This product review is in no way, shape, or form influenced or swayed towards one side or another. It is strictly my perspective on what I believe in this product.
“When Things Go Bad, Inc. is a firefighter training company that has committed to deliver realistic training since 2005. WTGB teaches throughout the country at conferences and fire departments alike. All instructors share a level of energy that is motivating and contagious to the students. We here at When Things Go Bad are passionate about FIREFIGHTER RESCUE & SURVIVAL. The motivation for these Train-the-Trainer DVDs are to get this paramount information to as many firefighters as possible. Let us not allow our brothers and sisters to perish in vain. We do not rise to the occasion; we sink to the level of our training. Learn practical Firefighter Rescue & Survival tactics from experienced instructors on the When Things Go Bad training DVDs.”
I have known some of the instructors at When Things Go Bad for quite a while now, some of which are on the job in the same county as I am and are fellow F.O.O.L.S. brothers of mine. I’ve known them for a few years, but only recently have they become involved with Paulie Capo and his company. I personally called Paulie to ask for something unrelated to this when he mentioned he was looking for “the right website” to do a product review for his 5-disk DVD set based on Rescue & Survival.
I told myself, “When you have someone like Paulie Capo asks for you to review his product, you had better say yes!”
I opened it up and found the 5 DVDs, which were separated in their own individually photographed DVD sleeves and shrink-wrapped. Each topic/chapter was labeled on the back for ease of searching.
Each chapter skill was created by When Things Go Bad to remember and honor someone that was in a situation of needing its use. Just to name a few, some of the included skills are window lifts & ladder carries, the Denver Drill, high anchor/hauling, flat & peaked roof removals, firefighter stuck in a roof, the Nance Drill, the Naked SCBA Drill, Calling the Mayday, Disentanglement & Low-Pro Maneuvers, Rope & Ladder Bail-outs, What’s In Your Pockets, and Drywall Ladder Climbing.
This DVD set is by far one of the best resources available for training at the firehouse. We have all had our share of “Fire Porn,” but this feels like more than a training video. From senior members to rookies, I have found that every person I had shown this to brought something valuable away from it. When I got time to start the video in my firehouse, it took a few shifts to get through all five disks. Not because of length, but because of the lack of available time we had to sit down and watch them.
On the first shift, we got through the 3 Rescue DVDs. The rookie I had that day told me he was incredibly lucky to have learned some of the techniques in the academy, but he still just took away more than half the material for the first time. He was excited to get out to the engine room to practice putting some of the material to use. He was able to quickly learn, retain, and repeat the hands-on skills he just saw on the DVD set. With excitement, he realized that he could move victims and firefighters quicker and with less effort than ever before in his short career.
The second shift we watched Survival. I had a different firefighter with me who has a couple of years under his belt. I got the initial feeling that he wasn’t too sure if this was his cup of tea. He didn’t give me the vibe like he was going to take anything away from it. After the first chapter, he got into it and started some conversation with me about some of the calls that the skills were created for. I told him about the importance of having an open mind when you train in these type of scenarios. Sometimes we get into the mind frame that we will never have to find our air pack in an IDLH atmosphere, reassemble it, and then don it. I get where he is coming from… We will usually not have to enter a burning structure and locate our air pack. But, we may have to locate a downed firefighter that just had a massive event occur, and they need help troubleshooting their SCBA due to a displaced bottle or a loose connection with an air leak. This is why we train. This is why we do this. Disentanglement props are only as good as we can imagine them to be. Yes, we can cut every wire and not have any entanglement hazards. But this video gives us four different ways to escape from this scenario. Open minds will win versus closed ones. Open minds about training will prevail and make you a better firefighter.
After seeing these two firefighters learn from these videos, I realized that I learned just as much. What I knew already, I was able to reinforce in their minds by setting up the hands-on portion. The items that I learned, I take with me each time we roll out the door to the next emergency.
These five DVDs are an absolute asset to your training cache. It isn’t “just another training tape.” It is formatted and taped in a manner that makes it interesting and professional. When Things Go Bad has hit the nail on the head this time and I know they have much more to share. Their cadre of instructors are making a name for themselves and have taught at events such as Firehouse Expo, FDIC, Fire Rescue East, Wichita H.O.T., Fort Lauderdale Fire Expo, & Orlando Fire Conference.
