At times numerous firefighters feel alone while they are at work, despite having numerous people around them. Each day, firefighters everywhere feel as though they are the only ones that care. Caring in the fire service is a great thing because it usually results in pride and dedication; but what no one tells you is that it truly can become a curse to many of us. Caring can bring an unexpected loneliness some days, caring can bring heavy self criticism, but in the end it is a blessing.
As I said, we care, we want to be the best, but many of those around us think we are just “eat up” or we have no life. Let’s face it, not everyone at the firehouse cares that you can do 100 Burpees or even want to know who “Murph” is, but there are folks everywhere that do care about these simple things. All of you know who Andy Fredricks, Tom Brennan, Frank Brannigan, and numerous others are, but let’s face it everyone at your station or department probably does not. We care because we know what our job requires and we honor the lessons learned from past generations in the fire service, and for those who have fallen in the line of duty. Learning who Chance Zobel, Jeff Bowen, and Lewis Mulkey (and 8 others) were and why they should be important to things we do everyday is what we all do, that is if we truly care. If this article has your interest then you are one who learns from the past and values the lessons learned. Also, I bet I just gave you at least two new LODD’s to look up…
Not everyone expects fire on every run, but everyone in that frequents this site does, again because we care.
Being surrounded by those who care is a blessing, but as I mentioned above, it can be a curse as well. If you haven’t noticed it by now, quite often the same group of people in your department are always the ones making things happen, organizing the events, or helping on those special projects. This core group of each department cares to move the department forward and to make their environment a better place. Some people mistake this motivation for self-promotion, but more often than not this motivation comes from a desire to improve many elements of their environment. However, with the curse of caring comes the blessing of being involved in some great events, projects, or with some great people. Below you can see a group that cares. This group of 50 firefighters spent two days of their own time becoming better at their craft, because they care.
Often the curse of caring affects the home front as well. Because we care so much about our careers, we often can’t turn it off; or we bring home petty things from work that our families then deal with. I can’t begin to tell you how many times my wife has asked me why I care so much about little things that so many others could care less about. Time and time again I repeat, “I wish I didn’t care.” However, we all know this is only a way to relieve the stress and reassure ourselves that we should care, and if we didn’t care, who would?
Quite often events such as stair climbs, conferences, and many other fire service events get in the way of things, but because we care we allow them to consume our time and impact our performance on the fire ground. Also, when we have a bad incident or things don’t go as well as we feel they should have, we beat ourselves up for days and end up learning from each and every mistake we make. As we know, we are always our own worst critic, so caring about how we perform only amplifies that fact. Each time we make mistakes at work on incidents, it truly impacts us enough that we make improvements in that skill or idea part of the healing process within ourselves. If we didn’t care and didn’t take time to learn from our mistakes then we wouldn’t be participants in this community, nor could we claim that we were focused on fire service excellence.
This fact alone is why an incident motivated me to write this article. I was part of a very frustrating performance on a scene, and the blame went squarely on me as to why it was so frustrating. However, I dusted off my shoulders and learned about how to never let it occur to me again. Learning is just as important as knowing in the fire service. If you learn what you don’t know, and you know what you need to learn, then you will go far in this noble profession. Trouble comes when you think you know everything, when in reality you need to learn everything. The truth is when those who care screw up they learn much more effectively than those who don’t care at all. Because we care about our job, our performance, and our knowledge, we seek daily to improve on what our shortcomings may be. This allows us to grow into what we see as meaningful members of our individual departments.
We all know that the fire department will go on once we leave and was working since long before we arrived, however it is because of people who care that our job is as great as it is today. It is because of the firefighters who studied their trade and learned how to improve it that we are better off than we ever were before. Lastly, it is because of people who care that we have the support mechanisms such as the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the numerous other charities that provide assistance to the members of our service and their families in the times of need. Don’t think that no one else cares when you get frustrated, because we are out there, there are firefighters in departments everywhere, and we all care. While caring may seem to be a curse, it is truly a blessing.