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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 Michael Bricault (ret) on May 21, 2010 at 11:30am
-It makes me think of something I use when I teach.
-One of my pet peeves is to hear a lazy malcontent say, "I've got ten years experience". This comment is often heard as an excuse for lazy or inadequate performance.
-And what that person should really be saying is, "I have one year of experience ten times", because they just don't get it. Nor will they ever.
-The saddest thing about these people is that they will never get it and somehow remain unteachable and unchangeable.
-Despite our enthusiasm and zeal for our profession, these individuals can contaminate our environment and destroy it like a virus, sapping the host (enthusiastic firefighters) of all. I find that we must treat these people like haz mat and use time distance and shielding to prevent the contamination.
-The worst case of all is always when these people somehow gain positions of authority. Then the only thing left is to hunker down and weather the storm.
-Remember, the term professional is a word that implies a level of service delivery and not whether a person receives compensation or not. Career and volunteer alike are capable of professional level service. If a firefighter is not willing or able to meet the professional standard they should get out.
Comment by Joe Heim on May 21, 2010 at 10:26am
Excellent!!! I get up every morning loving to be involved in this Great Profession!!!
Comment by Mike France on May 21, 2010 at 9:47am
Jeff, i never thought what i do as a profession, simply because I am a Volunteer,but it seems as everyday passes i look to being the Professional regardless, esp. with my new job at EMO. Great stuff as always.
Comment by Kayce Cawthon-McCarty on May 21, 2010 at 9:39am
Well said!! If it is a job; go work at Walmart. If it is a profession - a calling - then you are in the right place, whether you are a probie or a veteran!!

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