How many times have you heard someone follow up a sentence with: but he is a nice guy, or she is nice person? How many times have you heard people make excuses for other Firefighters? I completely understand that we have all sorts of nice people in the Fire Service, but the Fire Service needs Firefighters more than it needs nice people.
He is a horrible EMS provider, but he is a nice guy.
She can’t perform her job, but she is really nice.
He shouldn’t be in this profession, but he is a nice guy.
Don’t get me wrong here; I don’t want a fire station full of mean hateful people. Having nice people in the firehouse is a great thing, but this should not be the attribute that defines them. I don’t want just a nice guy or girl riding with me on a company, I want Firefighters. I don’t want a nice person stretching hoselines, I want Firefighters doing it. If those Firefighters are great at their job and are also nice people than that’s great, but let’s not continue to be satisfied with mediocrity and make excuses for people. If we find ourselves saying, “Yea but he is a nice guy” about someone in our firehouse act on it. Find out where they need the help. Find out what is stopping them from progressing and meeting required benchmarks. Is it our fault for not helping them? Maybe so, but don’t recognize and not act. Sure there are people who are just beyond help, let’s face it. We can lead a horse to water but can’t make it drink. But we can sure as hell stick its face in the water and get its lips wet. Make training, accountability and pride priorities in your firehouse. The Fire Service needs dedicated professionals whose focus is on their duties and their next fire or bad EMS call, not their next softball game, or their next golf outing. I love both of those sports myself, but when you are at the firehouse, BE at the firehouse, especially if you are a company officer. If you are the officer and don’t make these things important to you, it will not be important to your crew.
Again, I do not want to be surrounded by a draconian element in my firehouse. I simply want people to understand that they held up their right hand and swore to protect life and property. We do that through holding ourselves and others accountable, quality training, and continuing to reinforce our core values and understanding why we are here.