Pride in the fire service can be seen and felt just by walking into a firehouse or by having a discussion with a firefighter that has it. As I have traveled across the country into different firehouses, it is very apparent when you walk into a firehouse where the guys are proud of what they have, the community they serve, the company that they belong to, and the guys/gals they serve with. If a firefighter has pride in his/her job, department, company, he/she can’t help but show off that pride to others.
One of my friends always says “How can you tell that someone is a member of the Chilhowie Fire Department?” Then he says, “Well, all you have to do is wait for him to open his mouth because he will be sure to tell you!” Now, while that may be a little extreme… It’s PRIDE that their members have in the department, and you can’t fault them for having that. In this business, if you are working somewhere that you enjoy spending time, then you will be much happier.
It doesn't matter if you are in a 100 year old firehouse or a 1 year old fire station, you can do things to show off your pride. You can turn that brand new fire station into a firehouse after all. We have done it at my firehouse (5 years old), and I have seen many others do it. Whether it is a custom kitchen table, pictures on the wall, or custom furnishings…you can do things to show your pride and make it feel more like a firehouse and less like a fire "station".
One of the first thing many firehouses and fire departments do is get challenge coins made. One previous step you might want to get out of the way is creating a logo for your firehouse.
All it takes is an idea and someone to run with it. If PRIDE is something that your department lacks, then now is the time for you to take that step and run. There are several ideas below that you can implement to help create PRIDE in your department.
Company Logos: Most departments are compiled of members who all have individual talents. We all have the guy that you go to with all your computer problems, or the guy that works construction as a side job. Find someone who knows how to transfer your ideas to paper using a pen and paper. Once you have a rough sketch of your logo, take it to a graphic designer to turn it into a digital masterpiece. Many coin and patch makers can do this for you as well.
Challenge Coins: While the concept may have started in the military, it has now spread like wildfire to the public safety industry. Involve all the members of your crew and come up with a concept for a custom designed challenge coin for the members to carry in their pocket, trade with other firefighters, or to give to someone as a token of appreciation. NM-Coin LLC is who I use for our coins, and we have been extremely happy with the product they produce. The process can begin with an idea or any artwork that you provide. They turn the ideas into a digital representation of the coin, and start the production once that you have finalized the art. They produce a high-quality product and assist you along the way to be sure that you get exactly what you want. A friend and fellow firefighter, Andrew Catron, is a sales rep for NM-Coin LLC and would love to hear from you.
Contact Andrew Catron today about getting your firehouse/FD challenge coin, patch, badge made:
Tell him The Fire Critic sent ya!
Company/ Department Patches: Patch trading has been popular in the fire service for years, and things haven’t changed when it comes to that tradition. Many departments allow each individual company or station to display their own patch, separate from their department patch. We have a company patch at my firehouse that the guys sale and trade. We also had NM-Coin LLC to produce the patches for us. The design process is very similar to the coins since it only takes an idea to begin. Once you have a patch made, you can trade with other firefighters and create a display in your station of patches from across the country.
Firehouse Kitchen Table: It took us 9 months from idea…to changing the idea…to changing the idea many more times before we finally built our kitchen table and ate on it for the first time. You can see pictures and read about our firehouse kitchen table here.
Firehouse Decorations: In Rick Lasky’s Pride and Ownership, he talks about how the first time that he entered Lewisville TX’s headquarters that he was surprised to find glass on the table tops and no decorations on the walls. I believe he even mentions that he asked the guys if someone had come in and stole all the fire stuff off of the walls. Personalize the decorations throughout the firehouse to bring out the history of your department. Display old tools or pictures that show where your department was, and help take it to where it will be in the future.
Andrew Catron also runs the blog "Model City Firefighter". He has done many of these things above and written about them on his blog. Check out the links below, and stop in the Model City Firefighter Facebook Page and give him a "like" too!
Links on Model City Firefighter: