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In 2009, I wrote an article for the “Everyone Goes Home” Newsletter. In it I wrote about the generational differences that we have to overcome, in order to get good fire prevention education out there. Fire Prevention supports our mission of saving lives and protecting property, but we still need to understand how best to get out those “safety messages” with one general concept in mind ( Life Safety), yet in the language that each generation can embrace and remember. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but I digress. So, I’ve been reading, thinking, listening and talking around the firehouse and training areas, as many of you probably are, about how the “brotherhood” term is being misused, misunderstood and how that it has lost its meaning that it once had or has been just plain forgotten about. All of that took me back to that article and I thought that not only do we have four generations of learners out there, we have four generations of firefighters in our firehouses. That thought sparked three questions; “What have you done  in your generation?  What have you done for your generation?” and “What have you done for their generations?” This too can also be tied into the“brotherhood” conversations. Maybe we're not understanding each other because we don't know how to understand each other. But understanding each other, helping each other and looking out for one another is very much part of that "brotherhood" we speak of. And being a part of the "brotherhood" requires that you learn and earn a spot to be a part of it.  Being employed anywhere but especially, the fire service, requires learning. It also requires instruction, teaching, mentoring and bringing each other along. The latter means that the instructor brings along a recruit or “probie” and vice versa. We can learn from each other. “Bringing each other along” also means that the older generation brings along the younger generation and vice versa too. After all, if we’re in it to win it, we’re in it together !  The thought of “bringing each other along”, will need patience, compliance, understanding, willingness, ambition and pride ! What that thought doesn’t need is cuddling, coddling, laziness, bad attitudes and kissing ischial tuberosities !. I’m part of the “baby boomer” generation. And while I cannot speak for everyone in my generation, I would bet that the majority of us who entered the fire service did so because we wanted to “help people” or “to give back to my community”. And you, in your particular generation, may have entered with those same thoughts. Well the helping and giving back to your community includes your brothers and sisters who did and did not grow up with you and had or didn’t have what you had, saw or didn’t get to see, what you saw, did or did not live through what you lived through and so on. To the older of us that may be reading this, I say to you; To the point of nausea, we have learned that “there is no I in team”. Yet we let struggle, roll our eyes or laugh at that rookie on a drill night or before a test. You know, someone taught you. Why did someone back then teach you? Very simply, we have to keep the fire service going.  To the youngsters that may be reading this, I say to you, if you do not know, ask. If the person you ask doesn’t know or doesn’t want you to know, go to someone else and then seek out an officer. Learn your chain of command and don’t take every problem you have to the chief. With that, if you have a better way of instructing the group, suggest your way with respect, not disrespect. I for one, want to help you to learn. I want to know how you learn, as do many others. Proceeding as a “know it all’, at any level, is a bad thing and leads to unfortunate incidents and accidents. The laziness among us all should not be tolerated. If you don’t want to do the job anymore or dislike it so much that it affects your life or family life, step back, take a vacation, do something to regain perspective or get out and do something else. If you don’t want the help offered to you and fail, we may offer that help again, but probably not too many times after that. There is a limit. Don’t lay blame on others for your lack of progress, lack of initiative, lack of time management or lack of studying.  If you are experienced, share your knowledge. No one is asking you to lead a class, just lead one or two recruits. That one or two you lead around in a training environment or at the firehouse, just may be on the crew that has to save you one day. When we can share knowledge, from generation to generation and even within our own generation, there becomes then, the many “eyes” in team. as we’ll be helping each other and have looked out for one another. Some of the best conversations I have had have been with my sons, who are “millennials”. I’ve helped them learn and they have helped me learn. We helped each others' generation. It can be done at the firehouse too ! You may be surprised to learn that the "same page" isn't that difficult to get to. Stay safe. Stay strong.  

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