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The recent notifications of the FDIC 2017 instructors places a great responsibility to those chosen to pass on your acquired knowledge to others. Knowledge gained through experience, education and probably a failure of some sort that may have had you rethink what you were doing and how you were you doing it is the knowledge we need to pass on.  It is my understanding that over 900 individuals put in a bid to teach at FDIC and a few hundred were chosen to speak at this event. Do not despair for those not chosen; there will be other opportunities to make a difference at this or other conferences around the country or in your local area.

I cannot complete this small article without a nod to Billy Goldfeder and his two books: Pass It On: What we Know: What we want you to know and The Second Alarm, chapters written by the most knowledgeable firefighters in our industry. These are must read books as they address the very issue I am addressing this article. Learn from those who have gone before you; have created the successes and endured the failures of our profession.

We all have knowledge and experience to pass on to your firefighters: new and experienced; members of your community and even the leadership of your organization. You are in a unique position to make this happen.

I recently attended the IAFC conference in San Antonio and was remarking why there was not a Retired Fire Chief’s Division as so many of those leaders and innovators, “retire” and fade into the sunset, keeping the accumulated knowledge of the fire service tucked away in their brains. There must be a way to tap into that vast resource of information. It would be convenient if we all had a USB port connected to our brain and we could download that information into another firefighter, a cloud storage unit or some other device that would make it immediately available to our up and coming firefighters with a thirst for knowledge, similar to a network possibly entitled With a few keystrokes, the accumulated knowledge is available for our use.

You can do it now – pass on your knowledge to others as you acquire, process, test and refine it. Surround yourself with innovative, creative people with similar interests and the desire to improve the institutional knowledge of our great service. Reach out to those who may have a closed mind, be less inclined to pilot new programs, research existing programs or willing to refine and improve your current practices.

It is important for the future of our fire service that we do not lose what we have learned in the past and can apply to future opportunities with science, education and experience. We are an increasingly diverse service and everyone has a voice and can add weight to the discussion. Do not quash innovation and those that think out-of-the box. Embrace those voices as we all benefit from those experiences as well.

You are the future of the fire service regardless if you are on day one on-the-job or spent 40 years as a firefighter. Pass it on, you have something to share with everyone. See you at FDIC April 24-29, 2017

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