Return on Investment. A relatively simple business principle that says "by giving us your money, we will make you MORE money." One may question, "how does this apply to the fire service? We don't make money for the tax payers." In short, yes you are correct but we are a totally different type of monetary investment. In truth, many people pay for us simply because they HAVE to or else they will face tax evasion, but there are many citizens out there who firmly believe in what we do. To all of these citizens whether they love us or hate us, they are investing in our service and as firefighters it is our utmost duty to return that investment with the best bang for their hard-earned buck.
When we enter this business we will be trained, we will be given uniforms, we will be given personal protective equipment all of which is funded by the investment of the tax payer. Whether we are paid, whether we are volunteer these members of our community demand the utmost professionalism and competency when it comes time to handle their emergency. I know many firefighters out there who are only in the service to soak up the "easy money" or to be known as members of a fire department. These people are effectively rendering what was invested in them by their communities to be neutral at best. But there are many firefighters out there who have it figured out, who love this service wholeheartedly, who show up every shift or at every function striving to perform at their absolute best. Those who feel that being competent is being marginal, those who believe that their best is not good enough and they will stop at nothing short of excellence and perfection in their craft.
It is true, that when a tax payer dials 911 they don't care whether you receive a paycheck, a stipend or a thank you. The taxpayer only cares that their emergency is handled in a timely, effective and professional manner. We as a service need to strive to make every dollar count, to make every moment of training worth more than just the time it took, to ensure that every interaction with the public is nothing short of outstanding and that every emergency is handled in the best manner possible utilizing the best strategies and tactics that can be provided. I know that what I am saying is a tall order, but by influencing every new firefighter that enters into our service to understand what the community is putting forth and what they expect, we may provide better returns on their investment. At the end of the day we need to realize a few things:
- We swore an oath to serve and protect our communities to the best of our abilities.
- This is the best job in the world, paycheck or not.
- Firefighting is a privilege, not a right.
- We should always act with integrity, dedication and honesty.
- We should be caring, compassionate and competent.
Remembering these small things can help your organization in tremendous ways, by making a personal commitment to provide the highest level of service that you as a firefighter can, you can influence others around you to do the same. Extending your personal level of service at every interaction can help propel your organization to be the pride of the community and when held in high esteem, getting another investment for a new rig or new gear may come just a little easier.
Be Smart. Be Aggressive.