I was reading my facebook the other evening when a couple of younger firefighters were posting back and forth about the there being no “Brotherhood” left in the fire service. One even stated, “I am getting out of the business because of that very reason.” Now to say this hit me hard, is an understatement! But as I reflect back over the five years, unfortunately I can see why these individuals would say that. Coming from a strong brotherhood environment and having the fortune of working in those types of environments it is definitely disheartening to see this type of mentality creep into the fire service. However, this is not the first time in recent months this conversation has taken place in my presence. I want to encourage the individuals in today’s fire service to reflect…Don’t forget to remember why you got into the fire service.
In following my own advice, I can remember the excitement that would energize my body when, as a child, I would hear the alert siren sound for a call in the small West Virginia town I grew up in. I would lie in bed and listen for the federal Q sirens to crank up as the apparatus left the station all at the same time dreaming of the day I could become a firefighter. Still today, after almost 30 years that same excitement still initiates itself. In the words of my first mentors, Rick Rice and Jerry Green, “you have the love of the fire service.” That meant the desire to serve, the thrill of responses, the feeling of accomplishments, the love to engage in a battle, the heartfelt warmth of that smile and thank you from a citizen, the challenges we faced to become a firefighter, the fun we have every day and the passion to have that honor, courage, fortitude and desire that comes with being a firefighter. To many it is just a job. For me personally and my family, it is our life, my career and our extended family. So what has happened to create this feeling, in some cases a dilemma, we have today with no brotherhood? First I think we may have forgotten to remember why we got into the fire service.
So what happens when we forget to remember…
· It will create conflict – with this conflict comes frustrations, disgruntled attitudes and non-supportive actions about everything in the fire service. We are even seeing negativity between the troops.
· You will try to control – This is what I call the Burger King Syndrome... “My way, Right away. The attitude of “What’s in it for me” rises to the surface and there is no more “we” it becomes “I”. When this occurs we avoid dealing with the real issues and become extremely resistant to change. We fail to look at the outside world. Most times we are doing all of this to hide our own weaknesses. When you find yourself wanting to control things, ask yourself this question, “What does the fire service owe me?” I think we need to ask not what the fire service can do for me, but what I can do for the fire service.
· You will be convinced that yours and others lies are true – Remember you are the child of a mentor and the fire service. You love to do the things your mentors did. You like to fight fire, respond to calls, serve others, fellowship with your brother and sister firefighters and protect your community.
· You will compromise your convictions – Your convictions are your standards, commitment, morals, desire integrity, passion, etc. We are seeing a lot of this in today’s fire service. I encourage everyone to remember the Honor, Courage, Duty, Fortitude, Passion, Protection
What will help you remember?
· Look at your true heart for the fire service, the one you had when you started in the fire service.
· Become a mentor to someone in the fire service and seek out your old mentors and a few new ones and become a mentee.
· Everyone opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourself put your true heart forward and see what happens.
As a brother firefighter I ask you to please remember the excitement of having your first badge pinned on, the first call you rode, the first fire you fought, the feeling of being a part of something great and the brotherhood you experienced. I LOVE the fire service and all it is...do this for a fellow brother firefighter!
In closing, my final words about being a firefighter are these - “It’s Not Something You Do…It’s Something You Are…”
Please take time to watch this video on Brotherhood