I think it might be like asking someone if they know how to fight fire, it's hard to say and is debatable based on perception and honest self reflection. My question to an individual on any subject like that is not whether you do or not, it's what are you doing to get better at it, and to inspire others.
Every department has those who don't, and some who do, and many that would be inspired if someoen showed them what it means. Here's what it means to me:
-If a member is out of commission, whatever the reason, and the other members step in to take care of him, together, that's brotherhood.
-If members show up to ceremonies of any type to support each other, even those they aren't crazy about, that's brotherhood.
-If members foster a sense of camaraderie on a daily basis, that's brotherhood. That's usually easy after "good" calls, but I think it needs to also be during the menial times too, station cleanup, mowing the yard, mealtime.
-If seasoned members share their knowledge and enthusiasm, there sense of brotherhood, with new members, or anyone who needs it, well, I think that's where it needs to start.
In short, it's the same concepts that make a family a family at home.
For me the brotherhood is alive and strong. I recently had the opportunity to go with my family to Columbus for a few days, I contacted the union president and he went out of his way to be helpful to me. He introduced me to a brother who was stationed a few miles from my hotel that I could look up when I arrived. Unfortunately his truck was out when I stopped by but the other brothers who new nothing of me treated me like we were old friends from years past. Not an earth shacking story by any means nor is meant to be, what im trying to show is that we are a large family, just like any other family some of us dont get along but were still their for each other. Its why we drive for hours to honor a brother who didnt make it home, its why we come to sites like this to share ideas or make new friends. You dont find sites like mcdonaldsenginering.com, Their is no other profession in my opinion where we as co workers really look at each other as family. Its a special thing that we as fraternal brothers and sisters must respect and protect. Its part of who we are and why this is the best job in the world.
There are probably as many different definitions of "brotherhood" or "sisterhood" in the fire service as there are members in the fire service. You would probably find a similar variety if we were to define "family" or "community"! So each of us will contribute a slightly different perspective.
I see the "brotherhood/sisterhood" relationship as one built on respect. We respect perfect strangers who indicate to us that they have donned the gear and rode out into a dark night to help others at risk. This is easily observed at LODD funerals, or even funerals for active/retired personnel that are not LODD. I've been to many funerals, but only one where I actually knew the individual. But I respect those who, like me, have donned the gear.
I see the "brotherhood/sisterhood" when I'm on vacation and pull into a fire station with trucks on the ramp and walk up and say, "I'm a firefighter. Can I look at your equipment?" These perfect strangers respect me as someone who has donned the gear and welcome me like a distant cousin that you have heard about at family reunions but never met. I have observed this throughout the United States in both paid and volunteer stations. But the most significant signal of "brotherhood/sisterhood" is when I have walked into a fire station in a foreign country. Even when language has been difficult, foreign firefighters have always displayed the respect one firefighter gives another when we meet. I've talked firefighting with firefighters (paid and volunteer) in Canada, Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, South Korea, and the Caribbean. We all show respect because you know they have donned the gear just like you do.
I look forward to reading the perspective of others on fire service "brotherhood/sisterhood".
Sometimes I wonder the same thing when I come to work. As true Brothers and Sisters, it is our job to pass it along one member at a time. All we can do is Keep the Faith and push ahead, we are living in interesting times.
Bryan things have brought this on but I can't argue with any of your replies...Sometimes you look at what people do and say in this service and then you have to step back and ask to yourself this question...Its like at Thanksgiving, has your family ever sat around the table and asked or told what they were thankful for???
Maybe we need to look at whats gone on the last few weeks and ask ourselves... Do we really have a brother(sister) hood, when we are suppost to be a family???
Firefighting is like a marriage, for better for worst, and in sickness and in health we stand together...... I had a CHIEF OF FDNY tell me that with 100 of things that I carry with me in my life, and careers... again so far I agree with everyone.
Bryan Lafleur said:
I'm curious J-Ro, I'm guessing this was brought on by something, why are you confused as to where the brotherhood is hiding?
Being a FF in all volunteer district , I have a different take on this topic. I feel that the younger members that are joining my dept as well as other depts in my battalion, have less of the brotherhood instilled in them. Some of them do feel out of place because they just are clueless or cant perform , but sometimes guys just dont care. It is rather frustrating when a 20 year member is in the kitchen doing dishes and a 2 year member walks passed him and doesn't stop to help. Brotherhood sometimes is hard to come by in the volunteer system, because we don't have a lot of working fires.But that shouldn't stop guys from pitching in and rolling up a sleeve to help.
Jen, it's like the "wizard of Oz" stated, it was in you all along...you (proverbial you) had the ability to be the brother/sister. If you chose not to, shame on you all! You are right about the show...proven this week...but moreso proven this week is the impact a few can have on many. Sometimes all it takes to spark the "brotherhood" you speak of is one man, one kind word, one attaboy. I got it once, and you know from who, it changed my life, and i will continue to attempt to do the same. Five little words, "keep fire in your life..." Live it, love it, pass it on. Thanks Jen, was a great time, you did a hell of a job SISTER.
Thanks J-RO for putting this out there. I have really enjoyed reading everyone's opinions so far and since I am both career and volunteer at the same time, it's difficult to say where I see the "brotherhood" or "sisterhood" more prevelant. From my viewpoint it often shifts forces depending on the situation and people. Sometimes I feel it more in the volunteer than I do at work and vice versa. It's all about what people make of it and act on like Tony quoted from the Classic movie about it being inside you the whole time. Yeah, sometimes we really don't see the Brotherhood but somewhere and at any given moment someone else is keeping it alive. What we can't do is think that someone else is doing it in our department and get lackadaisical and push it to the side. Whether you choose to bring it to the surface and share and make a difference one person at a time, is up to you and if you don't try and think someone else will pick up your slack then YOU are the BRAKE ON THE WHEEL of the Fire Service.
It is my humble opinion that the so called "Brotherhood" and "Sisterhood" is overstated. A lot of people pay lip service because it sounds cool, but that's about it. No offense is meant towards anyone....this is just my personal opinion.
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