook page. Unless they’re already out on assignment, Rescue 3 runs with every working structure assignment. Thanks to them and their contributors for some of the photos used here.

THE HYATTSVILLE (MD) CONNECTION. Actually, Jimmy has been acquainted with the Hawk Tool about as long as anyone in the area. Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department in Prince Georges County (just North of DC) was one of the first stations to get the original prototypes, back in the late 80s and early 90s. They’ve had them on their trucks and squads ever since.

Virtually since its founding, HVFD has been a special operation. “Graduates” of Hyattsville benefit from at least three distinctive departmental characteristics:

  1. A Melting-Pot of Fire Service Culture. They have a live-in program that gives qualified volunteers from diverse locations a chance to explore active, responsible participation in the fire service without jeopardizing the benefits of a quality formal education. Jimmy started as a member of HVFD’s “bunkroom gang” (members who lived in the station while working or attending school) in the late 2000s while completing a degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland. Whether living in the station or not, this program fosters and solidifies life-long friendships and public service networks.
  2. Some of the Best Experience Anywhere. Members are expected to complete a rigorous schedule of training requirements and take advantage of numerous other training and public service opportunities. These have prepared many of HVFD’s volunteer members, like Jimmy, for service as valued career members of some of America’s premier fire departments.
  3. A Self-Sustaining Tradition of Excellence. Finally, Hyattsville never seems to have EX-members, in the usual sense of the word– their slogan might as well be “Once at Hyattsville, always from and of Hyattsville.” HVFD regularly celebrates the achievements of its “graduates” and their alumni continue to return the investment with dividends. Jimmy’s a good example. Years after joining the District of Columbia, he continues to serve as an active Hyattsville volunteer Captain and leader. He is, among other things, one of HVFD’s most active instructors on specialized equipment and practices. 

So, one of Hyattsville’s strongest contributions to its members is the opportunity to benefit from– and then participate in– a self-sustaining tradition of excellence.

THE AVOCA (PA) CONNECTION. It is clear from a review of other background information that his roots in the fire service were already well grounded when he applied for the live-in program at Hyattsvijlle. He started out in the fire service as a junior member of the Avoca Fire Department, Luzerne County, PA, Station 112. Like Hyattsville’s, Avoca’s Facebook page periodically recognizes Jimmy’s achievements elsewhere and remarks on his continued return visits to provide training for the current troops.

CLOSE OF A CHAPTER, BUT THE STORY CONTINUES. This distinctive cycle of professional growth, team-building and replenishment came together in an especially meaningful way for HVFD members and long-time buddies. Riding with Hyattsville the first week in May 2018, Jimmy worked a fire with HVFD Chief Dave “DH” Hang. There had been a long dry spell since the long-time friends ran a fire together and this may have been the last fire DH ran in their first-due before his retirement in September after 13 years as Chief. It was well documented and will be a memorable event for all involved.

We’ve valued Jimmy as a Veteran Falconer– a long-time user and critic of the Hawk Tool. But, far more importantly, he exemplifies the critical value of experiential continuity– that cycle of “learning from,” and “giving back to,” our vast fire service community. Nice knowin’ ya’.

Adam Neff, Battalion Chief, Nixa Fire Protection District, Nixa, MO

Neff CombHE’S EVERYWHERE. If you periodically survey fire service content on Facebook, you’ve probably seen some of Adam Neff’s “likes” and comments on posts by your favorite posters and bloggers. His interests are broad and deep. But, his active presence ranges well beyond the social media.  When it comes to fire service instruction, joining high profile classes, and promoting fire service causes, he seems to have his hands in just about everything, without leaving out his family– that’s some trick!

NIXA FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT. Adam has grown up in the Nixa Fire Protection District (NFPD), located in Nixa, Missouri, directly south of Springfield and part of the Springfield Metropolitan Area.  The primarily rural service was organized as a fire district in 1986 with 15 volunteers. It now covers 45 square miles and a population of over 21,000 from 5 fire stations. Like many other suburban departments, NFPD has undergone remarkably rapid growth in the past 50 years. It has strong, goal-directed leadership.  Looking at photos of the department’s facilities and resources, and comparing them with the multi-station career-staffed operation of today, it is clear that the department has applied a great deal of planning, creativity, and dedication to the process.

