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Leave This Job Better Than You Found It

I want to apologize to all the Station Pride followers for the delay in my article. I have had writer’s block for awhile; I knew what I wanted to put down on paper but just couldn’t get it out. The last two weeks of teaching at our fire academy inspired me to get this article done.

I think about some of the greats in this profession; both still with us and those who are watching over us and what they have done to make this job better. I think about all the things that Lt. Andrew Fredericks did for the fire service before he was taken from us on 9/11/01. Even to this day, there are those of us trying to carry on his teachings and being “Ambassadors” for Andy. Some may not understand why we do this. It comes down to a fireman who made an enormous impact in theRunnin the line fire service, and we can’t let it die. I think of Chief Rick Lasky, who has inspired so many with his motivational “Pride and Ownership”. He has encouraged us to step up our pride game and take ownership in ourselves, our crews, our department and our community. There is Aaron Fields, who is creating a huge movement in the fire service with his “Nozzle Forward” class. Mr. Fields’ techniques are being taught all over the United States; from large metropolitan departments to small volunteer companies. These individuals are leaving this job better than they found it.

You don’t have to be a “big name” in the fire service to make a difference. Anyone of us can make a difference you just have to step up and be willing to take your lumps. Never giving up and continuing to push will make you stronger, and it will make a difference. I had a good friend and fellow firefighter from a neighboring department come visit me at the station some time ago. He explained how he was trying to get his department more motivated for training, trying different things and keeping an open mind. He left so excited and on fire. About two weeks later he stopped back by the station feeling totally devastated and defeated. Nobody was motivated and everything was getting shot down. We talked for awhile, and I explained to him that he can’t give up, people were watching to how he reacted to defeat. They were wanting to see if he was going to give up and roll over. Well, he didn’t give up. He called the other day to say there has been a huge turn-around in his department. The guys want to train. They are more motivated than ever, and they want to learn.

Fully Involved 2We hear firefighters complain all the time about their pay, benefits, crews, tactics, and training. Instead of sitting around complaining, step up and make a difference. One person can make a difference. It has been proven. One person can start a revolution. All it takes is the guts to step up and do it. At first, some may look at you like you’re crazy. They will tell you that things won’t change and that you are wasting your time. If you stay strong and don’t accept defeat, then good things will happen. I am sure that the first time that Aaron Fields showed guys his “Nozzle Forward” techniques they thought he was crazy and that it would never work. What about the first time Chief Lasky spoke of “Pride and Ownership?” People probably thought, “Who is this guy telling us how to have pride and take ownership?” There are so many people out there who have left this job better than they found it. It is up to each one of us to make a difference in the fire service. From the brand new firefighter to the Chief of the department. If we continue to complain and roll over, then I would hate to think of where the fire service will be in 20 years. We all have a love for this job, or we wouldn’t be in the position we’re in.

It is up to us to keep the tradition alive and keep it growing. Every day we need to think to ourselves; “What am I doing to leave the fire service better than I found it?” If you are not willing to make things better, then please do not stand in the way of those who are. Just remember that one person can make a difference in this job. Those of us who want more for this job are the sheep dogs, and we must stay vigilant. Stay safe and keep your heads up.

You will prevail.

 

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10 Deadly Sins for Fireground Failures – Part I

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More than once, each and every one of us have been on a fireground that was absolutely chaotic. Whether it be in a state of disarray from the get-go, or operations were going smoothly and control has been lost due to one reason or another. That is the question. Do you remember the last time you were on a fireground that everything went smoothly? Those are the ones that stick out in my mind more-so than the scenes that were complete chaos. A fireground with no problems is almost thought of as a unicorn. One that is always dreamed about, but is never seen. For the purpose of this article, we will use the word “never”, and think of it as “seldom,” or “hardly.”   We will also use the name Joe Schmoe as your brother in battle. Joe has the best intentions,  he doesn’t always do the right thing at the right time. Poor Joe. We all have one, it’s up to you to know who he is.

 

After a lot of thought and tribulations, I have compiled a list of 10 Deadly Sins that are reasons why there are failures on the scene of an emergency. Whether it be EMS, Fire, rescue, or TRT, if any of these items occur, there could be an absolute break down in progress.

