As firefighters, we are asked to provide many types of services. Firefighting, EMS, hazardous materials, rescue, and other tasks that are usually menial. We respond when someone needs help standing after a fall, getting cats out of trees, and removing storm debris for hours on end. We teach CPR to local organizations, fire safety to children, and assist elderly residents with installing smoke detectors and vitals checks. We commonly refer to this as “service” when in reality these are “services.”
Service is not the duties we perform on a daily basis. Service is the art of putting others before yourself. Service is not a cheap buzzword to be used in mission statements or administrative meetings. Service is at the heart of our obligations. It refers to our heritage and tradition. It encompasses the meaning behind our craft as a whole. We are the “fire service.” Service is defined as, “an act of help or assistance.” This is what we do. This is how we make our mark in the future.
We serve three distinct groups of people. First, the obvious, our community. To serve the community we protect, we must continually strive to improve. If we fail here, we provide a disservice to our department and the name of all those who gave their lives in service. If we take our position for granted, we fail to help those in need. Our lack of preparation leads to a failure to provide assistance to those in distress.
The second group of people we serve are our fellow firefighters. My biggest fear is allowing one of my men/women to perish, knowing I could have done more to prepare them. When we fail to ensure the safety of our crews, our citizens, and ourselves, we perform a disservice. This disservice has a butterfly effect on the daily life of everyone we come in contact with.
The next group we serve are our families. We serve our families by making sure we are using effective, functional knowledge to ensure our safety. When a firefighter dies in the line of duty, they feel no more pain. They are burdened no more. But the lives and actions of their family, friends, department, and community are changed forever. They bear the burden of the loss, they feel the hurt, and they reap what you have sown. All too often we act as if everyone owes us something. Before you react, remember that you signed the dotted line. We asked for this job. No judge sentenced us to time in the fire service. We chose this line of work for a reason, and if you have any sense at all, it’s not the benefits. We are the ones who owe something. We owe our families more than just making another 24. We owe our brothers more than watching how to save his life on YouTube. We owe our community more than learning search procedures from an IFSTA manual. We owe these people. We owe our children the right to have a father growing up, by embracing the facts……We can be called to meet our maker at any time. We must exceed the status quo. There are too many amongst us that are not prepared to face adversity. I cannot and will not allow myself to become complacent in my “service.” I will serve others with a tenacity that scares the mediocre. I will not allow the opinions of others to affect my service to my brethren, community, and most of all, family.
It’s an honor to serve. It’s an honor to respond in a time of need. Don’t let disservice be how you are remembered for your service.
Bremen Fire Rescue
Tomorrow morning, January 5th 2016, a born and raised Texan Paramedic will retire from EMS. Becoming a part-time or speciality paramedic might be in his future, but for now, he will be retired.
This guy has worked his shift and covered other shifts. He took the ambulmace home and parked it in his driveway as that was the way it was done back then. He awoke in the middle of the night, multiple times a night, to respond to 911 calls. He’s laid in ditches with your family members. He’s laid in the summer heated streets on his belly to comfort a child hit by a car. He’s been there when a child was rescued from a storm drain. He’s helped your family member after they’ve had a seizure. He has driven millions of miles in the front seat of an ambulance. He’s crawled into ditches after a tornado to rescue men covered by debris. He’s hugged family members of victims that didn’t survive. He’s carried and “worked” kids that he knew didn’t stand a chance. It’s impossible to count how many people he has touched in his career. A career that spanned for 37 years.
He has created an educational program from scratch as an advanced coordinator and instructor. He taught many EMT-Basic, Intermediate, and Paramedic classes in his years.
Has he done anything that thousands and thousands of other paramedics, emts and firemen do day-in and day-out around the world? No.
He is a Paramedic. A street medic. In my eyes, he is the best Paramedic I have ever seen work the field, (no discredit at all to any of the other EMTs and Paramedics I’ve worked with). You see…this guy I’m talking about is my dad. He’s 63 years old, and he began a career of helping people in 1979.
Tomorrow he will retire. He will hang up his stethoscope (that he never wore because he believes that everything he needs is in the ambulance and doesn’t need it around his neck haha).
Good luck dad. The service of EMS needs more guys that can do this job and see these things for 30+ years.
P.s. I’m proud of you pops.
Do you ever stop and think how your actions will affect someone in 20 years? Has it ever crossed your mind that just one thing you did today could be the defining moment in someone’s life? Would you believe that a simple firehouse tour and a hot wheels fire truck could put a spark in a kids heart that will last their entire life? I will tell you first hand, it happened to me. At a young age, I took an interest in being a fireman as most kids do. I had the usual toys and fireman costume that you would find in most homes. But unlike most kids, I never grew out of my fireman phase. My parents, seeing that this wasn’t just a typical childhood dream, stoked the fire that was building in me.
