How did your Department get to where it is today?

In one of my latest posts (click HERE for that link), I quoted a sign that use to hang in one of our firehouses. That sign said “I don’t know where we are going BUT, we’re making good time”. That slogan could be true for the individual firefighter, a Company, Battalion and even Department.
It was a popular post that generated a lot of comments. Because of that, I thought it would be the perfect time to share an article a good friend of mine submitted to as a “guest post” .. if you will.
Andy ChatmanI first met Chief Andy Chatman in December 2013.
I was on my way to speak at the Lake Norman Fire / Rescue Department for their Annual Christmas / Awards Banquet.
Chief Chatman had been a long time fan / follower of the site and sent me a message.
En-route to Lake Norman, I would drive right by The Pleasant Hill Volunteer Fire Department, (his Department) and he wanted to invite me to stop by for a quick visit. I’M GLAD I DID!
What I found at Pleasant Hill (and really anywhere I go in NC) was refreshing. We’ve only gotten together a few times since but always talk online, via phone etc every chance we get. Chief Chatman is a good person and I’m HONORED to call him a friend and BROTHER.

Read my post from that trip HERE

Pleasant Hill VFD
The article below was sent to me by Chief Chatman of the Pleasant Hill VFD in NC…. I hope you enjoy it.

How did we get “here”… and where do we go from here?

“Having joined my department at a very young age I was fortunate with the fact that
some of the original members of my department were still actively serving. That allowed
me to learn some of the history of my department as I ‘grew-up’ in the department.
Fast forward 30 years and now, as chief, I find myself thinking… “hey, not everyone on the
roster knows how we got ‘here”.
So, how do we achieve that? How do we (those of us that know the history and/or has been a small part of it) instill it in our younger members along with getting the message across to those who’ve joined in recent years and have no real knowledge of our department??
In a recent board of directors meeting we had anew board member (not a firefighter, but someone that lives in our community) asking me questions during the meeting. Why do we do this? Why is XXX done this way??
Hewasn’t being adversarial; he just wanted a better understanding!
How awesome, I wish more of our members asked more questions and wanted to know “why”.
There are several things that we need to do, and I’ll try to explain them in an orderly fashion if my
ADD doesn’t take over.

Visit Pleasant Hill VFD HERE

Where do we start? With the most tenured member(s) of the department and depending
upon the age of the department that person(s) may or may not have been around in the
“early years”, if they were great, if they weren’t chances are they still know some of the
history and can help capture that information for future generations.
Next, search the files/closets/cabinets, etc. of the department to see what pictures,
documents, old equipment, etc. that may still be there.
Andy Chatman picturesPictures – if you find pictures, see if you can’t find someone that was in the picture(s) that’s still alive and see if they can help you identify those that are in the picture(s) and WRITE IT DOWN so others will
know! If it’s pics of former apparatus, document all you can about it. Who was the mfg,
was it bought new, how many years did it serve, etc.
Old Equipment – If you find old equipment don’t be so hasty to toss it in the trash, see if you can’t come up with enough pieces to start some type of tribute/memorial to those that served before you that made
it possible for your department to get ‘here’. Again, document what the equipment is, where it came from, etc.
Tell the story, each department has a “story”, make sure you take the information gathered above and do your best to tell YOUR department’s story. I’m not saying you have to write a book, just document your findings so other will know how WE got…“here”
Finally, where do we go from “here”… if you are a chief officer the ball is in your court to
lay the foundation of where your department is going in the next one, three, five or ten years.
Make sure you have goals, not far fetched, out of this world goals, real, tangible and obtainable goals. Seek input from your members and officers as you craft your goals/plan. Document these goals, and share them first with your board of directors if you’re a volunteer department or your city council or governing body if you’re part of a municipality.
THEN share them with the members of your department, make sure they
“buy in” after all they’re part of the vehicle that’ll make these goals happen.
Take pride in your department, take ownership in whatever you do, and when the sun
sets at night rest well in knowing you did the right thing”.
Thanks to Chief Andy Chatman for submitting the above article. You can find Chief Chatman on Face Book by clicking HERE .
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Don’t miss our HUGE event on Friday night.
It’s FREE and EVERYONE is invited.
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Indy on Fire ticket
Stay SAFE and in House!
Captain Wines