Charlie Brown…


NUTS!!!! As in Peanuts … like the Charlie Brown and Lucy peanuts.

That’s exactly who I feel like today … Charlie Brown.

The scene of Lucy pulling the ball away from him time after time as he’s trying to kick it keeps playing over and over in my mind.

I’m beginning to wonder if Charles Shultz wasn’t writing about my career. How did he know me anyway?

I’ve had the ball pulled out from in front of me once again today. I did not get the promotion to Battalion Chief that I was hoping for. It’s not the first time.

I feel like an idiot. Actually, I’m not sure how I feel. I thought I was smarter than this…. getting all worked up and excited after so many attempts. I guess I’m disappointed in myself more than anything else.

Everyone told me … “they’ll never promote you” … “they’ll just skip you again”… but they didn’t have to tell me … I knew it before I even signed up for the test. I just thought maybe this time would be different.

I was the 2nd senior man on the “Short list” (the Top 7 were interviewed for 2 open Battalion positions) but had more “time in grade” than any other candidate. Actually, I have been an Officer in our Department as long or longer than most of the others on that list have been on the job. I had hoped my experience held value. It obviously wasn’t enough.

My resume is  “run of the mill” and fairly standard. I lack the formal education many younger firefighters have these days. I’ve never been to college and actually dropped out of high school after the 11th grade (which was STUPID). The best part of my resume was the letters of recommendation included within.

I’m not going to list the names of those who submitted a letter for me but trust me … they were GREAT letters from some of the biggest names of the fire service. I don’t say that boastfully but again, letters of recommendation from men such as these, speaking to my leadership, motivation and communication skills / abilities should have carried some weight. A LOT OF WEIGHT.

I’ll add that it wasn’t easy to ask these Brothers for a letter in the first place. It’s just not my “style” if you know what I mean. You know … hey so and so … would you mind writing a letter to my Chief telling him how good I am? I was HUMBLED to read what these Brothers wrote …I even wondered who a couple of them were talking about in the first place…lol.  I wish I could share them with you but it wouldn’t be fair to the authors. They were GREAT letters.

I included my work with The National Firefighters Endowment and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation in my resume as well. It’s been a huge HONOR for me to have been able to serve my fellow firefighters (and the Fire Service) through these GREAT organizations. I added some information about my teaching and motivational speaking all across the countryas well  (along with the Fire Critic, Rhett Fleitz). I feel as if I’ve represented myself, the Fire Service and my Department in a very positive and professional manner .

We had oral interviews yesterday and that’s when I really started to feel good about the whole process. It went well … or at least I thought so. I walked out of that room knowing I would get “the nod” this time. I got to mention all the above information and tie it all together for the panel. I feel like I have started to “prove” myself on a National level and asked for the opportunity to do the same on a local level while continuing to move our Department forward. A well respected Chief that I’ve looked up to for years once told me that a firefighter like myself needs a very good briefcase and time to travel because we are only appreciated 50 miles or greater from our home Department…. LOL.

The Department I work for is already a GREAT Department, being Internationally Accredited and having an ISO rating of 2; but we are also at a “cross roads” if you will. We just made a lot of promotions. We just promoted a new Deputy Chief of Operations which makes up 1/3 of our Executive Staff. The promotion of 2 new Battalions equates to nearly 30% of our Command Staff plus we made 7 new Captains and 6 Lieutenants. I think that may be a first in our Department’s rich history. I’m excited to see the direction our new leaders will take us.

This post is not a “bitch”, “rant” or a “woe is me” post at all. I simply wanted to make sure you understand where I’m coming from and to share with you what I’m feeling today. When I got the phone call this morning, I felt as if I’d been kicked in the gut! I’m sure it happens everyday to Brothers and Sisters all across the country and it’s a shame. I know there’s a better way.

I have all the confidence in our Chiefs and I’m sure they made their choices for the right reasons…. for the “greater good” of our Department.  I’ll add my congratulations to all of our new Officers and wish them the best of luck. I say that with all sincerity and offer my assistance if any of them should need it.

Anything less would make me a hypocrite. I may be broke but I’m not broken. Isn’t this exactly what Rhett and I travel so much to speak about? “Owning the job” …. Tradition, Pride, Honor, Respect and the Brotherhood.  Isn’t circumstances like this what has made me such a well respected Captain?

It’s NOT about me and some promotion … it’s about the job … about the Brothers and Sisters I work with. It’s about moving our Department and the Fire Service forward and making sure everyone goes home. My passion for the job makes me feel bigger than any promotion they could have given me. I can (and will) walk into the station on Saturday morning with my head held high. I’ll walk in with Pride…. I gave it my best shot.  I hope that my doing so will serve as a lesson to any of you out there facing the same circumstances. Pick yourself up …. never give up …. and “keep fire in your life”. I’m as motivated and passionate today as I was yesterday and the day before that.

I’ll finish by saying THANKS to everyone who helped me prepare for the testing process and to those who wrote my letters of recommendation. I’ll also apologize for missing the mark and possibly wasting the time and efforts of so many great people. I hope you all know it was greatly appreciated and not taken lightly…. because you were behind me, I was able to do my best.

Captain Wines