Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Cost of Fire...and How to Bring it Down!

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the cost of fire fighting has gone up monumentally over the course of the last thirty years.  Even with numbers being adjusted for general inflation, the cost of fire is 38% higher in 2010 than it was in 1980.

It is estimated that fire costs about $328 billion per year.  That number covers everything from economic loss (such as property damage), to human loss (such as loss of life, medical care, or pain and suffering), to the actual cost of preventing fire (such as fire departments and equipment).  A significant bulk of the costs stem from prevention.

That should leave every fire department questioning what they can do to help their department save money.  So, how can you save money?  And how can you help other departments save money too?

Companies like Fire Dog Services deal in donated turnout gear.  Working with a company like this allows you to acquire newer gear for your department, keeping you up to date with safety regulations, even if you don't quite have the funding to do so.  Donating your older gear to Fire Dog Services can greatly impact the budget of smaller less funded departments!

Fire Equipment
Any fire department will tell you that one of their biggest expenses is their trucks and pumpers.  New vehicles are expensive, but frequent repairs on aging vehicles isn't always much cheaper.  As an alternative to buying a brand new truck, look at a company like Adirondack Fire Equipment.  They buy and sell well-conditioned used emergency service vehicles.  You can assist in the funding of your new vehicle by selling your old one, or upgrade to a newer vehicle by purchasing used.

When it comes to buying rugged computer equipment most departments deal with a moment of sticker-shock.  By looking to purchase refurbished Panasonic Toughbooks, you can essentially outfit your entire fleet for the cost of purchasing one new unit.

One of the most underused forms of funding purchases for emergency service agencies is grant funding.  Grants are essentially free funding to assist smaller, financially needy departments with the ability to get the newer equipment that they so desperately need.  And grants are available for practically everything....training, tools, apparatus, turnouts, hoses, and the list goes on-and-on.  Grant writing services are even available for those who aren't quite sure if they can properly write up a grant!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Protect Your Department From Hackers

As a government agency your department is at an excessively large risk to the damage that can be caused byRedbull quickly typing random jargon on their keyboard; most hacks actually come in a much more discreet form, viruses.
hackers.  By now you've probably read, or at least browsed the headline, of an article or two about foreign governments and radical groups attempting to gain access to various American infrastructures to either cripple their systems or gather sensitive information.  It's not quite as dramatic as the movies make it seem, with computer obsessed techies chugging

It is important that your department take the appropriate steps to deter the chance of your department falling vulnerable to their attacks.  There are a few simple steps you can take to keep your department safe.

  1. Secure Your Network:  You need to do this at home and at your department!  Having an unsecured wireless network is the equivalent of leaving your front door wide open when you aren't home...it's an easy way for criminals to just walk right in unnoticed!  Locating an unsecured network can be done by looking for wifi on a smartphone or driving around with a laptop.  Once they find one, it's not too difficult to access the information you have on any computer on your network.  All of this can be prevented simply by applying a password to your network!  If you don't know how, call your internet provider or your local computer dealer or repair service to come out and help you secure it!
  2. Passwords: There are two major password recommendations for your safety (for these passwords we are referring to opening your computer, accessing your online banking, or your email account).  The first is to have a strong password, which can be created by using a combination of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols in every password.  The second is a bit more of a hassle, but it is recommended that you change your password around every 90 days.
  3. Be Cautious of Email:  Obviously all email is not bad.  But if an email address, name, or subject line seems suspicious, do yourself a favor and just delete it.  Don't even open it first!  Just put it straight in the trash!  If you do open all of your emails, be extra cautious with attachments.  If you aren't expecting a .zip file from someone, chances are it's a pretty bad idea to open it.  While we're at it, the "you have to see this video/photo/article/etc" emails are generally also virus laden. 
If you'd like more tips, check out A Hacker's Tips To Stay Safe Online.  Who better to give tips than a reformed security-breaching hacker?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Binder E-Z Lift

It is no secret that our country is getting larger and that more and more of our population is becoming overweight, obese, and morbidly obese.  The issues that come with being a significantly larger size aren't just limited to the overweight person, their weight can also greatly affect a first responder who needs to come to their emergency aid.

