I’m Telling You, Don’t Go There…

Okay, you can stop giggling over the fire at Columbia (SC)'s Headquarters station now, seeing as it has been trumpeted all over every news wire imaginable and I'm sure these guys were sick of it the minute they heard a box struck for their own house.  And then, of course, there are the twenty-plus know-it-alls who have to comment on the article, and since I haven't even followed it on the fire sites, probably another hundred or so wackers who think something like that would NEVER happen in their station.

Chief Aubrey Jenkins said what needed to be said: "A fire can happen anywhere, and a fire station is not immune".  I know he was probably dying inside, but what he said is the truth.  Sometimes things go wrong and we just don't have a good explanation.  Thankfully, their department had the foresight to install fire sprinklers and the damages were relatively limited.  And as Chief Jenkins also was able to illustrate, this does provide a great case for fire sprinklers.

The guys at Columbia are good brothers and I'm sure that whatever anyone could to him in the way of discipline, if at all, would never compare to the stigma that this guy is going to carry for a long time around the house.

We have to be really careful that the ever-spinning wheel of Karma doesn't roll in our direction when we are criticizing, because let's be honest, this could happen to any of us.  Thus the lesson in my post today, that while today you may be feeling all smug and self-righteous and willing to judge some poor schmuck at the CFD, tomorrow could find you in a similar situation, and I'll bet you'll want a shitload of understanding when it happens.

Just as people living in glass houses shouldn't throw stones and Jesus counseled that the first among us without sin could cast the first stone, there always seems like a lot of people out there are incapable of considering that tomorrow could be your big day in the news, and you'd better hope it is for good reasons, and not for something like this.  I would really hate to be the one to deliver a big fat "I told you so."

In every instance of something being reported, there are a dozen people who are outraged by it.  Why are you so quick to judge?  What is the need to pipe up with some witty comment on what a jerk so-and-so is, or how someone doesn't have gloves on, or that a firefighter who makes a mistake is incompetent?  Just because you weighed in with your two cents, what qualifies you to be judge, jury and executioner?

We all make mistakes.  For some of us, because of who we are and where we sit in the food chain, the mistakes may be more visible, but they happen.  I'm certainly not perfect.  Before we go shouting our rage from the rooftops, we need to step back and realize the situation often for what it is; a miscalculation, a misinterpretation, a failure to see something.  We all err from time to time and instead of being the first one to shoot, maybe we need to be the first to offer our hand and ask what we can do to help.

  • Robert Avsec

    Nice piece on one of those “taboo” subjects in the Fire & EMS world. Sprinklers are obviously great and kept the fire damage from being worse than it was. But what if you could install technology on an electric range top that effectively eliminated the food-on-the-stove fire caused by unattended cooking with vegetable oil or animal fat igniting? It’s not a “pipe dream”, it’s called High-End, Heat-Limiting Technology, and it’s been in the USA since 2006. Costs less than $400 per stove and takes 30 minutes to install aftermarket. You can get the whole scoop, including how to bring this technology to your community and get the right ordinance passed by getting your copy of Chief (Ret.) Stan Tarnowski’s new e-book, Putting a “Lid” on Food-on-the-Stove Fires. Learn how to get yours at http://on.fb.me/12Re6aC. This is going to be a “game changer” in the prevention of kitchen fires!

    • http://www.firehousezen.com Michael “Mick” Mayers

      Great idea and you know what? It’s technology that might sound far-fetched today that at some point people will start embracing as making sense. And when it does, it’ll be one more step toward changing our paradigm. Get with the program people and think about what it is we want to be, because before long, that decision is going to be made for us whether we like it or not!

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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.
Recent Posts
Heard This Story Before? August 24, 2014
Jumping Through Hoops August 4, 2014
Questioning Heroism July 13, 2014
Compassion July 2, 2014
Colin Fanning
The Roto-Ray: Beauty or Beast?
One of the most important facts we reviewed when deciding on the roto ray purchase was this; With the speeds of traffic on SC 278, by the time people heard the sirens on our fire trucks our light bars (on top of the roof) were out of sight. The roto ray, with its mounted location…
2014-07-25 15:07:00
Mick Mayers
Questioning Heroism
Thanks, Bryan! I genuinely believe I do and they tend to reward me with professionalism, innovation, and compassion to our citizens daily. That's something I am happy to facilitate.
2014-07-15 04:10:00
Bryan G. Riebe
Questioning Heroism
Chief, appreciated in your response to Geoff that you work for the FFs. Believe if more Chiefs lived that philosophy our fire services would be bastions of honor, ethics, and human potential.
2014-07-15 00:05:00
Christopher Roy
Questioning Heroism
Geoff, EMS, as its own service, does not have a strong voice and in turn, does not get the respect in the media/public that it does deserve. I do hope that changes. EMS doesn't have a home either, and that doesn't help. There are so many different delivery methods in this country that its probably…
2014-07-14 23:49:00
Mick Mayers
Questioning Heroism
I'm sorry you feel that way, Geoff. The department I work with has been doing EMS (advanced care AND transport) with cross-trained personnel for over twenty years and doing a pretty good job. Our community expects a certain level of service that we have been able to provide through that model and while not every…
2014-07-14 22:01:00

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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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