The word dash has many different meanings. It can mean to run, or travel somewhere in a hurry. It also means a small quantity of a substance or even to ruin or frustrate.
The dash I want to talk about is that which is found between two dates in time. We have all seen the dash after someone has passed away. Their birth date, a dash, and then the day of their death. When someone retires from a job or profession, their start date will be listed followed by a dash then the date they retired. That dash represents what they did while they were on this earth or at their job/profession.
I want to talk about the fire service dash and what your dash says about you when your page has turned. We all entered this job for different reasons, some began because it was a civil service test, some entered it for the schedule, some wanted in for the excitement and some just entered the job to help people and make a difference. No matter why you signed up for this profession, we all need to stop and think about the dash that will be put between our dates. The day you started this job, the dash was stamped. It doesn’t matter if you only worked one year or forty years, you have a dash. The dash represents the present, the here and now and the time between start and finish. When your time comes, and they stamp that end date on the right side of your dash, how will people remember you?
This article is geared toward your fire service dash, but the same can be said about the dash for your personal life. When you retire or answer your final alarm, how do you want to be remembered? Do you want to be remembered as the firefighter who did just enough to get by or the firefighter who was never happy, or The firefighter who was lazy, or the firefighter who just wanted a paycheck? We should all want our dash to represent hard work, dedication, a love for the job and Brotherhood, just to name a few. We should all strive to let our dash leave this job better than we found it.
I think about some of the greats in our profession that have retired or have been taken from us. We still talk about those individuals today because of their dash. We pass on the skills and knowledge found in their dash. The greats who came before us left their dash as an example to be followed. They set the bar.
The nice thing about your dash is that you can choose the outcome and make changes. We have no control over the date to the right of the dash, but we have full control of the dash. Every day that we wake up and go to work, we need to remember that this is the best job in the world. We also need to remember that we have fellow firefighters, new firefighters, officers watching us to see what our dash is going to be. Some may have short dashes and others may have longer dashes, but the key is to make every second in this job count because we never know when that final date will be stamped. We need to check ourselves often and ask, Am I doing all I can do, am I being the best firefighter I can be and am I leaving this job better than I found it?
We each have control over the here and now so let’s make sure we do everything we can to preserve the tradition of the fire service, pass on the craft and let our passion shine bright. In closing, I would say that we all need to ask ourselves what our dash will say. Stay safe brothers/sisters and remember just like crops, we must cultivate our training if we want it to grow.