It Can’t Happen Here

From yesterday’s Island Packet (my local newspaper, of all places), something poignant to discuss: If at any point in your career you convince yourself “it can’t happen here”, I’ll say to you “it’s just a matter of time”. 


Two people were arrested on the Island for child abuse when they left their two year old in their apartment with a pot on the stove and a lit candle.  Had either of these two hazardous conditions gone to their ends (the candle or the pot), my department might well have been fighting a fire and finding an unattended child in our primary search which hopefully, would have been found in time to be saved.


As it was, the child awoke and left the house (so which is worse, your home burning down or your two-year old wandering the neighborhood?).  Having a two year old, I know that if I take my eyes off her for a moment, she is likely to cut her sister’s hair or hack the National Security Agency’s mainframe, so I try to at least keep her in my peripheral vision at all times.


I don’t have any more facts than reported here, but I’m positive these are not the only two parents in our jurisdiction who aren’t going to the Parental Hall of Fame, so the question exists; How many other children are in hazardous situations like these on a daily basis?  How often do we go to “smells and bells” and expect it to be a nuisance alarm.  My point- complacency kills, which is something we have been telling everyone for years- believe it or not, the next one could be the real thing.


Treat every call with the seriousness and importance required and remember that as emergency service professionals, our job is to serve the public efficiently and expediently.  And while I’m at it, staying safe is one way that we can insure that both of those things happen as well.


Take the time to think about the possibility that the next call might be the one we talk about for years.  Make sure everyone in your organization is doing everything they can to insure that they will be talking about it as one of the department’s greatest moments and not as one of your biggest failures.

1 Comment

  • Wayne says:

    A quote from an article discussing the Hackensack Ford dealership fire that killed five firefighters.

    “One clichéd response in the fire service is to say that if we had to do it all over again, we wouldn’t have changed anything,” Cohen added. “I think that’s a knee-jerk reaction to a bad incident. It’s a tough thing to look in the mirror and say that we made mistakes, but we need to correct it and move ahead. A building can always be rebuilt. Firemen are not expendable. If we in the fire service forget incidents like the Hackensack Ford fire, then we get very complacent. Complacency kills.”

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