Career Change

The sign in front of one of the churches was advertising that “Prophet John Doe” [name changed for obvious reasons] was going to be holding a revival.  I wondered: “What are the job requirements for being a prophet? ” I kind of liked the idea of having the title “Prophet” in front of my name.  I would need to be “a person who speaks by divine inspiration or as the interpreter through whom the will of a god is expressed.” I’m not trying to be blasphemous, but to suggest that I have earned the title prophet would require a little imagination.  

Conversely, I was having a conversation about the “uselessness” of standards the other day.  The individual suggested that standards simply exist to make standard writing agencies a lot of money. You may be wondering where I am going with this, but it should be somewhat easy to see.  I am not a prophet, and even if I were to say I am, how would I prove it?  The same could be said for “firefighters”, “paramedics”, fire departments”, etc. If I say I am a firefighter, there are standards that define what it is I had to do to prove I could have that title.

Individuals who argue the ridiculousness of standards seem to often be the same who are the most indignant about those who write the standards.  They are also the same ones that take a class 20 years ago, repeat the same mistakes over 20 years, and consider themselves models of the definition.  If you don’t like the definition, or the standard as it were, and profess to be the expert, then perhaps you should be the one writing the standard.  Of course, that’s when the individual mumbles some excuse about why they aren’t able to do so, usually having to do with “money”, or “politics”, or “favoritism”.  The correct answer would be “credentials” and “experience” and “knowledge”, but we’ll save that discussion for another day.

My point is that since I am one of the Illuminati*, I can share a secret with you: ANYONE can participate in the fire service standards writing process.  I’ll even make it easy for you.  First off, all of the NFPA standards can be accessed for FREE online. Look, here’s the link directly to that page.  Furthermore, over 50 NFPA documents are currently accepting public input (you’ll notice I put the link in there too). Four of them are professional qualifications.  Perhaps you are interested?  Well, if you are reading one of these documents and see something you would like to suggest, ANYONE can do that.  You don’t have to be an NFPA member, and you can submit public input regardless of qualifications, affiliation, nationality, etc.  To say that the only people who can create standards are some chosen few, well, that would be disingenuous.

No, I’m fairly sure that the real reason people don’t contribute their thoughts has more to do with lack of effort than lack of connections.  And the NFPA has actually gone and made it easier:  You don’t have to buy the document, you don’t have to put a stamp on a letter, and you don’t even have to use your valuable ink.  However, if you plan on making ridiculous suggestions that bear no rational explanation or are contrary to best practices, I’d suggest not wasting anyone’s time- yours or ours.

What I would like to see is that if someone actually does have a valuable observation or suggestion, that they take the time to get involved.  If they see a potential standard that would make our industry safer or more efficient, that they share it.  Or that you actually just take the time to READ the standard and understand it before pronouncing it absurd. (I know you won’t believe this, but there are people who tell me how stupid some standards are and have never even opened up the document to look at it- but they “heard” that so-and-so said it was stupid, and we all know that “they’re an expert”).

While I have changed my mind about adding “Prophet” to my name because I don’t believe I meet the qualifications, I have, in fact, earned the other credentials I have. What is nice about that is that I have a sense of accomplishment about it because I didn’t just say, “I am a ___”, but had to meet certain standards that  define the role.

*NOTE: I have to insert that while I am a Chair of an NFPA Committee, this post and this blog are not affiliated with the NFPA and can not be construed as representing the views or positions of the NFPA.

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