I want to apologize to all the Station Pride followers for the delay in my article. I have had writer’s block for awhile; I knew what I wanted to put down on paper but just couldn’t get it out. The last two weeks of teaching at our fire academy inspired me to get this article done.
I think about some of the greats in this profession; both still with us and those who are watching over us and what they have done to make this job better. I think about all the things that Lt. Andrew Fredericks did for the fire service before he was taken from us on 9/11/01. Even to this day, there are those of us trying to carry on his teachings and being “Ambassadors” for Andy. Some may not understand why we do this. It comes down to a fireman who made an enormous impact in the fire service, and we can’t let it die. I think of Chief Rick Lasky, who has inspired so many with his motivational “Pride and Ownership”. He has encouraged us to step up our pride game and take ownership in ourselves, our crews, our department and our community. There is Aaron Fields, who is creating a huge movement in the fire service with his “Nozzle Forward” class. Mr. Fields’ techniques are being taught all over the United States; from large metropolitan departments to small volunteer companies. These individuals are leaving this job better than they found it.
You don’t have to be a “big name” in the fire service to make a difference. Anyone of us can make a difference you just have to step up and be willing to take your lumps. Never giving up and continuing to push will make you stronger, and it will make a difference. I had a good friend and fellow firefighter from a neighboring department come visit me at the station some time ago. He explained how he was trying to get his department more motivated for training, trying different things and keeping an open mind. He left so excited and on fire. About two weeks later he stopped back by the station feeling totally devastated and defeated. Nobody was motivated and everything was getting shot down. We talked for awhile, and I explained to him that he can’t give up, people were watching to how he reacted to defeat. They were wanting to see if he was going to give up and roll over. Well, he didn’t give up. He called the other day to say there has been a huge turn-around in his department. The guys want to train. They are more motivated than ever, and they want to learn.
We hear firefighters complain all the time about their pay, benefits, crews, tactics, and training. Instead of sitting around complaining, step up and make a difference. One person can make a difference. It has been proven. One person can start a revolution. All it takes is the guts to step up and do it. At first, some may look at you like you’re crazy. They will tell you that things won’t change and that you are wasting your time. If you stay strong and don’t accept defeat, then good things will happen. I am sure that the first time that Aaron Fields showed guys his “Nozzle Forward” techniques they thought he was crazy and that it would never work. What about the first time Chief Lasky spoke of “Pride and Ownership?” People probably thought, “Who is this guy telling us how to have pride and take ownership?” There are so many people out there who have left this job better than they found it. It is up to each one of us to make a difference in the fire service. From the brand new firefighter to the Chief of the department. If we continue to complain and roll over, then I would hate to think of where the fire service will be in 20 years. We all have a love for this job, or we wouldn’t be in the position we’re in.
It is up to us to keep the tradition alive and keep it growing. Every day we need to think to ourselves; “What am I doing to leave the fire service better than I found it?” If you are not willing to make things better, then please do not stand in the way of those who are. Just remember that one person can make a difference in this job. Those of us who want more for this job are the sheep dogs, and we must stay vigilant. Stay safe and keep your heads up.
You will prevail.