Interview Questions with Paulie…
What made you start When Things Go Bad?
“I took firefighter survival/rescue classes and got a passion for the level of competence needed in that realm. After a lot of self studying about it, I had a local fire instructor ask me to come up with a presentation”.
It began with a couple guys without any official t-shirts teaching at someone else’s firehouse to starting a company.
“I didn’t intend to start a training company, the training company started itself. I just named it.”
Who are some of your biggest mentors?
Jim Carino 33 year Squad Driver in City of Clearwater
Jim Crawford – Assistant Chief of Operations (Retired) – Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire & Founder of www.rapidintervention.com (no longer in service)
What are some of the classes you provide?
Rescue & Survival classes – two entirely different entities. We have classes for each separately.
Tricks of the Truck – Truck Company Ops Class – Classroom & Hands-On (Forcible Entry, Search & Rescue, Ground Ladders, Vent…along with many, many, many tricks)
Engine Co. classes
Who are some of the most important people to help you get to where you are today?
“I’m a student of the job – learning so many things from so many people.”
my wife, Kristie
my two children
and my late father, Mike, who taught me the business side of life that I had no idea of as a fireman.
What conferences has your company attended? (Just to name a few…
FDIC Class & Hands-On instructor for the last 11 years
Keynote speaker at this year’s Orlando Fire Conference and “Nitty Gritty Engine and Truck Workshop” with Bill Gustin.
Colorado Chief’s Conference
Along with many, many more.
Discount code for anyone that purchases from our link
10% off use code: stationpride
This week, several outlets have announced the newest, safest and most innovative recommendations for firefighter safety in the wilderness setting. After years of studies and collaborative efforts, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have announced minimum standards that will be required for future federal grant funding.
One topic of discussion that was discussed at last week’s seminar, held in Southern California (SoCal) with Cal-OSHA in attendance, was the usage of Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) in the wildland setting. The venue almost seemed uncanny as it is known as the “Home To Several of America’s Most Dangerous Wilderness Firefights.”
Firefighters across the region have been extinguishing these types of fires for many years, and studies have discovered that wildland firefighters are now contracting the same type of malignancies as structural firefighters. Cancer-causing combustibles have been found within the burn areas of several wildland fires, especially since more exposures have been subjected to ignition than in previous years. Among those exposures, 95% of them were either SLICERed or DICERed. Which makes forestry firefighting nearly equivalent to structural firefighting. “Whether standing on the front lawn or fighting the valleys of California, we are all the same, so why not treat the dangers the same?” asked Rich Weiner, head of research & delivery at the University of California.
SCBA usage will become more of the norm in future years whether we are willing to accept change. As studies and the newest publications of IFSTA have shown, firefighters will continue to apply more emphasis on OUR own safety, rather than the safety of others.
Cancer has been a known hazard for years. Manufacturers are currently constructing new prototypes for a slimmer, more lightweight version of structural SCBA’s to accommodate for the smaller spaces that are found within the cabs of today’s brush apparatus. Recommendations have also been made but were tabled for the next seminar at FDIC in April, to have a slimmer, agile facemask that can be remembered as an acronym. This recommendation comes straight from IFSTA, as it was noted to “Keep it simple and understandable for firefighters to remember.”
Other sources have stated that OSHA will be meeting with senior executive research analysts to establish a “baseline respiratory protection factor across the entire fire service, as a whole.” OSHA has acknowledged the introduction of synthetic material to most burn areas, whether it be small rubbish fires in outdoor spaces or large, wildland fires that extend for acres or hundreds of acres. Recent studies have shown smoke conditions above outside fires are 65% more hazardous in 2014-2015 than ever before. It is unknown what the main source of hazardous chemicals are, but it is being conspired that it is from the “synthetics that are illegally dumped or placed by human factors”.
Along with wildland SCBA requirements, air monitoring conducted by 3rd party organization or state OSHA rep, not attached to the fire department, will also be required to ensure a safe working atmosphere for all firefighters.
Since the old “War Days” are behind us, so are the days of using natural fabrics and materials in our forest fires. Synthetics are plaguing our fire service, and the only way we know how to fight it is to remove ourselves completely from its greedy fingers. By removing ourselves from the harm of cancer, we are maintaining firefighter longevity and keeping the insurance claims adjustors happy. Perfect.