SERVICE & GROWTH. Adam first came to our attention when he placed the first order for a Malven Hawk Tool after transfer of its production to MalvenWorks. Looking at his background, its clear that his career has closely paralleled the district’s growth, moving rapidly through the ranks to his current position of Battalion Chief. He has been a more-or-less continuous student of fire protection and public service. He is regularly enrolled in local, regional and national conferences, workshops and courses. He completed and was awarded the Commission on Professional Credentialing’s Chief Fire Officer certification. He is equally involved as a fire service instruction, himself, including his work as a member of the well-established Ozark Mountain F.O.O.L.S. group.

NFPD maintains a very active community outreach and fire prevention education program. Their definition of “community” obviously reaches far beyond its city limits and district boundaries. A good example is its work on behalf of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Adam had just joined the Nixa department when America experienced the 9/11 tragedy. Nevertheless, over a decade later, in 2014, he served as a principal coordinator for the Springfield area’s 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.  This event was facilitated by the Ozark Mountain F.O.O.L.S., LOCAL 152 of the International Association of Firefighters, and the Nixa Fire Protection District. It attracted 230 climbers and raised $8,000 for the foundation. 

ADAM.  Seem’s like he’s everywhere.

Adam Tendall, Future Assistant Chief, Nevada Community Fire Department, Nevada, IA

A CLOSER LOOK. Our own Nevada (Iowa) Community Fire Department is heavily saturated with Hawk tools. So, many, if not most, of its members are actually pretty experienced Hawk tool users. But, a note from one of our members made me aware that the department has some Hawk tool enthusiast that may be flying below our radar. One example is Adam Tendall, who’s currently a foot or two below the radar.  He’s the son of a multi-generational fire family and Adam could be headed in that direction, as well. We’ll let his dad, Brad’s nomination letter speak for itself:

Brad Tendall's Adam Action Shots
Love it when the troops choose the Hawk to equip their “action shots.” Adam’s ready for anything. In the lower right shot he’s got a good grip on one of my very favorite tools– the Ardis Tool II. I don’t go anywhere without an Ardis Tool.  Seriously, there is rarely a call that this super pocketable, versatile overhaul tool doesn’t come into play in some way or another (see video on YouTube or contact: Ardis Tool Company LLC in Newtown, CT – (203) 426-3315).  Oh, yea, and in the left shot, the future A/C rounds out his kit with a lap-full of Hawk tool.  A true veteran falconer.

ONE OF THOSE FIRE FAMILIES. Adam comes by his tool interests pretty naturally. Maybe genetically? As is obvious in the photos below, the entire family is hard-bitten fire types. Adam’s grandfather, Roger, spent several years as an Assistant Fire Chief in Nevada. His uncle, Jamie (top left in the top left photo) is an experienced fire apparatus driver-operator. His dad, Brad, is a fire captain  As they grew up, Chief Tendall’s family spent a LOT of time at the fire station. As kid’s, Jamie and Brad always knew where the newest tools were mounted and were ready to jump on a rig and go.  Similarly, today, as pictured below, when Adam’s dad and his mom, Jessica (a very active EMT), walk into the fire station, Adam and his brother Ty are already “geared up!!” In virtually every fire station in America, this long-standing tradition continues– the tools and rigs may differ from place-to-place, but the next generation is ready for action.

Here they come.

 

Dean Tope, former Assistant Chief, Nevada Community Fire Department, Nevada, IA

“VETERAN ‘FALCONERS’?” “Falconry” is the ‘hunting of wild quarry, in its natural state, by means of a specially conditioned bird of prey’– generally a hawk, falcon or eagle. Since fire in a structure is pretty “wild quarry in its natural state,” we couldn’t resist the temptation to extend the falconer label to those who are hunting fire with a Hawk [tool], as well.

DEAN TOPE is certainly one of the longest-term MW Dean at Pump Panelusers of the Hawk Tool on the Nevada (IA) Community Fire Department (NCFD), where it was developed. Dean has been a volunteer with the department for over twenty years, including service, until recently, as the Assistant Chief responsible for EMS delivery.

