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Pride, Honor, Respect, Tradition, Duty. Is it still taught to our people?

Do we still preach the meaning of the above words? I know I am preaching to the choir here, but lets be truthful, do we do our best to cover these topics? I see a lot of 'younger' firefighters, both career and not, wearing the FDNY shirts, the FOOLS stickers and such on the helmets, but do they really know what Pride, Duty, Honor, Respect and Tradition really mean? They all know that we lost 343 Brothers in FDNY, but do they know the history and traditions of their own job? Now I am by no means downplaying Sept. 11, please do not think that. I was there one month after with 3 friends attending services for 13 fallen Brothers and had an article puplished in the December 2001 edition of Firehouse mag. The point I am making is do some of our people really know what the stickers, shirts and hats really mean. And most of all, do they know their own history? I am asking because I have this problem on my job in a small way and me being the Training Officer, I feel responseable in a way that our in house traditions are not as well known as should be. We found old newspaper articles and publications of our department dating back to the very late 1800's to the early 60's. Then the history gathering stopped. In our station one, on the wall next to the door in to the offices, we have a typed letter from Chief Isenmonger from the Chicago Fire Department thanking our department for the response and assistance to the Stockyards fire!!!! Now that is something to be proud of. I have had people ask me, "what was the stockyards fire"?

So I am asking your opinion. What do you see around you in in your own house? Am I the only one who is seeing this situation?

Thanks and all be safe.

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Joe, I don't envy you position, but, ?I completely understand it Brother! Not a shift goes by that I don't hear some kind of comment about me taking the Fire Service to Seriously! Are you kidding me! Stay the course Brother, take the time to teach these kids our heritage and history. If they don't know what the stockyards fire is, ask them how the Maltese Cross came to be.

Stay Safe Bro!
Amen Brother. I am starting this training year out with the history of the fire service for all members. I will then turn to the history of my job. I have some real good people on my job, just a few that need a little education. I have a lot of part-time departments around me that I see the problem a little more. Helmets covered in stickers, tatoos all over, but they can't tell me what the Happy Land Social Club was. Or why it is called a fireplug. If I had more hair I would pull it out.

Thanks Jeff
I hear you as well. The are times when the word "brother" is only used when you need to butter someone up for a swap (come on BROTHER, help me out), or used becuase the guy is p/o'd that he didn't get the swap (where the hell is the BROTHERHOOD in this firehouse?). I get accused of taking the job too seriously, "turn the scanner're not goin!" or we need to skip training becuase we did it a hundred times. Same thing, don't know why we do what we do, or what recent or past fires could do to us.

I teach with one of the regional fire schools here, we try to instill honor, respect, duty and discipline in the recruits. We get negative evaluations becuase "the instructors think they are in a boot camp". That attitude carries over into the firehouse in drill, dinner and fires. I know my mentors would have my a** pinned to the wall real quick if I did that.

Maybe I am out of line
You're not out of line Jeff.
Is it the "ME" generation factor? I get to hear that we shouldn't train because we might be busy later. WTF? That's why we should be training, isn't it?
I know I'm not the best communicator when it comes to asking questions but I've been told I'm always second guessing. If we don't train, if we don't table top anything, if we don't pre-plan, if we can't ask questions or make suggestions, how do we learn?
Now maybe I'm out of line
All I can say is keep your head up. Do what you do because it is the right thing. Attitudes are contageous. Make it a good one that goes around. I know everyone says it. But it's true.

We have a guy who works with us, he can be annoying at times, but he has a heart of gold and loves the job. I wasn't feelin "it" one day. My attitude was down and I just wanted to go home. Well, this guy comes in on overtime, and has with him a 10 foot piece of rope. Next thing I know, we're tyin knots,quizing each other, before I knew it, we (8 guys) had the ropes off the rig and we were building systems until 2000 hrs. I know that was kinda a geeky story, but, one guy with love for the job can change the group dynamic.
We are all obviously thinking alike, so not all of us have lost it. I challenge anyone that is whining about training, pre-plans, public education, etc, to sit for 8 hours with Billy Goldfeder, Rick Lasky, or John Salka, or talk to the widow of a fallen BROTHER! I'm in a cass tomorrow With Billy G. I can't wait. As a Lieutenant, I welcome any challenge, tossed my way, by anyone who has hash words for the GREATEST JOB ON EARTH!

Oh Ian, by the way your not alone on the hair That's why we are the "old guys" and proud of it.

Stay Safe
Jeff, Jeff and Todd. I am just like you. I live the fire service. My full-time job is firefighting, my part-time job is firefighting and my hobbies are firefighting. We and the other members of this site are probably not the norm when it comes to this job. We love it, dare I say, to much? I work with guys that are great firefighters, but at the 7am shift change, their life moves on and they are not in the firefighting mode until the next shift 2 days later. That does not make them bad at all. But the ME generation kids get under my skin. I actually had a probie tell a D/C not to talk to him a certian way, it offended him. This D/C has almost 30 years on, it took all I could do to not have him take that kid in the back and flog him. The kids have no mech skills. "Whats a Phillips head, what does a 20 amp fuse put out".... Try to train them and they want to know if it is going to go through the union break time. Like I said in my opening post, are we teaching them Duty, Pride, Tradition, Respect and Honor? Well I am taking it personnaly now and making them learn from the basement up.

