In the public and political arena, the fire department is an easy target. Our organization is service driven, we pick up those who fall, and seek to make their problem go away. Some view those we serve as customers, but mostly they are friends, family, neighbors, and strangers who become opportunities to help. Yet, when we make mistakes, or for reasons unknown have targets on our backs, we do not get to close up shop, we do not get to provide poor services, and we certainly cannot refer them to another “office,” as we no longer will accept them as clients. We must persevere and stay on course; execute the mission we swore an oath to fulfill.
What can be done? Retribution, revenge, reprisal? Of course not, those are not the characteristics of who we are. We carry on, heads held high. In fact, we work harder to show our mettle-courage and fortitude-as we have honor in our craft. The harder road leaves us apt to endure, to holdfast, and maintain with vigor. The same applies during an operation. Without the countless hours of preparation, a bad day could be worse. When time is spent picking low-lying fruit, how do you expect to rise to the top and take on the tough issues? Mediocre preparation leaves sub-mediocre results.
Where do we go from here? My answer, the one I give for myself as to why I do this; impact. Of all the ways to earn a living wage, all the ways to spend our time here on Earth, it is about making an impact. Maybe you pull a lifeless body from a burning building and they make a full recovery. Maybe you make your way through icy waters, mangled cars, scenes of violence, or any of the assorted incidents we respond to when called upon; to make an impact on a living creature, prized possessions, or livelihoods. We also impact each other. Maybe it is the Officer-Firefighter mentorship, the Firefighter-Firefighter bond, or the Father and the Son, the opportunities to make an impact as endless. If it wasn’t for my grandfather recommending my father to join the fire department, I would not have found my life’s work. Life would be different and I suspect far less worthwhile.
We have chosen the fire service as our medium to make an impact on someone else’s life. To those who have personal agendas, desire only to make waves, and are blind to what our mission truly means, you cannot stop us. We will persevere, we will forge on, and the true believers retain the fortitude to see the mission through.
“The question is not how far, the question is do you possess the constitution, the depth of faith to go as far as is needed?’