He became a member of NCFD at a time when applicants frequently joined in clusters. These young, enthusiastic, firefighters tended to be exceptionally active in emergency responses and generally took all the training they could find.  They advanced quickly.  They regularly helped with preparations for local training. Dean set the pace for this pattern and was soon helping teach some of the field courses he had taken, and became one of the most active instructors in his Nevada department.

Dean was also one of the first members of the department to acquire and regularly carry his own personal fire tool, in his case one of the early Hawk tools like those carried on departmental apparatus (they were originally manufactured by Iowa American Fire Equipment, located in nearby Osceola, Iowa).

MW TOPE & LIEUTENANTS HAWK
Dean Tope (center) with his ever-present 36″ Hawk/Raptor combination on a fiberglass handle.  Fellow Lieutenants were Brett Hambly (left) and Chris Bardsley (right).

FIREGROUND SUPPORT OPERATIONS. Fireground Support Operations (FSO) is a regionally and nationally delivered course focused on “truck company operations for fire departments without a ladder truck.” Background on the course is summarized in the “LOVERS PLUS” blog on the Hook and Ladder University website: hookandladderuniversity.com. As some of the original instructors of that course, moved on to other ventures, members of the Nevada department gradually took over the majority its course deliveries.  Dean quickly specialized in vertical ventilation and made significant refinements in that section of the course.

A significant objective of the course is to introduce students to new truckwork-related tools and equipment; it offers them the opportunity for hands-on experience working with virtually every hand tool and small power tool on the market.  The last segment of the course is generally a real-time emergency scenario involving the entire class in simulated truck company assignments– the above photo of students laddering shows the roof operations segment of one of Dean’s roof ops classes.

PUBLIC FIRE EDUCATION. Much of Dean’s time as an Assistant Chief was spent directing the EMS arm of the department.  Keeping departmental and individual EMS training, protocols, and other documents records up-to-date is a never-ending job.  It requires a person with administrative skills, dedication, and responsibility– a chore that is seldom fully appreciated.  Dean did a good job with EMS but his original, day-to-day passion has long been fire prevention and safety education.  He has led his department’s school fire safety program, tirelessly, for over twenty years.  In that regard, he continues a tradition of department excellence in public fire education established by Gerald Mills, Nevada’s first career fire chief.  And, like Mills, Dean earned a Governor’s Award from Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack (left photo, below– later U.S. Secretary of Agriculture) for the consistent excellence of his programming.

DIVERSIFIED E.M.S.  Recently Dean stepped out of the Assistant Chief role and transitioned into a new, more diversified involvement in EMS– employment in the field.  He has become an unusually active EMS Instructor/Educator, joined a hospital-based ambulance service, is pursuing advanced professional EMS certification, and (in his “spare time”) works EMS with Mary Greeley Medical Center at Iowa State University sporting events.

Dean w: MGMC Crew
Dean and his wife, Tracy, along with other members of the Mary Greeley Medical Center crew, prepare for a game at Iowa State University’s Jack Trice Stadium

“VACATIONING” IN THE BACK SEAT.  While hospital-based EMS now takes a big bite out of Dean’s emergency service schedule, he still manages to squeeze in a little fun every once in a while– it’s always a pleasure to see him riding backward in a BRT, with a Hawk tool.

KNOW A VETERAN FALCONER? This series of posts recognizes firefighters who: 1) have had a good deal of firefighting and/or rescue experience, and 2) have lots of experience with, and at least a slight partiality to, the Malven Hawk tool.  If you know a person who fits our description of a veteran falconer, please email us photos and background information.  We’ll spotlight them in a future blog.  Contact Fred Malven:  malven@malvenworks.com.

 

Tim Brozoskie, EVD, Baltimore City Fire Department, Baltimore, MD; Captain, Mount Carmel Area Rescue Squad, Mount Carmel, PA

TIM BROZOSKIE is an Emergency Vehicle Driver (EVD), Rescue 1, Baltimore City Fire Department, and Captain, Mt. Carmel (PA) Area Rescue Squad.  He strikes you as being an exceptionally dedicated firefighter and rescue technician.  He serves in both the career and volunteer ranks.  He’s an ardent fire service ambassador and advocate– on his RAGE Company (The Rapid Action Gear & Equipment Co.) website and his own Facebook page, he’s always among the first to recognize and give tribute to LODDs and other losses in the fire service ranks, honors, promotions and achievements of firefighters, retirements, job opportunities, forthcoming classes, etc.  He also hosts the classes of a number of nationally recognized instructors, and teaches a number of them himself.  Good guy.

