Keeping up with the Joneses

Not all of us firefighters can tour the U.S. for all of the great fire service conferences, conventions, training events, etc. Most of us do have the capability of getting on the internet from time to time. For those of us who do not get to go to the events, we have websites who offer introspect that can be regarded just as important.

There are many great websites out there which offer opinion, training, and editorial on the fire service. Some are updated daily, others updated from less but are still very important. Don’t get me wrong, the news sites are great for keeping up with what incidents are going on; some even showing what to do, what not to do, and close calls we can all learn from. The bonus for firefighters are sites which offer that some news with opinion, and others mostly opinion. Some of the sites I am referring to are Firegeezer, Firehouse Zen, Firefighter Hourly, Firefighter Behavior, The Housewatch, and even STATter 911 from time to time.

These sites offer a variance of views and commonly elicit comments which offer even more viewpoints of issues. The commentary, whether you agree or disagree with the viewpoint, will make you think.

This happens on websites all the time, it happens at conferences occasionally too. Probably the most visible case is Lt. Ray McCormack’s talk at FDIC this year. The HouseWatch spoke of it here and Firefighter Behavior hit on it here. Unfortunately, I was not at FDIC. Even more unfortunate is that as much time as I spend on the computer I missed the talk completely because Fire Engineering Editor Bobby Halton had it pulled from internet circulation just days after it appeared. By all accounts, from what I have read, the  speech was well deserved and the ones who “got it” were those who were able to look past some of the words and understand the meaning. I believe that it was a tremendous disservice to the fire service to have the talk pulled from the internet with little explanation. After all, don’t we deserve the right to formulate our own opinions. For those who came out with a harsh thumbs down on the talk, there were plenty in line to offer explanations of how they inferred the talk and how it made sense. I can only hope that one day we will all be able to read or watch the talk and be able to formulate our own opinion and learn.

In this business, it is easy to play it safe and stay on course of talking about the “feel-good brotherhood” of the fire service. Who the hell is anyone to point out to cracks in our foundation? I think that is what we need…a better understanding of what problems have created cracks and the assistance we need to fill the gaps.

One of the biggest band-aids in the fire service is how we still do our jobs understaffed as safely and as well as we have done in the past. We have to face the facts; we run more calls, we have more regulations, we have less staffing and fewer trucks. Yet we are expected to do it as well as we did before with a smile on our face. Not everyone gets to respond with the staffing levels of the FDNY or DC. Even those large departments have lost companies. Some lose minimum staffing, others lose entire companies.

It is up to us to ask the serious questions. It is up to us to expose the cracks in the foundation that politicians and administrators don’t want the public to know about. It is up to us to bring our issues to the forefront. We need to stand up for what is right and demand what we deserve.

Utilize the websites listed above to learn and review the fire service. Whether you agree or disagree with their standpoint I assure you that you WILL learn something.