I had the opportunity to attend the graduation of our newest recruits the other day. Unfortunately, given my schedule, I don’t get a chance to do this like I would like to, but the staffing permitted it so I took advantage of that. Having been doing this job for a total of 31 years, I think it recharges the ol’ batteries to go back to those things you found important in the beginning, and remind yourself why you got into this in the first place. Nothing can really take the place of being a newly minted firefighter, not having any idea what your career will be like ahead of you. While I knew from the beginning that I wanted to become a chief officer someday, I had absolutely no idea how amazing and fulfilling the trip between here and there would be.
The job is what you make of it. If you just want to punch the clock and fill a spot, there’s those who do that and coast right on through to retirement under the radar and unscathed. But if you want to be successful and make a positive mark on your community as well as with your family and friends, the fire service provides many opportunities to do that. The catch is that you, as an individual, must actively seek those opportunities and run with them.
I have had very few of my opportunities handed to me and a fair share of them I had to show that I was willing to fight for them. But in the long view of it, those battles and all the studying and planning, they all make this journey worthwhile. If it was just handed to me, I don’t think I would value what I have been through so much (although it certainly would have been more pleasant at times). I say to my charges on a regular basis, “Don’t raise your voice unless you are willing to raise your fists.” The takeaway on that is that if you aren’t willing to do something about your condition, then don’t complain about the situation. There are plenty of times I have fought and lost, and plenty of times I have fought and won. But regardless of the outcome, I’m pretty sure my co-workers would agree with me, I have always been willing to take action to back up what I was saying.
There is a difference between living and surviving. Anyone who can fog a mirror can survive. Living requires action and effort. Choose to make a mark. Set a positive example and stay safe doing it.