Episode 17: The Roof Pervs, Part Deux

“The convergence of tactical knowledge and construction knowledge determines competency.”

Another joint podcast between RBF and The Built Environment, which can be found on Fire Engineering Blog Talk Radio.

Roof Perv Facebook page

Stephen Tyler
Episode 14: Jim McCormack

“There’s no advanced-level training. There’s only advanced-level performance.”

Our guest for Episode 14 of Refined By Fire podcast is Jim McCormack of the Indianapolis Fire Department and the founder of Fire Department Training Network.

I have to be real with you guys. I’m kind of freaking out over this one. Jim is a wealth of knowledge with a pedigree as good as any, and he took the time to get deep into the weeds with me in discussions about training and skill acquisition. What an incredible privilege it was to have this talk with Jim, and to be able to share it with everyone.


FDTN (you should get a membership!)

My Facebook post re: skill acquisition

Emmanuel Fried’s Fireground Tactics

William Clark’s Firefighting Principles and Practices

A remembrance of Jim’s father, “Big Ed” McCormack

Stephen Tyler
Episode 13: Fit to Fight Fire

“Would you want you rescuing you?”

Episode 13 of Refined By Fire podcast featured Tom Johnson and John Spera of Fit to Fight Fire. Fit to Fight Fire is a website and platform that Tom and John use to motivate and educate firefighters in the realm of training and fitness. Fit to Fight Fire also produces a podcast, Lead Yourself, where this interview can also be found.

Reading links:

The Mission, The Men, and Me by Pete Blaber (Tom)

Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin (Tom)

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller (Stephen)

1 Corinthians 9:25-27 (John)


This podcast features the song “Spray Paint it Gold”, by Little Glass Men, available under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

Stephen Tyler
Episode 9: Chris "Stretch" Martin
Stretch BIo.jpg

"What can I do to be that guy on my department?"

Chris "Stretch" Martin join us for Episode 9. Since entering the fire service as a high school cadet in 1996, Stretch has had an uncommon path through the profession. Serving as a firefighter during college at Notre Dame (which staffs its own standalone FD), a part-time FF, career FF, and multiple roles over two stints with Elkhart Brass, where he now operates as the Municipal Products Manager.  

Stretch walks us through his unique perspective on the fire service, the Brass Tacks and Hard Facts video series, great fire conferences, ditching the 1" tip on your ISO stack, classic literature, and ... the InstaPot? 


The Instant Pot

Inspired by his choice for "What every firefighter should read": 100 Books Every Man Should Read

Jay Comella's Planning a Hose and Nozzle System


Brass Tacks and Hard Facts YouTube



This podcast features the song “Spray Paint it Gold”, by Little Glass Men, available under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

Stephen Tyler
Episode 8: James Greenwood and Luke Miller

"The work, the suffering, the endurance -- that's where the beauty of our profession lies."

James Greenwood and Luke Miller are our guests for Episode 8. James and Luke (along with Joe Lunghofer — sorry we couldn’t get you there, Joe) are the driving forces behind the superb Boise Firefighter’s Symposium. Their backgrounds and experience are varied and have helped shape their unique perspectives and capabilities. 

James began his career in fire over twenty years ago as an engine dork on a wildland fire crew. Despite his ignominious beginnings (“The first time I ever slept outside was on my first fire”), James has gathered a wide and unique array of experience since that time, including completing law school and practicing law in Nevada, operating as a hotshot and a smokejumper, and transitioning to the structure firefighting world with Santa Fe FD before moving to Boise Fire Department in 2012. 

Luke has served with the Boise Fire Department since 2012, but has been serving our country since 1999 as a reservist in the Marine Corps. Luke was called into duty in 2004 for a tour in Iraq as a tanker. During this time, he was involved in a battle for which he was later decorated with the Military Vanguard Award and a Bronze Star. As one of the most humble men I’ve ever met, Luke only shares this story with us after much badgering, and continues to downplay his own role. You can read about this battle in Brian Stann’s book, Heart for the Fight, and well as this newspaper link.

Luke and James worked tirelessly to create and perfect the Boise Firefighter's Symposium (which is a part of FireNuggets, check out their classes and online magazine), along with many other passionate members at Boise Fire Department. Brothers in Battle will be there with our VES and both Basic and Advanced classes. Registration is open now. 

Books/articles discussed:

What Does It Mean to Be a Quiet Professional? By Rob Shaul

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

The Murder of the Impossible by James Greenwood


This podcast features the song “Spray Paint it Gold”, by Little Glass Men, available under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

Stephen Tyler
Episode 7: Curt Isakson
Curt Isakson Photo.jpg

"Since he died, I have been obsessed. That might be a bad word, but I have been."

