What Does “Unlimited Passion” Mean to You?
Joseph Kitchen, Bath Twp. Fire Department (Lima, Ohio)
Often when I speak to new firefighters and fire officers I talk about the importance of having passion for this career. Being a passionate firefighter is a common theme among instructors and leaders in the fire service. But what does it really mean? Is it just a “buzz word” that people say without really understanding its true meaning? I believe that we, as firefighters, need to not only have passion for this job, we need “unlimited passion.”
When a firefighter has passion for his or her career, they are less likely to become bored, disconnected, and stressed out. When they have unlimited passion, they are not only happier in their chosen profession, but are also able to engage others to love this career the way that they do. Firefighters with unlimited passion are excited, enthusiastic, and challenge others to be their very best. They see opportunities to improve the organization and, also, to improve as individuals. They think positively and rarely get caught up in firehouse gossip or drama. They love to learn and they love to teach. Other firefighters gravitate to them because of their positivity and high energy. They aren’t lazy; they work hard and encourage others to do the same. They are empowered to solve problems and never get caught up in departmental politics. They are focused on one thing: service to others.
Most importantly, they care. They really care. They have compassion for others. They are committed to serving their communities. They are invested in their service area. They truly believe in the mission of the fire service. Unlimited passion allows you to go far beyond just liking, or even loving your job. Unlimited passion is the next level. It allows you to live the values of this great profession every day. It goes beyond motivation and dedication. It goes beyond teamwork and leadership. To me, it means that you put the needs of your fire department, your community, and your fellow firefighters above your own. Firefighters with unlimited passion want to see others succeed.
Imagine if every department had one person with unlimited passion. Imagine if each shift had one person like this. What if your department had five or six people like this? What if your supervisor had unlimited passion? Can you imagine the impact it would make? Unlimited passion goes beyond loving your job. It’s being fully engaged in your career and knowing that when your shift is over and you leave the station, you did your very best.
If after reading this you are feeling like, “I want to have unlimited passion, but I am falling short.” Here are a few tips on how you can change your mindset and begin heading down a path that leads to unlimited passion:
Never come to work with a poor attitude. (This is an easy choice.)
Value others and treat everyone with kindness. Just be nice. Always.
Operate as part of the team. Engage your coworkers positively at all times.
Do your very best. Whether it’s rescuing a victim from a fire or washing the truck, do the best job possible.
Never lose sight of our mission. Ever.
Don’t let yourself feel entitled. No one owes you anything.
Learn. Train. Drill. Read. Ask questions. Seek knowledge.
Remember how bad you wanted this job, and never forget it. Ever.
Be ethical. Do the right thing. Always.
Don’t let anyone destroy your love of the service. If there are poisonous people in your organization, avoid them. Misery loves company; never join them, even if it’s the majority.
One person within an organization can make a difference. One person on a shift, a truck company, or a crew can set the tone and change an organization. Unlimited passion for this job, which I believe is the greatest on Earth, is attainable by all. Just make the choice.
Joseph Kitchen, OFC, is the Chief of the Bath Twp. Fire Dept. (Lima, Ohio.) He began his career in 1990 and has served as fire chief since 2002. He holds degrees in EMS and fire science, and in 2012 was named “Fire Officer of the Year” by the Ohio Dept. of Public Safety. Follow Chief Kitchen on Twitter @bathtwpchief and visit his department’s website at www.bathtwpfd.com