What is pride? Where does it come from? Where is it found? Every so often, I have a self-realization moment when I ask myself, “What can I do to better myself, and my department?” It’s hard to find answers sometimes, but I usually find that pride is where it all starts. But where do you find it? Where is it hiding? Figuratively speaking, where does it “grow”?
It starts with the basics. From the bottom, to the top. Pride can be found in the nooks and crannies of our firehouses. It can be found in many forms and states of matter. One of the best places to find it, is in the kitchen. Just by listening to the words flying across the kitchen table, you could find a sense of pride, or a lack there of. Whether good words or bad, they can either motivate you, or light the fire under you, causing to you grab the bull by the horns and find it for yourself.
Some things in the firehouse are necessary for everyday functionality. Station chores are also a great way to start your search. Early in my career, I learned very quickly that you could only polish a turd so many times. It’s still a turd. But if you put a little elbow grease in and go the extra mile, you will find self-satisfaction, integrity, and maybe even a ‘‘dat a boy’ from a veteran Jake.
Have you ever seen the ring of green algae underneath the toilet brim? Although gross, that is the type of place you will find pride. Removing that ring not only cleans the joint up, but also instills values, diligence, integrity, and PRIDE. It shows that you care. It shows that you are there, and want to be a part of the team. It also shows that you want to change things and make them better, even if it’s not just for yourself. Most importantly, you are there to learn. In exchange, the small stuff needs to be tended to. Cleaning toilets, sprinting to answer phones, and cooking the platoon’s dinner are all a part of the firehouse life. It shouldn’t be hard to find things around the house to do, as there are many little tidbits like this that exist.
Now that the station chores are tended to, let’s make our way out to the engine room. Ever hear a story about the chief that once had given a “White Glove Test”? Everyone has one. Try it one time. One swipe is all it took to find a trail of dirt. The idea behind it wasn’t to just give the rookie a BS job for 12 hours. It was to see what kind of integrity he has, and to see how long he will voluntarily do it for. No one would come out and stop him. Nobody would tell him when enough is enough. Anybody could wipe dirt out of the wheel wells. It takes dedication to wipe off the accumulation of road grime, grease, and funk that is found all over God’s creation as we drive miles and miles a day. Although tirelessly working for months, little by little, the dirt always seems to find itself on the truck. We all know the “White Glove Test” is for parade trucks. Anybody on a working fire truck knows there will never be an end in sight. But do you know what doesn’t find itself in the usual places? Accumulation. Pride took care of that.
– The “Irons”