If you get what I’m saying, leave a comment. And be sure to share this information with your friends.
FTM – PTB – RFB
Let me first start off by saying that I am no gym connoisseur. I have been back in the gym lately, and cannot help but notice the vast variety of people in there. I scan my eyes constantly when I am “in the zone” of sweat and pain. As I keep pushing myself through the threshold of soreness and wobbly legs, I try to think about other things so I can keep my mind off it. I can’t help but notice how the different types of people at the gym are ever so similar to the different types of people and attitudes in the fire service. But whats my point here? Well, I first thought was that we were all in the gym at the same time. We are all strangers to one another, but we seem to spend the same amount of time together, nearly every day. Just like at the firehouse, we are on a schedule. 3-7 nights a week, we all see each other and give the innocent head-bob as we walk past one another in the hallway between the Juice Bar and the free weights.
The Quiet Ones
The ones that come to the club, do what they have to do and go home. These types can be one of two different kinds. These are the group of people that could be the ones in the corner, trying to stay away from the stress in their life and are just wanting to relieve some of it by working out, even if it isn’t an incredibly hard workout. At least they can take their mind off of their daily tasks. Destress. Slow down for a little bit, and take care of their body so their body can take care of them. These types could be the ones that go to work, show up on time, collect a day’s pay, and go home. They could be that volunteer that shows up to monthly meetings and a couple of calls here and there but wants to be sure he has a T-Shirt to wear every day. By-golly, he sure does flash that badge when he has a meal at a local food joint. He earned that badge. He earned it by coming to the firehouse and calling himself a firefighter. They don’t speak to anyone because they have been publicly humiliated before. They want to avoid the confrontation or embarrassment if anyone calls them out again in front of the group.
They could also be the one that is extremely hell-bent about everything they do. They don’t go with a friend to the gym because their workout routine has no time for a friend. They don’t need anyone to keep them focussed. They don’t want anyone in their way when they have their heart rate up, and their testosterone is pumping. These are the guys that come to the firehouse and are some of the baddest-ass firemen that are out there. They are the ones busting their behinds out on the training ground and are the ones that are out in the bay doing their own combat challenge, no matter what the rest of the crew thinks of them. They know their job. They know their responsibilities without needing an order from the officer. They know what is expected of them when the Emergency Brake pops and they know they will get the job done. No matter what.
“Anything for them gains…” “Check out my abs…” “You see that girl over there?”
I laugh at some of the conversations I overhear. Especially when you get a couple or more guys working out together. It almost seems like these types spend more time talking than actually lifting anything. Standing around, huddled in a circle around the one person that is physically doing a set of reps. They stand there, flexing in the mirror, talking to each other about “that chick” in the yoga pants over there. I wish I had the time to actually see how much working out they were doing versus how much dialogue they were producing.
We all have heard the “talkers” at the firehouse. We all laugh as they are spewing out phrases to civilians or visitors like, “Real firemen wear leather helmets…” “I’ve seen so much fire in my time…” Blah blah blah…..I cringe when I hear someone acting a fool. I am almost embarrassed for them. I almost feel like they are a slow-motion train wreck, and I’m just sitting there watching it all unfold. I find it kind of funny that we can associate a group of dudes making a fool of themselves in the gym with a group of people that we all have in our own perspective departments. Trust me, you’re not the only one….we all have them.
They sure do try don’t they? These are the ones that no matter how hard they are working at it, they just can’t succeed and better themselves. They eat while they are lifting, or they are walking at the speed of fart. No matter how much time, effort, or money they put into their attempt at becoming better, it just doesn’t show or work out for them. They can have all the certifications in the world, but sometimes they are only as good as toilet paper. The ones that are trying so hard to get off their probation, but haven’t been able to since they can’t remember the required material. Or the ones that have been told time and time again to fix their actions, and become a better firefighter, but there’s just no hope. And my personal favorite….the fellas that are there for a selfie. “In front of the rowing machine!”…”Look at me, I’m working out!” “I’m a real firefighter now!” “Look at this house I’m standing in front of while an entire family lost everything!” Not cool. Pictures have their place….in front of devastation with a smile on your face is not it.
