There is always a question asked by folks for lots of different reasons. We ask when we vote in a national election, “Does my vote count?”, what can I do to make a difference?
How often have we individually said, “Nah, why bother it won’t matter.”.
Well, I have written lots of commentaries on lots of subjects, and several training bulletins as well, and while I always try to provoke thought and discussion, sometimes folks are looking for hard and fast answers.
Well if you are looking for absolute answers, you are probably on the wrong website! You should be at a much higher level than me if you get my meaning.
I did however have some thoughts about how each individual firefighter could make a personal difference in changing the fire service into a better place.
Some of these are safety things, some of these are people things and they are in no particular order, they are just meant to be my suggestions on how a single individual can make things go a little better.
Always wear your gear fully and properly at every response. We do not know what might go wrong when. You are in direct control of how and when you wear your stuff.
Always wear your seatbelt when you are responding in your POV or in the apparatus. You are in direct control of wearing your seatbelt.
Try to attend and seek out as much training as you can get in a variety of subject. You are in direct control of how much training you need.
Be acceptance of other firefighters particular quirks and traits. Your reaction to them in the firehouse is yours and you have direct control over how you feel. That one is clearly tougher than wearing your gear or seatbelt !
Always be fair and honest with others. Nobody tells you to hide info or not give proper info about any subject, so you can decide and have direct control over how you deal with others.
Always at least give your best effort. Your results may not always come out as intended, your best effort and the amount of effort is in your direct control.
Never let your guard down. Even after the fire is knocked down, even while companies are picking up, even when investigating “smells and bells” calls, do not ever let yourself lapse until you are safely back at the station. This is very difficult to do as we become complacent when responding to the same types of calls over and over again. It is within our direct control and it takes great discipline.
Almost like the one above is….prepare for sudden changes in conditions always. As you handle and respond to incidents, play the “what if” game over and over in your head and develop a personal plan for what your actions might be if the “stuff” hits the fan.
Do not ever be on the emergency scene alone for any reason. Always have a partner able to help you and that you are able to help.
See a doctor and take care of your personal health.
Do something about your current level of fitness.
Rest, relax, de-stress a little and make yourself mentally ready to deal with all that the job and life throws at you. Sometimes we do not recharge enough. You are in direct control of that too.
These are just some little things that I have thrown together, but I would hope as you have read them you did realize two simple things: You are clearly in control of all of them, and if everyone practiced them, wouldn’t things sometimes go a little better in this job?
You don’t need an SOP, a general order, a company bylaw, a provision in the contract or any of the standard things that usually get us to react in some way.
You can make a difference if you choose.
Stay safe and take care.