I remember that day as if it was yesterday. I wasn't in the fire service, heck, I hadn't even graduated high school. I can tell you the classroom, the subject, the teacher and the emotions I felt that day.
I can remember watching the two giant towers crashing down to the ground, the images of the Pentagon, the field in Shanksville. Those images I'll never forget. I remember thinking about all of the innocent lives lost, the thousands of people whose lives would never be the same again.
Fast forward a few years. I was a junior in high school when I got involved in the fire service. I knew I wanted to be a firefighter more than anything. I can't say that 9/11/2001 was my absolute motivation for getting into the fire service but I can assure you it definitely played a part.
It's the evening of September 10th, 2015 and I'm at the firehouse in the middle of a 48 hour shift. As I finished dinner tonight, I couldn't help but think about 9/11/2001. I thought about the 343 firefighters who lost their lives that day. I then thought about the current state of the fire service. The constant battle of interior vs. exterior, VES, ventilation tactics, you get where I'm going with this. We have become our own worst enemy when it comes to fire service issues.
I couldn't help but think, "what would some of the 343 say about the current issues facing the fire service?" I can't say, because I didn't know any of them, but what I know about many of them is that they showed by their actions, the very heart of what the fire service is about. They pulled off the most successful rescue mission known to the fire service.
Service above self.
Service above self to me means to use the most appropriate tactics given the challenges that I'm facing. Doing the right thing in the right situation for the right reasons. If that means me risking my life, then that's service above self. I didn't sign up guaranteeing that my life was more important than another.
I think the fire service has taken a step back from the days of 9/11 by telling our firefighters that they're more important than Mr. or Mrs. Smith. We aren't upholding that service above self. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that we should run into every burning building with reckless abandon, but we should be taking some risk. What I am saying is that we should look to provide service above self. This is an "ultra-hazardous profession." We all knew that when we signed up.
Let's do the 343 proud and provide service above self every time we go out those doors.