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Monthly Archives: May 2012

It’s not just about having a love for the job.

It takes a little self sacrifice, dedication and commitment.

It’s about standing your ground when enforcing the rules or when breaking them.

 It’s taking care of each other by taking care of yourself first.

It’s knowing when to listen, which is more then speaking.

 It’s not about running the “big one”, it is all the little ones and the time in between.

 It is knowing you are just one on a very large team, but without you with us we are not as strong.

 It is the extra five minutes of training, studying, running, lifting and reflecting that may save someones life, maybe it is yours.

It is about taking chances some days, while being reserved on others.

 It is not about the time clock, the wall clock or the years on job clock, it is about the right now and what you are doing with it.

It is about a love for the job, a love that grows stronger the longer you do it.

Standing there on the asphalt, dripping with sweat and eyes squinting from the noon sun, I think to myself, “Let’s go again.” Most in this world would not even try it once; while a few will stop only by force. The five-story burn tower, in August, at the midday – is not the lazy boy with the A/C on high. For a Firefighter, seeking to out-perform the chemical chain reaction and its affects on the gravity resistance system, it is the most important place to be. Nothing worth doing is easy.

Passion, drive, dedication, honor, duty, sacrifice and courage; words to describe a Firefighter, but not all Firefighters. While at a very significant Firefighter Training Conference, I was walking behind a fellow Firefighter, I can only assume, who was wearing a t-shirt that read, “Firefighters, we are here to save your ass…not kiss it.”  Inside my head thoughts raced, some I will not utter here. Does anyone else despise those types of shirts and other propaganda for the fair-weather fire service members? Spending one day at a trade show, then drinking beer all night does not equal 365 days of pure commitment and devotion. Nothing worth doing is easy.

Assets and liabilities, which side of the table do you sit? There are varying degrees of conviction to the profession of Firefighter. Do you feel guilty some days when you are doing an activity other then trade related? While driving, do you softly speak a first due size up or look for building construction characteristics? Do your pros and cons list always consider how life choices affect fireground abilities? Can you not turn off the fire switch in your head? Be an asset not a fireground liability. Nothing worth doing is easy.

Waiting for fire, is not an option. “We cannot control how many fires we see, but we can control how prepared for fires we are.” My personal mission statement, a mantra, not only to myself, but to those I serve and serve with. 99% of what we are supposed to do is be prepared for fire. We get one opportunity to leave it all on the line when the bell rings or tones drop. From the simplest service call to the most daring rescue of life, our job, our duty is to solve the problem with respect and integrity. Nothing worth doing is easy.

The title. Do you seek to have a title or do you seek to earn the title, everyday. Although this has been said before, it merits repeating. Never stop earning the title of Firefighter. There are plenty of other vocations in the world if you seek glory and entitlement. The Fire Service is not one of them. We play as a team and only pay tribute to a select few. Nothing worth doing is easy.

Standing there on the asphalt, dripping with sweat and eyes squinting from the noon sun, I think to myself, “I love this job.” The five-story burn tower, in August, at the midday – is not the lazy boy with the A/C on high. There is no other profession I seek to hold and no other place I would want be. Nobody said it would be this easy.

Modesty is a personal trait among many in the Fire Service. Taking the time to view the profiles just in this community (referencing the Fire Engineering Training Community) you can find this. “Area of expertise: Always a student, expert of none, always learning” are a few examples. There may be those who still “high-five” each other on the front lawn after a good job, but for the most part we are humbled to serve our fellow man.

A Culture of Self Improvement has a powerful foe, complacency. One particular definition of complacency ‘smug satisfaction with an existing situation’ has great value when exemplifying improvement. Have you heard the phrase “2 and 20″ two years on the job with twenty years of experience? For those who have not, this is usually said about a new firefighter that have very little time in yet knows it all and has seen it all. What about the “20 and 2″, this member has an attitude of “been there, done that” because they have been on the job for twenty years. However, does their twenty years of service equate to twenty years of experience?


