Blowin’ Smoke is back! This week it features “the anonymous guy that writes for www.10seventyfive.com.” If you haven’t checked out the site, you are missing out. I recently had the chance to meet this blogger at FDIC. The only way I was able to figure it out was by the 10seventyfive t-shirt that he was sporting at the Hard Rock. This article is probably unique in that he has only been in the fire service a few years, but he has been really active and catching on quick!
How many years have you served in the fire service?
I’ve been in the fire service for four years.
Why did you join the fire service?
I left the military and was looking for a way to give back. I ended up finding a vollie department and immediately fell in love with it.
Is there any distinct way that you have tried to make a difference?
I’m a huge fan and advocate for new technology in the fire service. After pleading to get a CAD system that would send text messages since people don’t keep their radios on them, I finally set one up on my own and everyone fell in love with it. It’s increased the amount of people that respond to calls by a pretty large amount. Any chance I get to try and introduce a new technology to the department is one that I take. Outside of that, I try to keep up-to-date on the latest methods and training in the fire service, try to master it, and then teach others around me. Until recently, the training culture in our department was very lax, but now we’ve established a very good training program. We’re finally able to implement a PT program that I’ve been pushing for since I joined. I can’t take full credit for any of it, but I like to think that I’ve helped make some of it a reality.
I’ve accomplished a ton of personal goals, but there are a lot more that I’m still striving to reach. When I first started, it was things like “memorize everything on the engine” and “learn how to pump the truck”. I still have those small goals that I work towards every day, including becoming better and more efficient at tasks that I already know how to do, but my long term goal is to learn how to become a better leader and mentor.
What is the biggest change that you have witnessed since joining the fire service?
I’ve only been in the fire service for 4 years, and all of that has been spent in my tiny little volunteer department, so I obviously don’t have a very broad career to draw from on this question. One thing that I have noticed though, is that the fire service seems like it’s finally starting to take safety and accountability seriously. The state of Texas is making the “Courage To Be Safe” class mandatory for ALL firefighters in Texas by either 2014 or 2015, and I see this is a very positive thing. Between talking to the old-timers and reading, it seems like the fire service has always had a mentality of “invincibility” and it seems like we’re finally realizing that it just isn’t true anymore.
What do you believe is the biggest challenge that the fire service faces today?
I don’t think that I would call it the “biggest” challenge, but with the cameras, cell phones, and wide-spread media presence that we didn’t have 5 or 10 years ago, I think we’re looking at having to finally learn how to manage PR. A good example of this is the recent video that Dave Statter posted where a Captain in Florida goes off on a man for filming an LZ. Although the Captain crossed the line, in the past it’s something that might have been talked about between friends and forgotten. Today it is something that immediately gets posted on YouTube and leaves a bad mark on the department. With that said, I think it’s an AMAZING PR tool if used correctly, but it’s something that we all have to be extremely aware of.
What is the best firehouse prank that you might have “allegedly” been involved in throughout your career?
Haha, no way am I answering this!
During your many years on the job, how were you able to push through the darkest of times?
Thankfully there haven’t been a whole lot of calls that really bothered me, although a few have gotten to me. We always talk about incidents after they are over with, and everyone is very good about being open with each other when something is getting to them. There are a few that I look back on and think “If I would’ve done X different, I wonder what would have happened?” I’ve come to realize that I can’t let things like that get in my way. Bad things happen to good people sometime, and it’s not our fault. We’re there to help AFTER something happens.
If you could provide some of the younger generation of firefighters with a few “words of wisdom,” what would they be?
This is a weird question since I am part of the younger generation. What I would tell anyone new to the fire service is to find a good mentor and to stick by them. If someone tells you to do something differently than you’re used to, don’t ignore the advice, but add it to your toolbox. Train as much as you can. Learn as much as you can. The fire service is one of the greatest things you could get in to. When I joined the military, everyone preached about how strong the brotherhood is and they were absolutely right. The brotherhood in the military doesn’t even hold a candle to the brotherhood in the fire service. I thought that by joining my volunteer department that I would have something fun to do on weekends and when I wasn’t at work, but what I really got was a family. My department has helped me out tremendously many many times, and for that I am truly grateful in every sense of the word.