The recent Cumberland Valley White Paper on Fire Service Reputation Management illustrates a troubling fire service trend: entitlement. Perhaps we should stop walking on water and adopt a little humility as a profession. The respect of the public we serve is not automatically accorded, it is earned. The highly publicized scandals involving firefighters have done more to destroy the honor and reputation of the fire service than any outside critic could accomplish independently. It may be time to wake up and smell the coffee: instead of considering scandal avoidance, how about reconsidering the roots and traditions of the fire service that brought us here in the first place?
A serious rededication to our mission would, in my opinion, put us back in our former place of high societal esteem. Ethics is knowing the difference between right and wrong. The tradition of the fire service is all about right. There is no room for wrong. Getting back to our heritage would help put the train back on the track. Firefighters never were and never will be entitled to hero status. Such stature is earned each and every day.