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What brought you to the FOOLS? What makes you stay?

I, myself, wandered into a FOOLS bash at the FDIC in Indy in 2001 at the Rathskelller. It was a fun time- everyone enjoyed themselves. No one was suffering from dehydration.
But there was something else. I noticed even in that first party, many people were talking firefighting. Not just stories of what they did and saw (which were there too) but stories of something that happened to be shared, or better yet HOW to share it.
I met people that night I still consider friends.
I looked at the org. and decided that this was good for me, good for us. People who want to share problems and solutions. It's us looking out for us.

I'm not saying there was no ball breaking, there was.


As I met more people I noticed that the people who stayed were interested in firefighting. Not saying they were firefighters, but BEING firefighters. The instructors of most of the courses being presented were members. The people attending were becoming members.

In any group you had the 'party' contingent. Don't get me wrong we are not chior boys &and girls, we can fight dehydration with the best of 'em. But we are there for a purpose- to learn, to teach, to share.

Those only interested in extracurricular activites quickly drift away (Ok maybe not team PIss Brick), those that stay continue to strenthen our foundation.
I write this as I am unable to make the annual convention for the first time in a few years, and I miss it. I miss the brothers and sisters,the training sessions. The B.S, sessions.
Some of my best drills for my department, my men my buddies started on a napkin, or a discussion at a FOOLS gathering.
The fact that I am missing this is two-fold. As I said I miss ther people. And I know I am missing an opportunity to get some nugget of information that I can then pass along to someone else.

And lastly, as they hand over the reigns to a new executive board, I wish to thank the founding fools. Without whatever ungodly campfire they were sitting around when they dreamed this up, I would not be able to say this:

Thanks.

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Replies to This Discussion

Hey Brother:

You were there. I met you. Well....maybe it was a guy that was just like you. I met at least 100 other FOOLS like you. Maybe YOU couldn't be there, but you were there with us. I think the Chief said it best in his blog the other day. He noted that in societies like the American Fire Service and other such organizations of purpose, there is always a class of "warrior poets". Seperate, dedicated to the end, a breed apart. He called the FOOLS, "Warrior Poets". What an honor. What a Brotherhood.

What drew me to the FOOLS? It was that moment when I read the mission statement on the web, sitting in the firehouse, 5000 + miles away from the Founding Fools. I'm in Alaska. I was stunned to read the things that I felt were etched in my soul, written out on a web page. I felt that these were men I could unite with, rely on, hold on to, and learn from. They haven't let me down. The FOOLS have changed the fire service in Alaska forever. We have brought Brotherhood into the Alaskan Fire service in a way that had not been known before. We stand stronger against those that would harm firefighters, knowing that there is a national organization behind us that backs us up. Knowing that we do not fight to increase our pocket lining, we do not fight for more income, more fame, greater reward, but for the lives of the men and women we serve with. And we do it through meaningful tradition, training, and dedication to an ethic that is greater than we are. That's why I"m a FOOL.

Keep the Faith Brother
I am here because I know that I am not alone. That there are others like me who share the same values… Family, Service, and Tradition. I am here for inspiration! Truth is I am not affiliated with any chapter (though I have considered moving to an area that has one). I am in an organization that is struggling. The Chiefs don’t play well with each other, there is no accountability to standards, and there are only a small percentage of us who find it all to be unacceptable.

But we stand up; we stand tall, and we continue to do the right thing! Only to be whipped down time and time again. And when that happens, I get online. I go to my favorites list and I visit my favorite FOOLS websites. It’s like going to church! My soul is revitalized… I… have… been… healed! Can I get an Amen!

That is why I am here, and I am here to stay!
Amen Brother!! And I can qualify that by stating I do not feel that you are being sacriligious. There is a striking resemblence to the ethic we struggle to maintain and the teaching in the good book.

More to the point though, reach out even when not in the grips of debilitating fury at those about you. Create a network for yourself of those who can help you deal with this and also, you should talk to the International about forming a chapter of FOOLS for yourself if that is what you need to do.

