The fire service is deeply enriched by tradition. In fact the fire service prides itself on tradition. The question though, is does this deep seated tradition cause us to fail sometimes.
Why Do We Do What We Do
Take a minute and think about your fire department. Now ask yourself this question — “Why do we do what we do?” Hopefully the answer is that you do these things because they have been designated as best practices within the industry of fire fighting. That being said, I bet there are some things that you do just because that is the way that they have always been done.
Does this necessarily mean that they cause you to fail? No, absolutely not. But does your fire department prevent changes in operations just because of this tradition? I can say that I have seen this and have been on departments that the answer is yes.
What We Should be Doing
The goal of most firefighters is to be the best that we can be in order to protect the lives and property of the people we serve.
So how do we make ourselves better?
Take and make time to train. Community colleges and other agencies hold training, including certification classes and topic specific classes. Make the time, even though it can be hard sometimes, to attend these classes — especially when they directly involve situations your department might be faced with.
Stay Up to Date
Take the time to stay up to date with the newest technology and procedures. You can do this by going to trade shows such as the Firehouse Expo in Baltimore or others that are located more locally. Reading trade journals such as this one can do more of the same.
Take time to get involved with your fire department or trade organizations that your department is part of. An example is that you can become a member of the board of directors. By being involved and using the other aspects mentioned earlier (e.g. staying up to date) you can ensure that necessary topics are covered and stay at the forefront of the departments discussions and considerations.
Does Tradition Make You Fail?
The answer is no. However, when steeped too heavily in tradition it can potentially lead you down pathways that could allow you to fail. Make sure you balance between tradition and advancing towards the new fire service.
David Hesselmeyer has over 11 years experience in fire and EMS. Hesselmeyer works for the Public Health Regional Surveillance (PHRST) Team 3 out of Cumberland County as a Regional Emergency Management Planner. He can be reached at [email protected]
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