The Fire Service Rule of Thirds – Written by Jim Blanchard, retired fire chief Saugus MA

This is a repost of an article written by my friend Jim Blanchard from many years ago. I was in several discussions this week where I verbally made reference to this article, so I thought I would post it again.

Below are Jim’s thoughts and unfortunately I have had some experiences which lead me to say I must agree.

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I truly believe that this should be hung on every bulletin board in every firehouse.
The fire service operates on a rule of thirds. Understanding this rule will help you understand the actions of certain members.

READ THIS AND ASK YOURSELF, WHERE DO I FIT IN, IN THIS RULE OF THIRDS?

ONE THIRD OF THE MEMBERS DON”‘T WANT TO DO THE JOB.

They dedicate all of their time and energy to their second job.
They are much to busy to attend a union or association meeting
They can never find the time to serve on a committee. They complain vigorously about everything but won’t do anything to try to improve anything.
The Fire job is an inconvenience to them. They are easy to find at a fire. They are the ones outside near the pump or truck always having trouble with their SCBA.

ONE THIRD OF THE MEMBERS DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO THE JOB.

They never took a class in firefighting. They don’t want to train. If an inservice class is Scheduled on their group, they will take a vacation or sick day. They don’t have time to come to union or association meetings. They know the television schedule for every channel. They know the date and time that the special checks, longevity, holiday, clothing, arrive. They know which vacation schedule has the most days off, especially weekends. They know how many sick days they have left and when they will get more to use. They also know more about maximizing their retirement plan than the commissioner of the board. They are easy to find at fires. They are the ones standing outside with a rake or hook in their hand waiting for the coffee truck.

ONE THIRD OF THE MEMBERS WANT TO DO THE JOB AND KNOW EXACTLY HOW TO DO IT.

These members rarely miss a union or an association meeting, they frequently take classes in firefighting, even on their own time. They are eager to drill. They work a second job but always find time to serve on committees, hold office and help out on anything that will benefit the members. The only complaining they do is at union or association meetings and then they always have a suggestion on how to make things better. They might not know the television schedule or how to operate the remote control from the second row. But they do know where all the equipment is on the Company they are assigned and they know how it works. They probably don’t know what day clothing allowance comes but they do know how to get the pump into manual shift override. They also can’t tell you how many sick days they have accrued but you can bet the last one they used wasn’t on a Friday or Saturday Night. They are difficult to find at fires. The only time you see them is when they come out to change their third air bottle.

James L Blanchard
Saugus Fire Department

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Pete Lamb
Copyright 2014