Fire Engineering Training Community

Where firefighters come to talk training

You have heard them all. Maybe you have even said some of these things. I am talking about fire service staples like the following:

  • “Don’t worry, this is just a routine fire.”
  • “All you have to do is put the wet stuff on the red stuff.”
  • “Stay in until you can’t stay in anymore.”
  • “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it.”
  • “Keep your mouth shut, Probie.”
  • “Books don’t put fires out. Why are you wasting your time reading that?”

     I was speaking to a group of sales professionals about leadership when one sales manager put his head in his hands and said, “I just realized what a lousy trainer I’ve been.” His comment surprised me because he was the top trainer in the room. He went on to say, “Every time a new sales rep asked me what he should do, I replied, ‘Make your numbers.’ That was the dumbest thing I could have said.”

     Most of the others in the room were confused. His answer to the new sales rep’s question was not an unusual one; they had all said it before. However, the man was right. New salespeople are well aware that they have a quota, and their compensation is tied to that quota. They do not need someone to state the obvious. “Making your number” has likely been the only thing on their minds since the moment they took the job. What they were asking was, “What actions should I take in order to reach my quota?”

     Now imagine the new firefighter who is sitting at the table with a bunch of experienced firefighters, you being one of them, and the advice people are giving is, “All you have to do is put the wet stuff on the red stuff.” The young firefighter is well aware of the fact that water puts fire out, but giving such poor advice will do nothing other than weaken your team. You have a clean slate to work with. Do not dumb down this person with overused, and often incorrect, one-liners. Spend time with them. Educate them. Train them. Make sure they learn the right way and the wrong way. The person you give advice to today may be the one you have to rely on to save your life tomorrow.

Step Up and Lead!

Views: 2465


You need to be a member of Fire Engineering Training Community to add comments!

Join Fire Engineering Training Community

Comment by Frank Ricci on November 28, 2014 at 1:06pm

Words matter, Great Post!

Comment by Skip Coleman on November 26, 2014 at 6:25pm
Excellent Frank. Keep it up.

Policy Page


The login above DOES NOT provide access to Fire Engineering magazine archives. Please go here for our archives.


Our contributors' posts are not vetted by the Fire Engineering technical board, and reflect the views and opinions of the individual authors. Anyone is welcome to participate.

For vetted content, please go to

We are excited to have you participate in our discussions and interactive forums. Before you begin posting, please take a moment to read our community policy page.  

Be Alert for Spam
We actively monitor the community for spam, however some does slip through. Please use common sense and caution when clicking links. If you suspect you've been hit by spam, e-mail

FE Podcasts

Check out the most recent episode and schedule of

© 2024   Created by fireeng.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service