The church is full with standing room only. A sea of class A uniforms, badges covered with mourning bands and fellow brothers standing at parade rest outside. As a flag draped casket is pulled from the hose bed of an engine everyone snaps to attention, bagpipes bellow out amazing grace as the casket enters the church. The casket is positioned at the front of the church and the honor guard folds the flag. As a firefighter walks toward the pulpit everyone is silent as they reflect on the individual who is no longer among them.
I often wonder that when my time on earth is done what will be said about me. I hope that it is said I was a loving husband, father, friend, great firefighter and did everything I could to leave this job better than I found it. This is the second part of an article I wrote over a year ago. Lately I have experienced some really awesome things that shows there are firefighters out there that love this job.
Over the past six months I have had the privilege to meet some truly amazing brothers that will be lifelong friends. The funny thing is, when like minded firefighters come together it's not about rank, size of department, style of helmets or which part of the country you're from. Many will ask well what's it about then? If you have to ask then you will not understand. When like minded firefighters come together it's about the love of the job, it's about passing on the craft, it's about passing on the passion in hopes that this job will be left better than we found it.
This job is not about you, it has never been and never will be about you. If you are in this job for the money, fame or the tshirt then please leave. If you are an eight to eight out the gate firefighter and are constantly asking what this job can do for you, then please leave. Every time we walk into the firehouse we should be asking ourselves one simple question; what am I going to do today to leave this job better than I found it?
Things as simple as bringing a positive attitude into the firehouse can change things. Our world is filled with negativity and unfortunately so are a lot of firehouses. Don't get wrapped up in the gossip and rumor mills, instead be the one who steps up and squashes the gossip and rumors. Lead by example will go a long ways. In Michigan a few weeks ago I witnessed two Chief officers from different departments taking an engine and truck academy. These two men are truly leading by example, it's shows their people that they care and they have bought in.
Step out of your comfort zone, learn something new and pass it on. Don't be someone who learns something new and hide it. Take advantage of every opportunity, even the smallest thing can turn into a training moment that someday could save a life. Check your ego and your baggage at the door. Enter the firehouse with a clear head and a bounce in your step. Don't be afraid to think outside the box with your tactics and training.
Don't get down when the haters start bashing you. Don't change who you are just to fit in, keep your integrity, your morals and stand firm on your beliefs. Don't become self absorbed, don't lose sight of why you wanted this job. If WE all can just do something simple each day then maybe when our time is done on earth it will be said they left this job better than they found it.
Some may never get it, they will call you obsessed or over the top. We call it doing our job, loving our job and always striving to be better. We are ambassadors and oath Keepers
We are not paycheck firefighters, we are not the 8 to 8 out the gate firefighters, we will not settle for mediocrity and we will not apologize for our passion!!!!
Next time you walk into your firehouse remember it's not I, it's we and do something even if it's small for the betterment of this job. This is the best job in the world and we must never forget that and it's up to us to make it better!