Musings

I, like other fire service professionals, like to read about goings on in other parts of the country. It is always exciting and interesting to read about large, unique and dangerous events where our brothers and sisters were put into action and succeeded.  This is especially true of daring rescues that are recorded and written about.  After all, that is what most of us got into this business for anyway, right?

What I find interesting is that each and every time one of our own is interviewed and asked about the incident and are praised by the reporters, the same comment escapes with a humble expression on their face; “I was just doing my job.”  Or at least something to that affect.  Although this is probably true and it is accurate, the more I thought about this quote, the more questions I had about just doing our “job.”

Having the opportunity to work in a fully career department and with a combination department, I get to see variations of attitudes and motivations from both sides.  One common theme that is complained of, and I will have to admit that I see it more often in the career department, is that everything we do while on duty is a part of our “job.”  Does this mean that we like every component of what we are expected to do? No.  What it means is that we are expected to do certain things as a part of our service to the citizens of our jurisdiction and surrounding community.

I have seen and heard many firefighters and officers belly ache because we had to attend a block party at 7:00 at night.  I have heard comments about P.R. events made that basically said that every time the ambulance goes out we get P.R. and that’s all that we need.  (I know, wow!)  We get called to pick someone off the floor and we cuss and complain because we are getting knocked out for a non-fire related call.

Now let me just say that I have been guilty of this belly aching at times in the past and I can’t say that under my breath I haven’t worded some comments in frustration.  But, I try to remember why I am here.  Sure, my idea of being  a firefighter was one of beating down flames all day and cutting people out of cars.  Let’s face it, our job has changed tremendously over the last 20 years or so.  The tasks that we perform on a daily basis may have changed but the goal is still the same, service to our citizens.

It just seems that I hear and see a lack of love for the “job” and it is frustrating and a drag to hear all the negativity about what we do.  I don’t believe that what we do is much different than what ‘Jakes’ have been doing for years, we just notice more because we aren’t working a job every other day or so like in years past.  But, the “job” is still the same.  Go, when someone calls.

That really is the bottom line, right?  Go, when the bell sounds?  We have the best job in the world and only we can reduce that to nil by what kind of attitude we bring with us when we walk in the door.  Most days our job consists of public relations, invalid assists, lock outs, fire and smoke alarms, training and education, working on run cards and every other so-called menial task you can think of; that is our job and I love it.  And then, you come in and get that occasional working fire and I love it even more.

Take care and stay safe,

7 Comments

  • Great post! I, too, have found myself on the whiney side of things, usually arriving there as part of the herd. When one cow moos, it seems we all follow suit.

    But I always try to remember back to that day when I first got hired, and that “jacked-up” feeling realizing I had the job of my dreams.

    As a company officer, I used that angle to get my sometimes-pissy guys to press the “reset button” on their attutude as well.

    Thanks again for your posts. It’s great stuff!

  • dc802 says:

    Thanks, I appreciate it. It is difficult sometimes to not get caught in the current. Put on that PFD and hang in there.

  • bmt says:

    I try to remind myself — and others — of what “the job” is everytime I get one of those middle-of-the-night, pick grandma off the floor calls that get us all grumpy every once in a while.

    Inevitably, grandma will apologize for making us get up and come out, and I always respond the same way:

    “It’s not a problem. I don’t get paid to sleep, I get paid to get up.”

  • Piney110 says:

    Great Post we sometimes get on the whiney side but times have changed and they will never be like it used to be the more people dont help each other the more its our job it will be. Job Security I say.

  • Pat Roche says:

    dc802 thanks for that. Its good to hear someone who loves the best job in the world, with a positive attitude. There will aways be whiners but you are a winner.

  • Jeff Schwering says:

    We will always have those that whine, but it is up to those of us who truely care and love the job to teach the next group of bosses the path they need to follow to succeed! Great post Brother, we do have our share to handle.

  • Nick D. says:

    Awesome post. Something I think I’ll print off and hang in my locker.

    The district I’m with right now is middle-upper class with much newer construction and a populace mostly willing to follow fire and life-safety code. By that, I mean to say we get little actual fire, whether accidental or incendiary. Part of the problem with or paid-on-call staff is that all they want to do is “fight the red dragon” and kick ass and take names. Sorry, that doesn’t always happen. Go clean the station so Joe Schmoe doesn’t think we’re lazy slobs. The people who pay our wages and give us money for all the shiny equipment probably have a different view on how much fire they want in their lives.

    Incidentally, I believe the focus of our “job” in my district is prevention and preparation. Committed to full service of our community with whatever we can assist them isn’t bad, either. It’s what I tell new people who are unlucky enough to hang out with me for OJT.

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Jason Hoevelmann

Deputy Chief/Fire Marshal with the Sullivan Fire Protection District, a combination department, and a career firefighter/paramedic with the Florissant Valley Fire Protection District in North St. Louis County.

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