Growing up, probably like most of you, I used to play a lot of sports, although by the time I got to high school I realized that I wasn’t very good at most of them. Nonetheless, throughout high school I was on the wrestling team - all 112 pounds of me. Doing some quick math I figured that I spent about 175 hours on the mat during the high school season. In the summer I dabbled in freestyle and Greco wrestling as well, adding around another 100 hours. So that’s about 275 hours per year, and to be honest, I still wasn’t very good (unless you ask my mom).
Not interested in me reliving my high school ‘glory’? How about another angle…what if I were to tell you that my buddy’s three year-old daughter will spend about 100 hours Irish dancing this year. Yeah, you read that right, Irish dancing…100 hours…THREE YEARS OLD! That’s not including the countless hours at home, school, daycare, the grocery store, etc. that she practices. I think it’s important to note, she’s not getting paid, there’s no medical insurance, her coach isn't matching her retirement contribution, and no one will call her if they’re having the worst day of their life. She just digs dancing…period.
Obviously, I don’t need to tell you about how important our work is. I also don’t need to remind you how vital training is for us. The fire service generally does a great job at making sure that we meet all of our required annual training (think EMS, CPR, OSHA, EVOC/CEVO, JPRs, etc.). That being said we don’t always do a great job, or even a good job, at going above the minimum standard. It seems that too often departments aren’t very good at training when it’s not required. This reminds me of the fundamental law of society stating that what gets measured gets done; and conversely we can derive that what doesn’t get measured doesn’t get trained on...but unfortunately that doesn’t stop the tones from dropping. That’s the bad news. The good news is we don’t need permission from our training division to train. Getting dirty, getting sweaty, and ultimately getting better is OUR responsibility…no one else’s.
“You can never know enough about something that can kill you.”
- T. Brennan
So a couple quick questions: Are you getting outworked by a three year old…or by a 112-pound kid? How many hours did you train last year? When was the last time you pulled hose, danced with ladders, or forced a door? Are you reading, studying, sweating, listening, progressing, or asking enough questions? Can you do more? How much time do you spend actively working to make yourself, and your crew better on the fireground?
So one more time…are you getting outworked by a three year old?
Let’s go get sweaty.