Just the other day I was sitting here at work and was part of a short conversation on a theory of why the fire service is the way it is. You know us firefighters; we will sit around the galley table and solve everything. Doesn’t matter if its fire service specific or how to fix the economy, run the presidency, or the way we would deal with the Ebola situation. In this case in particular it was about how the fire service is plagued with firefighters who are always trying to come up with the next best thing and that we are fine the way we are. If you have seen the movie Something about Mary, you may remember the part where Ben Stiller picks up a hitch hiker. While cruising down the road the hitch hiker talks about how he came up with a new workout video called 7 minute abs. This new workout program makes the existing 8 minute abs obsolete. Ben Stiller looks at him and says, that’s great, but what if someone comes in and makes a 6 minute abs video? The hitch hikers replies with anger and denial. As if to say, no one can come up with a 6 minute abs video. Mine is the best. Mine is the only way it should be done. Everyone should just use my 7 minute abs.
This co-worker of mine went on to say that’s what one problem with the fire service and used the movie as an example. That if we all just did 7 minute abs we would be fine. If we all just accepted things as they are now and didn’t try to improve, we would be fine; at least that’s how I took it. Every one of us should be looking at the “6 minute abs” approach to the fire service. Think if no one ever tried to come to work, sit around and think to themselves, how could I improve the effectiveness of my engine company? How can I pack this load for a quicker deployment on a set of stairs? How can I get my company faster at reaching the roof to cut a h***? We would all still be sitting stagnant with no forward thinking mindset. I have had firefighters and officers alike argue with me that they way I pull a hoseline is good, but the way they do it just fine too. I agree, to a point. If a firefighter were to show me a way to stretch a line to the front door and be ready for a quick advance a knockdown of the fire, you better believe I am going to give that method a chance. Who cares? So this new method shaved 30-45 seconds off of my hose deployment. What’s the big deal right? It’s only half a minute. That’s 30 to 45 seconds quicker that you will have water on the nozzle. That’s 30-45 seconds more time for you to make entry and stop fire growth and begin confinement. That is 30-45 more seconds for you or someone else to break off and search a room for life and possibly save someone’s life.
So, all of us should embrace the 6 minute abs approach. All of us should be trying to find something that will make our job more efficient. Do old methods work? Yes, of course they do, but not all of them. Don’t be the hitch hiker I described earlier and sit back and say to yourself or others that no one can come up with a better way; no one can do this better than I can. The fire service needs people out there who are trying to come up with the next best thing, for the right reasons. Not to increase the size of your wallet, and not for selfish reasons either. Constantly train and try new methods. For my co-worker that thinks that there is a problem with the fire service having this mentality, you are very wrong. For those out there that want to stand still, please do. Let the ones that move forward with progress, passion, and love for the fire service lead the charge. Maybe you can find your place on the fireground as traffic control, a door chock or a yard gnome.