Any member of the Fire Service would agree that there are many pros and cons to our profession. Of course, topping the list of cons could range from working holidays, long hours away from our families, pensions being attacked, job cuts, etc. The list could continue to go on, but as an optimist, I’d like to focus on the pros. If you think about how we work an average of 10 days a month, get the biggest rush when the bell hits, and get to interact with members of the public in all kinds of situations, we have the best job in the world. I often reflect about the fact that I actually get paid for doing this job that I love so much. Of course, there are also the many volunteers that do the exact same job we do and it is all because they love the exact same activities that we all do.
This week kicked off Fire Prevention Week 2014. This week is one that departments all across the country are very involved with the communities that they protect by offering station tours, providing safety demos, urging citizens to check their smoke detectors, and visit schools/day cares to talk with the kids. All of these events make for a busy week, at least in Kingsport, but these types of events make an everlasting impression on those that we have sworn to protect. If we install a smoke detector in a residence that catches fire, those 10-15 minutes are PRICELESS. If we talk to children at a local daycare about having a home escape plan or meeting place, when tragedy strikes…we have saved lives. These are the times that we need to try our hardest to do our best since the attention is already on us, and they are listening.
This is typically our “Hell Week” as many of you refer to it since we work Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I’m only working Monday and Wednesday since I’m heading to the National Fire Academy for Memorial Weekend on Friday. On Monday, we had the chance to present a Fire Prevention detail at a local day care since our Public Education Officer was booked up. He was presenting a station tour and puppet show with “Sparky” the fire dog at Headquarters, the Engine 6 crew took the engine out in his place. He typically manages the majority of our demos and has the first due Engine accompany him to show the apparatus to the children.
Since I was riding backwards and the “rook” on the truck, I was able to talk to the kids about our gear and demo how we get dressed. We typically start by talking with the kids first, showing them our gear, showing how we turnout, and then drive home the point that we are nothing to be afraid of. These kids were around 3-5 years old, so we tried to keep things simple for them. We let the kids climb into the truck, and finished up with letting them flow water! What kid wouldn’t be excited about flowing an attack line? I’m 27 years old and still enjoy it!
If you’re on-duty this week and participating in any Fire Prevention Week activities, be sure to give it your all and make that everlasting positive impression on the kids. These kids are the future members of the fire service, and it could be that friendly smile or handshake that is burned into their memory as they get older that pulls them toward this career choice. They are our future, and we need to be sure that we make the right impression. Stay safe out there…