As many are preparing to make their way to FDIC or are already there, it is important to understand what our roles are as fire service instructors and leaders. Yes, you are both, whether you are an officer or not if you are helping to make the fire service better, you are a leader and instructor at some level.
I was using my knife the other day and it needed to be sharpened. I have an old stone that has sharpened knives for many years. When you learn how to use that stone and are patient and methodical, you can put a real nice edge on a knife.
It got me thinking about that old stone and the knives that it made sharp and useful. It got me thinking about how that old stone has never gotten one bit of credit for the successes of the knives it honed. But, you cannot ignore the importance of the stone and it's steadfastness. Having a good edge makes the job much easier.
Of course, everyone wants to have a nice knife. Not many have gone to a show or convention and looked for a good sharpening stone though. After all, knives can be very ornate and can come with options that make it very attractive. The stones are usually just that, a stone.
The stones are gray, a little rough and have little use when not being used for sharpening blades. But, without those stones, the blades on many cutting tools would eventually be useless and discarded or put on the shelf.
For those of us that are attending FDIC or instructing, think of yourselves as the stone. You are obtaining information, learning, and growing as firefighters. It is our obligation to go back and sharpen the knives and blades that are the firefighters we work with.
There are some very talented firefighters at all of our departments who left on their own, will become dull and eventually shelved. As the stone, not only do we bring back techniques and skills, we bring back the spirit of FDIC and the excitement for the job. We bring back the conversations, the stories and the new ideas that comes from seeing old friends and meeting new ones.
Don't downplay your importance in the evolution of the fire service. Don't leave behind the atmosphere you experience at FDIC. Be the stone that sharpens the knives and blades back home, those that are eager and enthusiastic. Be the stone that takes the rust off of the tarnished, well used blades that are sometimes out shined by the newer model knives.
I look forward to seeing you all this coming week and safe travels to you all. Prepare to sharpen knives!