In between my writing of blogs and participating in discussion threads, I read some of the other blogs.
I have my favorites and for the most part, I will keep you guessing, because I don’t want to influence the voting for the 2009 Best Blog of the Year (Here).
However; I think that I have read almost every article written by Jason Zigmont of VolunteerFD.org. No; it isn’t a plug. In fact, I may have just cursed him. Sorry, Jason.
Jason’s recent article, “The Traditions That Hold Us Back” (Here) couldn’t be timelier.
I had just finished a blog on “tradition”, read Jason’s blog; then wadded mine up and threw it away, because he caused me to look at the subject of tradition once again.
To me, which is to say that it is my opinion that Jason writes with a style that is not layered to the point that you miss the point! His article, as usual, makes excellent key points.
Now; for my thoughts on the subject of “tradition”.
I don’t believe that a revolution to kill traditions is taking place in the fire service. Instead, I believe that there is an evolution of our fire services’ traditionalism that will define it for generations to come.
The oldest of traditions-that of generations of families sending their members into the proud service of their fellow Man as firefighters-will continue unencumbered.
However; another old tradition involving generations of families that will end up on the endangered species list is the practice of nepotism. Many of us can work with our relatives without enlisting them for some sinister scheme to control our workplace.
But, nepotism almost guarantees that anything bad that can happen WILL happen. I have no problems with a father/son combo, where no special treatment is imagined or real. My problem is with families who seize control of a fire department, plunders it for their personal gain and then leaves it on life support.
Yes; that is a tradition that we can do without and communities that allows it, are ignorant of it or don’t care about it, perpetuates the tradition. Firefighters AND communities must change it.
Another tradition that I hope to see less of are the LODD funerals. I am speaking to the NUMBER of funerals. Traditionally, no less than 100 LODD funerals a year are conducted in this country and countless more firefighter funerals of brothers and sisters taken by illness, disease and old age.
With that said, we must preserve the sanctity and solemn ceremony to pay our proper respects to our fallen brothers and sisters. It is a tradition that must never erode, fade or disappear.
We should not allow tradition that will constrain our thirst for new technologies, tactics or services to our communities.
We should do what we can to change the tradition that says that we can do more with less (See LODD funerals). We are at a point of diminishing returns and a new tradition of closing stations, reducing manpower and having rotating brown outs are taking hold (See LODD funerals). The veterans who have served on properly staffed and properly funded departments must remain engaged in the fight to get their resources restored and put the next generation on solid footing or we risk donning the Class A’s for more funerals.
We must preserve the tradition of firehouse cooking, but we need to eliminate high salt, high sugar and high fat meals. Healthy diets and healthy lifestyles will help battle the growing cardiac episodes and cancer rates in our fire service.
The firehouse, kitchen table discussions is a tradition that has not only continued, but has flourished by expanding to Internet website discussion boards (Here).
Heated topics with heated debates cools quickly when the tones drop at the firehouse, but they don’t cool as quickly on a website. Some will promote respectful debate while others will promote what could be akin to UFC matches. Hopefully, in the end, participants will invoke the tradition of handshakes from one brother to another.
The last tradition that I will touch upon is the tradition of driving fast to the incident-too fast to be more accurate. We must drive with due regard, with a sense of urgency and always with the safety of our firefighters and our citizens in mind. And wearing our seatbelts is a no brainer.
So; what is our finest tradition?
I believe that it is teaching, learning, making a difference and then going home to our loved ones.
We must always remember that the future of our fire service won’t be determined by the ones leaving, but the ones who are taking their places and we must give them every opportunity to succeed.
That will insure that their department and our fire service will also succeed.
In the meantime, we have to figure out which traditions to keep and which ones to write into the history books.
For more on the subject, see Tiger: Here and Here.
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