The Past Will Continue To Haunt Us

I'm supposed to be working on my final Executive Fire Officer paper but in doing some literature review, I came across a voice from the past.  I happened upon a copy of "The Fire Chief's Handbook" from 1978.  Now to someone like me, 1978 doesn't sound like too long ago.  But putting it into perspective, there were no CD or DVD players then.  As a matter of fact, the Walkman hadn't even been out yet. 

1978 was 31 years ago. That's a long time for a lot of things, my friends, much less for a book. But here I am, three decades later, reading this paragraph:

It is not difficult to convince a community that attention should be given to certain technical aspects of fire extinguishment.  It is much more difficult, however, to convince a municipality that increased knowledge and skill in management have now become necessary to insure the most efficient use of resources invested in protecting life and property against fire.

The discussion goes on to say that "until recently, fire protection in most of our communities had been a relatively simple and catch-as-catch can affair".  Wow- so thirty years ago, you're saying there was actually some discussion about increasing requirements and demands?  Sounds like a familiar argument.

So I guess when I hear someone balking at the needs for higher education and a new approach because our industry is evolving into a more complex environment, I guess we're still talking about things we were talking about, well, when disco was popular.

I think I'll make this short and sweet because I've got a lot to do, but isn't it odd that what was considered the seminal book on fire service management was pointing out then what we still haven't accepted now?  I've said several times before, that the fire service will go into the 21st Century, like it or not, kicking and screaming even, but as our world evolves around us and things change, if we continue to resist change, we ourselves will become an anachronism. As long as organizations and leaders think that the fire service will go on without turmoil by just sticking your head in the sand and hoping it will all go away, it won't.  When you come up, the world will be telling you that if you don't evolve, you may not survive.


  • Rescue911 says:

    You said “When you come up, the world will be telling you that if you don’t evolve, you may not survive.” Charles Darwin said it best. “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” lol Change is here to stay.


  • Joseph Schmoe says:

    This brings to light a quandary in the modern fire service. Ultimately, are we hiring entry level workers, to perform (largely) blue collar work? Or are we hiring future chiefs that need a background in administrative skills. The answer is both.

    As a company officer, I need someone who can work. Get dirty, do unpleasant tasks and get ‘er done. I also need people who can think, react, assess and modify. Oh yeah, I need someone who can retain vast amounts of technical information and perform manipulative skills.

    I guess what I am trying to say is – I need it all. Balanced candidates, ones with some education, work experience, trade skills, maybe some military background and some athleticism thrown in are probably going to score a little higher with me than a candidate with a 4 year degree still living at home with mom and dad and no work experience.

    As an employee climbs up the career ladder the more emphasis should be placed on education. That and experience.

    Thanks for the post

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