Some people are are just not cut out for this job.
And then there’s the meat heads. The over-the-top, crazy-ripped, not even a little bit easy on the eyes, deformed, testosterone injected, protein shaking, weight dropping, “Ooooiiiii” screaming, belt-wearing meat heads. They are the most intimidating/scary bunch in the gym. Just look at them! They walk around, wearing their spandex shorts, weight lifting sandals, and muscle tees. With their unnatural looking, chiseled muscles, and loud voices. They are clearly the ones that have spent the most time in the gym, or at least, look like they have. They DO have impersonators, though. The ones that would rather inject their muscles than work for them. We have all seen this when we have an intimidating officer, who has seen their fair share of “sh!t”, and have a grudge against anyone under them. The senior firefighter with more years on the job than the rookie has been walking this earth. They are not always bad, but some are more intimidating than others. You are afraid to piss them off because you’re not sure if they will make it a learning experience, or an embarrassing one. These are the guys that feel they don’t need to worry about re-racking their weights or doing station chores because they’ve served their time and have earned their spot. And as for impersonators? They are the ones that have taken all the classes, and have been an assumable/acting officer for all but three weeks, and are throwing orders around out like they’ve been doing it for 30 years.
All in all, we have all of these types of people in our departments. Some have more than others, but we all have seen some sort of this activity in the firehouse setting. I just wanted to share some of my thoughts as I spent my evening trying to better myself. I am not intending on hurting feelings, just sharing some thoughts. If I hurt some, hopefully, it’s not because you are one of the above groups.
As firefighters, children look up to us. We are the hometown heroes that are able to save lives during a crisis. Whether it be a fire, medical, or rescue call, we are the people these children look up to. October is Fire Prevention Month. We have an entire month, dedicated to give something back to the local children and teach them ways they could help us. If we make them feel like Jr. firefighters, even just for one day, they will make a big impact on our job.
All too often, we hear of victims entrapped in structural fires. Much more, too often, they succumb to their injuries. Smoke inhalation and toxic gases are the number one cause of death in fire victims during 2010. As firefighters, we have a mission to reach out to these little people, and educate them on their part during these emergencies. Believe it or not, I have seen first hand what fire prevention classes could do to our children. They are little sponges, and retain a lot more information than adults do. Especially if a lesson is delivered in such a way that makes it fun for them.
This year alone, I have seen many repeat faces in my local jurisdiction that are very knowledgeable, in exit strategies, smoke detectors, and fire drills within the home. These children are not just taking away pamphlets and pencils with your department name stamped on it. They are taking away life saving strategies that we hope they will never have to use. But are we always as “all-in” in our teaching efforts as we are if it were our own children? Do we sometimes skimp on the small things, and try move onto our next daily task? Hopefully not. We need to stand in front of these children as the professionals we are. They look up to us. Do it for them. Without them, our job would be a lot harder. Treat them as if they were your own children. They ARE your own children. They are the children in your community, and they are the next generation. They are the future doctors, politicians, firefighters, and teachers of our society. Treat them that way. Let’s make sure they make it to that point. Show them you care, and send them home with the skills they need to survive in a fire situation. Do it for them, do it for yourself, and do it for your community. Nobody looks up to you more than they do.
– The “Irons”
So, I recently attended one of the most hurtful events in a firefighters career. The loss of another coworker. Although it hurt to be there, I needed to be there. We all needed to be there, showing support to our comrade, their family, and our fire service.
It was one of the most inspirational days I have ever had the privilege of living. We had one of the best services I have ever been to. Firemen from all over the state came to pay their respects and take part in the processional that basically shut our city down. The amount of overwhelming support was astonishing. The brotherhood was there, and it was very invigorating.
This was true caring and compassion. All gripes aside, everyone checked their ego and personal opinions at the door. The guys were all talking it up, making sure each other was handling this OK, shared a pint at the local watering hole, and shared stories from years past. Old retirees came by to shed a few laughs.
One question I did have to ask myself was, “Why isn’t the brotherhood always like this?”
So I ask you…Why is it hidden in tragedy?
It sucks to see it happen this way, as it should be shared daily, rather than only when there are conventions or when we are at funerals? I wish this type of caring and compassion was an everyday occurrence. We need to treat each other right, and we need to be involved in each other’s lives, whether in hardship or not. We claim to always “be there”, but are we always putting our money where our mouth is?
