One of the only things in the fire service that is 100% guaranteed is that you will be faced with an opportunity to make a difference in somebody’s life at some point.
How you accept that challenge is up to you. The way you mitigate tomorrow’s situations is based, in part, on how you prepare today.
In my last article, “Junkyard Dog”, I talked about the attitude to get the job done, the step up and “do work, get shit done” mindset. But to have the confidence to “do work” you must drill the skills, and the information, of all aspects of the job, into your brain. Make your hands perform skills so much that it becomes muscle memory. You need the same “step-up and kill the objective” eagerness in training as you do on the fire ground or at the next MVA.
Beast mode is that gear you kick into when you need to get shit done now. Adrenaline dumps into your bloodstream. Your pupils dilate. Everything locks into place. Your Halligan placement is swift. Your sledge swings are loaded and on point. Beast mode is that intense focus, that massive groove where you’re inner animalistic nature becomes perfect execution. Heighten 6th sense, eyes in the back of your head, salivating, sweat shedding, target on lock, predatory beast-mode. You are the predator and the fire is your prey.
You must prepare, train, practice at the same aggressive and confident speed that you will perform on scene. The tempo of how firefighters train falls directly on their mentors and the men/women teaching. Training builds confidence. Our confidence in our abilities creates a sense of relieving hope in the citizens we have to help. Objective completion in a quick and effective manner resulting in every responder going home safe and the situational problem solved breeds pride in ourselves and our brothers. Which in turn creates a better attitude during the next training. Sounds like a never ending cycle of “get shit done” awesomeness right?!?!
Do work brothers. #beastmode
So there you are with a fresh bottle after sucking the first one dry, and you hear command make the call.
“I need someone to do this thing over there, who do I have?!”
Boom. Here’s your chance. It’s up to you. Do you fight for that chance, or do you let another firefighter take it from you? Are you the first to stand and take the assignment or do you take a couple extra yard breaths and sip a Gatorade?
As a personal point, I take a lot of pride in being the guy that jumps at the chance to gain experience, even if it’s a task I’ve accomplished 100 times before. Not only that, but it’s about getting the job done and pulling your weight in work. If you have brother’s busting their stones while you’re standing around, good to go; not only are you skirting your responsibility to your brothers but there is no pride in your actions.
It’s amazing how many guys will give up their tool at a simple request. Why though?
There are firefighters out there that I call, “show me” guys, they don’t give the tool up. Those guys trust their training and take pride in their ability to accomplish the task and simply say, “show me where you need me to use this tool”. Are you that kind of firefighter?
Likewise, you have the firefighters that have spotless gear. You know, the guys that would rather stand on the porch and hand their tools to the guys, they consider to be, below them and allow them break their backs.
Granted, some of these guys are the senior men, taking the younger firefighters experience into consideration and allowing for that moment to be a teaching moment. On the other hand, there are the guys that just want to show up and be yard breathers. It’s too cold, too hot or too early in the morning for them. They’ve been there, done that, and got the t-shirt, so let someone else do it.
So what kind of firefighter are you? Have you taken pride in yourself and your work ethic. Do you leap at the opportunity to complete a task, performing that task to best of your ability; or do you hide behind tenor, lack of knowledge and/or laziness?
Training builds confidence and both of these compound over time. Your attitude and your work ethic is the foundation of the respect you get from your co-workers. Don’t be the guy standing around. Be a Junkyard Dog. Step up. Do the job. Roll that hose instead of waiting for someone else to do it. Mask up when it’s time to mask up and take the roof with the ax when the saw breaks. Junkyard Dogs are always Johnny-on-the-spot, they’re always present and they never shy away from their jobs. Junkyard Dogs own their space, protect their guys, and they react with fierce determination when it’s time to Do WORK!