Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Are you prepared?

At a recent fire department meeting our Chief had everybody stand up and move against the wall if they would be retiring due to meeting their required years of service or meeting the cities retirement age requirement within the next 10 years. As I looked around I noticed the wall was full.  Counting them up there is 21 people who will be retiring. To fill these positions it will take 41 promotions. There is going to be some major changes in our department and the impact will be huge.

Moving these 21 men to the wall and looking around at the other members it is very easy to see we are a very young and inexperienced department without the guys that are nearing the end of their careers. As a matter of fact at least 50% of our department has 5 years or less on the job. Which has got me thinking that we are already behind when it comes to preparing to become the next leaders of our department.

Today fires in a lot of areas are few and far between. Due to advancements in fire retardant construction materials, sprinklers both commercial and residential, codes enforcement, public fire safety programs, and many other factors fire just don’t happen like they did 20-30 years ago. Fires today are also different in the way they burn. They are hotter and burn faster than fires of the past, mainly due to materials involved such as synthetics.

Today’s firefighters will not see the fires that the firefighters of the past have seen.  That is why the experience, knowledge, and tactics to name a few that we will lose over the next 10 years are so invaluable.  No matter what we do now to prepare us for the future we can still never make up for what we are losing as these guys retire. We must start preparing ourselves right now to step up and become the leaders we need to be to take our department into the future, because we are the future and its rapidly sneaking upon us. This is the time we should make ourselves like a sponge to absorb everything that the experienced guys can teach us and pass on. 

We must also look at where the fire service is going and how the types of calls we respond to in the future will be different than today. Think about the future of lightweight construction, sprinkler requirements, automobiles, etc. The list of all this could go on. To know where we are going though we have to understand where we have been and then make the necessary changes.

This is not a problem that is only effecting my department, this is, has been, and will be going on all over the country. As my chief stated to us… “ It is up to you to decide where you want to be in this department and then make it happen. Prepare yourself today because tomorrow you will be the one calling the shots.”

Are you prepared?

Be Safe!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Burn Room Bad Ass

Burn Room Bad Ass….

You know who I am talking about. I love these guys that will go into a burn room and stand up just to melt their face shields/bourke's. Then they come out and say… “ Dang it was hot in there!” Well… DUH!  What the hell did they expect? That’s not the bad part though. They will keep their burnt shields and helmet stickers on their helmets to make it look like they have really been in some heat or had a good working job. They think they have something great. I have a news flash for you…. You look like an idiot! We all know you haven’t done crap. All you did was stand up so you could melt your helmet and look cool. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have melted my shield and stickers in a burn room but I didn’t stand up on purpose to do it. It just got that hot, and we shouldn’t have been in there when it did. But I have always replaced my melted stuff with new stuff. Will I ever melt something again... more than likely yes, but I will not parade it around, and will replace it asap.And not that a face shield/bourke's is much good anyway but when it is melted and you cannot see through it, it is no good to you that one time you might could use it.  This equipment is expensive and it is our lifeline to going home or being made into worm dirt. Take care of it; it could save your life. If you want to be a " bad ass" do something extraordinary and worth telling. If you want to be a dumb ass... well just stand up in a burn room....

Be safe! 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

All In

It's been a few weeks since we have had a chance to post anything. A busy holiday schedule didn't leave much time for anything extra. Between work, Christmas, New Years, birthdays, parties, and sickness, something's just had to fall behind. Now we are well into the new year and its time to look at things with fresh eyes.

Being that it is a new year it's time to take a close look and reevaluate your role in your department. Are you in for the long haul or the quick trip around the block? I have known guys that are just in it to have the title of firefighter and a t-shirt with the departments name on it, and the guys that only wants to make a run if its a house fire. That's all fine and dandy, but what about the MVC's, brush fires, investigations, and special events? Those are part of the job as well, right? These are the individuals that usually want to stir the most shit as well.

What about training? It's part of the job too, the most important part. Lets say you have a guy the that shows up to every training session and every class offered but you never see him on the foreground. Or the guy that makes every run but never seen him at a training session or class. ( yes we have training requirements but you all know how that plays out in a volly dept) are either one of these guys doing your department any good? Simply put, no! The guy training and not on scene is useless. He has the skills but is not helping the team out one bit by not being there side by side with them. The guy making the runs but not training is useless as well. Sure he is a warm body with a heartbeat and a pair of hands, but without the training is a liability and a safety hazard to everyone on scene.

Coming from a volunteer agency I understand that not every training or every run can be made, but coming from a fire service home growing up I understand that a commitment was made when I signed up for the job, not a pick and choose what I want when I want commitment, but a do what you have to do because you said you would commitment. That is what's owed to your department and the  citizens in which you protect.

So what do we do? Easy, up hold your end of the deal and encourage the rest of your department, shift, company, or whatever to do the same. We all have to hold each other accountable. As an officer, I have to do better at getting my guys in gear an making sure they are ready when the tones drop, but they have to make sure I'm ready as well. You can't swim in the pool standing on the edge, you have to jump in and get wet. The same applies to this job, you have to go all in or go home.

Until next time,
Stay Safe