I ask each and every one of you to just keep this thought in the back of your head. Are we taking care of others the way we would like to be taken care of? Are we spreading our knowledge and education onto the younger generation? This profession is a constant job interview. Show integrity in yourself, your department, and the career and make the fire service better than how you found it. Go out there, and get involved in what this career is all about. BROTHERHOOD.
– The “Irons”
As children, we are taught to think for ourselves. We are taught subject matter, quietly, in a classroom setting. We do our homework alone before we can go hang out with our friends. And then, we are tested in a silent atmosphere. I would have never thought I would be involved in a career that would have me thinking, learning, teaching, and doing things as a group, team, or platoon. This career is unique, and it takes a special person to accept the calling.
So what are some important job functions we need to do as a team?
In the academy, I was told the only two things we do as an individual in this career is put on our bunkers, and use the restroom. Quite frankly, I’ve been in situations where both of these have been falsified. But only because I’m in the company of my brothers. Only because they are family. And as family, we need to watch each others back’s. We need to warn each other of the dangers, and the situations we are getting ourselves into. And as teams, we need to work together.
Many group topics come to mind, but one of the most overlooked is the planning stages of incidents prior to us ever receiving the call. Pre-planning our attacks as a company, should be done before the alarm ever sounds. We are looking for the dangers we’d have while in a non-emergent setting so as not to be surprised by them on the fireground. This way, they are already known when the fire comes in at 3:30 in the morning and the Grim Reaper is staring us in the face when we walk in the front door. Pre-plans are especially more important since the construction boom of the early 2000’s and lightweight frame is now becoming the norm, building after building. But just because the construction is becoming the same, are the hazards the same? Are the hazards the same today as they were back in the 80’s and 90’s, when some of these buildings were last inspected and walked thru by the 1st due company? Are the firemen that were involved back then still in your department today? Probably not…but that would be only one of many reasons why we should be walking through these buildings and knowing what’s inside prior to our initial dispatch. Fire inspections, building codes, and fire suppression/notification devices just fix the tip of the iceberg. Next time you go to an automatic fire alarm, or medical run in an unfamiliar building, give the maintenance guy a shout. Ask him to take the “nickel tour”. If not, it’s their right, but if you can, it could be the difference between yours or your crew-members’ life. Get out there, and go get it!
– The “Irons”
Just a short story about myself.
As a young boy, I always knew I would become a firefighter. Growing up, my parents showed me photographs and memorabilia of past generations of firefighters in my family. I have evidence of being a fifth generation firefighter, and I take great pride in that. I distinctly remember going to the firehouse with my dad, and watching him work. I watched that man at so many of his firehouse functions, that I can’t remember what I wanted to do more…Walk in his footsteps, or run up behind him, and exceed what he has done in his fire service career. I now find myself on track of surpassing him, as his career has ended. He is proud of what I do. I am becoming the fireman that even my father has always wanted to be.
It’s in my blood. And not only is it in my blood, it’s in every ounce of my body. The brotherhood. The camaraderie. The passion.
I live everyday to become a better firefighter, and to prove to not only to myself, but to my loving family, that I was born for this. This profession is better than any other out there. This is the type of profession that has you walking out the door with a smile from ear to ear, every day you go to work. This profession is what gives many of us the drive to keep training, keep working, and keep going home after every tour of duty. A firefighter that decides it’s time to permanently grow roots in the station recliner, and hold the remote control until his knuckles are seized to it. That, my friend, is one who has given up. He has decided that the job has not worked out completely the way he wanted it to, and that he has nothing else to learn. That is when he expects the job to give something back to him, in return of all the years he has given to it. That is when we need to feel that fire burn again. We need to feel the heat, as we look down a dark, smoky hallway. At a moment like this is when all firefighters get that feeling back. That livelihood. That reason we all became a firefighter in the first place. That is when we remember that we are all brothers. No matter who we are, or what our family history is….it’s in each and every one of us.
