We often talk about being a "Combat Ready" firefighter. What does that mean? I first heard the term "Combat Ready" and the idea behind it around 2003 from Lt. Pete Lund, a storied fire officer from FDNY Rescue 2 who was also a volunteer at Kentland with his son (Matt, aka "Vinny") while I was living there.
So what does it mean to be a "Combat Ready firefighter"? Is it your certifications? No... Is it a cool paint scheme on your fire truck? Absolutely not. Is it a "holier than thou, step aside I got this, don't question me I know my stuff attitude"? No it's the total opposite. Is it your skill with a hoseline or Halligan? Kind of...
Certainly many people may have different definitions or ideas of what it is to BE this concept of "Combat Ready". I would argue that it is a product of your motivation and attitude along with your relentless attention to detail. And more importantly, your "Combat Ready" state (or lack thereof) is really the sum of all of these little details when put together - not any one of them individually.
This driver from CFD Engine 13 is standing by with his apparatus while crews investigate a gas leak in an apartment building - no big deal, everyday stuff. While he waits at the rig he has several options. Daydream? Check Facebook on his phone? Chat with other FF's? None of the above. His selection was to test the hydrant that he is sitting next to. Not a pitot gauge flow test, no paperwork required - but a quick simple informal check. Taking ownership of his first due.
By simply opening the hydrant, he has checked and loosened the caps. He has insured the stem is intact and that water will flow. He has flushed any debris that may have accumulated since it was last opened. And by touching and using that hydrant, he has cemented in his mind where that hydrant is located. He'll remember that next time he's in this block. So what's all this matter? Is that really necessary?
Fifteen hours later this hydrant was used by the 1st due engine on a working apartment fire in the same block.
Perhaps those simple actions 15 hours earlier contributed to how smoothly that fire went.
Being "Combat Ready" is about the small actions you take day-in-day-out. Actions that at the time and by themselves often seem inconsequential or "over the top". Actions that (unfortunately) most others aren't taking. Others may even mock you for this kind of proactive attention to detail. That's because you're making them look bad. You are more prepared, more motivated then they are. KEEP IT UP.