Friday, December 21, 2012

Attention to Detail

I have heard it said “it’s the little things that count”. This holds true in all aspects of life and also holds a lot of weight in the fire service as well and should with every member of your organization.

Attention to detail is defined as accomplishing a task through complete concern for all areas no matter how small. It shows 1) you have pride in yourself and 2) pride in your job. It should show in everything you do from your appearance to your apparatus to your station. It matters, and believe me it gets noticed.

I am a stickler when it comes to appearance. Not in a vain kind of way but in looking professional. My biggest pet peeve is boots being shined. It doesn’t take but just a minute to slap a coat of polish on your boots. It may not seem like a big deal to you but to your officer in charge, chief, or even the public it is. It shows that you care about your public perception and the job you represent.

I have also been accused of being anal when it comes to apparatus cleaning. I know some that do the bare minimum when it comes to cleaning the rigs. Just spray it with water and back it back in and call it good. Some that give it the white line special (wash from the white line down) because that’s the only part that is seen up close. I believe in washing the whole thing and drying it because I hate water spots and then finishing it off with tire shine. Yes, I am all about the tire shine. It looks better and stands out, shows you care.

Do you make sure the engine room is swept, mopped, everything in its place? Do you knock off the sheetrock debris from the tools from the last fire, and wipe the tools down?

I know it seems like it doesn’t matter but the attention to the little things pays off. Some may call it OCD or petty but to those that matter your attention to detail shows caring and pride in what you have and what you do. It gets noticed, trust me.

Until next time,

Stay safe

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Old Habits Die Hard

It truly amazes me that with all of the fire service websites at ones finger tips and all the magazines laying around with great training on new tactics and work smarter not harder methods, we still resort back to the same old tactics we always have. No one wants to venture outside their comfort zone.

Seems like every run you here the same thing come across the radio “...upon arrival pull and 1 ¾’’ attack line” Sure that’s our bread and butter but it’s not an umbrella for all situations. Think outside the box. Here’s an example: you arrive on scene of a single story, ranch style, residential dwelling with nothing visible. The homeowner meets you and says the fire is in the stove. You go to work, pull the attack line off the pumper, tromp through the hose dragging hose, knock over grandmas china cabinet, see the fire in the oven, open the oven door and flood the kitchen with water and the fire goes out. You get a big hug from grandma for not letting her house burn down and causing minimal damage, the neighbors all wave and say thank you as you pack up and drive away. Just another day at the office, right?  Now take that same scenario, you pull up nothing visible, homeowners says the fire is in the stove. Instead of coming out guns blazin’ you think. Walk into the kitchen find a small fire contained in the oven. You use “the can” (Read Water in the Can by Ryan Pennington) and about a gallon of water to put the fire out. Only minor damage to the stove, no broken china, no dragging hose through the house. You still get a big hug from grandma because you saved the house, the neighbors may or may not have even realized you were there, and you head back to the station. Just another day at the office. Both examples will accomplish the same goal but the later just makes more sense. This is just one example there are more.

So the question is why do we always pull the attack line? Easy, because it’s habit! We start off our careers learning how to deploy it, how to load it, and that it’s out life line. I am not arguing that at all but sometimes it’s just not the best choice.

Another reason we always want to pull the attack line is because that’s all we train on. We read the new articles, talk about them and that’s as far as it gets. No hands on, getting out and trying anything new to see if it works. Are we afraid to try? Maybe, or are we just set in our ways and stick to what has worked for years and comes natural?

It is easy to fall into a routine, do what comes natural, but if you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got. Instead of reading and talking about something, get out try it, break old habits, and develop new tactics. Grandma and her china will be happy you did.

Until next time,

Stay Safe

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Whose Job Is It?

Feels like it has been forever since I have had a chance to sit down and even think about writing anything. Between Thanksgiving, my work week, working extra at the Tennessee High School Football championships, teaching CPR at the high school, and spending time with family, to say I have been busy is an understatement.

Being as busy as I have has also given me time to think about stuff as well. As a captain with my department, I have certain duties that I have to do. Making sure my 5 assigned stations are clean, equipment is in a state of readiness, apparatus are clean and nothing broken. On top being captain, I am also Public Education and Information Officer for the department. Needless to say sometimes things get missed or put on the back burner simply because there are not enough hours in the day. I don’t want it to seem like I’m trying to make excuses but its reality. I am one person and as much as I want to do it all it just doesn’t happen like I plan.

If I miss checking something, miss a P.R. event, or something is found wrong on a scene when needed it’s on me. What really baffles me is that if the question is asked about why something didn’t get done or what’s wrong with something, the answer is “it’s not my job”.

I realize that if I slack off, it’s my fault. I’m human, things happen. Instead of saying it’s not my job, step up and do it. Not to make you look good or me look bad, but because it needs to be done. It don’t matter who’s job it is , if it gets done and we don’t look like a bunch of jack wagons on scene that because someone didn’t do their job, it’s all good. Finger pointing and the blame game can be discussed back at the house and a solution can be found. I have done my fair share of picking up slack. I know everyone else has as much going on as I do and things fall through the cracks unintentionally. I am not above picking up a broom or taking out the trash if an engineer or firefighter missed it.  It needs to be done, so does it.

So whose job is it? The answer:  it doesn’t matter! It needs done. We all need help from time to time. From the chief to the new guy, get in there and get it done not for self but for the good of the department. We all look good together, we all look bad together, we are a team and like the old saying goes there is no “I” in team. We could all do better at stepping up and getting it done making it our job so that we all look good.

Until next time,

Stay Safe