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Engaged and Ownership in today Fire Service

What do these two little words mean to you in your life? They have different meanings for all of us I’m sure, but, how much thought do we give to these words in our Professional lives as Firemen and as Brothers?

In our everyday lives we are engaged in sports, playing, coaching, watching, etc. We are engaged in our families, by being loving husband or wives, fathers or mothers, watching our children grow into well rounded adults. We own cars, houses, computers, cell phones, you name it, we seem to own it. I’m sure everyone out there could fill the page or pages with more, but what do these two little words mean to us as a Fireman? Look in the mirror and ask yourself, if the same level of engagement and ownership at home, is the same level you put forth, when the bell sounds, if everyone did, this would not have never been written.

Do you take ownership of the Fire Service? Many of our “brothers” will tell you they do, while they are on that cell phone they own, discussing their secondary job for the next day, in the middle of a light weight building construction class? Think about you and the members you rely on every day. This example is only one of a thousand different examples floating around our Profession.

Is your department, your company, or most importantly you as a Professional Firefighter, regardless, career or volunteer, fully engaged in your Profession for your tour, however long it might be? Do you train, using relevant training or do or you officers pencil whip it to make everything look in order? Do the officers and the senior members work with the younger, newer members to mentor them, or is that “silly training” we just did a couple months ago? Okay, so what’s your point!

Are we as a Fireman fully engaged to the job at hand? I say absolutely not for many of us and to me that is unacceptable. Josh Materi, from the Seattle Fire Department put it best. I hope many of you have seen the quote, if not try using that computer you own to search Facebook for it, instead of checking out prospective dates or local pubs. Pay attention to lessons learned by becoming engaged in the recent events going on in our Profession, the rescues in Lowell Mass, wall collapses injuring our Brothers in Detroit, and many more. Become Engaged in our Job, not the fantasy football team you are going up against next Sunday.

Every tour is a training tour; every tour is a learning tour. Fires happen period. We as true Brothers would take a job every shift, but, it doesn’t work out that way. Every time we get on the rig, is a time for us to shine, because we are not being called just to see our smiling faces. We are being called to mitigate someone’s worst day. For those out there that do not like running calls or feel the strong need to drive extra slow to that alarm activation, because you are sure it’s false or we might get disregarded, consider another line of work! This Profession is about so much more than a paycheck and days off. Our Profession is about saving Lives and Property, it is time for all of the Fire Service to stand up look in the mirror and treat Ownership and Engagement as Priority number 1.

Stay Safe Brothers!

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Comment by Jeff Schwering on October 31, 2010 at 2:47pm
Todd, Bro how have you been? Thanks for jumping in. It truely is our jobs to motivate, teach, mentor, and attempt to wake folks up. We are the ones that must stay involved to work to prevent the bad stuff from happening. One Brother at a time. KTF! Be safe my friend! Jeff
Comment by Todd Trudeau on October 28, 2010 at 8:10pm
Jeff, great topic Brother. And outstanding replys!! I believe we all know this to be true and also agree there is no magic wand to wave and make it all better. I feel it comes down to numbers. By that I mean a small number of "engaged" firemen are going to have a long road to convert the larger group of unmotivated that think this is "just a job". Will it take a catestrophic event that is close to home to wake these guys up? God I hope not. We can't afford that.

Is it a matter of department size? How busy the department is? The type of runs the department takes? I just don't get it! I am so blessed to have the oppurtunity to do this job and help my fellow man (and woman), and I'm thankful everyday for it. I guess I have an old fashion way of thinking.

Stay safe Brothers!!!!
Comment by Jeff Schwering on October 22, 2010 at 9:43am
Nick, I'm working on that solution stuff. No such thing as an easy solution in this world we live in today Bro.All the things you mentioned are our problems and I do believe solutions exist and I know are in trail and error testing now, little birdie told me! This is meant to give the choir a wake up call, boost, call it what you will. Those of us that understand deserve a boost too. Even Choirs have to practice to stay sharpBrother.
Be safe!
Comment by Nick Morgan on October 21, 2010 at 8:02pm
Great Post Jeff! You're gettin' pretty good at this "blog" stuff. :-) The only thing that's missing in this post is how to get it out to those who aren't "engaged' in the job. On this site, we're basically "preaching to the choir" because firefighters who read Fire Engineering ARE usually the ones who love the job and take it serious. I'm sure that's not 100% true, but I know you, Jason, Bobby, Mike, Ray, and a whole group of other brothers and sisters on this site who love the fire service as much, if not more, than we do. I work with guys who have these sloppy attitudes toward the job. Sometimes it's due to bitterness from dealing with the city, but many times it seems to be rooted in complacency, "it can't happen to me'ism", or just taking this job for granted. I wish there was an easy solution. As Jason's site says, we are truly "our own worst enemy" in the fire service.
Stay safe brother!
Comment by Jeff Schwering on October 20, 2010 at 9:06pm
Larry, I was curious who was going to jump on the Brasso statement, very nice Bro! I spelled it wrong purposely, just to see. LOL
Comment by Larry Glover on October 20, 2010 at 9:02pm
Braso--good stuff, Use it frequently on the pole.
Comment by Larry Glover on October 20, 2010 at 8:58pm
We feel the same way Jeff. In fact we (5 of us from my volly house) just returned from the DCFD Firefighters Burn Foundation Fall Training Days. We had a great time and learned a ton. One of the guys returned to work the other evening only to be hammered as to why "he would waste swap-times on weekend training"!!! What the HECK!! Awesome work Brother. Stay Safe Brothers and Keep Being Proud!!
Comment by Jason Hoevelmann on October 20, 2010 at 3:46pm
Jeff, good point. John, actually, see my recent post at
Comment by John Barrett on October 20, 2010 at 3:41pm
Seen that video...Chief McGrail is a great guy! Denver is an awesome department.
If you haven't already seen the "real" denver drill video, take a look at it here:
Comment by Jeff Schwering on October 20, 2010 at 3:37pm
Braso will have the younger folks using their laptops and Iphones, to google something fire service, we have a start!

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