WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?
Sometimes officer behavior leads me to ask “What were you thinking?”
Someone recently replayed to a friend from another department the story about a “group motivational retreat” that I held in the rear yard after a fire. I prefer to call it moonlight post incident in the alley, without the popcorn, because retreat does means backing up.
The fire did not go particularly well, in fact it sucked. It sucked because of a series of early failures that compounded upon one another, as they always do. Apparently some of the guiding principles were forgotten or were allowed to become unimportant over time due to creeping gradualism. I like my creeping gradualism to creep up and not down.
It always seemed logical to me to bring water to a fire and to have a secondary water supply. This is particularly important with aging hose, aging apparatus and when working in a district known for dirty water mains and hydrants. We were taught that rehab was where we all went after we all finished working. I still have problems scheduling appointments for firefighting and rehab during the fire and being the keeper of the clock.
I always told Officers to lay in on a fire call and that it was easier to lay it forward using the apparatus than backwards by hand. I also always promised assistance with the pickup. This simple principle brought about more meetings with Officer Lazy or Officer Wanna Be a Nice guy than any other “What were you thinking” issue.
One morning at 2:30, two Engines, one Truck and myself were awakened by this dispatch: “_ _ _ , ___ Ave., house fire with people trapped, confirmed by a Police Officer who is on scene.” I arrived with the second Engine who stretched in and then took the line from the first arriving Engine and extinguished the fire. The occupants escaped on their own.
I asked the first-in Officer if he had received the same dispatch that I heard. He said that he did and I asked him to repeat the message to make sure. When I asked him why he failed to stretch, he replied that he had pulled up to the corner and didn’t see anything so he decided not to stretch.
I had him direct his crew to hand stretch back to the hydrant and for him to stand and supervise but not assist. A period of time went by and the crew returned to the tail board and I’m sure they were giving me a group cursing, so I walked over. I found about 400 feet of 4 inch still in the bed and I was told by the Officer that they had reached the hydrant. I had them stretch the remaining hose and then repack all 1000 + ft. under the Officer’s supervision. Forward of backwards, your choice. Be an Officer.
As the first line goes, so goes the fire.
As the Company Officer goes, so goes the crew.
Did your promotional interview include your Officer Lazy or Officer Nice Guy promises? I doubt it.
Think of every fire as if it is in Grandma’s house. That’s a principle and maybe an apple pie.
Are Officer Lazy, Officer Class Clown or Officer Nice Guy respected?
Someday you will look back and ask “how would I do it if I could do it again.”
What’s worth standing for?
Nobody determines what the name on your coat means but you.
Define your principles – stick to them – it’s pretty simple stuff.
Don’t shame the crew – do your job – they expect it and they deserve leadership.
You can spot a principled leader by the crowds he draws.
Thanks for reading, caring and sharing.
Have a great day – it’s a GREAT day for it.