As with many departments there are members who want to advance to becoming an officer one day. There are others that are happy with the role they fill. There are often members who try to have more of a role than what they really do or should and this leads to confusion and problems with other members.
During this reflection period I started thinking about what I was doing for the fire service to make it better (and within this I am also meaning my department). I realized that I likely had not been doing what I should or how I should.
Take a second now and consider a few things:
- Your stated role (not what you want to be or think you should be)
- Work and actions within the fire service and your department
- Your abilities and skills
If you are being honest most of us can say that somewhere we are not fulfilling our roles or not living up to what we could be.
There is nothing wrong with not meeting these roles. We all fail at some time to meet them. The fact is that understanding and knowing where you fail allows you more areas to improve.
In what ways can we improve? There are many ways and this article could never cover them all; however, I will attempt to cover a few.
First and foremost we need to know our role and to learn not to overstep it. Just about every firefighter I know (myself included) is very opinionated and passionate about what they do. We want to help whether it is saving someone’s house from burning down or making our department better. However, when we act without authority or “put our nose where it doesn’t belong,” oftentimes we reduce our chances of providing genuine feedback or ideas.
Secondly, use your skills. Again, most firefighters are skilled in some area that is not directly linked to fire fighting. I know members that can lay brick, build houses, plumb houses, spread pesticides and the list goes on and on. Become involved with your department and offer the services you are able to do. The potential money savings could go towards buying you that new set of gear or help start a fund to prepare to buy a new truck or equipment.
Take pride! When you see things that need doing — DO THEM! If you see trash on the grounds of your station, pick it up. If a room needs to be straightened up then do it. Do not worry about the credit. Do it for the pride of knowing that these things make us look better as a department.
Train, train, and then when you are tired of training, train some more. We perform a dangerous job and under stressful situations. We must train constantly where our actions come without thinking almost as if it is integrated into our systems to respond in that manner. As the saying goes, do not train until you get it right, train until you cannot get it wrong.
Help another member. My department generally ranges from 45 to 55 members depending on several factors. Each one of these members is going through something in their personal or professional life (with the fire service being included in their professional life). Be there for each other. Know when criticism and joking is acceptable and when it becomes hurtful. When you find out someone is in need, do what you can to be there for them.
I was not without my failures in this. Here are some of my recollections of what I am going to focus on this year:
- Constantly understand my role is a firefighter and EMT. Provide opinions and feedback when warranted or requested. If decisions are made that I personally do not agree with realize that there are people in certain positions for reasons and it is their responsibilities to handle these items.
- Train in anything I can. When the doors are open for training I will try to be there. I know I cannot be there every time but I should make every effort to be there. Within this I should help others learn when I get the chance. Recently when checking off our ladder truck, the others with me had never been trained on a K Tool. After checking the equipment I took the time to run over the tool including showing them locks that it would help open. This took me little effort and time but could provide for big gains later on.
- Pay attention to the details I should. Pick up the trash when I see it. Clean up when I see it needs to be done. Aid wherever I can.
I hope that this will help me constantly advance to be better as a firefighter for myself, for the citizens and visitors of my district, and for my department. Maybe I can look at this in a year and realize I achieved them all. Nevertheless, I will try to keep reviewing myself and doing what I need to do in order to become a better asset. So will you step up and do the same?
Until next time be safe!