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In our world, we are all Firefighters, regardless of race creed or color. We have sworn to protect and serve the citizens of our community. We all get on the big truck, regardless of color or gender, when the bell hits to do our job, but are you a veteran or a Dinosaur. This statement applies to every Firefighter, from probationary to retirement.

In my opinion, the major difference in defining a veteran or a dinosaur is quite simple. One word defines this difference and that is Initiative.

We can and do as firefighters add many tags to a veteran Brother, for example, years of service, fires fought, leadership ability, etc. When we shift through all of the tags placed on a veteran, what we truly see at the bottom is initiative. The initiative this member has shown shows whether the firefighter is or is not a veteran.

A veteran will show initiative from the day they start Probie School, to the day they retire and hang up their boots. While as a young firefighter, you need to work on your skills and rely on the veterans in the house with the same work ethic, values, and integrity and initiative, to be trained and ready to do the job. While the journey through the Fire Service will be filled with small bumps and huge difficulties, maintaining the initiative, will continue to make all of us stronger and able to make a difference in the training and molding members that follow us in the future, to be veterans also. Every veteran of the service, understand that last sentence, as our Fire Service future.

I suppose this brings us to the dinosaur. A dinosaur, in the Fire Service, is not the member who has tenure or the firefighter who comes on duty everyday and does his or her job, but the member, who uses the Fire Department as a part-time job. This may offend some, but read on. The member may be on the department, insert years here. This member may be on the job thirty years, one year thirty times. A dinosaur is the firefighter who complains about the calls, being up at night, training more than what is scheduled, etc, the list could continue, but every member can add their own.

Dinosaurs are not rank specific, as some believe. This belief is common among dinosaurs that roam our Fire Service today. Make no mistake dinosaurs are not extinct; they walk in every firehouse across our great nation, each and everyday. As a veteran, our task is to mitigate this behavior to the best of our ability, as we would with any other incident we come to face. A dinosaur, in and of themselves, are not bad individuals, by any stretch of the imagination. As most things in our lives, it an individual choice we make.

Veterans and dinosaurs are our friends and fellow firefighters, that we are responsible for each day. We have to ask daily in the Fire Service, dinosaur are veteran, what are we? Will we continue to work to keep our service professional, or let it slip away because of a secondary job, its hot outside, or its naptime, etc? So I ask every member, veteran or dinosaur, where do you fit in? Put another way; is this a job or a profession?

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Comment by Jeff Schwering on August 4, 2010 at 7:42pm
Will It's never to late Brother. I completely understand where you are coming from. My best advice to you is always ask yourself, Am I doing the right thing? This question needs to be asked by you and all the guys like you. This site will help you to better understand our Pride, Honor, and Tradition of our Profession. Keep the faith and keep moving forward, you will find the answer my friend! Never hesitate to ask the Brothers on the community questions, we can help out anytime!

Take Care, Be Safe!
Comment by Will Eifert on August 4, 2010 at 5:46pm
Hey Captain. Just read this post, and I know I'm coming in quite late, but it caught my interest. As a newer guy in the fire service, it raises some issues concerning my particular spot. In the area that I've begun my firefighting career, the dinosaur mentality seems to be stifling, almost overwhelming. Allow me to explain. The department I began at has two types of guys: those who started with "the good ole boys" and don't contribute to the department all that much, but have the final say, and new guys like myself looking for leadership. How does a new guy survive without an example of initiative to follow?

Comment by Jeff Schwering on June 6, 2010 at 1:50pm
Very true Mark, it's interesting to say the least, just to walk into the engine house and look around. Puts this all into perspective.
Never to late Brother!
Comment by Mark Wadsworth on June 6, 2010 at 12:03pm
A little late to the discussion, but great post and so true. Isn't it funny how the dinosaurs put so much effort into complaining or just trying to get out of work that if they focused that effort the other way we might be calling them veterans.
Comment by Jeff Schwering on May 28, 2010 at 10:36am
Thanks Tom, post away Brother!
Comment by Tim Sitz on May 28, 2010 at 9:17am
Outstanding, this is getting posted!
Comment by Jason Hoevelmann on May 25, 2010 at 10:25pm
Jeff, nice analogy. I heard a retired FDNY guy say in a video that you don't just have to worry about getting rid of the dinosaurs, but we need to break the dinosaur eggs too. I thought that was great in explaining that the new people coming in will do what those above them do. Nice piece.
Take care,
Comment by Larry Glover on May 23, 2010 at 2:59pm
Great job Brother. We see more and more dinosaur's these days. The main excuse where I work is the "economy". I'm thankful that there are Leaders and Mentor's like all of you here at FE-Community that we can "vent" to and that we all share a common goal--Love for our Profession, Our Lifestyle & OUR BROTHERHOOD
Comment by John Barrett on May 22, 2010 at 10:08pm
Great post terminology is firefighter (it's a calling) vs fire department employee (it's just a job)
Comment by Nick Morgan on May 21, 2010 at 3:54pm
Great post and very well said brother! I see the Fire Service not only as my career, but as my God-given Vocation. There have been times when I have lapsed into "dinosaur thinking" ("stinkin' thinkin'") but I strive every day to be more of a professional veteran, and to pattern myself after other true veterans I've had the privilege to work with/for. Keep up the good work!

Stay safe!

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