Tim Brozoskie

Through the RAGE Company, and otherwise, Tim has been long been a strong promoter of fire and rescue tools and equipment designed and produced by firefighters. As an early field tester and advocate, he has helped launch the success of a number of now well known, innovative tools.  In particular, he’s been responsible for most of the visibility the Hawk has enjoyed in the Northeast– or anywhere else, for that matter. He’s been selling the Hawk longer than anyone else, and consistently has the best prices and the best, most informed service.  Tim’s certainly done everything possible to try to keep the Malven Hawk Tool off of the endangered species list!

It’s hard to imagine anyone having more working experience with the Hawk: 1) Rescue 1 ran 4724 calls in 2016 (they’re off to a good start in ’17), and 2) Rescue 1 has several Hawks onboard and the Hawk’s part of the toolbox on his rescue company in Mount Carmel, PA.  You don’t see too many photos of Tim that don’t include a Hawk Tool of some description (as you can see from the sampling of photos below, he’s also a real fan of The Pig).

KEEP AN EYE ON B.C.F.D. RESCUE 1.  If you’re interested in tracking the work of busy fire companies, check out Baltimore’s Rescue 1.  Baltimore gets plenty of action and R1 is often right in the middle of it, with lots of fire, challenging MVCs, and technical rescues of all types.  Obviously, different riding positions call for different equipping.  Still, most of R1’s crew members have had experience with the Hawk.  They’ve been the first to use several prototypes and currently have several different configurations onboard. Collectively, they’ve passed along lots of suggestions that have found their way into final production– a virtual R&D lab on wheels.  They’re well worth watching.  And, they’re a very hospitable bunch– if you’re ever in Baltimore a visit to the Big House, the Steadman station, is a must.

AND, KEEP R.A.G.E. IN MIND.  As owner and operator of The RAGE Company (The Rapid Action Gear & Equipment Co.), Tim has, by far, been selling the Malven Hawk Tool longer than anyone.  And, through his own personal experience, is most knowledgeable of its characteristics and use.  If you’re looking for fire tools designed and manufactured by firefighters, in the United States, we hope you’ll visit The RAGE Company web site frequently.  Move it to the top of your list when you’re looking at the most current thinking in the marketplace.

Jason Anderson, Captain, Pinch Volunteer Fire Department, Pinch, WV.

 

Jason Anderson
Jason Anderson, Captain, Pinch (WV) Volunteer Fire Department

JASON ANDERSON, a Captain with the Pinch Volunteer Fire Department, Pinch, West Virginia, was among those who came immediately to mind when thinking of veteran falconers.  Hawk tools aren’t particularly plentiful anywhere.  And, given their origins on the prairies of Iowa, mountainous West Virginia may seem like an unlikely place to start identifying experienced Hawk tool users.  But, Jason has been hunting fire with a Hawk [tool] for years.  He bought his own, at a fire expo, back when they were still manufactured by Iowa American Firefighting Equipment.  He first came to our attention when we ran across a review of the Hawk tool that he had posted on an equipment dealer’s website.  You have to really like a tool a lot (or dislike it a little) to take the time to bother writing such a review.  Nobody in our group had ever seen a review of the Hawk tool– anywhere– before Jason’s.  He did a nice write-up.  Thanks, Jason.

From phone discussions with him and the number of photos he returned with the Hawk tool prominently in evidence, it’s clear that Jason is a veteran Hawk user.

Mongo Pinch IMG950689
Hunting for fire with a Hawk, in Pinch, West Virginia.

PINCH is located along U.S. Highway 119, paralleling Interstate 79, East-Northeast of Charleston, WV.  It is a busy place.  Steep slopes and winding roads keep 3 engines and a truck (a Sutphen “Mini-Tower”) busy covering an exceptional load of structure fires and motor vehicle incidents.  Jason sent along a shot of a young truckie (top right, below) who must be a recruit in their special operations training program(?); “…you can never start ’em too early.”

It’s pretty clear from the photos above, there is no shortage of variety in Pinch’s call volume.  To get more of the flavor of their work, check them out at pinchfire.com or on Facebook, Pinch Volunteer Fire Department.