I mention it because it’s something that has been on my mind the past few days. I’m on vacation, camping with my family at Myrtle Beach and yesterday (Tuesday), I had the honor and privilege to spend some time with a few of Horry County’s (link) Bravest.
Assistant Chief, good friend and Brother, Doug Cline(link) heard I was coming down. He arranged a “meet and greet” with a few of his members and a couple companies down at Station #1. He even came and picked me up in the Chief’s buggy.
We had a GREAT visit and like always, I met some amazing Brothers and Sisters! It’s typical when Rhett (Fire Critic) and I travel and we honestly don’t mind it. In all honesty, we LOVE it … it’s one of the things that keeps us going and that’s the direction of this post.
Our visits are much like an interview. The members are shy and maybe even a little “standoffish” at first but as soon as they see that we are real …. that we are the guys they imagine when reading our material … they open up and the questions / conversation begins to flow.
The opening questions are almost always the same. It’s kind of an ice breaker of sorts and then the direction can go anywhere. Our talk yesterday was a good one. I wish I could tell you the “message” but there were actually many shared in our conversations. It was good on both ends.
The group was a good mix of what appeared to be young and older members. I found the ball buster and cracked a few jokes right off the bat and set a relaxing, open atmosphere (actually, discounting myself; there wasn’t a “ball buster” in the group…LOL) .
We covered a variety of topics and one question led to another. They were like sponges trying to find out and learn as much as they could in the limited time we would have together. I tried to do my invite justice and spend some time on each question / topic.
The question always seems to come up anymore and sure enough, one member asked if and when I was going to leave the fire service (retire). I gave them the most honest answer I could.
I didn’t want to work the last tour I pulled. I don’t want to go back for my next. I may feel different in the morning… I may not. I can’t explain it. Rhett and I have both made a name for ourselves traveling the Country and speaking on Company Pride, Motivating Firefighters etc yet my personal morale is at an all time low. I’m a hypocrite and I told them that.
I don’t run my company like I want, know how to and should. Morale in my Department is in the drain and has been for some time now. I know the things to do and the attitude, image to broadcast but it’s just not there.
I can give ya a truck load of excuses but the honest answer there is that I’m getting tired of hearing them myself so I know you are too. My mental health issues are a big part of the problem but that’s another obstacle that I am going to have to overcome and get past.
I shared, but can’t explain; that it’s (retirement) a day to day event for me. Hell, getting out of bed some mornings is still a struggle much less deciding if I want to go in to work or not.
I have my time and I’ve DONE my time. I can retire TODAY if I want to. There are days when I think to myself, I’ve done and seen enough … that I’ve “earned” a retirement. Then, there are other days (like the moments after spending time with the Brother / Sisters from Horry County) that I get that hunger again. That old burn and passion for the job. And here’s the thing … I can still do it. I can still do it and I’m good at it.
Yea, we ALL have something to offer and that was one of the messages I shared yesterday. Each of us (you) can make a difference. You can make a difference in your Company, Battalion, Department and in the Fire Service as a whole. It doesn’t have to be earth shattering either …. every little bit counts. Your attitude is contagious … if it’s not, make it so that it is! People… your community, co-workers, your Brothers and Sisters ARE looking at you whether you know it or not. Make sure you’re leaving the right impression.
Have I gone to fires? Yea … in 27+ years, I’ve seen more than my fair share. One of our most famous quotes is that as a Firefighter, your first act of bravery is taking the oath or signing on. I agree with that 100%!
You folks … my Brother and Sister Firefighters, First Responders etc do amazing and extraordinary things on a daily basis. You see and do things that “ordinary” people could never (and shouldn’t) imagine. Things nobody could have ever prepared us for yet we continue to put on the uniform.
We talked about some of those runs yesterday. We talked about them, then I pushed them to the side. We don’t run “those” calls everyday or every tour. Yea, they matter, mold, change and sometimes even define us but the “everyday” runs impact us just as much. The number of “saves” or “grabs” I have made mean a hell of a lot less to me than the number of victims I couldn’t get to in time.
Yea, I’ve seen work but I’ve seen a lot worse between those jobs. I’ll take the fires any day over some of the other runs we take in. We see how people live… neglected elderly, sick, cold and / or hungry children. It’s not all about going to jobs and making grabs. How about Code saves … child births …. controlled bleeds … cardioversions etc? Do they not count because there wasn’t a fire?
I don’t, nor do I have to ask a Brother or Sister how much fire they fight … If they are on the job (or in the service) I already know they’ve seen and been through enough. I think it’s a knowledge we all know and share somewhere deep within. It’s part of what bonds us into this Brotherhood.
I had the chance to briefly talk about all that and more with the Brothers and Sisters from Horry County and I’m glad I did. I want to say THANK YOU to them for the invite and opportunity. Thanks for the hospitality and Brotherhood we shared. If you’re ever vacationing in the Myrtle Beach area, be sure to drop in and say hello … these Brothers and Sisters “get it”.
Stay SAFE and in House!