We are coming to the Great Divide in our sub-culture, the American Fire Service. Many are looking outward to fill our palette with the paramount colors to paint our current and future fire-grounds. As these communities seek beyond our own districts and borders, many seem to build a brick wall stopping all sources of new information.
As with any culture, you will undoubtedly have sub-cultures and even sub-sects of those smaller divides. Even though the “umbrella goal” is still the same, sublte and even obvious difference exist. You can see this in many aspects of social groups across the states. Politics, Religion, Social and other factions have sub-sects with the main body. Quite a few have differing ideals of how the collective should be ran, stand for and operate. While others simply fit into the mold but deviate just to stand out.
“A barking contest does nothing to improve our fire service. Engage in meaningful debate and conversation.”
The American Fire Service is no different. With about 1.8 million individuals, we will see and will always see differing opinions on how we should operate. Our priority or main intent, Life Safety of the Public we serve will continue to drive our service based industry. What we must do to maintain the integrity of the oath most of us recited, is to work together as best as we can to create, perfect and perform BEST PRACTICES. Whether you are “talking shop” at a conference, getting down and dirty on the drill ground or researching new theories being tested in the lab, keep an open mind- more importantly open ears and eyes. A barking contest does nothing to improve our fire service. Some feel they need to argue, or play “devils advocate” just to to be heard. Their is nothing wrong with engaging in a meaningful debate and conversation. Just do not speak simply to be heard, bring value with you.
This next paragraph may have you stand back a bit and possibly even piss you off. Bare with me and let it digest. Accepting our shortcomings can either destroy all that we have worked for or be rocket fuel to propel us to new heights. Unless you have only two years in the fire service or live under a rock, you have seen changes to some of the ways we conduct business. Buzz words such as “transitional attack”, “victim survivability profiling” and “culture change” have caused more arguments because of a lack of clear understanding than solid point for point debate. But let us look at this another way. We jump the gun by throwing away tried and true tactics in the trash for new shiny ones, even though they are simply our old tools all shined up. Were they “repackaged” so that some one can make a name for themselves or to maybe put a different spin on something to get those who are not open to change, to see them in a new light? One such argument is the VES vs. VEIS. Same thing, simply added to the I to reinforce the importance of isolating the door. At 2am does it matter? Yes and no. Yes because if you for get to isolate the door, its a problem. No, if you train your ass off on the proper technique and execution. But to argue over a simple vowel- is our shortcomings destroying hard work and really only breaking apart the brotherhood. We should not be fighting ourselves, but the enemy; fire. Which brings me to my next point. Our duty is to provide fire protection to the communities we serve. They expect a level of service, but with any service industry you also get what you pay for(literally and non-literally). When you take away funding and resources from Fire Safety Education and Prevention, the instances of fire will increase. When you take away resources from Code Enforcement the severity of those fires will increase. Where does this extra burden fall? On us, those who respond. When the numbers and availability of those responders decrease, even more burden is rested on those who do. The domino’s start to fall, we are left trying to stop them from falling, while attempting to provide quality services. Where will it end? We can only do so much, we are not all knowing, all powerful.
This leaves us counting on each other more than ever before. We must either strengthen them or accept them (our shortcomings), we can only do so much. Taking the most progressive approach we can, we must take the fight to the fire – “Our most aggressive form of fire attack is FIRE PREVENTION.” We cannot stop all fire emergencies, so do not allow a shortcoming to be fire ground operations. Get out study, learn, train and drill. All while keeping an open, yet cautious mind to new information.
We have so much we can learn from others, while we have so much to share with others. We tend to get ahead of ourselves these days. We can receive and share information before the story is even complete or the research is finalized. We are all guilty, even this author. The only way to close the gap of this great divide is to take the time to let the story play out. Put new information through a review process before into service, and as always be smart about it. Even though we are all on the same team, we do operate differently. Use these best practices in a manner that is best for the citizens YOU SERVE.
Keep the Faith- HUSTON