20 Questions – John Shafer of GreenMaltese.com

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This is the “20 Questions” interview with John Shafer who runs the blog GreenMaltese.com. Shafer is an 18 year veteran of  the fire service, and is currently a Lieutenant and the Training Officer for the Greencastle Fire Department.  An Indiana regionally recognized instructor on building construction, fireground search and command management, he has traveled throughout the State of Indiana delivering specialized training programs on building construction, fireground search and firefighter safety. Read his entire bio here, or continue reading below for a lot on John.

Green Maltese BlogFacebook Page – Twitter

1. How long have you been in the Fire Service?

Since April of 1994 18 years

2. What departments have you been involved in?

My first fire service career started off with the Cloverdale Twp. Vol. Fire Department Indiana (web site/Facebook). I was a volunteer firefighter there until 2000. For a short period I was also full-time in 1998 at the Honey Creek Fire Department in Terre Haute Indiana (web site/Facebook). In 2000 I was hired full-time at Greencastle Fire Department in Greencastle, Indiana where I am still currently employed (web site)

3. What rank do you hold and what is that position in your fire department?

Currently I am the departments training officer and the B shift lieutenant.

4. What is your greatest accomplishment related to firefighting?

As a firefighter there is nothing you can do that is any greater than passing on knowledge and experience you have gained to a new firefighter. I have been very blessed when it comes to sharing what I have learned to new firefighters. I am very fortunate and proud that I was a part of bringing statewide funded firefighter training to Indiana. This has allowed me opportunity of being a major part of new firefighter’s education in Indiana. I am also the District 7 Regional Fire Training Coordinator (Facebook page).

5. If you could spend a weekend learning from one firefighter (any rank, alive or dead) who would it be and why?

Wow this one is a hard question since I try to surround myself with firefighters smarter than me so I can learn from all them. However since the question says only one I would have to say it probably be Chief Christopher Naum since we share a lot of the same passions for building construction and fire behavior.

6. You run a blog GreenMaltese.com. What is it all about?

The reason I started Green Maltese was because I was studying modern building construction and realized that so much had changed all in the name of going green and there was no place for firefighters like me to go find information on these changes. So I started off just posting construction articles that I was reading on my facebook and it just grew from there. The mission I have for Green Maltese is that it will be a place where fire service leaders can gain and share knowledge concerning Green Building Construction.

7. Your focus at Green Maltese is building construction. Why is building construction important for firefighters?

Building Construction has always been very important in the fire service simply because we need to know to about something we going to get intimate with by going inside buildings to fight fires. Buildings today have changed so much since they are engineered to be lightweight and cheap as possible to be more affordable to the masses. These changes as well as making them more energy efficient have totally changed the world we operate in and most firefighters are not aware and still apply the strategies and tactics that they have always used.  Building Construction knowledge is going to be more important than ever before with the massive fuel loads and sustainable products being used to construct modern buildings which are the buildings and fire environment we are faced with today.

8. Name the loftiest goal in your firefighting career.

My lifelong teaching dream was to teach at the Super Bowl of Firefighting FDIC and I was just recently lucky enough to have been able to teach there this year. I would also love to write a book someday on green building construction.

9. What firefighting topics do you teach? 

Well as you may have figured out already because of my website I teach building construction and since I am also the regional state training coordinator I teach air management, fire behavior, tactics and I also love to teach search. Speaking of teaching search. I am going to make a shameless plug: I will be teaching a very advanced hands on aggressive search class at our new state fire school Wabash Valley HOT. Here is our facebook page please like us to learn more about this upcoming school. Also check out my free search downloadable drills: http://greenmaltese.com/2012/05/fireground-search-drills/. Green Maltese will also deliver courses to your department. Here is the link to some of the classes we can bring to you. http://greenmaltese.com/courses/

10. What is the biggest issue facing fire departments today?

Lack of staffing

11. If you had 3 bullet points to teach recruit firefighters on their first day of recruit school what would they be?

  1. This is not a job and if you don’t plan on making it your lifestyle then leave now!!
  2. Respect and look up the seasoned firefighters who train everyday and run a million miles away from the seasoned ones that think they already know and are at a place in their career where they don’t need to train every day.
  3. Every single day of your life until you retire try and learn something about fire behavior and building construction.

