This job isn't easy, and there's no secret to being good at it. The recipe has only two ingredients: training and sweat. Over the past generation or so our responsibilities have snowballed to the point where the spectrum of our services is near infinite. We are the ones called when someone is trapped following a traffic accident, when grandma passes out, when there's a mudslide, a chemical spill, ice rescue, etc., etc...and I haven't even mentioned fire yet. Even though our duties have expanded exponentially, our shareholders still expect us to be experts at our job. So doesn't it seem fair to hold each other to the same standards that the public does...or at least strive for expertise? Hell, being halfway decent at any one discipline in this job requires relentless dedication. So then the obvious question: How are we ever going to live up to our shareholders expectations if we aren't training and sweating daily?
"Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence." - Vince Lombardi
Every morning we pull up to the station we should assume we have training. I understand that we all have a lot on our plates, but training is like ice cream - there's always room for more...oh, and it's damn good too. Almost every one of our skills is perishable, so frequency is a necessity. Don't believe me, have your crew go practice one-man ladder throws. I hope it was perfect, although I'm willing to bet that for too many of us there was plenty of room for improvement. If you don't already have time dedicated to training every day, there will undoubtedly be some growing pains at first. Although firefighters, by definition, are amazingly adaptable, and just like getting back into the gym after a long break or waking up early for school after a summer of sleeping in, after a couple weeks, no one will even know the difference. We owe it to our members, and the people in their wallets (or in their phones) to make training a priority...no excuses! Now let's go get sweaty.
"Expect fire, expect victims, expect problems."
The inspiration for this piece came from my favorite fire service mantra (above). This phrase was a collaboration that took years and multiple authors, namely Andy Fredericks, Bill Carey, Josh Materi, and Tommy Hofland. To me this signifies the importance of competence, and it's ever-present sidekicks - sweat and training.