While my father was in the Marine Corps, he became friends with a Marine who happened to be a local volunteer fireman. They got together and worked it out so we would come take a tour of the fire house. Little did he know that his actions that day would set the course for my future. From that day forward, my desire and passion for this job grew and grew. Every time a fire truck would pass us in the car, I was glued to the window. I stared in awe as they raced by, lights and siren wailing. I had a fireman themed birthday, complete with an engine company from the local fire department. My parents went as far as buying a Dalmatian, and of course we had to name him Pongo. There was no doubt that this kid was going to be a fireman.
Unfortunately, as quick as my mentor came into my life, he would soon be leaving. Both my father and he were retiring from the Marine Corps, and our paths would not cross again for many years. But before he left, he invited my parents to a farewell party. I don’t remember much of the party due to my fascination with his fire memorabilia he had in his office. The only time I was drawn away was when his pager went off for a call. Then I was glued to the front door as I watched him drive away. Once he returned, I was so excited to hear what happened that I bombarded him with questions before the front door even closed. But as fate would have it, all good things must come to an end. Before we left, he went into his office and took a small silver fire truck off the shelf. He handed it to me and with a smile he said, “Here Buddy, I want you to have this.”
I still have that toy fire truck to this day.
Fast forward about 20 years and the impact from that day is still going strong. I got my first taste for the job when I joined my local Explorer post. I learned that it took a lot of hard work, long hours and sometimes sleepless nights to be a fireman. But I loved every minute of it. During my time as an Explorer, I was so influenced by another fireman that the flames were raging in my heart. He is a 20 plus year veteran and currently a Captain. He would be the one to teach me the love for the job and all of it’s traditions. He taught me how the old-timers did things and never missed an opportunity for a history lesson. But the one thing that stands out the most is the day he told me I would make a good fireman. Some may see this as just a small compliment and think nothing of it, but for me, it meant the world.
Eventually my time as an Explorer came to an end, and I joined my local volunteer fire department. I’ve been volunteering since 2012 and have worked hard to learn my job and make a good reputation for myself. Some point along the way I made the transition from little brother to big brother. I am the guy many of the new rookies come to for advice. I can see that they have listened to my rants on taking pride in your work. I can see it in how they store their gear or how they load hose. They are becoming good firemen.
Our actions on a day to day basis can have lasting effects for a lifetime. Are you that big brother your rookie looks up to? Will you be the fireman that the little kid remembers 20 years from now who sparked their desire to be a firefighter?
Special thanks to my parents who always supported my dream to become a firefighter. To Lt. Lenny Stoleburg for being the one who started me on my journey and Capt. Jeff Kerley for teaching me what it means to love the job. Without you, none of this would be possible.
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”
Sadly, you see the headlines all the time now; “Firefighter breaks in and spray paints (vandalizes) own fire station” or “Paramedic steals money from patient”, how about “Fire Chief lies about his education.” These are disappointing black-eyes to the fire and emergency services community. What some firefighters and EMTs do not understand is that whatever immoral or illegal act they do represents all of us!
When you are a firefighter the headline will never read “John Smith arrested for embezzlement” it will always read “Firefighter arrested for embezzlement.” The reason this happens is because Firefighters hold a position of public-trust, including volunteers. Nothing makes a headline more juicy than a firefighter breaking that trust. Of course we’re all human and we will slip-up from time to time. It’s important we carry ourselves with the integrity our title inherently possesses.
Likewise, the manner in which some firefighters and EMS agencies provide their services can be sub-par and even unethical. When a loved one hears about how you treated little momma jean. They are going to tell the whole community about how bad that EMS service or fire department operates. Not just you or that one person the whole operation looks horrible. The agency gets slapped with a label that could take years to rid away with due to one action of one individual.
Now what could that label mean? A cut in funding from city or county budgets? A large drop in donations? Decrease in community members willing to support the dept. Once you are labeled a sub-par unprofessional waste of taxpayers dollars, you will then catch flack from fellow agencies. One black eye from one member not doing their job can take a departments image and flush it right down the prevebial shitter.
Now lets take a step away and look at how a person can ruin their image or the departments image. Let us focus on the department erasing there own good image. When you have visitors at the fire station, is it clean? Are the trucks clean? Are you proud to call the station your home away from home? Does your stations roof leak? Do your engines start and run safely? Leadership, is it there? Do they do their job? If not and your equipment is not taken care of and people’s feet are not being held to the fire then the departments image will drop in the community. Just one of the many ways to lose the public’s trust! Show up and don’t put water on the fire, failed to make a search when it was safe to do so ,when there is reports of a victim trapped? As well, don’t just stand there and watch the house burn to the ground!