 Curt Isakson is a 28 year veteran of the fire service, a Battalion Chief at Escambia County Fire & Rescue, and a second generation firefighter. Curt is the owner of County Fire Tactics, a website resource for rural-to-urban firefighting. He's the driving force behind several incredible conferences, including High Rise Operations Conference, Command Officer Boot Camp, Water On the Fire, and the upcoming Leadership & Tactics Seminar. Chief Isakson is a passionate and renowned speaker, presenting at FDIC, Firehouse World, and Firemanship Conference PDX. Curt also owns the website www.firefighterrescues.com, which highlights the success of fire departments in saving civilian lives.

I had a blast talking with and learning from Curt. Our topics included the importance of team building, impetus for his mantras "It's Worth the Risk" and "Tactics Put Out Fires", the example and empowerment providing by his late father, Chief Roy Isakson, his support for the 7/8" smoothbore nozzle, and the LODD of his friend and co-worker Maurice Bartholomew and the impact it had on Curt's life and career. You can read Curt's tribute to his friend and the lessons learned

Regarding being "Picasso" on the nozzle: A Fading Art, "The Nozzle"

County Fire Tactics videos

Books Discussed:

 The Book of Andy


This podcast features the song “Spray Paint it Gold”, by Little Glass Men, available under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

Stephen Tyler
Episode 6: Travis Rask
Rask NCBES solo.jpg

"If you want to do something, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse."

Travis Rask joins us on Episode Six of Refined By Fire. Travis is a firefighter with Snohomish District 7 FD in Washington, where he was served since 2008. He is a vocal advocate for barbell training in the fire service and an ardent supporter of the Starting Strength program. Travis was a contributor to the seminal Fire Service Warrior website/movement, and has been heavily involved with the Puget Sound FOOLS, including being awarded with their FOOL of the Year Award in 2016.

Our talk spends a lot of time on the importance of strength training, asking the following questions, among others? 

  • Why should firefighters make strength training the foundation of their physical fitness?
  • How strong is strong enough in firefighting? 
  • How much should firefighters focus on conditioning?

We don't stop there, as we also discuss Travis' near death(?) experience in academy, one way to get good at throwing ladders, the Fire Service Warrior concept, and his time at North Carolina Breathing Equipment School.

Books discussed:

Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe

Peak and Road to Excellence by Anders Ericcson

Fearless by Eric Blehm

The Combat Position by Chris Brennan


This podcast features the song “Spray Paint it Gold”, by Little Glass Men, available under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

Stephen Tyler
Episode 5: Dena Ali
Dena Ali Bio Photo.jpg

"If you're making it about you, then you're doing it wrong."

Dena Ali is our guest on Episode 5 of Refined By Fire . Dena is a 10 year veteran of the fire service -- having previously spent several years in law enforcement -- and serves as a Captain with Raleigh Fire Department. She's a board member for the incredible benevolence organization, the Carolina Brotherhood. She's an avid fitness junkie and an advocate with 5-5-5 Fitness. Dena is a prolific author and researcher, with over a dozen articles in national publications. Dena's writing niche comes in the form of conducting and/or studying academic research and then applying it to the fire service. Some great articles Dena has written that are discussed in the show:

Understanding Fire Service Suicide, the Key to Prevention

Awareness Level Firefighter Suicide Prevention

Also check out the November 2017 hard copy issue of Fire Engineering (Firefighter Wellness Supplement) for Dena's excellent article titled, Can Peer Support Prevent Firefighter Suicide? In this piece, Dena presents research by Dr. Thomas Joiner of Florida State University, including this theory:


PEER SUPPORT RESOURCES: Create, join, or receive peer support.

IAFF Behavioral Health Programs

Illinois Firefighter Peer Support

Florida Firefighters Safety and Health Collaborative

North Carolina Peer Support

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, PLEASE CALL (24/7):

Safe Call Now: 206-459-3020

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Seriously, these resources save lives. Please consider getting involved as a Peer Supporter in your department or region. 

Books discussed:

The Last Men Out by Tom Downey

Podcast Referral:

Behind the Shield Podcast: Episode 39, Dustin Hawkins


This podcast features the song “Spray Paint it Gold”, by Little Glass Men, available under a Creative Commons Attribution license. 



Stephen Tyler
Episode 4: Rob Fisher
Rob's head shot.jpeg

"Excellence is established by example."

