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Lost And Found At Your FD

Lost and found. Two different things at two ends of the spectrum. Today I want to think about these terms in a way they affect you and your department.

By definition if you have lost something, you have given something away. If you have found something you have gained something. In most cases we are talking about objects, but in my discussion we are talking about less tangible things.

What gets lost in your organization? Sometimes departments lose focus. Sometimes members lose their own focus and no longer care about their job. Sometimes members do not train often enough and they lose perishable skills. Sometimes frustrations rise in the kitchen, or in officer meetings and people lose their temper or lose their patience. You get the point.

What can be found in your organization? Well nothing will be found if nobody looks! Nothing can be found if nobody is self aware enough to know that they themselves may have lost something.

I have been in organizations where caring could be found everywhere you looked. New information was always found and it was readily available and shared often. Great public service and professionalism could always be found. Friendship and camaraderie should also be easily found in your organizations. You see the things that can be found should not even need a “Lost and Found” sign over them.

Each and every day that you walk into your firehouse or firehall many things are lost and many things can be found.

I guess it really matters what you are looking for.


This might be a strange topic for a fire service Blog, but it should make sense in a minute.

An inheritance is something we all hope we leave for others. We want it to be thoughtful, plentiful, and meaningful and lots of good things. Well there is an inheritance in your department and your fire service life also.

How many times have you heard in a fire house (or firehall) “hey this is not my fault as an officer I inherited this mess!”

I think all of us have “inherited” something bad in our fire service careers. Hey I got hand me down gear from some guy who left the department…. We have to use the reserve apparatus today we inherited this piece of junk…etc.

So you get the point about stuff that you have inherited. Now the real question is what are you building and preparing to leave others. After you leave the station or the department what will you have left behind?

We can hope that it will be your good personality, your lack of complaining, your sense of humor, your willingness to help others, your technical skills competence and experience.

Who have you worked to train and leave them with some knowledge that they inherited from you.

Today, start thinking about the inheritance you will leave for others. Start now, whether you have 2 years on or 20,

We are always remember for what we left behind.

Be generous and thoughtful to those that follow you.

The Student And The Master

In the early 1970s there was a television show called Kung Fu. It was all about martial arts and a story line of a Kung Fu Master and a student referred to as “Grasshopper”.

The Master was an older blind man who would open (or close… I forget) the show by opening his hand palm up with a pebble in the open palm. He would tell “Grasshopper” that when he could snatch the pebble from his hand he would graduate. As you can imagine he would try and at the very last second like lightening the Master would close his hand.

This little trip down memory lane involves the young firefighters, officers and instructors and the senior more experienced people.

As a young firefighter and instructor I was Grasshopper. I was convinced I was smart enough and good enough to be the Master. I was pretty good but I never grasped the pebble. I was far from being the Master.

The student should always try and continue to emulate, follow and study to become the Master. The Master must always be patient and continue to help the student no matter how frustrating that can become.

But here is a part of the equation that I wish someone would have told me early on……The student must acknowledge and realize their limitations and the should not try to be the Master while they should be honing their skills as the student.

As a young instructor i was probably teaching people that I should have been sitting in the classroom and listening to!

I don’t think we should suppress anyone, but as I hear the words, mentoring and all of the leadership buzz words, it seems to me that we have people that feel that have already mastered severals levels of this job, beyond their capabilities. Take a breath, do some self reflection and figure out if “you too, can snatch the pebble” from the hand of your mentors, officers, and senior personnel.

Stay focussed Grasshopper. Be undeterred!

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!)