I spent some time on the road this past weekend. On Friday morning, I headed up to Long Island, New York to attend the 2014 Fire, Rescue and EMS Mega Show. Keeping tradition with our travel habits, I made a few stops along the way.
I knew that Recruit Class #29 of Loudoun County (Va) Fire and Rescue was set to graduate Friday night. I had hoped to attend but there was no way my schedule would allow.
Loudoun County Fire & Rescue(link) is THE place to be in Va. The County is one of the fastest growing within the State and the Department, under the leadership of Chief Keith Brower; is keeping pace while maintaining their high standard of service.
Their Academy is 28 weeks long and Recruit Class #29 consisted of nearly 30 members!
I’ve been following their progress and have even had the privilege of meeting a few of these cadets through Social Media. Rhett (FireCritic.com) and I often get approached for advice and/or guidance through our sites. It’s an HONOR for us to be considered trusted sources of Leadership for the Fire Service. We try to hold up “our end” of the deal.
That’s why I wanted to go to the Loudoun County Graduation. I’ve been in their shoes. I know what they’ve encountered over the past 28 weeks…. the struggles and accomplishments. It’s not easy and it shouldn’t be.
I’m PROUD of these recruits even though I’ve never met the majority of them. They CHOOSE to enter the Fire Service. They were tested and tested HARD. They accepted the challenges and overcame the obstacles…. that takes HEART.
What they may not have known is that the really hard part didn’t start until Friday night …. AFTER graduation. As difficult as it was, Recruit School was the easy part.
Now, they have to learn the details. The details of every aspect of the job … an ever changing job at that. They have to build upon the foundation gained in Recruit school. They have to learn to carry the dedication and enthusiasm they maintained while in Recruit School throughout an entire career.
Graduation from Recruit School is NOT the “Finish line”, it’s the “starting line”. Graduation is a “benchmark”, a healthy retirement is the GOAL.
What they (Class #29) also may not have known was that I was watching. WE were watching … and paying paying attention. They now represent the Fire Service and I have a vested interest in that. My expectations of them is HIGH but so is my confidence in their success.
Well, even though I couldn’t make the Graduation that night, Chief Brower allowed me to stop by Friday morning and offer my congratulations to the class. I was also given the time to say a few words and shared with them some of the thoughts above. In closing, I shook each of their hands. I hope they seen that gesture as a part of the Brotherhood they were preparing to enter. I hope they learned that not ONLY was I watching … I was also THERE. There if and when they need me, just like all my Brother and Sister Firefighters across the Country. CONGRATULATIONS and GOOD LUCK Loudoun County Va Recruit Class #29!
Our wives don’t get the opportunity to travel with us much so it was nice to have her along. She had never been to New York and I was excited at the possibility of getting to show here some of the City.
Of course this was a “work trip” for me and she understands that. Like I said, we were headed up the the Long Island Fire, Rescue and EMS Mega Show and as usual, I was working with Zach Green and my MN8 FoxFire (link) Family.
It was a GREAT show and just as busy as last’s years!
As always, we met so many great Brothers and Sisters. Some we were meeting for the first time while several old friends took the time to stop by for a visit as well.
I only wish I could spend more time with all the folks we meet.
If you were there and took a photo, be sure post and “tag” me in them. I’ll try to add a photo album to my Face Book page later tonight.
So Saturday night, I got to take Donna into the City. We rode the Long Island Railroad into Penn Station and then walked to Times Square.
I didn’t stop at as many fire houses as usual because I knew it wouldn’t interest her.
We took the time and walked around to a lot of all the “tourist” type spots. We even went inside Toys-R-Us. That place is AMAZING and we both wished we had the Buckaroo with us.
The had a full size (4 story) Ferris Wheel inside and one of the seats was a fire truck!
They actually had a lot of firefighter stuff inside. If you didn’t know, Toys R Us is a Proud Sponsor of FDNY and The UFA Widows and Children’s Christmas Party! (Thanks for the info Ray Pfeifer).
We ended the night at the site of the World Trade Center. The area was closed due to snow and ice falling from the tower so we couldn’t get too close.
We were able to visit FDNY’s 10 House (link) where I showed her their Memorial Wall.
Afterwards, we stopped by Ohara’s Pub which is just next door. It’s become a “staple” stop for not only Rhett, Zach and I but for many firefighters who visit the site and 10 House.
The walls and ceiling are covered with Emergency Services Patches.
The FireCritic / Ironfiremen patch now rests just above the register! (click the photo to enlarge).
We enjoyed a good meal, a few cold beers and some GREAT conversation with our bar tender, Paul. He even showed us their photo album dating back to September 11, 2001. The pictures and related stories were AMAZING.
We ended the night with Donna’s first ride on the subway and headed back out to Long Island. The show on Sunday was just as busy if not busier than Saturday. We actually sold out of some items during the show!
We loaded up Sunday evening and headed home but I was just too tired to make it. We ended up stopping in Harrisburg, Pa and getting a hotel for another night. All in all, it was another GREAT trip and I can’t wait until the next one (although it has been nice to sleep in my own bed the past few nights).
Rhett and I have a TON of exciting news and upcoming events to share with you so continue to keep checking in.
I’ll fill ya in on that news in my next post so until then …Stay SAFE and in House!