All accross this country, in firehouses everywhere, there sits a firefighter who feels that as long as hose is on the apparatus that it is good enough. At times, company pride isolates itself to a cool Tee-Shirt, or a waxed apparatus. However, in the best firehouses throughout the country, tools are sharpened, hose is laid out with a reason on the apparatus, and firefighters are thinking of how they can better serve their citizens every day.
There is no better way to judge the company pride of an engine than to examine their hose loads and ask questions about why they are dressed and packed the way they are. The old adage "Looks pretty, pulls pretty" is not just a saying, it is a truth that us water weasels understand. A hosebed dressed with care is a work of art to any true engine guy or gal. But the frame to the work of art is the why of the loading of the hose. When the question "why do you have a 200 foot flat load?" is presented, every member of your crew should be able to answer with a definitive reason that does not include because it has always been that way. We are in an era when information is thrown at us all day and we must sort through it by asking the why and how behind it. Many of the veteran firefighters think the younger generations ask too many questions, but it is imperative for a firefighter to know the how and why in order to do their job.
Obviously, apparatus specifications play a large role in this, which can be a challenge due to numerous factors and may be out of a tailboard firefighters' hands. With that said, your apparatus is yours. You alone are responsible for its operation and the reasons how you do things on the scene. This is why preparation is so important to each and every one of us. Preparation is the only chance we get to hone our skills and to find our own limitations as well as the limitations in our equipment. Recently, while training on hose deployment, my company identified a flaw in our apparatus design. The hose tray was not wide enough to comfortably stack 2.5 side by side. This flaw resulted in a flawed deployment of all of
our 2.5 lines during training as well as scene operations. Through some preparation we were able to overcome it and modify our system of deployment and hose loads to fix the issue.
Too often complaining about things is the only result we see from identification of shortcomings. We as a service must take the complaining out of it and introduce the problem solving and the necessary preparation and training to overcome our own shortcomings and limitations. When we learn ladder throws in recruit school that is a baseline, as we advance through our careers we should then use those years as opportunities to advance many steps above that baseline.
Excellence is not a one time deal, it is an everyday pursuit.
Remember each day is an opportunity to become better at your craft, if you do not take advantage of that then it is your loss on one level, but in the bigger picture it is a loss for those who you swore to serve. We are expected to be the best in the darkest hour, and the only way to achieve that is to take pride in preparing for that once in a career call each day. As Brian Brush mentioned this year at FDIC in his class "Things that have never happened before, happen every day". We never know when that once a career call may come so we must prepare like it will happen in five minutes.