If you feel you do not have that perfect public image FIX IT! Hold community block parties or open house one day at the station! The more you involve the community the more outpouring of donations and community backing will follow!
After reading this are you or somebody you know or is your department giving the emergency services a black eye to all of us?
Station Pride had the honor of awarding the Rhea County Fire Dept. with the first ever Station Pride Brother-to-Brother grant! Station Pride Founder and President Riley Amoriello, as well as Vice President Jonathon Jacobs traveled to Wolf Creek Fire Station 740 in Rhea County, Tennessee to deliver the grant items in person.
The Rhea County Fire Dept operates twelve fire stations across the county with over 100 volunteers. Due to the dangerously small operating budget provided for each station it’s very hard for them to buy even basic necessities, like fuel and maintenance. The continued stress of their meager budget has place Rhea County in the position of having 30-35 year old front-line apparatus and out of date breathing apparatus. Even with their financial and equipment challenges, Rhea County Fire Department volunteers stand up and do what they can, with what they have and still accomplish what needs to be done. The struggle they face is not uncommon.
Will Sargent, of the Rhea County Fire Department, wrote the grant in early 2014 with the hopes of bringing a gas monitoring device to the department which only had one gas meter to cover a response area greater than two hundred square miles.
Station Pride accepted their request in mid 2014. Since then, the members of the Station Pride community both company members and followers stepped up to raise funds for gas monitoring devices. On December the 30th Station Pride awarded two “single” gas monitors to the Fire Chief and District Chiefs of the Rhea County Fire Department, the County Mayor was also in attendance. “It is an honor to be able to help these brothers that work so hard to better their department and community and strive everyday to make their community safer”-Riley Amoriello Station Pride’s Founder.
The Brother-to-Brother Grant put much needed safety equipment into the hands of the Rhea County responders. With the help of Station Pride and all of our website followers we were able to award them with, not just one, but two single-gas monitors.
It is our mission with the Station Pride Brother-to-Brother grant program to support those that need it most. Remember, when you buy anything from our online store! Proceeds go directly to the grant program. When you donate directly to our grant program 100% of that donation is applied to the next grant award. One Hundred Percent of Station Pride’s profit is put directly into the Brother-to-Brother Grant Program. The only expenses we have are the cost of replenishing sale items. Nobody at Station Pride earns a paycheck and we are here to better the fire service one firehouse at a time.
Wreaths are on the front of the trucks, fire line tape garlands the tree,and snow chains are stowed nearby. The holidays are here. But which family will you be celebrating with? For those who have the tour off,they will be able to enjoy their “home” family. They will be able to seethe excitement in their kids’ eyes as they open presents, and will eat some amazing food in the company of their loved ones. Others will be on duty, providing safety and security for their respective communities and spending the Christmas holiday in turn-outs. However you are spending the holiday this year, remember the opposite family that you are not with.
Remember that the guys/gals at the firehouse are out and about, away from their family. One tradition I have instilled in my life is that I always stop by my local firehouse and bring them a pie for Christmas and Thanksgiving. Just a way to show that I appreciate them working hard to keep me and my family safe. But do we ever worry about ourselves?
However your holidays are spent this year, we all need time to take a break, and be with our families. This is our life, but there needs to be a way to recharge the batteries. Take some time to reflect and remember the sacrifices our spouses and children endure all year long while we are away at work. Remember how many events are missed, and how many times we wish we could “turn it off”. Not only for us, but mostly for them.
So for this year, think of the families that you will be spending them with. Make memories, get some much needed time to recharge the relationships that you have, both with your “at home” and “at work” families, and enjoy life. We only get one. This holiday season, lets also think of the families that will not be spending time with their firefighter. Let us all honor and respect those families whose firefighters did not return home after their Christmas tour of duty.
Over the last 20 years, these firefighters were lost in the line of duty
on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
James McMahon – Chicago, Il. (2015)
Jeffrey Fields – Youngsville, NC (2013)
Michael Chiapperini – West Webster, NY (2012)
Tomasz Kaczowka – West Webster, NY (2012)
Craig Starr – Plymouth, UT (2009)
John Stoudt – Summit Hill, PA (2004)
Shane Brown – Mansfield, LA (2003)
David Butler – Spring Branch, TX (2001)
Charles Lauber – Smithtown, NY (2000)
Lionel Hoffer – Milwaukee, WI (1994)
Stay safe everyone.
From Jon, Jason, James, and myself.