“[A] FIREFIGHTER who is uncertain whether he can SAVE someone, or [a] FIREFIGHTER who for religious or moral reasons knows he will not ENTER A BURNING BUILDING, should not be in a FIRE TRUCK and, for that matter, should not be in THE FIRE SERVICE. Such [a] FIREFIGHTER is a detriment to other FIREFIGHTERS and to the public he is sworn to protect. They all depend on him to do the right thing when the situation calls for it. If that means SAVING another person’s life, they need to know he will do it, and without hesitation. An unwillingness to FIGHT FIRE is in no way a bad reflection on him as a person, but it does mean he needs to find another line of work.”
The preceding is our spin on an excerpt from “On Combat”, a popular book on the psychological and physiological effects that combat, intense stress and deadly situations have on the human body and the individual. Though the book is intended for application in combat, police actions and self-defense, much of the content is extremely applicable to the fire service. In fact, numerous times in the book the authors, Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman and Loren Christensen, reference and/or parallel the fire service with the expected level of service and subsequent stress that we may face on a daily basis.
One of the key concepts in the book is acknowledging the dangers of your profession and accepting that lives, including your own, depend on your ability to be effective under unimaginable stress. In many cases, people simply not accepting the realities of their job or situation have crippled them at the most crucial times. We have to painstakingly and relentlessly prepare ourselves mentally and physically to deal with the responsibilities and realities of our profession.
As firefighters, danger is a part of our job. You cannot wish it away or Command it away. Ignoring the danger or masking it with blanket statements and safety slogans will almost certainly result in a catastrophic reality check.
As leaders, we are required to be intensely assertive and focused on mentoring, training and preparing those willing to commit to our principle duties as firefighters. It may also require us to offer alternative career choices to those who will not commit to those principles. Also as leaders, we can never compromise those principles.
In 2013 I encourage you to take a long, hard look in the mirror and consider why you do this job and to what lengths you are willing to go to save lives and property.
Are you willing to risk your life to save a life? Are you willing to find out? Are you willing to dedicate yourself to preparing for that situation?
If not, are you man (or woman) enough to walk away?
If yes, then make it your resolution to make the fire service better and safer by accepting your job for what it is and help others do the same. Learn it, live it, love it, share it. Thanks for stepping up!
ALSO CHECK OUT THIS GREAT RELATED POST… “Obligations” on Backstep Firefighter
Happy 2013! Be SAFE