What kind of firefighter are you?
By Jared Larna-Fireman
Hailey Fire Department
Career firefighter, Volunteer firefighter, Hobby Fire fighter. All firefighters fall into a category at some point. Right? The Career firefighter, full-time has a set-regular schedule. Clocks in does the work clocks out and goes home. The volunteer firefighter, paid-on call, no set schedule due to the nature and puts aside time to attend training and calls. The Hobby firefighter is really no different than the career or volunteer firefighter except that he/she is always a firefighter. Hobby-: a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation. Where it may not be relaxing, a hobby firefighter is constantly seeking to better themselves as a firefighter. These are firefighters that seek out any and all training that becomes available. It’s their hobby. When driving the streets of their first due area they are always asking themselves “What if?” “What if that structure caught fire?” “What if there were people inside?” “What if I was in command?” “What would I do?” What would you do?
Why do volunteer firefighters get such a bad rep? Some of the best firefighters I know are volunteers. Is there someone saying; “Well they aren’t professional firefighters, therefore they can’t be as good “. “They don’t train like we do”; “Every time they show upon a call they look lost”
Are they right? Do we want them to be right?
Every person that has answered the call to duty to become a firefighter has it in them to be great or not. Not everyone can become a firefighter. Being a firefighter is the best job in the world. It is not a gift-it is a privilege that must be earned. You are expected by the public to respond in their time of need to any type of incident and perform reliably and responsibly with professionalism. Operate with a cool head with all pertinent objectives in mind. This type of performance requires prior, proper training and experience. With ever dwindling call volumes it gets harder and harder to get the experience necessary to be completely ready for an incident. The true firefighter never gets complacent enough to feel that he/she is ready for everything. Constantly striving, questioning, learning, training. Not just showing up for training and participating but truly training. Yearning to completely understand the subjects, adapting these new skills to the way they operate. Knowing that someday, somewhere it might be a matter of life or death.
There are plenty of people walking around on the street that are all too happy to tell someone else that they are a firefighter. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having enormous pride in this profession. But, don’t forget the men and women that for years and years fought the battle and sometimes lost to lend you the reputation of a firefighter. Be damned sure you are earning it.
So, what kind of firefighter are you?