We can all sit at the kitchen table or on the back step of the truck as we laugh, cry, or joke. No matter what, it’s in our blood. I train to better myself, my crew, my shift, and my community. The more we can learn, the better we will be. I strive for the best. I demand to be the best. As an instructor, I demand the best from my students, and I hope they take away as much as I could possibly teach. If they take one thing away from me, I can only hope it is the same feeling and desire to serve that I have for the job. And for that reason, they too, can say that it’s in their blood.
We are not in the business to let our community down. Let’s all get out there, get motivated, and get to work. When you feel like you’ve done enough work, do some more. We all have something to learn. Many of us can learn from each other. All you have to do is get out there, dig deep, train hard, get dirty, and GO GET IT! Now, can you see that it’s in my blood?
– The “Irons”
“Blood relatives have nothing to do with family, and similarly, family is about who you choose to make your life with”. – Oliver Hudson
– A noun
– Defined as a belief or set of beliefs that is accepted by the members of a group without being questioned or doubted.
“That’s the way we’ve always done it”
These are words we have all heard before. Whether it be true or not, right or wrong, old-school or new-school, is this the way the fire service deserves to be taught? Does anybody question the ideas or ways many tasks are derived? How do we know what is right, if it’s all we have ever known to live by? The answer is to think outside the box.
What are some topics or training exercises your organization has never touched on? Do we really know what is out there, if we don’t train on bettering ourselves for the worst possible outcomes? These are questions that will remain unanswered until the dogma is over. By reaching outside the box, we can better ourselves in more ways than one. One example of a dogma that I can think of is the way we sometimes unrealistically train. Whether it be financially unsound, or non-practical because “in all my years, we have never run that type of call before.” We are jacks of all trades, and hopefully masters in some. I have used that as fuel for my own passion for the fire service, as it has grown over the last 12 years of my life into what it is today.
Training deserves the right to be conducted in a professional, realistic manner that everybody can learn from. We deserve to be trained to the highest possible standards. Most importantly, our patients and victims deserve that we are trained in that same fashion. Is extrication training realistic if it is on a 5 year old car, which has been destroyed by water damage and has maybe one or two dents or dings? Is that really helping our foundations of vehicle extrication? Are our rookies getting the absolute most out of their scenario that day? In my eyes, they are not. They need to be popping doors off a car that have rolled several times, landed on its roof, and that have manikins that are entangled in metal, thrashed throughout the vehicle. Although gruesome to the lay person, this is what we need to prepare for. Good instructors/training officers remove the dogma, and broaden the horizons on what a training evolution should be comprised of, making the drill educational, yet keeping it within the boundaries so everyone can stay focused.
For those of us who provide patient care, we should strive to be the best. We need to make the best possible decisions in the worst possible times. We need to be able to count on our training as a back-up to what we’re thinking and doing. We should want to be “that guy” who is upside-down in a vehicle, intubating our “Trauma Alert” patient, and being able to stabilize their airway so extrication could ensue, all while staying within the “Golden Hour”. After all, we are here for the patient, right? We need to know that by training as realistic as possible, we can achieve goals that we would have never come close to if the dogma was left in place. We need to question those that make rules/SOPs/SOGs. By no means am I telling you to go to the firehouse tomorrow and run to the Chief’s office and demand he give you answers. What I am saying is that no decisions are made because “we HAVE to do it that way”, or “that’s the way we have always done it”. Knowing “why” that decision is made, is just as important as actually making the decision itself. Knowing what thoughts and tactics are running in his mind when the senior firefighter knows to get off the roof. Or why the company officer is deciding not to use stairway A for ventilation, because there are screaming victims running out the first floor door. Why do these people know what they’re doing? Because they trained for it. They trained for this day to come, and now they know why they are making these decisions. This type of training not only covers the “How’s”, but also the “Why’s”. Would your probie know they need to look under the smoke after rolling into a window from an aerial? If you don’t train in a smoke-filled atmosphere, we could only guess what the answer would be. (No, really. Guess…) I have heard some very off-the-wall answers when they don’t know what they’re talking about. I would bet the next time they are in that same situation they will know exactly what to do and, most importantly, “Why”?
All in all, this is not at all an advocation to bust down your administrator’s doors, and bash them. It’s just a way to open the eyes of the Jake in all of us, and help to think about removing ourselves from the dogma that we have always heard. Once it is no longer existent, we can train in a way that our profession is fundamentally comprised. We need to be trained for the unknown. What CAN be thrown at us, WILL be thrown at us in some point in our careers. It’s our job to be ready for it.
