Excellent! Not only are we obligated to create outstanding interactions with our public, it is critical for our survival. It is very obvious that passion for the fire service has taken a blow. My earliest memories of the fire service are the times I spent hanging out in the firehouse. Rarely a day went by in the summer that I was not at the firehouse. The members were welcoming, passionate, and had pride in what they represented. It is because of these firefighters that I developed not only a love for the fire service, but a respect for the men and women who have made it what it is, or what it was. They were role models. I wanted to be just like them. This was in the mid 70’s, I visited the same firehouse this past summer with my two boys who had heard so much about my experiences at a very young age. In an instance all of the great memories were erased. The house had no resemblance of the one I remembered.
Somewhere we lost touch with why we exist and who we work for. And it is really too bad. The log books that once chronicled our daily activities are now on the computer. The guys that used to sit on the apron and visit with the neighborhood are now in the dorm on Facebook or have been prohibited by chiefs from “hanging” out. The pride that used to be displayed in showing off the rig and the house has faded.
Integrity and transparency are closely related. I’m not going to play the generation card, but I will play the leadership card. Leaders have to engage their troops, if they expect their troops to be engaging. It does start at the top. I can’t order my guys to go the extra mile. But I can provide an environment that make them feel like firemen. I can use my experiences and influences to appeal to their emotion. I can let them know when they are drifting towards failure, and mentor them so that they understand what they represent, how they are viewed, and the awesome responsibility that comes with the title.
The fire service is changing like it or not. It is going to take commitment if we hope to keep the good traditions as a part of our heritage. It’s not too late. But if those who believe in what a firefighter represents don’t work to maintain that which so many have worked so hard to establish, we will lose our identity.
-Frank, I'll start by saying that I really dislike the use of the word "customer"; we're not selling anyone anything. And the word customer implies that you, the customer, are only entitled to what you can purchase. In the fire service however, we don't get to pick our customers; they come in all shapes and sizes and from varying levels of social strata... what we do is provide the best service possible to ALL. The following is a response I posted on training that is applicable to this discussion as well.
-I think its a reflection of our current self centered, self interested, self absorbed society and not unique to the fire service. Here is a barometer I use; listen to someone order in a restaurant. Do they ask for food and drink or demand it. "Give me, I want, I'll have, bring me", or... "may I have"? How often do they use the words "please" and "thank you"? Want to hear it in a more specific fire service conversation? Listen to which fireman is constantly talking about and scheming over who is going to or should retire because the speaker is on a promotional list that might expire.
-People no longer know how to, or even care to, interact properly with others. They don'y like to be ordered around or to have to do for others (serve) yet this is the very thing they in fact do to others.
-What the current populace of the fire service has forgotten or has failed to learn, is that the fire service is firstand foremost a service industry based on doing for others and giving of oneself to others for their exclusive benefit at our expense.
Thank you for this article. I believe you hit it out of the park. It is not enough to just "be nice" anymore; your points about leaving the lasting impression are huge. Our business is truly about family and we get the privilege and honor to treat our citizens like family each and every day. We must treat others like we expect our spouse, mom, daughter, sister you get my point to be treated, because when they are mis-treated we are quick to let others know about it, our citizens deserve the same respect!
-Darrell, I guess that was my point; when did we forget to treat others as though we were caring for our family?