Rob Fisher is our distinguished guest for Episode 4 of Refined By Fire. Rob is a Lieutenant and Training Officer for Snohomish County District #7 FD and a 29 year veteran of the fire service. Rob is one of those passionate individuals who seems to be involved with everything. He serves as the Education Trustee for the F.O.O.L.S. International, has been involved with the Puget Sound F.O.O.L.S. for over fifteen years, is an FDIC presenter (check out his class, Quint Considerations for the Single-Truck Suburban Department), and serves as an instructor for the Washington State Fire Academy and Brothers in Battle.  

We cover a lot of ground in our talk. We move from talking about his experiences in NYC post-9/11, the Oso Mudslide, overcoming disappointment during our careers, the LAFD Leadership Academy, and the importance of humility as an instructor. Oh, and wine. When you talk with Robbie, you better believe wine is going to come up at some point. 

Books and articles discussed:

Followership by Barbara Kellerman

Fire Prevention and Fire Extinction by James Braidwood

Onward by Howard Shultz

So You Want To Be a Fireman? by Chad Berg 


This podcast features the song “Spray Paint it Gold”, by Little Glass Menavailable under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

Stephen Tyler
Episode 3: Brian Yonkin
Brian Yonkin Bio Photo.JPG


“You can do your job here, and it’s f-ing awesome.”

Brian Yonkin is a third-generation firefighter working in Harrisburg, Pa, where he’s currently the driver of Tower 2. Brian is a part of the team which created and continues to run the Art of Firemanship Days training conference, and serves on the editorial board of the excellent Art of Firemanship Journal.

In our talk with Brian, we covered a lot of ground. We discuss fitness for firefighters (5/3/1), the idiosyncrasies of fighting fires in rowhomes, how his time as a kitchen manager prepared him for life in the fire service, The Lessons are in the Ring, and the Four Pillars of his life and how he manages them to achieve balance and success.

Books mentioned by Brian:

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

As a Man Thinketh

Third Circle Theory: Purpose Through Observation

The Dip

Books mentioned by Stephen:




This podcast features the song “Spray Paint it Gold”, by Little Glass Men, available under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

Stephen Tyler
Episode 2: Ted Corporandy


“You know what I wanted to do when I was in the business? I wanted to survive.”

Ted Corporandy is our guest on Episode 2 of Refined By Fire. A thirty-six year veteran of the fire service, Chief Corporandy spent the majority of his career in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, fighting fire out of some of America’s busiest firehouses. Ted is the the co-founder of the visionary web magazine FireNuggets, the first of its kind for the fire service.  Retiring from SFFD in 2006 as a Battalion Chief, Ted remains a highly influential figure in the fire service, both through his own direct contributions and through those who have been influenced by him.

In this talk, we touch on Chief Corporandy’s experiences as a young wildland firefighter, navigating fire service traditions, the Gorter Nozzle, fighting fire in the Tenderloin, the importance of empathy, the value of social media for the 21st Century firefighter, and lots more. Chief Corporandy was extremely gracious to spend the time with us and we’re excited to the share it with you!

Chief Corporandy's article on tradition:

Tradition: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Books mentioned by Chief Corporandy:

Fire Officer’s Handbook of Tactics

Building Construction for the Fire Service

Random Thoughts

Stephen Tyler
Episode 1: Gary Lane


“And I think sometimes in the fire service, maybe we need reminded that the job is really nasty when you truly go to work.”

Refined by Fire kicks off Episode 1 with the indomitable Gary Lane. Gary is a twenty-year backseat fireman, now doing the job in Northeast Ohio. He is the owner of Rogue Fire, LLC, and an alumnus of the Fire Service Warrior movement. Gary is renowned as a no-BS instructor with an insistence on keeping training as realistic as possible. Gary has presented at many of America’s premiere fire conferences: The Art of Firemanship Days, Andy Fredericks Training Days, Firemanship Conference, and FDIC.

We dive into Gary’s first life as an aspiring skateboarder, how junior members can have an impact on the fireground, working harder not smarter (“We already have enough smart people”), the importance of simplicity, The Book of Five Rings, and much more.  


The Book of Andy

Art of Firemanship Journal, Winter 2017

Art of Firemanship Journal, Summer 2016

Art of Firemanship Journal, Winter 2016

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------This podcast features the song “Spray Paint it Gold”, by Little Glass Men available under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

Stephen Tyler
Episode 0: Coming Soon

"Stories are the incarnation of truth."

Welcome to Refined By Fire, a living history of America's fire service. Coming soon from Brothers in Battle Media, hosted by Stephen Tyler. 

Stephen Tyler