The Brand New Commodore 64

I used the Commodore 64 as the title, to drag you in here because of its popularity. The Tandy 8086 I used in my high school computer lab, however, is the one I am most familiar with. It boasted a rockin’ Intel 8086 processor blasting away at a whole 8 mHz and preinstalled with a whole 384 KB of memory. Just so you know, there are diapers on the market with more computing power. But to give you some perspective, my laptop, which isn’t exactly crunching numbers for NASA’s Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Program, runs with 4,020 times the response and 7,878 times the memory in RAM, not to mention the 120 GB in the solid state hard drive.

Do me a favor and check my math. If you are counting and can’t remember a bit from a byte, I’ll just remind you that one gigabyte is equal to 1 million KB. My point isn’t a math class however. To say that this represents a profound improvement in a product in 32 years of existence would be a considerable understatement. The point is that I have said to you before that if you imagine something that could make your job radically different, it may be happening as you are thinking about it. And just as we have imagined things like remote-controlled cockroach cameras for search and rescue (they’ve got them), skins for vehicles that change the color of the vehicle and could make your apparatus more visible based on ambient light (they’ve got it), or perhaps an armored mobile surgical suite (using them in Iraq and Afghanistan as we speak), maybe there is something that would revolutionize the way we do work and would be a total gamechanger. Would we embrace it? Probably not. The fire service embraces change like one would expect to embrace a cactus.

We lack vision. We say that we have vision but we don’t. We are so focused on protecting what we think is sacred that we refuse to admit the need to change. We have made decisions we stake our careers on and reject anything that would cause our lives to move tangential to the direction we have already mapped out. The living proof exists with agencies that continue to reject scientific approaches to problems. Intelligence doesn’t lie within the ideas that preserve the old but in our evolution and adaption, learning and improving.

There are solutions that exist to our challenges, but we have to be open to the ideas. Changes scare individuals because the unknown doesn’t provide safe harbor. In fact, it exposes our beliefs to scrutiny and may tell us that whatever we value may very well be wrong or harmful. Nobody wants to be thought of in that light, but really, we find years later that everything we held to be true today depends on the context we live within, and this changes daily.

Don’t lock yourself into the status quo in the belief it is safe. At some point, staying there will be less safe than moving forward. You certainly want to be in the right place to make the leap when it is necessary rather than watching your opportunity drift away, out of reach.

  • firefighter zero

    Wow. Spot on sir. Excellent post. I have similar thoughts when I hear “safety is our first priority”. Hasn’t been for years.

  • Bill Carey

    Well written Mick, thank you.

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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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