By: Captain Steve Heidbreder
As many of you may have done over the Fatherâ€™s Day weekend, I spent some timeÂ thinking about the day and what it means to me as a father. I reflected on my ownÂ Father, my Step-Dad, my Grandfathers, and those that were a father figure in my life. IÂ then looked at myself and thought about what kind of father I was to my three kids.Â While the three of them didnâ€™t allow me time during the day for much consideration, theÂ thoughts came back late at night when sleep proved elusive.
As is often the case during these late night mind wandering trips, I found myselfÂ wondering what my kids memories of me would be when I was gone. Of course I wantÂ them to remember me fondly, as a good Dad, as a friend. My thoughts then turned to aÂ picture from a recent LODD funeral. I remember being deeply touched by the picture ofÂ a young boy clutching his fatherâ€™s helmet, crying as he sat in the pews of the churchÂ during his dadâ€™s funeral. How unfair, I thought. This little boy will not have his Dad toÂ grow up with, to guide him, to help him when heÂ becomes a Dad for the first time. I tried (and failed) toÂ not picture my son clutching that helmet in the churchÂ pew.
My thoughts then turned to anger. Why anger?Â Because I am tired of witnessing complacency,Â incompetence, and a lack of dedication to ourÂ profession. Iâ€™m tired of seeing those that are only hereÂ for the paycheck, those that donâ€™t want to train, thoseÂ that are so out of shape they couldnâ€™t possibly pull meÂ from a burning building if I were in trouble. YourÂ actions are saying that you do not care about me asÂ your brother firefighter. You donâ€™t care about my wifeÂ and kids who are waiting at home for me to walkÂ through the door. â€œEveryone Goes Homeâ€? Have youÂ heard of it? Itâ€™s not just a trendy catch phrase, itÂ should be our number one goal for everything we do.
The Engine CompanyÂ Thoughts From Captain 180â€¦.Â Are you fire ground ready? Can you do the job or do you hide in the shadows whenÂ thereâ€™s a fire? Can you complete routine fire ground tasks without becomingÂ incapacitated? Can you carry a ladder around to the rear of a building, raise it to aÂ second floor window or the roof without having to take a break? Can you then climbÂ that ladder and perform ventilation to improve conditions on the interior for your brothersÂ and sisters? Can you stretch a charged hose line to the rear of a house for a basementÂ fire without being so winded you have to catch your breath before masking up andÂ making entry?
Engineers, do you thoroughly check your apparatus each day or do you just turn on theÂ battery switch and write down the mileage? Can you pump a hose line at the correctÂ pressure, secure a water source, and then troubleshoot any problems that may arise?
Have you done company training today? Everyday isÂ a training day. Yes, even weekends! CompanyÂ Officers this is your responsibility. Do you train yourÂ company or wait to be spoon fed your training from theÂ Training Division?
Are your RIT skills good enough? Can you use yourÂ RIT bag to give me a new air supply in zero visibilityÂ with your fire gloves on? When was the last time youÂ had the RIT bag out and went over the various ways toÂ give a downed firefighter air?
I can hear it now, but itâ€™s hot todayâ€¦ itâ€™s Sundayâ€¦. itâ€™sÂ National Flower Day! Tough! The citizens that payÂ your salary donâ€™t care what day it is, my kids waiting atÂ home donâ€™t care what day it is, and neither should you. Â Spend at least thirty minutes to an hour every shiftÂ training on something.
If the crew cannot perform on the fire ground, it is the company officerâ€™s fault! Period.Â Full stop. End of discussion.
To those who can quote chapter and verse from the unionÂ contract as if it were scripture, but canâ€™t list the responsibilitiesÂ of the second-due engine or name the three parts of a HalliganÂ and how to use themâ€¦ I say â€œHow Dare You!â€
What you say is one thing, what you do is another. YourÂ actions are telling me you donâ€™t care about me or my family.Â You only care about you, about using the union contract to getÂ out of work, as an excuse to not train.
I have spent the past sixteen years as a shift training officer. Let me tell you, I have yetÂ to meet a firefighter that didnâ€™t need to train (myself included). ALL of us need toÂ continually train even on the basics.
With all of this laid out, I can offer you a promise. My promise is to hold all of us to aÂ higher standard. I will no longer tolerate laziness and incompetence. I will call you outÂ at training. I will call you out on the emergency scene.
Â I donâ€™t care about your feelings. I only care that you can do the job and if somethingÂ bad happens, you can get me out.
If you canâ€™t, I say â€œHow Dare You!â€
Iâ€™ll leave you with one final thought.Â If something were to happen to me at a fire, canÂ you look my kids in the eye and give them an honest answer when they ask:
â€œDid you do everything you could to save my Daddy?â€Â Go ahead and give it a try.
This is a picture of my two youngest kids. Tell them thatÂ sitting in front of the television or computer was more important than training. Tell themÂ that it was just too hot that day to train, we donâ€™t want to sweat too much. Tell them youÂ just didnâ€™t feel like getting in shape because it took too much effort. (Or better yet, insertÂ a picture of your kids hereâ€¦â€¦)
Iâ€™m the only Daddy they have. Are you trained enough, in shape enough to make sure IÂ go home at the end of my shift?
If not, I say â€œHow Dare You!â€