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I have been in the workforce full time since I was 19 years old and now, I am 58.

I have been fortunate for almost 40 years to change jobs at my own volition. That is to say that circumstance dictated that a change was wanted/needed and I made that decision.

The same held true with my fire department. It was always my decision to change it up, move up and finally, to move on. I didn’t feel any pressure to do so; in my mind, it was time to change my focus, so I went from fire chief to fire district trustee. It’s that simple.

In my “real” job, there have been reasons why I switched from one job to another, but I can say with some pride that I have NEVER been fired from a job.

Over the years, I have taken several classes and seminars to improve my skills as a manager and as a safety professional. That is the nice thing about a 40-year work history; it is diverse.

In my early days, I was a skilled welder, a trade that I learned at age 15 from my father.

Now; I am director of risk management. In between, I held various management positions for three other companies.

I have been in risk management for almost 20 years now and I love what I do. From job hazard analysis to accident investigation to general liability and work comp claims; I have discovered that I could do what I do for any company that would have me. I have been with my current company for 10 years, but I have made it a practice to never get emotionally attached. I give my employer, whoever that might be my full attention and best effort-always.

My current employer is a contractor who provides service to a heavy equipment manufacturer. We were notified last year that the operation at that plant was shifting to another plant in another state and moving is not an option, nor would I.

Knowing this, I thought it best to bolster my value to the job market by becoming a certified safety administrator (CSA). I have considerable knowledge and training in my discipline, but not in the recent past.

So; I invested a couple thousand dollars to certify as a safety administrator. No; I am not buying a piece of paper! In fact; I downloaded and printed off the coursework and it filled NINE loose-leaf, ring binders. That doesn’t include the online reference materials, such as CFR 29 and the ERG book. The tests are all taken online.

I am not worried about finding another job. I told my current employer that I would stay until our job is done. Then, I would go elsewhere. I am in the process of updating my resume; something that I haven’t done in awhile, so I will have a friend that is a professional headhunter help me.

At my age, I have no intention of moving to another city or state. I am a life long resident in this area and here is where I will stay. I will commute as I have always done. There are no residency requirements in my field of work!

My point is that you cannot be afraid of an uncertain future. I look at it as part of the adventure that is my life. I enjoy a certain vitality that challenges give me.

My only concern going forward is that I know my wife and she will worry, but yesterday, when I told her that I had taken two tests and scored a 98 and a perfect score on the other; she was very pleased and I believe, encouraged.

This certification course is more like a refresher for me, but I will have the necessary documentation to validate my many years in safety and risk management upon completion.

My perfect job would be one that combines my fire service with my safety profession and who knows; maybe that’s where it will take me. I will consult with people who would know better than me on how to match me to another company. I have a reputation for improving companies’ safety performance.

It is absolutely true that you have to continue to learn; no matter what you do for a living.

We all know of its importance to firefighting. “When you stop learning, it is time to leave” is a refrain that we have heard over and over, but it’s true.

I owe a lot to the fire service for many of the skills that I use in the private sector. I put an “incident command” mentality into everything that I do.

The fire service has defined me as a person.

It has provided me with my leadership skills.

It has given me the confidence to face any challenge.

Believe me; there are “doors” that must be forced and “fires” to put out; even for a risk manager.

You learn to control your fear, complete your tasks and to get ready for your next challenge.

I am ready!


The opinions and views expressed are those of the article’s author, Art Goodrich, who also writes as ChiefReason. They do not reflect the opinions and views of, Fire Engineering Magazine, PennWell Corporation or his dog, Chopper. All articles by the author are protected by federal copyright and cannot be reproduced in any form without expressed permission.

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