Polishing The Crystal Ball

We have all heard of the powers of viewing into a crystal ball to predict the future. Unfortunately I have yet to find one of those magical devices, nor could I ever find a good way to carry one around as a fire officer.

You see I know that really no one could predict the future but I do know that in the fire service gaining experience and training will always improve your odds of knowing what is going to happen.

Experience in this case may trump other factors because if you have repeatedly seen or experienced something you have some idea or concept of what might be likely to occur.

Now before any of you get upset about this, please hear me out as I explain the variables.

If you have had negative or inaccurate experiences then your ‘predictions” may not be accurate. If you have been trained incorrectly or you do not have the requisite education, you may not be able to predict correctly either.

I have just been through an experience trying to remotely counsel someone about an officer problem and unfortunately my crystal ball has been correct on many points during this. I solely attribute this example to my experience both positive and negative.

You see on tactical and technical issues, training and education trump experience, but in people problems and those issues that are non-fire and fire station sociology, experience certainly helps.

If you are a modern fire officer you cannot rely on hocus-pocus and mythical crystal balls, but education, training and experience can help keep it polished just in case you need it.

Being a fire officer requires you to be able to forecast outcomes at the fire scene and even in the firehouse. (Or firehall for my friends to the north!)

Compassionate Consequences

One of the things that appears to be slipping from the fire service today (and society in general) is the recognition that all of our actions, on and off the job have consequences.

Good things that we do have good consequences (most of the tome!) and bad things can have bad consequences.

This week and beyond, please take just a moment, a few seconds even to think about what your very next action may bring. An insubordinate off hand comment to a higher ranking officer could ruin your reputation. That is not how it os supposed to work but in many departments that is in fact how it does work.

Our job as officers and mentors is a complicated one. We always want to give someone a break and therefore eliminate all consequences because ” they are a good firefighter”, they are trying hard”, “they have a lot of ambition”, and so forth. If people behave in a manner that requires some consequence than they should understand what can happen.

I am not suggesting discipline in this instance (although there are times when that is appropriate in some case), but what I am suggesting is something I call “compassionate consequences”.

Before you have a conversation or a counseling session with another firefighter remember the Golden Rule; Treat the person how you would like to be treated in a similar circumstance.

This is complicated for new officers as it is uncomfortable to have difficult conversations. We want to eliminate any consequence. The fact is that will never help the firefighter involved. They are human too, and they can realize they have escaped all consequences and they can believe the dodged a bullet. In some cases they will be grateful, in others they will be come emboldened.

If they action is a positive one we all want to be the one to praise and acknowledge them. As officers we need to understand we have a duty to the organization and the rank we serve to steer the members and the organization in the right direction.

When counseling another member, please remember the term “compassionate consequence” and have the difficult conversation good or bad.

If you sweep too much stuff under the rug, it makes a bump, and I assure you, you will trip later on in your travels within the department and organization.

Treat others with compassion. Its a pretty good idea in the fire service for the members, the people we serve, and in our own lives in many ways.

Tactical Fire Problem – Hazmat Spill At School

This week The Tactical Fire Problem is a Hazmat Spill in Front of an occupied school.

15 gallon metal can, unmarked, small growing pool of liquid and obvious off gassing and vaporization.

1.) Give your report.

2.) What resources will you need?

3.) Give 3 ways you will attempt to identify.

4.) What are you doing with the students and faculty?

5.) What agencies need to be contacted and notified?