The View from the Firehouse

The one thing that is universal in fire stations the world round, is usually late at night there is a deck of cards, a pot of coffee and two or three fire fighters sitting around solving the worlds problems. It’s just a shame that no one listens to us.

Monday, July 18, 2005

A look at what it takes to be a fireman

This post is more for me than anyone else. I feel that the first two I do alright in, but pride in what do is something that I have to work at. I can fall into the trap of doing just enough to get by. This is from an article by Rick Lasky and was published in Fire Engineering. If you register you can read the it here

Integrity. Integrity is built on character. It's built on honesty—honesty with yourself and those around you. It takes having values. There's more to it than just saying you have integrity. Just because I sleep in the garage one night, that doesn't make me a car. You have to live it. Because when you really look at the whole issue, integrity does serve as the foundation for character and, simply put, your character is defined by how you act when no one is around, by how you act and what you do when no one is looking.

Honor. This is a quality built by respect and loyalty, by caring enough about those around you that you would do anything for them—on duty and off. The brotherhood to me means more than just a sticker on the windshield of my car. It means that when your kids are sick, we help out. That when you're having a tough time with your bills, we help. That when you need to move into your new house, we move you; and when that new house needs a new roof, we tear off the old one and we reroof it. It also means that I would lie next to you and burn the ears off my head before I would ever leave you in a burning building. Honor is also not allowing anyone to give your company or department a black eye or do anything to hurt its reputation. You want to see an example of honor? Take a look at the majority of the instructors teaching in the fire service today. Most are trying to share or make it all a little better or safer and hoping to do nothing more than make a difference in the lives of the firefighters they teach. They are on a mission to teach firefighters how to go home from fires. I guarantee that you'll see honor, and pride.

Pride. Pride doesn't just happen. It takes work. It requires ownership. I received my first true lesson in pride and ownership about 20 years ago. We were working a fire in an old school building. We were on the second floor chasing fire in the void spaces, cutting floor away and opening up walls. I began to notice a crew across the room trying to get their saw started. This went on for a while. A couple of them put their axes down to help try and start it, forgetting that their axes will always do the one thing their saw won't. Start.
While this was going on, Lieutenant Tom Shervino looked to his chief and said, "Let me go get my saw, chief." Tommy said it again, and the chief said to wait a minute longer. But Tommy persisted. Finally his chief gave in and said, "Go get your saw Tom." So off Tom went. Soon he returned with his saw. One pull, and it started and off he was cutting. A short time later he stopped, went into the hallway, refueled his saw, and was back cutting. He knew when his saw was going to run out of fuel before it did. He knew how to start it. He knew everything about it because it was his saw. By the way, the other crew never got their saw started.
I first thought, How arrogant, "my saw"! Later, when I was outside getting ready to pick up and return to quarters, I saw Tom and asked him what he meant by "his saw." He looked at me a bit confused and said, "That's not my saw. That's Oak Lawn's saw. But it's my saw today and that's my squad. That's my company." They weren't his personal items, but he owned them that day—on his shift. Then it hit me. This guy was proud of his department, proud of his company, and proud of his tools, and with this pride came ownership.
A couple of people lately have written that "pride" is a bad thing. I'm not talking about the pride that is associated with arrogance and creates problems. I'm talking about that feeling you get with a job well done or that you get when you talk about your department. That pride is a good thing.

# Posted by Alyfireman :: 12:42 PM :: |
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