FTM-PTB
As the adage goes,

"If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for everything".

I can't think of any organization more important than this one. Yes, I am IAFF, but I would rather let others worry about the politics. I'm happy staying away from that.

Sometimes in life, we are faced with a situation that we aren't familiar with. Sometimes the answer is as easy as DTRT or KTF!

Greg "UL" Wild
Well Rich, I have looked at this post several times and said, "You know, I need to reply to this.", yet I haven't.

Like Ben said, I found out about the FOOLS on the internet. I came from a department that had a lot of pride and tradition. I liked that very much. I went to a place that had been through some rough times with a former Chief and the troops, most not all, had a "don't care" attitude. That was tough for me. I was a black sheep at first and slowly things began to change.

Anyway I digress. I began to communicate with one of the Founding Sacramento FOOLS about the possibility of joining their chapter. He said that they were working on opening the Chapter up to non-Sacramento members. I couldn't wait. I was about to belong to a group of Fireman that was filled with big city guys... What a treat!

What I was amazed at though, was the lack of egos I found at my first meeting. I was prepared for a big city attitude and what I found was pure Brotherhood. It didn't matter to those guys that I came from a 5 station Department. I was a Firefighter and thats all they cared about.

As time went on, I was asked to help out at trainings. I met some of the founding FOOLS and FOOLS members at large on various training conferences along the west coast. Next thing you know I am helping teach at some of those trainings as well.

The FOOLS is filled with some of the most stand up people I have ever had the honor of meeting. Chief Halton called us a one percent group. Not like the Hells Angles, but in a positive way. The one Firefighter out of a hundred that will stop at nothing to do the right thing and bring his or her Brother home is a FOOL at heart.

This past July, I was appointed as the new Executive Vice President of the FOOLS International. I am still in shock. I have been with this great organization for only 6 years and now I am part of something much bigger than me. I am truly honored to be a part of the FOOLS.

We have a lot of great things ahead. I want to personally thank all of you for making the FOOLS what it has become today. We have close to 11000 members representing 5 diferent countries today. Who would of ever thought? Sure as hell not Gilbert, Stallings, Ireland, Simpson, or Lewis. But it is true. We have something to be proud of..

Keep The Faith Brothers and Long Live the FOOLS!!!

Eric Hankins

As I sit here reading these posts by Brothers in the Fire Service that I have a huge amount of respect for, I can easily remember that “ah ha” moment when I realized I wanted nothing more than to be a FOOL! It was 2010 at the Alaska Fire Conference in Seward, Alaska. I had not been in the fire service very long at that point so I wasn’t sure what to expect at my first fire conference. The keynote speaker that year was Brother Bobby Halton. When I heard him speak at opening ceremonies I got goose bumps all over. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It was like he knew what I was thinking.

 

It was at that fire conference that we participated in the first 3.43K Cameron Carter Memorial Run, honoring a member of a FOOLS chapter here in Alaska that passed away in a helicopter crash while working as a flight medic on a medevac crew. After the run, was FOOLS Night Out. This is where the whole thing was sealed up for me. The guys that I met that night immediately took me in as part of their family, permanently cementing my desire to a part of this incredible organization. Since then I have had the opportunity to attend one FOOLS Convention hosted by our Farthest North FOOLS Brothers in Fairbanks, Alaska. It was so refreshing to spend a week with like-minded individuals that have since become like family scattered across the United States. I have had the opportunity to do a little traveling both in state and out of state for training and constantly see FOOLS leading from every position, providing top notch training and giving of themselves.

 

It has been almost 5 years now and most recently I was elected President of our chapter. I don’t take this responsibility lightly. It is up to us to stand up and lead. Being a FOOL has certainly made me a better firefighter, father and husband because of the values that we stand for. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for the FOOLS and the fire service.

 

KTF- FTM - PTB

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