This post was originally titled Service – What you give or what you get. After writing the draft in my head, which is my usual process for writing, it occurred to me that I could not provide the content worthy of such. What was stirring in my head in between heavy back squat reps were thoughts of why am I putting myself through all of this. As I stated in my last post a quote from my mom ” Tell the truth and you will have nothing to hide” I started to think not only about being truthful but about integrity. My personal definition of integrity is being truthful to oneself. It is more than doing the right thing when no one is looking, it is doing the right thing because you want to do what is right.
This past week was filled with anticipation and disappointment. Through perseverance the bitterness will not stop nor slow me down, it only fuels my passion. Failure only comes as a lack of vigor. Frustrating as it may be not obtaining the expected outcome does provide experience. As not to bore you with anecdotes, a Edison quote would be fitting here. The only failure, is to fail to try.
My day typically starts out with coffee, my laptop and catching up with ”All My Rowdy Friends” as Jonah would say. Truly amazing how far we have come in just as few years. The ability to share, connect and provide commentary from all reaches of our lives. Some take it too far, honestly I do not need to see a picture of your breakfast. Yet, some would probably say the same of my postings. What we need to do is define the line between quality and quantity. So many in the Fire Service love what they do and want to share their passion. More simply want to show they are part of something. ”Insert cliche firefighting quote”
What these Accidental Thoughts all have in common is Service – What you give and what you get. The Fire Service does not exist to turn a profit, it is a service industry. We provide a service based upon the desires of those requesting it. So much of what we do goes unseen, unnoticed and unappreciated. This profession does not give out gold stars, at-ta boys and high-fives for every “little” thing you do. The public does not line up at the Firehouse everyday to thank you that you came in/or responded. Integrity in the form of honest, hard work, for yourself, those you serve and those you serve with, is the payment you should seek to receive. What we do when no one is looking, is done so when they are watching or counting on us, we exceed their expectations.
DECUS – MUNUS – VIRTUS ( Duty, Honor, Courage)
*Disclosure – I am NOT a lawyer or legal guy. These are simply my opinions after attending a class and had some thoughts of my own.*
Liability. Long before my time a fire department most likely never discussed how their actions my affect the departments liability. The fire department showed up, went to work and even if they burned the place to the ground – they were still hailed as heroes. Yet somewhere along the line, this changed. We live in a world where young children use the catch phrase “I’ll sue!”
So where do we stand? Rules, regulations and those dreaded “standards”. A list so long that no single person could recall every single one. Add to the chaos of these rules, we now are fire based EMS with even more fine print to adhere to. The question we must answer are they used to punish or there to protect? Liability Protection is being proactive to ensure we are playing the game properly.
The last few years many discussions (heated ones) have graced the kitchen tables, magazines and now social media of avoiding risk. Much of the debate focuses around what we will and will not do on the fire ground. The old adage “Risk a lot to save a lot” has been revised many times as our personal definitions of risk have surfaced. At the administrative level, when writing policy and procedures I question whether these new rules of engagement are truly based upon responder protection or Liability Avoidance. One must also question whether a department that has a detailed policy on engagement has an equal to or greater training policy. What about ensuring all tools, equipment and personnel meet then exceed current standards. This is the difference between Liability Avoidance and Liability Protection.
Avoidance is just that, avoiding situations that could leave the fd open for liability. Protection is writing policies and procedures that can provide evidence that the fd acted and provided protection to the best of their abilities. A simple document that outlines routine equipment checks may make an impact in a court room.
Since most of us are not the policy makers, what can we do everyday to protect ourselves? Train hard, eat right, exercise, do your equipment checks, operate within your role and most importantly DO THE RIGHT THING! When you do all this you will be protected, you will be an asset and not a liability. Like my mom said “If you always tell the truth, you will have nothing to hide.” No one goes through all the work of becoming a Firefighter to intentionally hurt someone.
Many people roam the face of the planet just doing what they do to get by. Some wander aimlessly with no direction, no motivation or even ambition. Few get to realize their goals, their dreams – their passion.
Earlier I sat down to work on a program in development about fundamentals. The terminal objective is to answer, “What’s in it for me” in regards to the fire service and the foundation of the firefighter. We know what the physical roles of the position are but what about the attitudinal? As the glow of a blank slide stared me in the face, I tried to put into words the attitude a firefighter must have. After several minutes it hit me, I cannot tell you what attitude you should have, I can only tell you how I feel. Relief came over me as this was a question I have been struggling with for years. “How can I change attitudes of those around me?” This cannot be done by instructing, telling or commanding, this can only be accomplished by letting YOUR passion shine through.
Demonstrating your pride, commitment, dedication and passion does not all have to be on the fireground or the drill ground. The little things can mean so much more. Taking the time to do the task you are assigned right the first time and with quality, comes in all shapes and sizes. Even though we all will have bad days from time to time, know that you can still let your passion shine. Not all training is great, not every run is life and death but when you have passion for your work, the rewards can still be great.
Never have I claimed to be a great writer or a poet and I thank you for reading my occasional posts. Today I realized something; the most basic firefighter fundamental is something that cannot be taught from a textbook or powerpoint. However, you can inspire passion. When it is in you and it shows, others will follow suit.
“This is the only life I want to live.”