Has the fire service changed?
That's the question I've asked myself over the last several months. My guys have asked the same questions about changes, leadership and tradition. My answer to my crew is simple.
Times always will change and we have to be prepared for it. But you prepare for the challenges in the classroom and the training grounds. Given our ever changing world, we better be prepared, both small and large scale.
When I started in the fire service, you didn't have Facebook or Twitter, and social media didn't rule the day. Fast forward 15 years later, and it appears the message has changed. As a Chief officer, I understand you need to build your guys just like you build your department. At the end of the day, your people and department are what sell you to the public, community leaders and state & county officials.
I belong to a volunteer department made of 31 men and women. We understand the challenges of our area and the training that's required. We understand we can't structure like New York City or Chicago, and neither should anyone else. You're asking too much of your people, and if you do, you might run them off.
Instead of acting or staffing like a FDNY or Chicago Fire, be yourself. Train and structure to your limits and what you can provide to the community.
Find your own identity.
The days of hard training where you sweat and bled appear to be gone for some, while catchy phrases and mottos have taken over. When I started 15 years ago and even to this day, I didn't need a speech or quote to get me ready to do my job and put in the hard work needed to be successful. I understood that someday, I may have a life in my hands and it was on me and my crew to change the course of that incident. From working the truck to riding EMS, we trained and prepared.
At 3am when the smoke is rolling and you have a family of 4 trapped in a burn home, no quote or motto will save them, and it's not going to help you. The hours you put on the training grounds will get you through that incident and rescue that family in need.
You build your organization and people with hard work and they're dedicated to the cause. That call of helping someone... a stranger in need.
The only motto I live and go by is this, and it hasn't changed in 15 years.
You are a reflection of your department.
Let's go train!