I have been a fireman for 14 years and currently hold the rank of Lieutenant for a city in Ohio which has to remain nameless, I’m a member of Ohio task force one as a rescue specialist.
I have three hobbies… My family, church, and the fire service. If I’m not with my family or in church, you can find me on the training ground. I hold certifications to the technician level in all disciplines of heavy technical rescue. I’m also a hazmat tech and a Public Safety diver.
I’m not trying to be over the top and I know this is a bit cliché but for me being a fireman isn’t a job, it’s my passion! I believe it’s one of the reasons God put me on this earth…
What was your drive to make you want to join the fire service?
I have always been a “type A” personality and I believe that pushed me towards the fire service.
I had this philosophy that I wasn’t going to do anything half assed… If I was going into the navy, I was going to be a Navy seal; if I was going into the Army, I was going to be a Ranger; and if I was going to be a fireman, I wanted to go somewhere that was busy! So, the last 10 years of my career I have spent at and extremely busy fire department. I’m running on average one or two working fires a day… I didn’t just want to say that I was a fireman, I wanted to actually be a fireman!
Would you say there is any distinct way that you have tried to make a difference to either the fire service as a whole or the community you serve?
I think I have done pretty much what other “type A’s” have done and are doing. I stay very active in my trade trying to maintain my skills as best as possible. I believe that is the greatest thing you could do for your community.
I also moonlight as a motivational speaker, primarily in the fire departments where morale is low. This is another way I tried to improve the fire service. If I can help guys find their passion for the fire service again, then they are best able to serve their communities!
What is some advice that you would extend to readers who are in a department with low morale?
One of the biggest things that I advocate for firemen trying to bring back company and station pride is to find like-minded folks to hang around and share information with. This is especially true for individuals who feel like they are alone in the fight… They feel like they are the only one who gives a damn. A lot of times you have to look for like-minded folks outside of your fire department. That’s why social media has been an excellent source of camaraderie and support.
For guys who are working in departments with low morale, one of the key things they can focus on is themselves. We need to stop worrying so much about everybody else and focus on ourselves… Focus on our level of training, focus on our physical well-being, spiritual well-being, and family well-being.
If you are lucky enough to have one or more persons who have the same mindset, the focus needs to be on firefighting. We have become the jack of all trades but forgot our first love… Fighting fire… Being a fireman. If you could maintain your focus throughout the day on fire things then you will see your passion maintaining and even growing! Basic rule of thumb: if you spend more time cleaning and checking trucks than training and talking about basic firemanship than your day was a complete failure!
Speaking of the fight, what do you believe is the biggest challenge that we face in the fire service faces today?
My friend, this is an easy one. The fire service today struggles with mediocrity!
You get guys accepting jobs as firemen for two very different reasons. For a lot of guys it’s just a good paying job with good benefits. For some of us it’s a passion… It is an itch that has to be scratched!
These two groups are two very different groups I see a huge divide between the two. Most of your readers would fall into the latter group.
Being a type “A” personality I have never found it acceptable to be mediocre, there’s never any excuse for doing something halfway. You’re either going to be a fireman or you’re going to be a secretary!
Unfortunately the guys doing the hiring for the last 20 years have failed us… Not only have they hired the wrong people, for the most part, they also allowed their firemen to become complacent and fall into a sense of comfort.
I thought when I joined the fire service that I was becoming a part of an elite, hard-core group of men, instead I found a bunch of overweight, overpaid, bunch of selfish, egotistical wannabes!
But take heart my friends, the tide is turning! The guys that actually want to do the job are rising up and taking a stand against mediocrity!
What “words of wisdom” would you provide to a probie that’s just entering the fire service or one testing to try to make it a career?
Just because I don’t like someone doesn’t mean that they can’t. If I had to listen to everyone’s opinion about everyone else I would not have liked anybody. The simple fact is you’re never going to be like by everybody so don’t try and please everybody.
I would also tell them that they should come to work at least an hour early, without exception!
Lastly, I would tell them that there is no place on my company for someone that doesn’t want to work. And if they wanted to have a successful career they find people who are successful and mimic their every move!
During your years on the job, how have you been able to push through the darkest of time?
I would say that the greatest asset for me has been having a few close friends who believe the same things I believe and it’s nice having someone’s ear when I’m angry or down. There have been plenty of times that I felt like I was the only one who cared, really cared about being a fireman! It’s nice to know that you’re not alone!
For everyone who will read this… Know that you’re not alone! There are firemen out there that still care for the job, they work their tails off to be the best and they want to go to fires!
We will close on a lighter note. What’s the best firehouse prank that you may have “allegedly” been involved in?
I put chicken bouillon cubes in the shower head…. They don’t know that it’s in there until they get out and dressed… They keep asking themselves “man, why does it smell like chicken! Why does my skin smell like chicken noodle soup?”
I’d like to thank you for taking your time to be featured in this edition of Blowin’ Smoke here at The Model City Firefighter. If any of our readers are interested in being interviewed, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.