I just finished a post on my page that is directly related to Chief Halton's latest Editorial article in Fire Engineering. It really struck at my heart. I work at University Fire Department in Fairbanks, Alaska. We are a campus department, that serves the surrounding area, and receives 70% of its funding from the local taxpayers. Our students are paid firefighters and must maintain a 2.0 minimum grade (not easy for the fire minded types) and have to pull a regular duty shift. As long as they stay in school, they can keep their job. This department grew out of a volunteer student department created in the early 1960's when the local area needed help with fire protection. The department now protects the Western half of the Fairbanks suburban area. Young people are our bread and butter. Each generation has brought something different to this little department. Our alumni serve in just about every department in Alaska, not to mention Seattle, Tualatin Valley, Pheonix, South Bend Indiana, Yreka, Ca, and many more, including our pride and joy, one of the young men on Ladder 108, FDNY.
We thrive on young people. But we didn't write the book. We all need to keep learning. What I want to discuss is the types of behaviors on your part, that have produced positive results from this new generation. I want to be open minded and compare my methodology say, to others and look for holes in my laundry, so to speak. Maybe you have something I haven't thought of, a way of relating, a way of rewarding, or maybe we can just encourage those who are frustrated with the apparent wall of apathy these people seem to possess.
Personally, I have devoted my career to them, for better or worse. I believe that they will respond to me, in whatever way I present myself. As a former U.S. Marine, I tend to come on strong and scare the crap out of them first, then build them up with a lot of encouragement and can do attitude. But the best moments are when they've let you down, and instead of belittling them, chewing them up or spitting them out, you quietly correct, let them see your disappointment, then show them grace and give them the expectation of getting it right next time. These people want to be thought well of just like anyone else. But they have been raised differently, with a different set of morals and examples. You have to show them what you want by being it yourself first.
So, wha'dya got for me?