Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Are Your Firefighters Really Getting It?

I had the opportunity to spend a few moments with an old student, colleague and friend this past weekend. I usually don't like to name departments or people but I truly feel this one is worth mentioning. Recently I wrote about Getting Engaged in the fire service. Well the picture I saw on April 1, 2010 was not an April Fools joke. I saw a department who was truly engaged.

Let me start by praising the leadership of the Roxboro, NC Fire Department. Most are thinking, well the Chief must be a strong leader. I would agree with that but it goes much deeper, everyone in the organization is a leader. They lead with their own talents and projects. The department is truly "Engaged". The chief officers are involved on a local, county, regional, state and national level. The officers and firefighters are involved at a minimum to a county level with many reaching the state level and a few on a national level.

So what is so special about this department that got my attention? The entire department truly "Gets It". They understand that it is about more than running calls and fighting fires, it is about all the other things that impact the community and the citizens there. In talking with Chief Kenneth Torain he was telling me about a crew who had connected with an elderly gentleman who had a lot of limbs down in his back yard. He was not physically able to move those to the front for the City Waste collections to pick up. His budget was not to where he could afford to pay for the services and he was in need of help. The shift from that district made arrangements to help this gentleman out. One firefighter brought in his personal equipment in to work, they took the apparatus and equipment over, staying in service to maintain the standard of cover and moved the limbs from the back yard to the street for pick up. another crew ran a call to an elderly female who was a very bad diabetic who had just returned home from having bilateral amputations of her legs. Her current ramp went down a hill and back up. She was not able to maneuver herself to even get her mail in her wheel chair. This crew went to a local business, secured some materials, paid for what materials were not donated, the required building permit and inspection out of their personal pockets. This list continues with taking care of a welcome to Roxboro sign with planting flowers, mulch and even an appropriate holiday character I personally saw people who had stopped to have a picture made with the Easter Bunny by the sign. They have adopted the areas near their station and keep the trash picked up. They are never to busy to stop and talk to a child and they even helped citizen whose car broke down with a ride home and help with the groceries they had in the car. Chief Torain stated that the person lived in their community and had help pay for that fire apparatus who better to ride as she was truly in need of assistance.

So what is such a big deal about this. Chief Torain in conversation stated he had told his personnel that the profession we had chosen was one of service. The people riding up and down the roads and living in the community didn't owe us anything. They pay taxes and we receive our share. But he challenged them to live what most of them said when they became a member of that organization, "I want to help people and the community". These folks have done just that, they live the basic mission of the fire service which is to "Protect and to Serve the Community". This is just a few of the examples he provided. Oh by the way this is a smaller combination department.

With the failing economy of this area and the need for a new fire apparatus the department placed it in their budget. All other city departments who had requested new capital improvements like vehicles had been cut. The fire department's request made it to budget hearing. There was one question asked by the city council..."How can we expedite this to get you what you need?"

It is important to realize that being engaged has political power. These folks were doing what they enjoyed and they were helping their community. They are so politically desirable to the community that it would be suicide for city government not to give them what they need because the community would be outraged.

Hats off to these brothers and sisters in the fire service. Maybe we all can learn something here...

They Get It!...Do you?
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  1. First of all to have community programs is nothing but number. You have to have the department behind the chief foe it to work. It is the firefighter that make community programs. How oftern do you hear bitching about haveing to go into the public. When was the last time you saw a engine company stop and help a stranded person or even better yet a Chief officer.

    Community Fire Department do work as long as the deaprtment buys into it, from the chief to the rookie. It is about the attitude that you you serve your communities. When was the last time you built a handicap ramp for someone in your community, had a cookout for the neighbors around the station. Do you even know who your neighbors are?

    We all know that we can do more then what we do for the community that we serve. If you would do it for your neighbor at your house then do it at your neighbors where you work.

  2. Attention Firefighters! Check out NBC's Minute to Win It Special Firemen Edition! This Sunday April 18th at 8/7c! See the heroes play for a chance to win one million dollars!


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