Having been in the fire service for 18-plus years, I have always considered myself to be part of the brotherhood. But it wasn’t until a few short weeks ago that I honestly, and truly, realized how great the brotherhood really is. A few short weeks ago we were informed of a mandatory department meeting. In the meeting we learned that the Fire Department that I work for would be disbanded in February and all of us would be laid off.
Of course, this came as a shock to all of us. We had no warning of this and we were given no reason for the decision. Once we learned of this we were all distraught. Most of us have families we support. We are left to wonder why and how this could happen?
I have to say that social media can be a great tool in the fire service. The show of support from fellow brothers/sisters from across the county was amazing. I had brothers from across the county sending me messages and calling me asking if there was anything they could do to help. A brother from the east coast offered to collect donations for us if we needed help. This really opened my eyes to the true brotherhood and family of the fire service. The support continued just this week as my wife and I attended Firehouse World in San Diego. I had fellow brothers approach me all week and offer support and help in any way they could.
Now back to the topic, there is no gray-area in the brotherhood. You are either in or out. There are no fence riders in the brotherhood. If you get it and live it, then you’re in and if you don’t, then you’re out. The brotherhood is all about helping your fellow brother/sister out, both in the good times and bad.
I hear the term brotherhood thrown around a lot, and it makes me wonder do people really understand what it means? When I use the term the brotherhood it encompasses both brothers and sisters. Some things that come to mind when I think about this topic is; when you need helping moving, 10-15 fellow brothers show up outside your house with coffee and donuts ready to help. When a loved one is sick or injured, a handful of brother’s show up to help mow the lawn or paint your house. Even the simple things like showing up early to shift so the out going crew can get home to their families a little sooner or just the simple phone call or text to check in and say hi.
If you are truly committed to the brotherhood then you will do things that aren’t always easy nor fit into your schedule. It could be taking a trade for someone so they could attend their child’s soccer game or it could be the fellow brother/sister who doesn’t have kids that steps up to work for you on Christmas so you can spend it with your family and kids. If you are not willing to do things for the better good of your fellow brother/sister then there is no room for you in the brotherhood. The fire service is unlike any other profession in the world and it doesn’t matter it you’re a career firefighter or a volunteer. We all have the same passion and desire.
I will apologize now if this article was a grenade thrown into the room but I hope people will talk about this and take a good hard look at themselves and ask, am I in or am I out. If you are in then welcome to the family. If you are out, then maybe someday you will join us, but please do not be a fence rider.
A good definition of the brotherhood states “an association, society, or community of people linked by a common interest, religion, or trade”. I have heard the saying “If I have to explain it then you wouldn’t understand”, I think that is so fitting and true of the brotherhood and the fire service. We can’t let the brotherhood die. We must keep the passion burning bright and pass the torch to the new generation. Brotherhood is the unspoken – WE GOT YOUR BACK.
B – Bonds created that will last a lifetime
R – Rejuvenate each other
O – Offer to help
T – True to each other
H – Humble yourself
E – Eager to help
R – Respect each other
H – Honesty toward each other
O – Openness towards each other
O – Overcome things together
D – Dedicated to fellow brothers/sister and the fire service