Author’s Note: I updated this post from the original due to what looked like, in hindsight, to be mostly whining. My apologies to those of you subjected to the original garbage.
Maybe it’s the observation that many of the politicians who are quick to take credit for the nation’s preparedness are slow to ever visit a fire station, or maybe it’s my expectation that instead of having to beg for the table scraps that our law enforcement brethren leave for us, we might also get a seat at the main table, but I just don’t see the fire service gaining the amount of respect that we deserve for the sacrifices we make. And if you’ve been following this blog for any period of time, you’ll know that I am fully cognizant of the reason why.
We have friends in high places that can help us. Despite your individual politics, Vice-President Joe Biden has long proven his support of the fire service, and there are others out there who are as well. If you don’t want the fire service to continually get what’s left over; if you are tired of watching FIRE and SAFER grants get thinner and thinner; if you expect that the fire service should be considered for a bigger piece of the decision-making that goes on in our homeland defense, I’d suggest you get involved. Learn what legislation is pending that affects the fire service, what is beneficial and what is detrimental, and call your Representatives and Senators. Join the Congressional Fire Services Institute and support our efforts to get help from the government in furthering our mission. Participate at the National Fire Academy and make sure your elected officials know how valuable it is to us.
While we speak here on Firehouse Zen about change and progress, tradition is good when it comes down to the meaningful things, like our history and our preservation of the courage and sacrifice of our brothers who have gone before us. One of the beautiful traditions of our service is the recognition of a job well done and award of something meaningful to most of us. I knew this method of conveying our certificate upon us was going to happen, so it wasn’t a surprise. And regardless, the best thing I honestly took away from this experience was the friendship and the sharing with some of the finest people I will ever know, which in and of itself is one of the best traditions of our job. But over the last ten years, the current method of awarding you your certificate says to me that our government thinks so much of our efforts that they wad up a certificate in a cardboard tube and ship it off.
What do we need to do to end this and other shots at the fire service? Get involved and show them we are here. We need to work together and stop shooting ourselves in our collective feet in order to agree on some basic principles and move forward. We need to agree on at least some things, and put them out there, and not pull everything off the table when our pet project doesn’t get funded. We need to work together as a team, and get our government to understand that we will not be going away anytime soon.