Thanks for the replys guys, keep em' coming.
Stay safe,
WOW! I'd like to shake everyone's hand here! I'm 25 yrs old, been around the fire service forever, and a member since i was 13. I'm kinda in the middle of the older guys and the "ME" generation. BUT I FAVOR the OLD SCHOOL guys soooo much more. I'm not anything special, but I love to drill, pre paln, learn, and teach it back out. Seems like I'm one of the only guys in my volly house to goto firehouse expo and spend close to a thousand dollars for classes. Headed to FDIC this year, probably ALONE. Try and teach young guys pride and tradition of how the company operated just a few years ago, before they were members(now there LT's), and they tell me I'm too aggressive or raise tension, or "free-lancing". I get made fun of for calling people brother on a regular basis,BECAUSE I ACTUALLY CARE! Held a drill 2 nights ago...37 degrees out, it was a portable ladder drill, it rained! Me and 1 other guy drilled for 2 hours in that s***! I felt soo proud just to pass on my knowledge to one guy (20 yrs old), who wants to learn, and has a passion for the job! Another friend of mine a few yrs younger, just got on the job at my station where I work, the guy is still on probation and has used more sick leave in 4 months, then i use in 2 yrs! What gives? Guys I could go on forever, and a lot of the things you all mention, remind me of myself.
There is a great podcast about this on It's a Through the Smoke podcast... it's called "Young Firefighters- The Gamer Generation". It's a round table discussion by several veteran chief officers about the generation gaps between the Baby Boomers, the Gen. X and the current, Gamers. The general concensus between all individuals involved was that "these guys and gals are going to shake up the fire service, in a good way!". Another comment that was made was "this gamer generation is thirsting for knowledge, they are looking for someone to lead them, cause gorwing up they were never taught leadership" and "theses are the men and women that are going to change much of our tactics and strategies for the future, NOW! "

After listening to it it allowed me to understand WHY some my superiors look down me for the way I view the fire service and why when I make a mistake both generations react the way they do.

When I ask why at my fire department my superiors take as me being ignorant and insubordinate. Neither of which is true... I am just asking why it's done this way.

I respect "Pride, Honor, Respect, Tradition, Duty". It's something my old man taught me as he has been in the fire service 30+ yrs..

Just give it a listen... you'll have a new outlook on why the (my) the "Gamer Generation" are the WAY we are.

Kudos on the topic and I look forward to reading more about this!


I frankly think the whole generational thing is a bunch of crap. I believe that each side uses it as an excuses to avoid the very things we should be talking about, the job. I place much of the fault on the more senior men who have used this and other arguments to avoid mentoring the newer members. If they can't answer the question why with anything but "because thats the way we do it", maybe you should find a better answer. Maybe they are not as sharp as they should be….maybe the newer members learn in different ways that frustrate the “older guys”, maybe they forget why we are all here and the simple fact that we may have to depend on each other for our very lives. I don’t care what generation you belong to as long as you love and respect this job and do everything in your power to become a craftsmen in this profession. And by profession, I don’t mean paid. I am in my 29th year and I find excellent, dedicated and talented firefighters across the spectrum of ages and time on the job. I find many younger members are very interested in the traditions of the job.

This job requires a life-time of continuous improvement. The minute you think you can take it easy because you “know enough”. You will find that the knowledge you have, is not nearly enough. The duty and obligation we have to each other should, I think, drive each of us to be the best firefighter possible because we owe that to each other. I often hear about Brotherhood….that should be about seeking to become excellent firefighters out of duty, obligation and respect for each other. Because we are all we have when, in spite of our best efforts, extensive training and desire, we get lost, separated, disoriented or trapped. These duties and obligations include; getting and staying fit, seeking continuous improvement, building the skills necessary to assess risk and rapidly changing fire conditions. Our duty also demands that we train and learn and become craftsmen in our profession, because our lives depend on it. Because in the end, no one else will come, and we will surely die alone if not for OUR efforts.

Don’t fear the “old guys” when they have a story to tell. They are passing on the history, the lore and the tradition of your job. Keep pushing, keep asking why, keep having the discussions of the job and it’s history and tradition, and most importantly, learn the job.
Well put Art. I agree with you, but there are some cases where they are unreachable and unteachable. It is a sad truth but a truth non-the-less.

Rob, thank you for the info and I will for sure look into it.

Nick, good for you. Do what you can, be safe at it and just plug along. Maybe the infection you are trying to spread of training will catch. Stay positive.

There may be those that are unreachable, but they better be teachable. In any case, these Mutts are why we have minimum standards. You can't make someone come to work every day and want to do a great job and you can't make someone be proud of their job, work or profession. But, you can hold them to a standard. If they meet the standards and they are still mutts, the standards are not high enough.

Good discussion, keep the faith

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