Traditions in the fire service run deep. Many of them go back to when fire departments first began, A lot of them still around today. Traditions such wooden ladders, color of the rigs, helmet style and color, the Dalmatian, and so on. Just like the ones that have stayed, many have gone away, mainly for safety reasons, but should be remembered. Riding on the tailboard, rubber hip boots, beards, no SCBA, house sirens, and beacon rays, just to name a few.
My point is, you have to know where you have been to understand where you are at. I have heard the phrase a thousand times “because that’s the way we have always done it.” I hate that answer! Tell me why it has always been done that way. Is it a tradition that was started by the first chief or captain? Is it to honor a past member of the department? Is it simply because everyone was just complacent and didn’t question it? Like I said, tell me why so I can embrace and continue to follow the tradition or look into a new,faster,safer way to do it. It could result in a new tradition followed for years to come in your department.
My next point usually goes hand and hand with traditions, and that is pride. Pride is one of those things that can often be taken the wrong way. I have heard it said “that department is cocky.” I don’t see it like that. If you are proud of your department, the way you perform on the fire ground, and proud of the community that you serve, and that makes you hold your head up a little higher and stick your chest out a little farther, then let them call you cocky. Haters are going to hate.
A question was asked by my Deputy Chief to a class of new recruits, “what is the best fire department in the United States?” The answers were what I personally expected, FDNY, Chicago Fire, Boston, DCFD, LAFD, etc. His reply was, “all of those departments are great, some of the finest firefighters I have ever seen, but the best fire department is this one, because its my fire department.” WOW! I had never really thought of it like that before, but he was right. His point was, have enough pride, no matter how big or small your department that you give 110% on every call and provide the best service you can to the people in which you serve.
Taking Pride in your station(s), pride in your rigs, pride in your rank, pride in your helmet and the battle scars it has, pride in your brothers and sisters and what they do, and your department will be the best in the United States .
Always remember, to be too proud is sinful. Be humble, but be proud. Remember where you came from and the traditions that made your department what it is today. Honor those that have gone before you and how proud they were to be firefighters.
BE SAFE BROTHERS