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Blogger Alert: Joe; thanks for resurrecting this: http://community.fireengineering.com/profiles/blog/show?id=1219672%.... You have inspired more thoughts.

Where it comes to the strategies that are employed at an incident scene that gets everyone back to quarters safely, are we coming from different corners?

Does this place somewhere in the middle actually exist and if it does; where exactly is that?

Because, if I have a strong view based upon sound principles, then why would I want to go “to the middle”? Why would I want to compromise sound principles?

The answer is: I wouldn’t and especially if the topic is firefighter safety.

I had to learn how to question my way to sound principles. From my parents, teachers and other “authority figures”; I had to find a less painful way of getting deeper into the discussion without alienating or inciting those people who held the answers or at least a deeper understanding.

Sometimes, I caught them in the wrong mood and discussion would end quickly. Other times, they would help me to ease my cynicism with copious amounts of Life’s Lessons.

Just yesterday, I was looking for a particular photo of my grandfather and I wound up looking at pictures of the single, biggest influence in my life.

Looking at pictures of Dad as that handsome, young man in his Army uniform to lying in his hospital bed in his final days can stir you up inside, to say the least. And it got me to thinking about my personality.

I remember as a child that I wanted to go everywhere with him and when I got to go with him, Dad would patiently answer my incessant questioning. Every “why” was answered.

Unbeknownst to me and some years later when I became a rebellious teen-ager, he would be unwilling to cover that same ground again! We were at a juncture where Dad felt that he should not have to explain his answers and if I asked “why”, there was no discussion, but a simple “because I said so”.

Just like THAT; the man that I had wanted to become and to emulate would be relegated to my “enemies’ list” with all of the others who dared to exert control and concern in my life.

Isn’t it funny how you can go back and find places in your life where you can practically map from there to where you are today; at least on a philosophical level?

Does coming from different backgrounds put us into different corners?

How can that be if we use the same decision-making process before we act? Why would you abandon that process to formulate and to state an opinion?

Aren’t both based upon the integrity of the information and validated by the integrity of the person providing the information?

For me; that also started with my dad.

He taught me by osmosis, I would guess, to find HIS qualities in the people around me and when I do, I admire and respect them for challenging me in the same ways that all of my authority figures did.

So; having that discussion between peers does not necessarily put us in different corners.

When I think about going “to the middle”; to me, that’s like going half way and I’m sorry, but I wasn’t raised like that. I wasn’t raised to accept average outcomes or to lower my expectations or to serve on committees where each member was empowered to be the leader.

I can’t say with any certainty that Dad was teaching me to be a leader, but I am certain that he was teaching me how to at least recognize them (note the vultures circling overhead).

It has become stylish and a favorite past-time in our society to attack leaders by verbal assault. In the fire service, that would be the leaders who champion firefighter safety. Look around; the proof is in the blogs and discussion forums at the various firefighter websites.

There seems to be this notion that safety is somehow different in the fire service, but I will tell you that based upon my experience as a full time risk manager in the private sector for 20 years and coupled with 30-plus years in the fire service, that the culture of safety is the same; regardless of occupation.

Notice that I said culture of safety.

I will argue that you can reduce the risk to firefighters without violating the Oath or the publics’ trust.

Better still; maybe we should shift the focus to the health side of safety and health, where heart attacks continue to be the leading cause of LODDs.

I realize that discussions on fitness and health aren’t as vigorous as others, but if we’re serious about getting to the same place…

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author, Art Goodrich, who also writes under the name ChiefReason.  They do not reflect the views and opinions of www.fireengineering.com, Fire Engineering Magazine, PennWell Corporation or his dog, Chopper. Articles written by the author are protected by federal copyright and cannot be reproduced in any form.

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