When dealing with and handling obese persons, there is a great risk of lifting injury to the first responder.  To help combat this problem, there is the Binder E-Z Lift.  The Binder E-Z Lift is a non-mechanical apparatus designed to assist patients with non-traumatic injuries.

What makes the Binder E-Z Lift a wise investment for every department?

  • Reduces first responder lifting injuries
  • Reduces patient injuries, as there is no need to put pressure on arms or shoulders
  • Allows for non-invasive "team" lifting, handles allow up to six lifters 
  • Eliminates the need for invasive body-to-body contact required to lift a larger person
  • Compact, portable and only three pounds
  • Easy to attach
  • Comes in two sizes (expandable from 34" to 82" chest)
  • Polypropylene webbing is exceptionally sturdy and will not stretch
  • Nylon fabric rated to support over 500 pounds
To learn more about this product, check out the following video

Binder EZ Lift Commercial from Megan Westvig on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Social Media & Your Department

There are many jobs where your job in a position of authority causes you to give up a little bit of your personal life.  It's always been pretty true, as officers have always been expected to maintain a certain moral code both on- and off-duty.  However, as our lives have become immersed in social media the line of what constitutes as private is becoming significantly more and more blurred.

Officers post comments and pictures about things they are doing on-duty and off-duty to places such as Facebook and Twitter.  And all too often you can look at the news and read about an officer who has been placed on administrative leave or fired for something they posted online.  Why?  What they post privately has the ability to affect not only their reputation but the reputation of their entire department as well.

The Social Media and Internet in Law Enforcement (SMILE) Conference reviewed several issues that relate directly to officers and social media....specifically steps that can be taken to ensure that officers stay out of trouble.

1.  Develop a Departmental Policy - Clearly outline acceptable/unacceptable online behaviors and have a set course of action to deal with with online behavioral issues.  Continuously modify your departmental policy as technology changes.

2.  Keep Up To Date With The Technology - Technology and social media advances are continuously evolving.  It is important to keep up to date with these changes.  If you are not technology savvy, it is recommended that you enlist the support of a younger more tech-savvy officer to help you out.

3.  Create a Training Plan - Teach officers how to keep their personal lives private.  Go above and beyond giving them a set of rules to follow; teach them that these guidelines are too keep them out of trouble and in a job.  It's about keeping them from making a mistake that will possibly cost them their career.  Many people are not aware of the reach of social media...or the fact that once something is on the internet it's there forever.  Teach your officers so that they aren't an uneducated victim of the dangers of social media.

4.  Teach Social Media Ethics - It goes without saying that police officers have their own sense of humor that the general public might not always find funny.  A prime example: trophy photos.  Will you and your fellow cop buddies find an arrest photo like the one pictured funny? Maybe.  Will your civilian friends find the same photo funny?  Maybe not....they might even find it offensive.  And that is when the trouble starts.  Definitely do not share trophy photos on your social media pages!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Looking For Guest Bloggers...

Bob Johnson's Toughbook Stuff is currently looking for guest bloggers for our blog.  Guest bloggers share their thoughts and experience from an "expert" perspective on various topics related to first responders.  If you are a first responder or a business geared towards first responder agencies, we want to hear from you!


  • Experience in or knowledge of first responder duties and the technology/tools they use
  • Ability to submit original posts that require minimal editing once a month (more if you wish)
What can I blog about?
  • New technology or software
  • Police/fire/ems training opportunities
  • New first responder tools
  • Personal first responder experiences/advice
  • Virtually anything related to first responders
What does it pay?
  • We do not pay guest bloggers financially.  We pay you in exposure!  Your blog posts will be seen by upwards of 3,000 viewers per month on our blog that is highly ranked by Google.
Can I link to my business or website?
  • All blogs by guest bloggers include a short biography about the author of the article.  That short biography can contain your headshot, personal blog/business page, experience/expertise, and social media links.
How do I get started?
  • Send an email to Sales_Dept@BobJohnson.com
  • Include an article for the blog or a previous article you have written
  • We'll get back to you within 72 hours