I’ll make the disclaimer when I start this that I’m no writer. I really don’t know what the point of this is other than I have a passion for the job, and I want to be involved in every way that I can.
I love my job, every shift is new and exciting and after years of trying to find my place in life, I know I’ve found it. I honestly hope I love this job as much in 30 years as I do today. With high call volumes and staffing issues I can see how it is super easy to get bogged down and fall into the traps of negativity that happens to many great firefighters. I hope to use this platform to help motivate others, or at the bare minimum to hold myself accountable.
Every department has issues whether it’s personnel, money, staffing, equipment, or everything combined. But honestly, none of that is the point. Yes, all of that matters but those of us on the line can’t control any of it. We can’t control our pay, our staffing, or how new our trucks are. We need to learn to trust our officers and cities to take care of those issues and focus on what we can control. What we can control/contribute to is the relationships we have with the guys on shift, physical fitness, relevant and aggressive fire training, and the people we are here to help. Preparing for and honoring the job, that’s the point.
What’s the job? If I have to explain this to you, maybe you should rethink why you’re here…but to me as cheesy and cliche as it sounds it’s important to treat everything we do with respect and compassion. Whether it’s helping up an elderly lady who fell and being the only kind contact she’s had all week, trying your damndest to help your team bring back a code, the middle of the night CO check, to giving a kid a ride in a truck, obviously the structure fires, and everything in between.
It’s being physically fit enough to take care of the person beside you. For me that involves a lot of upper body training, focusing on my nutrition, and learning that it’s ok to admit you need an occasional nap. It’s understanding that if you give up in the gym, you’re training yourself to quit on the fire-ground and not letting that happen.
Focus on investing your time and energy in training on the basics such as quick water on the fire, 360’s, aggressive search, and RIT. I think if we do that we’ll all be a lot better off.
I know a lot of people don’t like when I say this job could get a citizen, another firefighter, or myself killed because they think I’m just being dramatic. But fire doesn’t care where it happens or who’s there to fight it. Fire doesn’t care if you’re a volunteer and see fire once a year or if you’re full time and see fire everyday. I want to be prepared so when that time comes I can work with a team to effectively put the fire out and minimize damage. I’m here to do what we all said we’d do: protect life and property. The only way to do that is to aggressively pursue relevant and effective training. I’ll never be able to connect with or understand people who are on this job and only want to put themselves first. I am also done apologizing for having high expectations for myself and those around me.
Obviously training is extremely important to me, and I struggle to connect with people who don’t see that as well. You expect football players to spend months on the practice field training; you’d think they were insane if NFL teams went all year without practicing to go to a game and expect to win with no injuries. What’s different about firefighting? Why shouldn’t firefighters train for fires? I understand they don’t happen as often as they used to, but that’s one reason why they’re even more dangerous. Kinks kill, and so does complacency.
Basically, it’s not about us, it’s about the community we serve. And I can say from where I stand the people who complain most about this job seem to have completely forgotten that. I hope to use this as a tool to connect with other like minded people so we can all continue to learn together, and to hold me accountable to the communities I serve.