You Can Quote Me On That (Before 2010)

I was driving down the road the other day and thinking, you know, I too could have a list of quotes, just like the real writers have. So in the interest of filling up a page of useless knowledge, I went back to FHZ from September of 2008 to December of 2009 and I also threw in a few notable statements I made way back on the old Firehouse Forums as a member of the IACOJ, before some of you were born, I think. 

Now, I do read a lot and listen to podcasts, etc. and I will check my quotes with a deep internet search to make sure I haven't stolen someone else's ideas, but I'm pretty sure I said this stuff at one time or another.  I also left off anything I paraphrased (I hope) and added some stuff that exists in unpublished posts (there are a few dozen of those).  Believe it or not, we here at FHZ have standards.  They are low, but we do have standards.  

So here you are, from the beginning of FHZ, some of the more memorable ones:

  • "When I give you an order, I want to see it done, or your dead body where you died trying to do it."
  • "Never eat more than your mask can hold."
  • "I am not your friend, I am your boss. If you want to be friends, that's okay, but that doesn't change the fact that I am your boss first."
  • "The company officer is the designated adult supervision in the station. Act like it."
  • "There won't be a group hug at the end of this. I don't do Kumbaya."
  • "When I call for a resource I'm gonna give you type and kind. If I call for a Lincoln-ful of Panamanians, I don't care where you got it, just give me the closest one."
  • "Let's put this in terms you can understand: Confined space rescue is nothing more than HAZMAT on a rope."
  • "Being a truckie requires resourcefulness. You are presented with a problem no one else knows how to fix and you fix it with what you brought to the party or what you can swipe. After that, it's all magic."
  • "Individuals have given themselves the freedom to make poor decisions, then be let off the hook because we 'shouldn't judge them', or because their mommy didn't hug them as a child, or whatever the victim story is this week." (Okay, I just used that one again the other day).
  • "The base cause of indignity is usually the result of inconsiderate behavior." (Oh, and that one is new. But I liked it).
  • "Conflict in life is inevitable. Conflict escalation and intractability is not." (Alright, that one is new as well.  Back to the old stuff).
  • "There's enough ugly going on around us right now without our own people bringing it down on us."
  • "Each of us should be serving as a positive example of how to do the job, volunteer or career, and without acting like a bunch of amateurs and whackers."
  • "The important part in our lives, really, isn't necessarily what we can fill up our minds with at every moment, but about creating space to let more in."
  • "There are a few things that you should raise the stakes for, like your faith, your family, and your country.  But when faced with an unwinnable scenario and a profound lack of resources, sometimes it is best to save what you can save and live to fight on another day."
  • "Where t = tempo, r = resources and f = frustration: increasing t multiplied by decreasing r = exponential increase in f."
  • "The taxpayers in your community ultimately decide what level of service they want.  If they are insistent that giving you no resources is okay, then they have to be educated to what extent that investment will reap disaster.  Risk is proportionate to return."
  • "There are other sides to every argument that get squashed by the rush of the ADD crowd to comment.  Don't fall into the trap of the unenlightened.  Think before you post."
  • "I can think of no rational society that thinks it is okay to screw the disadvantaged for the benefit of the privileged.  Taking advantage of the less fortunate is simply bullying."
  • "When we use the phrase 'customer service", if that's not appealing to you, try saying it like this: 'doing what is right for our neighbors and the people who visit and work in our community'.  That should be a little more pleasant."
  • "Successful coaches match schemes to personnel, not vice-versa."
  • "If you are going to successfully implement change in your organizational culture, there should be a reluctance to be where you were and a desire to get where you are going."
  • "I'm pretty sure that when my ticket , I'm not going to be quoted saying something profound, poetic, or heroic.  It is likely going to be something that can't be repeated around children or the faint-hearted."
  • "If we really want our industry to recognized as professional, it requires consistent conduct that is professional."
  • 'Legitimate power, in the sense of leading others, is limited to the amount of leverage the followers will permit."
  • "Tansformative leadership requires commitment, honesty to self, and an understanding of the world.  It's yours if you can embrace change, open yourself up to it, and set the example to others."
  • "Our business is too dangerous to leave the teaching to amateurs."
  • "Perhaps if you guys are going to fight fire like you are in the '70's, you should be paid like we were then too."
  • "If as a team, you can't agree on the destination, someone needs to get out of the car. Ultimately, getting to the destination requires assessment, negotiation, understanding, cooperation, and ends with commitment."
  • "More often than I care to, my 'command presence' comes out at inopportune times, like when I am talking to my wife (she doesn't like it), my kids (they're not crazy about it either), or my colleagues (they probably think I'm insufferable anyway)."
  • "If you fail to illustrate a clear picture of who is in charge, someone else will come in and fill that drawing in for you."
  • "Sometimes the best we can do is to pin it down to the neighborhood of origin, if that's what was burning when we got there."

Since at some point perhaps I'll add another page of these for the next years, if one of the sentences I uttered strikes a chord with you, point it out to me and I'll add it.  I'm all about customer service.  Until next time, thanks for reading.

  • Fire Critic

    Great list Chief! 

    • Michael “Mick” Mayers

      Somehow your comment ended up in my spam filter. Good thing I check before deleting. Thanks for the feedback!

  • tom meditz

    I like this one: "More often than I care to, my 'command presence' comes out at inopportune times, like when I am talking to my wife (she doesn't like it), my kids (they're not crazy about it either), or my colleagues (they probably think I'm insufferable anyway)."  When it happens with my kids, Jacquie says don't worry about it I have seen him make big fire fighters want to cry.  BUT, the Chief Mayers quote that most often comes to my lips…"Don't pet flaming dogs"

  • Michael “Mick” Mayers

    Ahhhh, yes, that one. I’ll remember that for the next round. Good to hear from you. How’s things in TX?

  • chiefbobr

    Here's one that I have used over the years:
    'There is nothing so inherently unfair as the equal treatment of unequals'.

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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

Frank S. Brewer Jr.
The Annapolis Mansion Fire, Investigating, and of course, The Haters
Well put Mick. After 44 years in Fire/Rescue/EMS I am always amazed at the civilians telling me how it should be done. Fire investigation is hard work and never rewarding, having worked for a private fire investigator, who died due to exposure to the scene environments, the satisfaction you get is finding cause after that…
2015-01-25 15:55:00
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
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

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