Complacency

I have probably spoken before of complacency.  Complacency is a subject that seems to surface repeatedly in our business, a business that requires constant vigilance.  It strikes all of us at one point or another.  The cure, sadly enough, seems to be getting stung.  And in a further moment of unfortunate circumstance, on occasion the sting is accompanied by death, severe injury, or catastrophic loss.

And since we all understand that complacency in the fire service is a topic on which everyone is reminded to guard against,  it happens routinely, and to the most unlikely of subjects.  I myself have been shaken out of complacency, years ago, with a near miss, and vowed to never repeat it.  But time after time, like water wearing away at a stone, repeated non-events lull us into the belief that the next one will just be one more in a long line of non-events.  When the long shot pays off, it can be a doozy.

Just as we get complacent on alarms, the public sector fire service has become fat and happy in the belief that no one would dare upset our world by privatizing it, merging it, or re-sourcing it.  We are firefighters!  Everyone loves firefighters!  No one would dare go against us.  We are heroes, after all. Well, just read this article on FireRescue1.com. These issues, although we have been saying they were coming for years, are now upon us.  If you don't believe it, look around.  The public is sick of hearing about firefighters milking their pensions, taking questionable disability benefits, stealing from their organizations, and lighting fires.  We are no longer pristine.  We have permitted the scum bags to infiltrate our ranks.  We are fair game.

Times are tough.  People see us as having while they don't.  If there is anything more energizing to the haters, it is the thought of "heroes" becoming the "anti-heroes".  It is the foundation of expose and justice denied that calls for every Geraldo wannabe to man a video camera and find the next Watergate saga.  If there is something delicious about failure, it is much more tasty when the shock of failure is accompanied by the role a trusted individual has in creating it.

Change is near on the horizon and while there are those of us shouting it from the rafters, it seems like there are many who continue to ignore the warnings.  What you believe to be true today may very well be heresy tomorrow.  If you fail to evolve, to get your stakeholders involved in your mission, or to understand the changing tide of support, you may well be clinging to the remains of what used to be while the rest go sailing down the road.

Just as we preach to our new firefighters that complacency kills, so should the vested leadership of our collective organizations be warned: complacency will be the demise of what you currently hold dear.  You can appreciate change and master it, or let it master you.  One way or another, it is on the way.

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  • Jon Marsh

    Would'nt it be great if we firefighters gave back to our respective community's without expecting something for it ? When we're out doing pre incident survey's or returning from a call , why don't we look at the folks we serve, where they live and what obvious needs     we can help them with. For instance a gutter hanging loose, a low limb growing over the roof. a screen door without screen. A  porch with a board missing from the floor. A yard needing debris cleared. When those we serve see us with kind intentions and not accepting pay for those kind acts, our credibility grows in their hearts as well as others we work with. Complacency is dangerous in all aspects and as a wise old firefighter friend of Chief Ed Croker said back in 1911 " An unhealthy ambition for public applause,will be dangerous."

  • Chief 72

    Well said Brother!

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Michael "Mick" Mayers

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

FE Talk: Humpday Hangout

Recent Posts
Career Change December 13, 2014
Think Fast November 29, 2014
Comments
Mick Mayers
Someone I Would Have Liked To Have Known
Ruth, Thanks for the comment, although like Tom said, you missed my point. What I was saying is that I am honored and impressed that someone who not so long ago would not have been given a chance - for reasons of race and gender- was given those accolades. She is someone I would have…
2014-12-12 11:24:00
Tom Bouthillet
Someone I Would Have Liked To Have Known
There are plenty of white males who don't deserve to be firefighters. The most qualified individual should get the job regardless of race or gender. That doesn't always happen for a variety of reasons that don't need to be hashed out here. But way to miss Chief Mayers' point entirely.
2014-12-11 12:08:00
Ruth Phillips
Someone I Would Have Liked To Have Known
I've heard of all of these "substandard candidates brought in to fill a role" taking the jobs from those who truly "desire the job and are willing to embrace the lifestyle of a firefighter." Do you mean people of color and women taking the jobs from the more deserving, uh, white male? I'm baffled as…
2014-12-11 04:21:00
drydiggins
Think Fast
My best friend once described flying in 'hard' IFR like being inside a giant ping-pong ball... everywhere you look, featureless white. I've appropriated that to describe people who seem to go through life in their own personal ping-pong balls. Apropos of the bumper sticker "I can't see you so don't pretend to be there."
2014-12-09 04:21:00
Mick Mayers
Leadership That Matters, Part 7
George, Thanks for reading! Yes, I'll actually do that this week. And I actually downloaded that same meme myself a few days ago- I like it.
2014-12-06 15:25:00

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Although I am affiliated or employed by certain entities, I in no way speak in this forum or others on behalf of those entities unless I have specifically stated such. Any implication otherwise is doing so contrary to my agreements with those entities. The result is that the observations and opinions by myself or on behalf of Firehouse Zen are not sanctioned by any other entity other than Graffiti Train Sherpa Publications and are protected by the copyright laws of the United States of America.

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