Are you making a difference? It is a simple question that requires a “yes” or “no” answer. So, which is it?
The fire service is full of opportunities for people to take advantage of to better themselves. Are you taking advantage of those opportunities?
It is easy to go to work and sit down at the kitchen table and complain about what needs to be done that day. It is easy to come into work and complain about training or not doing it unless we are directed. It is easy to go home and completely forget about the job and never take another class outside of work again. Are we doing our best?
I recently had some folks complain about the amount of training we do at my career department. (He thinks we do too much!) The bad thing is that it was coming from a captain! My comment was simple, what is enough? He has a daughter who plays sports and I asked about how and when she practiced. He explained that she did practice at least 3 times a week.
Then I asked if she practiced after her games began and he answered “yes.” Why, I asked, the games have started and they should be experts by this time, so why are they still practicing since the games have started? He started to see where this was going and started to get agitated with me.
I simply wanted to know if his daughter’s coach would quit practicing just because the games had started and he finally caved and said that no, they kept practicing. Of course they keep practicing. Skills fade and you need to prepare for the next team.
You hear pro teams talk about it all of the time; we have to watch game film, we have to prepare for their defensive schemes or we just weren’t as prepared as they were. It is no different for us. Our enemy never takes a day off. Our opponent never quits and is always ready to take us out. We have to keep preparing.
We know of the guy that gets out of the academy and never does anything extra for the rest of his career. The guy that gets promoted and then calls it quits on training and classes. This is not the way to beat the other team for 30 years of a career.
We must continually train and gain knowledge. Not only on new issues but, we must re-learn things that we have forgotten or not done in a while. We owe it to ourselves to be safe and experts in our profession so we get home safe to our family. We also owe our partners to be as good as we can be so that they have the confidence in us to know that we will be there if something goes bad.
Look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Am I doing enough?”. Be honest, are you doing enough to make a difference?
Is one day a month, like this particular captain wants to train, enough for you? I hope not. You have to stay motivated and keep up the fight. Train and keep training. Read and keep reading. Take classes and pass on the information.
Be fair to yourself, your family and your fellow firefighters; make a difference and do the right things.
Take care and stay safe!