Firemen and Contractors

The competitive world we live in today is full of constant demands and the social requirement to stay in touch with one another through various medias. Maintaining your once youthful competitive edge means you must continue to adapt with the technological, economic and social changes your environment faces. If it be adapting your ways to better communicate with your peers, adjust your budgetary means to best fit your new role within the department, or being able to stretch your mind and branch out to use a technology that you aren’t accustomed to using — whichever stage of life you are in, the fact is, we are all competing for the same objective; a better job, a better way of life, a better spot in line, or an easier way of doing things. Your competitive edge has brought you to this point in your career; junior fireman, engineer, captain, chief, or head of board of directors, but is this where you stop?


A general contractor today is in the same rocky boat. Current construction projects are at an all time high and within our state of Carolina, economic forecasters don’t see any let-up because of the culture and product distribution we hold within our state lines.

Similar to the fire department ranking structure, a general contractor also has to maintain their competitive edge while growing older. It sounds like an easy task, but remaining competitive can be a full-time job, let alone trying to stay in business. With the latest smart phones, tablets, and other technologies that are within our society today, all signs lead to more time learning and more money spent.

For example, a building division for a construction company in 1990 was able to make it on a few handout brochures, good reputation and dependable workers. In 2019 you need a digital brochure, good reputation, dependable workers and the capability to show the owner what their project will look like in a 3D modeling situation. General contractors must be able to take mere thoughts, opinions, and a wish list and insert it into reality before it is built. Having the capabilities to do this doesn’t come without additional hard work and dedication to the owner’s needs. Ask your design-build general contractor what technologies they are utilizing to ensure you, as an owner, are working with a capable, adapting and growing contractor. Ask them for some before and after photos of projects to be sure you are getting what you deserve as an owner.

The second similarity between a ranking fireman and a design-build general contractor is that as you grow in capabilities and your projects become more complex, your knowledge of budget and economics will increase, and you must be ready to enlist your knowledge when needed. If you’re a fireman that’s been with the station for 10 years, you might now serve on your building committee, a dedicated and hard-working aspect to your department. For a contractor, your knowledge and project complexity levels aren’t what they once were. What made you uncomfortable and apprehensive 10 years ago, now becomes second nature and a standard part of the job and budget building for the client. For your contractor, these levels of confidence only come from multiple projects that are similar in scope to what you are aspiring to build. Also, the confidence to try to stretch your limits to meet new goals comes from failures and setbacks on past projects. Ask your design-build general contractor how many projects of similar nature and scope they have built in the past to be sure they are the right contractor to meet your project goals as a fire department unit.

The third similarity that a fire department has with a general contractor is the effort and struggle of recruiting young men and women to enter their field of work. Many volunteer departments suffer from understaffing due to many factors; full-time job restrictions for members, dirty and dangerous environments to work in, or not having a paid position in the department. Some stations have made efforts to raise recruitment through social media or with community events to bring light to the department’s needs. A small portion of stations have tapped into their “Field of Dreams” Kevin Costner mindset, “if you build it, they will come.” If you build a new station, new recruits will desire to be a part of your growth and will become members that help maintain your capabilities for the community.

A general contractor today is in the same rocky boat. Current construction projects are at an all time high and within our state of Carolina, economic forecasters don’t see any let-up because of the culture and product distribution we hold within our state lines. When looking on project jobsites, the average age of workers is continuing to get older. Young people are not coming into the construction industry because the work is hard, hot, sticky and sometimes miserable. Those are accurate assessments for many days in the construction field. However, we all must condemn the false verdicts that construction workers don’t make any money in their trade, or that all construction workers are formal felons that are on their third or fourth offense, or that “construction isn’t cool.”

The facts are, any job worth having is hard and sometimes miserable. Construction workers do make good money and when standing back and seeing the day end, the feeling of accomplishment is standing tall in front of you every day. The payoff of all your hard work can be seen immediately when the day’s tasks are complete. Ask your design-build general contractor what they are doing to help in the effort to curb the workforce shortage. Make sure your contractor is taking steps to ensure their company will be here to see your station through construction, and be sure they will be around for the lifespan of the new project they are building for you.

Goosie Kennedy is a Project Manager for D.R. Reynolds Company, Inc., a Design-Build General Contractor.

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