This is a repost of an article I wrote from a few years ago…..
Today I thought I would reflect and get us all to think about the fire service in general. Why did we get involved, what is it all really about?
In the movie Backdraft, one of the characters asked the other…”What’s this job really all about, Brian?”
There are those of us who may have had a family member in the fire department or were influenced by a close neighbor or family friend. We got involved in the “job” (paid or volunteer) because it was interesting, exciting, and we wanted to sincerely help others.
There are others who got into the job because it was a secure job and paid benefits for your family, the schedule was great and it allowed the ability to explore another job with minimal risks.
Maybe it was just for the thrill and excitement of interior structural firefighting.
Whatever your initial reasoning you actually made a conscious effort to join. You were not drafted, you probably jumped through several hoops to get here. Maybe it was a physical ability test, a written test, or whatever process is used in your organization.
When you joined the department what did you agree to? What did you sign up for? Have you forgotten?
Let’s review a couple of things:
You agreed to join a structured paramilitary organization that has rules and regulations. You do not have to ever like them. You do have to follow them.
You agreed to be inconvenienced to help and serve others on their worst day of their life. Your on duty time is never your own, and you are there to answer the calls presented to you, no matter how trivial they may seem to you….they are serious to someone else.
You agreed to join a team. The mission of the team is greater than your personal issues all of the time. If you are not a team player then the team might as well play without you.
You agreed you would keep yourself ready at all times to play with the team. You must be physically and mentally ready to be engaged while on duty.
You agreed that as a member of the fire service you would participate in whatever was thrown at you. As structure fires decline, other issues such as EMS, and prevention have come forward and they may not always seem as exciting as what you believed. They are part of the job you agreed to do.
You agreed to see tragedy, pain, and suffering and injustice and knew that it would have some impact on you and your family.
You agreed to work with and for the public, in a microscope of public opinion, where your name, salary, and all are public information instead of private.
There are many other things you actually agreed upon when you signed up for the Best Job in the world, the fire service, but we don’t even have enough time to go through them all.
My point was to make you refocus on these issues and when you are feeling like the city, town, or community “owe” you something, remember they may not really “owe” you as much as you have agreed to “owe” them.
Sure I know, we wear the “low bid” when we run into a fire, and there are equipment and manpower injustices that all departments face, but there is nobody that can convince me that this is not the most rewarding job in the world.
I am proud to be a member of the fire service. I make sure the people I meet know that. I make sure and work hard so I try to not make a blemish or a mark on the fire service.
If you are having a bad day at work, or have just had a rough company volunteer meeting, take this out or post it and remember why we are really all here.
Let’s put the “service” back in the Fire Service!