I could not sell my way out of a wet paper bag, unless I believed in the product. That was one of the reasons why I became a firefighter. I wanted to help people and I knew didn’t want be in sales. My dad was a salesman most of his life and I decided that it wasn’t for me. I could not get past the part that if I didn’t believe in it I couldn’t sell it.
I finally found a product that I could sell because I believe in it to the core: Basic Realistic Fire Service Training. I don’t tend to follow one training culture over another: Old School, Science Guys, West Coast/ East Coast, Internet Wonder Kids. I believe all of them can provide good information that we can learn from. We should do whatever it takes for firefighters to be successful at emergency scenes.
“Individual Commitment to a Group Effort- That is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” – Vince Lombardi
Try not to get caught up in the genres of training groups. Keep your mind open and be a student of the fire service. Then share your information with others. Let go of your pride and try stuff (techniques) that might help you and your crew. Share your information with your members and training chief (if you have one) or other decision makers to keep them updated.
The internet is a great resource to find and share information. Provide fire service training web sites for other members to read and educate themselves. If you have questions about a form of training or techniques there are always firefighters online that will give you help. Normally, you don’t have to wait very long to get a firefighter’s opinion on something.
Our biggest competition is the recliner and TV in the day room or the fire service employee that sits in the recliner and complains about the members that are discussing training. If you’re the company officer have the courage to get them up and out to train. Guys might grumble at first but when you put it in the perspective that it’s for the good and welfare of the unit they will respect that.
When I first made captain I was younger than all but one of my crew members. They were a pretty crusty bunch. The first time I said we were having drill they weren’t too pleased, but when they saw me put my gear on to train they respected that. I simply told them that my expectation was to drill on something every shift. Once they got out and started training they would come up with suggestions and offer ideas.
We have to spread the message to fire service members who, for one reason or another, aren’t plugged in to various forms of training and fire service information.
I do not need to research any sales pitch or psychology of sales on how to talk to firefighters to provide a spin on my product. It sells itself: Providing Basic Realistic Fire Service Training will save lives; maybe even your own. It’s all about their safety and providing the best service to our community. If firefighters are trained well and know their subject by rote to be able to perform their jobs in a stressful situation they will be safer. To prove this all you have to do is provide kitchen stories on real life successful outcomes. For example, WFD members Lt. Sam Hittle & FF Josh Forbes performing a VES and saving a child at a working house fire or Sacramento Firefighters providing a coordinated Fire Attack/ VES/ Medical Transport that saved the life of a child trapped in a apartment fire. Both of these events were successful because their training assisted them in a time compressed, stressful, escalating, emergency scene. I see it work in my department and across the nation through news stories and fire service trade publications.
Maybe I became a salesperson after all.