Happy summer everyone. I had breakfast with two close fire service friends yesterday morning (Jim Murtagh-NY, Jack Murphy-NJ) and on the way home I was giving thought to my next blog. Lucky for me, I opened my email this morning and my good buddy Rob Beattie from New Jersey who had visited with us in the past wrote something that I thought was spot on. He loves the job as I do and lots of you. Rob makes a point of telling us how and why and even offers a few tips on how to get others to love it as well. About 20 years ago, my friend Rick Lasky said on the stage at FDIC “if you don’t love this job, go and stock shelves at Wal-Mart. They’re always looking for help.” Rob’s been in the job about that amount of time and obviously he “gets it.” Take a read on loving the job and if you still don’t, they still need people at Wal-Mart.
Be well, be safe,
How Do We Love the Job?
Rob Beattie, Captain-NPFD (NJ)
Love this job? A question, asking to identify an emotion; a statement of how I feel about the job we do.
Love this job. Maybe more appropriately stated; this is direction, a suggestion of action to be taken. Something I can do.
Love as an action makes it something I can participate in. So, to use the word in another context; how do I love my job?
Loving the job means I have taken responsibility for myself. I strive to look and act professionally. I seek opportunities to learn. I make an effort to work as safe as I possibly can, even before I have to respond. My PPE is clean and well maintained, I wear my seatbelt whenever the apparatus is in motion and I am an active participant in my health and wellness.
I keep informed and open to change. I take little for granted and seek improvement, even after I am successful. I understand and accept the fact that what I am responsible for, and the circumstances I am placed in, in the course of duty, are not resolved without my intervention. Loving the job means I plan, prepare and practice so when I have to perform it will not be my first time.
This is how I love my job. This is how I love OUR job.
I feel obligated to share what I know and gain from others what they know in order to make our job better. As an officer in my Department, I enjoy “above-standard” performance from my personnel much more than I do my personal achievement. I take responsibility for them and ensure their opportunities to learn are provided; they take it from there. Loving the job means it’s all about “us” for we are all in this together.
Loving is the difference between just knowing our history and truly appreciating it. The fact is we are not the first to wear this uniform, this badge, this helmet and coat. We must instill that philosophy on those who will follow us. We must embrace our history, not erase our history.
Generations of firefighters loved the job before us, which is why we have a job to love. They didn’t say the words, but they were invested and committed. They demonstrated love of the job in the way they did the job.
So, you love the job. How do you love the job? May I suggest the following? :
Participate in or initiate training. Make a commitment to yourself to learn something every time you are in the station but don’t limit yourself to those moments. It’s an on-going process. Learning, like loving, is an activity and requires effort, a lot of effort. Don’t wait to be told to train. There is no “knowledge-fairy” dropping by to sprinkle wisdom dust on you. You have to go get it and you have to want to go get it.
Practice with a seldom-selected tool or piece of equipment for proficiency. Bug the senior man on the apparatus floor to show you the pump panel one-more-time. Get the Probie out on the floor to teach them the tricks-of-the-trade. My favorite; complete a task that requires everyone to play a role.
Attend events inside and outside of your own Department that celebrate our profession. Trade shows and musters are great but if you haven’t done so, attend someone else’s Valor awards ceremony. Attend a memorial service, promotional ceremony or retirement party. Go to the funeral and witness the honor we show for our brethren. Attend the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation Memorial Weekend in Emmitsburg, MD held each year in October. It will change your life. Expose yourself to others’ accomplishments and heartaches. Offer support, show respect, gain perspective and love the job.
The reality is that not everyone will love the job the same way I do or you do, and we will have to work to be OK with that. (I’m not there yet but I’m getting better.) We cannot make someone love the job. We can only demonstrate our love for the job. Loving the job is a choice we make and a commitment to our relationship with the fire service. As my love for the job will not diminish due to outside influences, I will not influence someone else to feel the way I do. They have to arrive at it themselves. We can facilitate that for them by simply asking; how do you love our job?
Take good care of yourselves. Be safe.
Rob Beattie, Captain