Are you or someone you know always out of town or not on shift every time
your crew, station or department catches a fire? The engine may get hours added
on the pump, but how many of those were you gaining exposure on? We cannot
control how much fire we see, but we do control how prepared for fire we are.
The twenty-year member may have very few working fires under their belt and when
they are satisfied with their own performance (aka training to improve their
skills, knowledge and attitude) declines. Do we hear the same banter from both
the “2:20″ and “20:2″, “I know how to do that, I don’t need to train.”


Another behavior that can destroy a culture of self-improvement is the
“attention seeker”. These individuals may brag and boast how much they know. Do
not mistake this for pride in ones work or sharing information so that others
improve. When the attention seeker feels uncomfortable, they will try to manage
the situation by bringing up a previous fire when they were successful.
Attention seekers may also use negative statements to gain pity or divert the
form of attention they are receiving. The class clown personality type should
come to mind.


Self-improvement must be a conscious thought and actively pursued. When
sitting down to write this morning, I started out wanting to share the new
training module John Shafer and I created. While trying to decide which
direction I wanted to go, it was evident that if every opportunity to increase
my own performance was taken, I was modeling a culture of self-improvement.
Whether it is performing a hands on pump training or using a thesaurus so my
writing is more vehement, my personal improvement is exigent to overall
growth. Not only is this important as a Firefighter, but as a person. Never stop
learning, always be a student of the Fire Service and life.


Make today a day of self-improvement. Visit where you can
find FREE Online training that can be completed in 30 minutes or less. Shameless
plug I know but I am very vehement (passionate) about training!

The following post is not to take anything away from Chief Bobby Halton’s moving FDIC opening ceremony address. The past few weeks since FDIC I have been able to allow the week to digest, refuel and recharge me. The words to come are my views, if you agree that is fine. If you disagree then please share why. It is not poetry or eloquent.


After years of searching, my life now has purpose because of the FIRE SERVICE.

Most of my clothes have the word FIRE on them, in some form.

I have sacrificed weekends, holidays, dinner with my wife and family to go train, learn, and run FIRE CALLS.

I have gone for days without sleep.

I sweat my ass off to ensure I am FIT FOR THE FIGHT, my life depends on it, your life depends on it.

I skip second helpings or pass on sweets because I know they do not benefit my mission.

Instead of watching TV I read, Instead of watching sports I watch fire ground videos.

I stay up late and get up early to ensure I get both my household duties, my work duties, my workout and my training done EVERY SINGLE DAY.

I tell people what I do because I am proud of what I do, I do not seek recognition for my chosen profession, I am just simply proud OF MY PROFESSION.

I wear Department Uniforms with pride and to any activity that shows we are Professional.


I will not complain at 3AM to answer the call for even the smallest of problem. I do so because I would want others to do the same for my family.

I ENJOY GOING TO FIRES!!! If you had a fire wouldn’t you want someone like me to come help you? Ready for the call and willing to serve with compassion.

I WILL ALWAYS BE A KEEPER OF THE FAITH! Those that belittle our duty or bring shame to our trade should be sought out and kindly asked to leave.


There are those who simply seek the entitlement, I simply seek to achieve the title, everyday with every action.


Consider this post as an instrument to solicit your input on
the subject of training. During a recent hands on session with probationary
Firefighters, I was working with them one-on-one doing “MAYDAY – LUNAR
Reports”. As not to single any one student out, some do peruse my site, I
will be very generic. The straightforward scenario was Team 1 becomes separated
while searching, a common MAYDAY situation. We came to the first doorway where
I prompted the student that he cannot find his partner. Prompting him to call
the emergency traffic, the following is what was transmitted:

“Mayday, Mayday, Mayday – Location C corner, Unit Team 1, Name FF , Assignment Search, Resources RIT Team Have Low Air”.

Interesting, we were only 20 feet into the door, both came in fresh yet he
said he was low on air and verbalizes nothing regarding the separation. Right away,
I knew he had not been trained for success. The student’s muscle memory/
default setting was locked into the standard “low air” emergency. One
can only speculate that this scenario is the only one used during his previous
sessions. This can be corrected this in training, but what if this was a real situation.

As an Instructor, I have run into this before. What situations have you encountered and how do you coach the student so the training became successful. Please add to comments, which I do moderate to keep spam down. Please be patient if your comment isnt posted right away.


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