We are all a little different, like school kids.
There is an argument being made that we cannot have a safe fire ground. This
job, inherently filled with risk, will never see a day where everyone goes
home. Can we find middle ground where safety and our duty receive equal
treatment? Life is overflowing with risk and we perform life altering/ending
actions on a daily basis just as human beings. Life as a Fire Service
professional gives us a different perspective. We have training and education
to handle when those risks of living life catch up to our neighbors. The
question we must pose, do we all see the same way?
A personal perspective on the fire service. Sometimes I look at the fire
service as school. Brand new personnel go through pre-school and kindergarten
to get basics of playing with others and what its like to be here. As time
passes, you move through the levels. Some really enjoy third grade and chose to
stay there. They know enough to get by and decide to learn no more. Some have a
good idea of what is going on, but are nervous about moving on to junior high
and puberty is setting in making them feel awkward. Then their are those that
have the sophomore attitude. They know a few things, are cocky about it and want to
impress the seniors. What they lack however is experience, a
broader perspective and maturity. Then there are the academics that seek higher
education. They not only learn what is required and excel at it but also
include after school activities to be well rounded. As a whole, the Fire Service is
like a bunch of sixth grader. We are chasing girls, rather be playing football
and we get an attitude with our parents.
Look at the public perspective of firefighting. The person watching an
operation on the street may have no idea of what is happening and it may look
like a horrific scene. The seasoned personnel on that same scene look at it as
routine. Add a newly certified Firefighter to that picture, they are excited,
nervous, curious and to some degree scared. Their perspective is completely
different then the public and veteran member. Put that same working fire or
accident into two places, the large metro department then the smallest village.
What are the contrasts in perspectives? The engine company composed of six
professionals that see multiple fires in a shift compared to the nine member
volunteer department that is may see fire once in their life. How can you
justify that each of these perform to the same level, work within the same
parameters and accept the same level of risk?
Several significant goals exist in the fire service. The most notable is
service to our community. We accomplish this goal by being prepared to
undertake any issue they may call us for. A company should show up, offer
solutions in a professional manner then if needed provide a resolution. Highly
trained and experienced people can only accomplish this feat. “When others
can’t, call the Fire Department” we take pride in this notion. Training
and the passing of information and gathering experience is only second to the
service we provide, yet without our qualities what would that service be like.
Once you have committed to providing a level of service, you now must commit
to meet expectations. At the same time, others must not expect to do more than
you are qualified, certified and experienced to perform. The level of service
you are willing to give far out weighs the expectations that others place upon
The world has changed significantly; we have been slow to keep up. Is that
the real issue? We know we have to change, but is it too fast, are we expecting
results to quickly, is this why we see such a divide in the camps? Do some have
experience yet it is not relevant to current conditions? Can experience expire?
Are we resistant to change because it is change? If we are seeking change, too
quickly we fail more often then succeed? Is our perspective blinding us to the
truth? To these questions, I have no solutions, but they need to be asked
What we see as a norm is high risks maneuver – driving. Millions of people
get behind the wheel of vehicles everyday. This has the potential to be cause
bodily harm and death, yet it is looked upon as routine. Our perspective, more
easily defined as our point of view, sees driving as a normal situation. A
brand new driver may be terrified the first time they are behind the wheel, or
possibly the first time they enter the expressway. Over time that same driver
with practice, training and confidence will not think twice when the ignition
is turned over. Their perspective has now changed. As times change and auto
manufacturers evolve and dictate what our transportation needs are, does our
perspective change? Our course is does. It is evolution, it is necessary. The
cars we drive must take new forms in safety, comfort and features based on
those who are behind the wheel. As new drivers enter the lanes, their needs
differ from their predecessors and their perspectives.
Serve to protect your community to the degree YOU have committed. The fire
service is a global team that plays different games. Our perspective will
dictate what we are willing to do and what we are capable of doing. We can find
our operations satisfy both safety and duty. Risk cannot be legislated away
entirely. A perspective that understands who we have command and control over
must direct operations with the abilities and knowledge of our people on scene.
Our mission, the fire service as a whole, must share best practices. We can
learn from everyone but it must be applied to our game, the way we play it.
Part of our duty, an obligation even, is to seek knowledge and education to
operate at a level that best serves those we swore to protect, including those
we serve with. Before throwing stones try to see the view from their