Firefighting … a “One Way Street”?

From Backstep

From Backstep

We see the firefighter motivational signs, posters and posts all the time.

For the most part, I like them. They often make their point (and good ones at that).  They’re inspirational and hopefully get you thinking in a positive manner.

Rhett, Andrew and I always talk about the firefighters who “get it”.

Some would say that these firefighters (the ones who truly “get it”) don’t need these types of reminders.

I could / would argue that we ALL need these reminders and motivational / morale pushes but I would also add to the argument to increase what we take from the message.

Take the photo above right …. it’s a GREAT message from a very close and personal friend of mine. A message we all need reminded of from time to time. And, although I understand (and agree with) the message; it also brings several questions to my mind … especially when I think about our future, new and / or younger members who are seeing it. I guess, like everything; it’s open to interpretation.

one-way-sign“Leave the Department better than you found it”. Again, a GREAT message and something we should all strive to do. I look at the word “Department” as meaning where you volunteer, who you work for or as “the job” in itself. But, I have to ask … is this a ONE WAY street?

Sure, there is good in what we do and we run some good calls … well they’re “bad” calls but the few where we were able to make a difference. The “grabs” (rescues), code saves, extrications, child births etc..

In all honesty, these types of calls are few and far between all the responses on the “other end” of the spectrum. The forgotten elderly, dirty, cold, sick and hungry children.  Families who have lost everything … others who had nothing to begin with. The unemployed, the addicted … the list goes on and on and we see them all.

Do / can we make a difference in the lives we touch? YES … if you can’t / don’t then you’re in the wrong job. Is the satisfaction of thinking or knowing you helped enough? Did you call in Social Services, the Health Department, did you do all you could? Were you “all in”?

In return, you keep the images. You keep the thought of how people just down the street are forced (and sometimes choose) to live. You remember the faces, the screams, the smells. IS that our “take away” on this two way street?

How about “US” leaving the job “better” than when we came in or how “it” found us?

How about leaving as “better” firefighters? As “better” EMT’s or Paramedics? As “better” public servants, leaders, co-workers, mentors? How about leaving as “better” human beings … as better people?

Fully Involved Mark

Fully Involved Mark

I can tell you this … every hour on duty, every shift we pull, every response we run takes something away from us.

We exist because it takes people like us to do what we do on a daily basis. This job is certainly not for everyone.

Make no doubt about it … THIS JOB IS ABOUT SACRIFICE!

At times, it seems like all we are here to do is answer the call / bell (understanding that this was NOT the intent / meaning / message of Mark’s image shown to the right).

SURE … it’s “our job” but at what cost? When you think of it that way, it really doesn’t make a lot of sense…does it? We do the work and make the payments … physical, mental, emotional etc. Where’s the logic in that?

Ironfiremen on Face Book HERE

Fully Involved

Fully Involved

I know … you are (WE are) not looking for anything in return. We say that we do what we do for “the right reasons”. I fully understand that but again I’ll ask … at what cost? Is this job a “one way” street?

Look at it this way … are you getting the emotional support you need? For your effort, is the job (your Department) helping you cope with and understand the things you’re expected to see and do on a daily basis?

How are they supporting you, your goals, objectives and expectations?

How are they supporting your family life? Your marriage, the time away from your kids and their functions (ball games, school plays etc)? Are they providing adequate pay, benefits etc? Yea… we all have enough affordable insurance right?

big4 Fully InvolvedDo they give you the “tools” you need to accomplish the job they expect you to do?

If you’re expected to be, and in reality are; “all in”, then how much are they (your Department / admin) invested? How much are they “in”?

I guess my message here is this … it’s NOT a ONE WAY street … and (or at least) it shouldn’t be.

If you’re a young or future member, you should EXPECT to get something in return from this job …. all of us should. RESPECT goes a long way, SUPPORT goes even farther.

If you’re a BOSS, you too should have the attitude and be “all in” … you too should “treat people right”.

Your own people would be a good place to start. Why treat us any differently than you would expect us to treat the people we serve?

Do you see what I’m trying to say here? We can’t keep taking, taking and asking more and more of our members without giving SOMETHING back. How can we expect our members to hold up under these conditions?

mystockphoto comIt’s a two way street and giving back to our members should be EASY.

Spend some time with a younger member. Mentor them, teach them, share advise.

Embrace the Brotherhood…. help each other out where and whenever possible. Cover a shift so “Joe” can go to the Father Daughter dance etc.

Fight for better pay and benefits, stand up for what’s right and stop ignoring the wrong.

Look after your Brother and Sister’s health … physical and emotional. Set the example. Wash your gear and make sure they wash theirs. Wear your mask and teach them to do the same. Eat better … workout.  Lend an ear … be there to listen, give a shoulder to cry on and know the resources to share.

Take more “family time” vs hanging out at the station or heading out with the boys for a beer.

Go home and talk to your wife / significant other rather than pinning it up and being an asshole the rest of the night.

Toss some ball with the kids, read them a book, just sit down at the table and eat dinner with them one night. Watch their favorite TV show, help with the homework.

If nothing else…. take these lessons from the job. Take them and start TODAY …. if not, you’ve got a long road ahead of you and this one  IS a one way street!

Leave your Department better than you found it?? SURE, but walk away a better person because of it as well.

Stay SAFE and in House!

Captain Wines

*NOTE* Many of the pictures and direction in this post came from some good friends / Brothers of mine. Brothers I look up to and respect. I put a “spin” on their postings but did so with the right intention and I think they would agree. If you haven’t already, you need to check out their respective sites…. there are not two more educated and motivational members out there ….

Click HERE for Marl Vonappen’s Fully Involved

HERE for Backstep Firefighter