Sunday, November 9, 2008

Notes On a Scandal

It happens daily. Each time a report comes out describing firefighters taking hits from elected officials or misguided leaders someone within the fire service defends the actions. It's usually the same old, tired voices but it angers people on the line.

Firefighter Hourly is not part of the good old boy system. Neither are a host of others who desire to see firefighters treated with dignity and respect. Still, in some circles, it's about people being granted most favored status rather than discussing the issues relevant to the fire service.

"Let's be kind" is a fine approach if there is a reasonable chance firefighter safety can be advanced in this way. However, as history teaches us, kindness is not always returned. Consider Chamberlain when he offered "peace in our time" only to face a near disaster on the British Isles. Churchill, long tired of good intentions, stepped in to act.

No one person is Churchill. Instead a group of firefighters decided enough is enough. If our own people can't look out for us we have to look out for ourselves. I've heard this repeated time and again from small and large departments. Enough with the feel good stories. Let's talk about what's wrong so a small group of people can fix it.

There are a thousand ways to look at a mountain. It depends where one is standing. If a large body of people are standing where an avalanche is occurring don't explain to them the mountain is good and fine. Instead find a way to help them avoid being buried. If they want a view of the tranquil side they will seek it out. In short, help or get out of the way.

Firefighters are more important than feelings or being in good graces with the high priests of the fire service.
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  1. Jay,

    Great posting! You captured perfectly, far better than I could hope, my thoughts as it related to my Sac. FD post just prior to yours. We need to take action and start standing up for ourselves. Love the Churchill reference as you know what they say about history!

  2. I believe that DIPLOMACY should be the first option. If that doesn't work, then by all means, break out the big guns.
    I have said for quite some time that various national organizations have lost sight of what is important to our firefighters. Yeah; there are some dramatically different issues with the career vs. volunteer, such as pensions, promotions and layoffs; but as long as firefighters are being seriously injured and dying, the goal should be to make it as safe as possible for ALL firefighters.
    And, as the saying goes; if you're going to screw me, I am at least going to get a kiss!
    I like your style, Jay.

  3. Jay: good job on the history lesson....somebody said a while back.."those who forget history are due to repeat it"....A little closer to home without going over the pond we have the firefighterveteran point of view so well said by Teddy Roosevelt to quote:
    "It is not the ctitic who counts, not the man who points out hw the strong man stumbled or where the doer of good deeds could have done better.
    The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."
    We are human beings doing a job which kills, maims, destroys us with stress and all some of the R.E.M.F.s can do is talk a language that while we hear it...makes no sense to those who are in the thick of the work....on the fireline and beyond into the smoke sweat and fears...and Teddy has the thought nailed to the cross of reality.....
    Shannon H. Pennington firefighterveteran


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