If You Can’t Be Careful, You’d Better Be Tough

p1010232We got a call from school yesterday that our youngest daughter, Honora, took a header on the playground and whacked her mouth.  While she is sweet as pie, she also plunges headlong into everything, occasionally with semi-disastrous results.  After a trip to the dentist to make sure all was okay (it was), this quote I use with my kids came to mind.

When I put it into the context of our profession and the continued number of injuries that occur during training, it really made me begin to wonder; are we rewarding people for taking unnecessary risks?

I’m not one to look down upon my injured brothers and I certainly want to be there when and if one of them gets hurt in the line of duty.  I’ve been there myself as well, but again, this phrase comes to mind, and here I am wondering why personnel continue to get hurt in training.  It’s this simple; the setting is controlled, you have a plan for how things should work, and if things might go wrong, you should have alternative plans and safety measures in place.  So how is it that we have so many training accidents in this day and age?

The long and short of it is this; how can you go into a situation, knowing what the outcome is likely to be, and expect the outcome to change?  The situation I am referring to is, if we are doing live training and not adhering to good safety practices, should we be surprised when things go wrong and people get hurt or killed?

Our job is dangerous to begin with (Go ahead and admit it, we all have a certain amount of pride in saying that).  So why do we need to add to the danger in a controlled situation?  Talk about your efforts in futility- where is the glory and honor in falling off a ladder, or letting a line get away and getting clobbered,  or allowing a recruit to get trapped in a controlled burn?

If you aren’t going to use your safety equipment and if you aren’t going to use caution in conducting assigned evolutions, shouldn’t we expect you to get hurt?

Don’t be the person who is called to testify about all of the lapses in preparing for your training evolutions after having had an injury or fatality.  Take pride in knowing that you can prepare a learning environment that poses a realistic challenge, while also insuring the safety of everyone involved, so that everyone can go home and no one has to prove just how tough they really are.


  • Nick Morgan says:

    Hey Mick, good post here! I’m totally in agreement with you. Why does it seem like we are a small minority in the fire service? I hope it’s just that my perception is skewed, otherwise things are just going to get worse before they get any better. Stay safe!!

  • Nick Morgan says:

    Mick, I had one more thought here, (OK, two more); it’s a quote from someone much wiser than me. “The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”; or “If the boat keeps missing the dock, it aint the dock that’s moving”. BTW, “Firehouse Zen” sounds cool, but I’m partial to St Ignatius of Loyola myself. 🙂 God bless and stay safe!

  • Freddie M. Bell says:

    I believe there are two significant contributors to injuries during training programs and/or sessions. First, many fire service educators have little or no training or experience with identifying and mitigating safety shortfalls which may be found on the training ground. A primary responsibility of the educator is making sure the training grounds, props, and evolutions are as safe as possible for the student. The other contributor is the student. For some reason, students appear to turn his/her “safety switch” to the “off” position while operating on the training ground. Maybe this happens because our training scenarios are controlled, and for the most part, safe. Anyway, the educator must remember to have the student place his/her “safety switch” into the “on” position while performing training evolutions.

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