Missionary Work

Apparently, Firehouse Zen has become the choice blog for commenters with naked pictures of Miley Cyrus and those who have a career selling makeup brushes.  There are quite a few other interesting comments that seem to get trapped in the spam filter (Thank God for spam filters, by the way) and yet I waste my time looking through those comments to see if somehow, someone got snagged inadvertently. It has happened several times before and I’d hate to lose a valuable insight because of whatever criteria spam filters use to trap those comments anyway.

So I am left to wonder, does someone actually sit around and come up with some of those bizarre paragraphs?  Is that a job somewhere?  Is some mother distraught because her child, who she cared for and sent to a decent college is sitting around typing “jeans will advance concoction electric authoritatively patanol over the counter”? (I didn’t dare cut and paste it and thus have whatever link it is hanging out on my site).

I’m assuming that people actually click on some of that, which is why they send it out.  Otherwise, what is the point?  It reminds of of the point I was slowly getting to, and that’s whether or not a message of enlightened leadership is actually getting out to the leaders of our emergency services.  Why does it seem that we have so many in our midst that just don’t get it?

I was having a long discussion the other night with Ron Richards (withthecommand.com and Task Force 1 Training) and his wife, Linda, about the need for our industry, career and volunteer, to begin to agree on some real issues, or else we will continue on being the doormat we have been for decades.  I was pointing out that a lot of the problem rests on the shoulders of chiefs and other officers who have no vision beyond lunchtime, much less for the future.  Ron equated what we do to missionary work.  It’s like we are going out into the unknown, reaching out, and ultimately (hopefully) inspiring some others to also take up the cause.

As with those spam messages, I wonder if what we are saying sometimes falls on deaf ears.  Are we proclaiming the vision of something that can never be, because vested interest and egos will always keep firefighters fat, dumb and happy? Should we revel in the presence of the whackers and the unprofessionals, knowing they won’t likely be competing with us for our own jobs?

I take comfort in knowing there are others like us out there, and those who may not know they are yet, but will need to have the shade pulled up so they can see the light.  We will, of course, continue to do just that.  We need to show people that what we are telling them is true.  Our industry, the fire and rescue services, is on the brink of a sea change.  There are widely-accepted technologies and best practices that are being used daily out there that won’t see the inside of a fire station for at least another 10 years.  It’s a sad state of affairs, but with continually rising costs and continually shrinking budgets, we will have to continue to slog on.  And the only people we can blame this on is ourselves, because we failed to draw the right picture for others to understand where we were going and where we needed to be.

Be a missionary of change.  Illuminate the paths of others, so they can see where they are going.  Help those along who need a hand.  But of all things, strive to do the best job possible for your citizens.  They deserve it, and frankly, they are why you exist.  Treat them like it.

  • http://thefiretalk.com Nixon Press

    Good article. I work as a loss control/prevention and fire protection engineering consultant.

    Just curious what kind of pressing issues, changes, and new technologies/best practices you are talking about.

    Is there anything in the field that you continually see as a recurring problem and is there anything that we can point out to our clients?

  • http://www.firehousezen.com truck6alpha

    Thanks for the comments. Let’s see, where to begin….? The biggest issue I continue to see in the fire service is that we preach brotherhood, yet fail to put the egos and turf-guarding aside so we can create a better whole. A large majority of individuals continue to cling to a childhood image of misogynistic heroes, tolerating a frat-house atmosphere, and encouraging unsafe and unsound application of resources to daily and emergency problems. And we can serve that all up with a heaping side of tunnel-vision and hubris, where we can not look past the repeated mistakes and failures of our predecessors, while also riding on the laurels of public adulation, thinking that at no time the public will get tired of it and encourage a serious backlash.

    Other than that, nothing. (Note: that was sarcasm);)

    Really, just go to many gatherings of firefighters and observe the reluctance to evolve. We continually preach safety but hidden in the back shelf of our minds we relish that dangerous job label, despite the fact that almost 50% of firefighter deaths could be reduced by a meaningful fitness standard and buckling your seat belt.

    There are reasons why the Department of Justice is a cabinet level post and the USFA is, as I have often said, relegated to a broom closet. There are a number of well-funded federal law enforcement opportunities out there, and conversely, the National Fire Academy has to scrape and beg for every dime they get. And it seems like new technologies that are out there for law enforcement run circles around similarly ground-breaking advances for the fire service.

    I guess the thing that you can point out to your clients is that regardless of their personal beliefs or what they saw on Rescue Me last night (FYI: I am a big fan of Denis Leary and what he has done for our service, but I also believe that there is a difference between the movies and reality)our business, career and volunteer, is about serving. We have a lot of grown-up boys that like to race up and down the road with their red lights on but don’t buckle down and appreciate the intricacies of friction loss.

    I thank you for prompting this question and honestly, I could go on for hours, or in my case, the history of this blog. But we can get started with that little softball I just lobbed out there and we’ll see if anyone takes a poke at it.

  • http://thefiretalk.com Nixon Press

    Thanks for the feedback, very informative and full of insight. Didn’t realize those type of issues. Putting the egos issues aside, is there anything that you continually see when you get on site during a fire emergency scenario (ie. lack of communication with owners, shut valves, hydrants w/o water, etc.)?

    Also curious about the technology aspect, I have noticed that law enforcement seems to be up with all the cool gadgets. What kind of technology would help the fire service improve their jobs? How significant are the costs?

  • http://www.firefighterhow.com FirefighterHow

    Im pretty sure there are spambots out there that can automatically paste that junk on hundreds of sites per day. Sure would be nice if there was some kind of way to eliminate them!

  • http://thefiretalk.com Nixon Press

    If my comments appear to be spam, that was not my intention. I don’t paste junk on hundreds of sites per day, I don’t even know how to program spambots, just looking for answers. I’m not sure Mick would have answered my first question if he thought it was spam.

    I was just asking a few questions that I thought could be answered. Maybe I should have been more specific. I work in the loss control/fire protection engineering side and witnessed the damage of a complete loss of a 400,000 sq.ft. warehouse fire in Grand Prairie,TX that was fully sprinklered with a fire pump with all employees losing there jobs. A complete loss would normally not be expected when sprinklers and fire pump are installed. Firefighters promptly arrived on site however were not able to control the fire.

    If I need to be a firefighter to participate, sorry for stomping on your turf. I’ll find another place to go, and find someone else who can answer my legitimate questions.

    Now I understand Micks first paragraph when he states:

    “the biggest issue I continue to see in the fire service is that we preach brotherhood, yet fail to put the egos and turf-guarding aside so we can create a better whole. A large majority of individuals continue to cling to a childhood image”.

  • http://firehousezen.com Mick Mayers

    No, NP, I think FFHow was referring to who my lead-in about “who actually writes those spam mails” (the ones I have to delete). I set my site to require approval for comments except for those who have previously been approved.

    As far as your questions, I would very much like to address those, but I am rushing out the door to go to work and will look them over (and answer). Thanks for commenting!

  • http://thefiretalk.com Nixon Press

    My regrets to FFHOW, I misinterpreted the thread and comments.

    Thanks for clarifying Mick.

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Michael "Mick" Mayers

Battalion Chief with Hilton Head Island (SC) Fire and Rescue and an Emergency Response Coordinator with the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ National Disaster Medical System Incident Response Coordination Team.

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