 


 COMMUNICATIONS

How many times have we been on a fireground Tac-channel, and “Joe” is on scan?   Better yet, what about when he hadn’t changed over to fireground operations at all? We all want to smack that guy, just to get his head in the game, but it happens. Now, what if Joe was the OVM, and interior attack is screaming for vent? What if he needs to bump up the pressure on the line?  Joe better get his act together! How about the good ole’ fashioned battery chirp.  The one that comes at the absolute, most inconvenient time while operating at a scene? Yep, that breaks down communication because not only can you hear the annoying chirp, but so can everyone else on the fireground. Trust me, we are all looking to see who “that guy” is.
 
 


 MANPOWER

Whether career or volunteer, getting personnel to the scene is a logistical nightmare.  Volunteers can never predict how many bodies will respond, and career departments sometimes don’t have the funding, and are operating at minimal or under-staffing. It’s a double-edged sword. A good incident commander can overcome this by performing the correct job functions, at the correct time. Mutual aid can be considered, if not for the incident itself, but for back-filling your empty stations. At least get them coming. They can be cancelled later, if they aren’t needed. Luckily, manpower is one of the easiest sins to overcome. You’ll see why when we get to the rest of them.
 


COMPLACENCY

Joe doesn’t need to wear his full PPE on this AFA activation. It’s always a false alarm. Does false alarm mean the same as unknown activation? Or should I say, does an unknown reason for activation constitute a false alarm?  Without going into tactics, I would bet most would say PPE, and investigate, investigate, investigate.   We all have our Joe’s, but this one should never happen if we strive to call ourselves professional firefighters.   If we were plumbers, wouldn’t we want to be the best damn plumbers out there? So we can get more clients, and make more money?  Well it’s the same for the fire service.   Go to work, DO YOUR JOB, and provide the highest level of customer service possible to get the job done correctly the first time.  And don’t go back to the scene later in the tour, just because of your own fault, Joe!

 

phonto

 


TOO. MANY. CHIEFS. (We all know what C.H.A.O.S. stands for…)

Now this one isn’t going to make me popular with the white hats, but it’s not always their fault. A leader can be anyone in the organization, from the bottom to the top. It takes that one special person to pick up the reigns and plow the way. With that being said, sometimes we don’t need idea-creators. We need workers. We need the collective coordination of ideas to come from ONE person, on ONE radio frequency, at ONE time. The confusion doesn’t usually come from having too many tasks, but rather, having too many people giving their own personal opinion about what should be going on at any given time. Too many plans at once is much worse than in a coordinated effort (Plan A, Plan B, Plan C…). This way, there’s no arguing, and no personal agendas that are left unfulfilled. Both of which create poor attitudes, impatient subordinates, and grudge-matches. And Heaven help me if I say the term “micro-manager.” I’ll leave it at that. So for the sake of keeping the scene running as smooth as possible, and the sanity of the members operating, remember why our officers are where they are. They are leaders. Not any Joe Schmoe can just jump in and take the helm. Let them lead. And on the other hand, let everyone do their respective job, and don’t jump in unless it’s not being accomplished.

 


FREELANCING & TUNNEL VISION

I combined these two because most of the time, they go hand-in-hand.  Let’s go back to bashing on Joe for a little while.  Joe just started with the department and it’s his first real fire.  Eager, and ready to work, he gets off the truck with his mask donned.  While grabbing his tools, pulling his line, and running to the front door, what does he see?  Our buddy Joe Schmoe sees absolutely nothing but a foggy lens, and an outline of a front door that he thinks he’s kneeling in front of, awaiting orders from his boss.  His boss is conducting a 360 and securing utilities.  Joe gets excited and goes inside to fight the beast.  Joe is currently spiraling downhill into the depths of the unknown.  Joe never read the smoke, never got a size up of the building, never received orders from his Engine Boss, and never even knew the house wasn’t on fire to begin with.  I’m not here to preach why freelancing is bad. We all know what happens. Joe continues to act out, and we all sit here and talk about him.

 

 

 

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