As a new guy how many times did you walk in the kitchen to hear the older guys sitting around talking about how bad everything is and counting down days until retirement. What people don’t realize is attitude is a very powerful tool. A bad one can sink a ship while a good one can make anything possible. I am blessed enough to work on a crew that has a great attitude towards life, work and each other. We have witnessed first-hand how positive attitudes can rub off and motivate others to grow, and when individuals grow the department grows. In a day of short staffing, a volunteer shortage and hiring difficulties do we really want people’s perception of the fire service to be those sour attitudes?
A habit I have made each day is to check the website and see if we lost anyone over night, we keep a running tab of Firefighters killed in the line of duty on our duty board. There has been a lot of talk about why members of the Fire service are dying but not a lot being done about it. According to the NFPA heart attacks are the leading cause of LODD’s across the country. Now lets talk about that a little.
We check off our rigs each day, check our SCBA’s and tools and make sure all the equipment is onboard and ready to go, but why? Well it’s because that’s what we have been trained to do and without those things we cant perform our duties. So where in the mix did we forget to check ourselves? Without us those tools and trucks will do no good, the citizens we swore to protect are counting on us to respond to their worst day, but what if we are not physically capable of doing that? There tends to be a war in the fire service between those who take pride in fitness and those who do not. Society labels us Occupational athletes but what do we know about athletes, The career of a professional athlete is limited on the basis of their ability to physically perform to the standards their fans demand. And yes, there are the chosen few who defy all odds and make it past their chosen years but those numbers are a very small percentage. Those athletes that make it a long and healthy career and are able to retire and have a quality life with their families all have one thing in common, they train harder than the young guys. That is because they have to earn and keep that spot.
So in the fire service are we working each day to keep our spot or are we getting complacent and banking on luck carrying us to the end zone. Now I do not expect everyone to be an olympic athlete but we can all put in some effort. Weather its walking on the treadmill, lifting weights or making a workout plan that uses functional movements which mirror fireground movements and task. Getting in a healthy mind and body will not just lower LODD’s but will enhance your life as a whole. The healthier you are the less sick days you’ll use, fewer injuries will occur and when it is your time to hang up the boots and helmet you will be able to give you family many years of quality time. You would run into a fire to pull out your brother or sister so why not pull them out of that slump and get them moving? We are only as strong as our weakest link, so let’s make all those links strong! Lets stop the bashing and hating and show the true meaning of “ Brotherhood “.
Let’s stop striving to get a few certificates and go on cruise control, be hungry! Chase knowledge, beg for new challenges. Have each member of the crew research something or learn a new skill and share it. We have so many required tasks but are we a master of them all? I know I’m not. It’s a simple fix, each day you clock in strive to learn something new, sharpen an existing skill, take that all-out effort and attitude and work to make your crew the best in the department even if you start out doing it alone, I promise others will start to follow, and remember the next time you get upset or discouraged about your skills, if you wish you were better or faster, keep pushing, keep working and know in your mind that no matter how slow you go, you are still lapping those on the couch!