12. If I asked your crew to give me one word to describe John Shafer what would they say?

Training Geek LOL

13. You just attended FDIC. What was the single best experience you had while there? 

It’s the week I live for the whole the year for the last 9 years! So everything about it is a wonderful experience and it was really special this year since I was able to teach.

14. What do you do to stay fit?  

Well I used to run races but had foot surgery the end of last year and still not able to run so I recently started cycling and doing stairs at the firehouse since I want to do a stair climb this year.

15. What is the last firefighting book you read? 

The Combat Position: Achieving Fire Readiness by Christopher Brennan

16. Do you wear a leather helmet? Why or why not? 

No they are not department provided

17. What’s in your pockets?

My right pants pocket has a small rope I can use to extent a search and a wire cutter. Left pants pocket has a self bailout rope kit and a wire cutter. Right coat pocket has extrication gloves. Left coat pocket has a multi took with a spanner wrench on it.

18. What does the word Brotherhood mean to you? 

Brian Brush’s post “Brotherhood Insurance: A Pay for What You Get Policy” is what brotherhood is all about to me. He said it so much better than I could ever attempt.

19. Name some men or women who you look up to and why.  

Well this might take awhile and I am sure I will leave someone out and in a day or two I will remember L however there are many people I look up to for a variety of reasons. I will try and categories them by the reason I admire them.

  • Building Construction: Christopher Naum, Chief of Training Chicago Fire Peter Van Dorpe, Gregory Havel, Lieutenant Don Kaderabek
  • Fire Behavior: Steve Kerber UL, Dan Madrzykowski NIST, Chief Ed Hartin CFBT-US
  • Engine Company Operations: BC Curt Isakson County Fire Tactics, Brian Arnold Oklahoma City FD. And Tony Piontek Green Bay FD.
  • Truck Company Operations: Ron Smith Gary FD, Captain Ray McCormack FDNY, Jayme Washel Bloomington FD.
  • Ventilation: Brian Brush Fire Service Warrior, Ric Jorge Palm Beach County Fire Rescue, Chief P.J Norwood
  • Strategy & Tactics: Jim Silvernail Suburban Fire Tactics, Chief John Norman FDNY
  • Searching: Dave LeBlanc Backstepfirefighter.com, Lt Frank Ricci New Haven FD
  • Training Officers: BC Brian Kazmierzak Penn Twp. FD, Chief Forest Reeder Des Plaines FD, DC Chad Abel Fishers FD, Chris Walker Ft. Wayne FD
  • Leadership: Chief Bobby Halton Fire Engineering, Chief John Buckman German Twp. FD, Chief Eddie Buchanan Hanover FD, Mark Vonappen Palo Alto FD
  • Fitness and Mindset: Chris Huston Engineco22.net, Christopher Brennan Fire Service Warrior, DC Ed Hadfield Coronado FD
  • Extrication: Paul Hasenmeier Firstduetackle.com
  • Fire Service blogger: Jason Hoevelmann Florissant Valley Fire Protection
  • Last but not least my mentor Dr. Alfred Page III a 78 year old member on our department who has been in the fire service for 60 years!!!

Sorry this list was very long however if anyone follows my facebook they would see all of the fire service articles I post and know I read often and am always trying to learn.  Just about everyone mentioned are people I really look up to and admire there writings and fire service knowledge and some of them I can call my friends!

 20. Add anything else you might want to add that I didn’t cover.

Answer:  Some may already know but I am very excited that Green Maltese has teamed up with my buddy Chris Huston at EngineCo22.net to develop free online training modules. I hope that everyone reading this will go check them out and take them back to their departments to train on and they are FREE J LOL

Links: http://greenmaltese.com/2012/05/fireground-considerations/


I am also excited and proud to be a small part of the upcoming book Suburban Fire Tactics so stay tune for the release of that book and check out the authors Jim Silvernail blog. http://www.suburbanfiretactics.com/

If you want to catch up or take one of Green Maltese classes our next big conference will be Firehouse Expo. I will be teaching Green Building Construction for the Fire Service July 20th 2012 at 12:00 to 1:30 pm. Hope to see you all there!

Firehouse Expo link: http://firehouseexpo.com/conference.php

I would like to thank Rhett Fleitz. The Fire Critic for asking me these questions.

You are quite welcome John. Thanks for taking the time!