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Firefighting is a team, action oriented job. It requires well trained people who expect action and prepare accordingly. The exceptional ones who stand out and constantly improve their team, regardless of position or rank, stretch out their imaginations and they do the team things that indicate that they care, they give a hoot, they hustle, they want their team to look good and they bring a “go suck an egg” attitude for slackers.

I want to be around them, to see them at my fires, to have them on my shift, in my company and in my Battalion.

Some unknown someone has called upon you to perform your profession (what you say you are good at) in their grave time of need. They have never in their life needed you, but in this moment they do. They expect that you will show up, show up quickly, bring water and make their really terrible day a bit better.

You will be judged and graded on your performance from the time of the 911 call until you clear-up. Everything that you do will be recorded and YOU will be the face of the entire Fire Service and everything that the Fire Service represents. The good and the bad stuff that you do at this one incident may be spread worldwide, before you are finished with your critique and clean-up at the firehouse.

Good Firemen embrace the fact that our job has become visual and they hope to receive a copy of the video of the push, or the grab, or when you run out of windows before you ran out of ladders or an overhead of apparatus that was positioned instead of parked.

Good baseball coaches teach the nine players who take the field to move and how and where to move on every play. Great coaches teach ALL members of the team to be engaged on every play. Firefighting is similar. You may not be first-in, the first truck, on the knob or assigned on the search. You may find yourself on RIT/RIC, assigned to assist with rehab or staged. You must never self-eliminate or discount yourself or the importance of your assigned task. It’s a team sport.

In baseball the players who are “warming the pine” steal signals, watch the opposition for untagged bases, weaknesses, patterns and they support their teammates who have taken the field. Firefighting is the same, watch the structure, the flame, the smoke for changes and understand their meanings. Maybe the coach didn’t see it, but you did. You made the team for a reason, be observant, be engaged, listen intently. We win or lose as a team, based upon the input of every team member, but this ain’t baseball. What’s your job?

My experiences have afforded me examples of how exceptional teammates have improved operations, even when “warming the pine.”

I was so impressed the first time that I saw a “what’s your job” pump operator set up his staging area, before staging became a buzz word. He was supplying me and paying attention but he hustled and found time to lay out one salvage cover on the street, a couple of hooks, some SCBA bottles, additional salvage covers and whatever else his observations deemed as important or as a possible need. He had that “go suck an egg” attitude, because he used his experience, while on the bench, to contribute to another win. Nobody told him to set it up, he saw the need, he did it and his winning example was followed by others at subsequent fires and was encouraged by me. I like winning attitudes.

We won a lot in those days – and we still do.

I was mainly assigned as an Engine guy, but I worked with great Truck and Rescue guys who took an interest in the kid who was charged up and willing to learn and to hustle. Firefighting is broad based and multi-faceted. Be damn good at your assigned job and strive to be damn good at everything else. It matters.

Be good at whatever you do. It matters in the people business.

I could hold my own – I wasn’t tall but I was geared low. What gear are you in?

Bring water – and attitude - it matters.

Front door – back door – everything in between is training. I’ll wait for you.

Bring hope to the hopeless.

Be ready on every pitch.

What’s your job?

Thanks for reading, caring and sharing.

Have a Great day – it’s a Great day for it.

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Comment by Mike DeVirgilio on August 29, 2016 at 4:49pm

Nice blog post! 


Great stuff, thanks for sharing.

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