– The “Irons”
What is pride? Where does it come from? Where is it found? Every so often, I have a self-realization moment when I ask myself, “What can I do to better myself, and my department?” It’s hard to find answers sometimes, but I usually find that pride is where it all starts. But where do you find it? Where is it hiding? Figuratively speaking, where does it “grow”?
It starts with the basics. From the bottom, to the top. Pride can be found in the nooks and crannies of our firehouses. It can be found in many forms and states of matter. One of the best places to find it, is in the kitchen. Just by listening to the words flying across the kitchen table, you could find a sense of pride, or a lack there of. Whether good words or bad, they can either motivate you, or light the fire under you, causing to you grab the bull by the horns and find it for yourself.
Some things in the firehouse are necessary for everyday functionality. Station chores are also a great way to start your search. Early in my career, I learned very quickly that you could only polish a turd so many times. It’s still a turd. But if you put a little elbow grease in and go the extra mile, you will find self-satisfaction, integrity, and maybe even a ‘‘dat a boy’ from a veteran Jake.
Have you ever seen the ring of green algae underneath the toilet brim? Although gross, that is the type of place you will find pride. Removing that ring not only cleans the joint up, but also instills values, diligence, integrity, and PRIDE. It shows that you care. It shows that you are there, and want to be a part of the team. It also shows that you want to change things and make them better, even if it’s not just for yourself. Most importantly, you are there to learn. In exchange, the small stuff needs to be tended to. Cleaning toilets, sprinting to answer phones, and cooking the platoon’s dinner are all a part of the firehouse life. It shouldn’t be hard to find things around the house to do, as there are many little tidbits like this that exist.
Now that the station chores are tended to, let’s make our way out to the engine room. Ever hear a story about the chief that once had given a “White Glove Test”? Everyone has one. Try it one time. One swipe is all it took to find a trail of dirt. The idea behind it wasn’t to just give the rookie a BS job for 12 hours. It was to see what kind of integrity he has, and to see how long he will voluntarily do it for. No one would come out and stop him. Nobody would tell him when enough is enough. Anybody could wipe dirt out of the wheel wells. It takes dedication to wipe off the accumulation of road grime, grease, and funk that is found all over God’s creation as we drive miles and miles a day. Although tirelessly working for months, little by little, the dirt always seems to find itself on the truck. We all know the “White Glove Test” is for parade trucks. Anybody on a working fire truck knows there will never be an end in sight. But do you know what doesn’t find itself in the usual places? Accumulation. Pride took care of that.
– The “Irons”
LACK OF PREPARATION
LACK OF EXPERIENCE
Whether volunteer or career, every firefighter goes through a series of phases. The beginning is when they are getting the very basic info (fire academy). Probation provides the means to get on-the-job experience, while still learning the job and how it works. The middle of the career is a slack period where the fireman betters him/herself and gets further education (either advanced fire/EMS classes or degrees). The hardest to cope with is the end of a career. The phase that occurs when the firefighter realizes they aren’t as young as they once were, and how they need to start passing it along to the new, young members. Before every Jake hangs up his helmet and coat for the last time, they need to reflect on their career. It provides excellent training to the membership, and finishes closing the doors to an invigorating line of work.
INABILITY TO FORECAST WORSENING CONDITIONS
INATTENTION TO DETAIL
All in all, every department is different and run by different people of the same title. Our main goal is to provide the best quality of care, in the worst imaginable of times. We all have the same end goal in mind. Stay safe, protect property, stabilize the incident, and make sure everyone goes home. Every single one of us can find something that needs to be fixed along our career path. For the tenth deadly sin, I ask that each of you look at yourself. Find at least one sin that you need to fix, that could potentially ruin a fireground’s production rate. Let’s all take the time, and better ourselves, before something happens that can have disastrous consequences. It’s awfully easy to arm-chair quarterback a fire on YouTube, but it’s all irrelevant if you can’t do the same for yourself. In the end, it makes you a better firefighter, and it gets you to take the time to provide some self-realization in what can be fixed. We can change a lot in the big picture, just by making small adjustments in our own lives. Stay salty.