Owning the Job. Part II – Past, Present, and Future

Read all of the “Owning the Job” articles here

After writing the first part “PRIDE AND OWNERSHIP. PART I – SELF EVALUATION” I have had a lot of time to think. The eyes are looking this way (this is a good thing). Hopefully, I can pull off what I am hoping to do. I need feedback! I need to know that you are thinking the same things, or different things. I need to know what is working for you, or isn’t working.

One note, While I use “Pride and Ownership” in the title, these articles are about what I took from the class and how I am using what I have learned. There is no official affiliation with Chief Rick Lasky or Pride and Ownership.

Pride and Ownership – Past, Present, and Future…

In order to understand what is missing, we must understand what was here before us. None of this is about placing blame. Do you know your departments history?

As I said in the “self evaluation”, I know our history. I wrote a book about it. Our department was formed from 4 volunteer fire departments (actually there were a couple more, but 4 major players). Volunteers is part of our heritage, but it is more than 100 years removed. Basically, we are a fully paid fire department and have been since 1903 (March 1, 1903 to be exact).

These men were here way before me. Roanoke Firefighters pose in front of their engine...very proud. When was the last time you took a photo of your company in front of your apparatus?

I have pictures of our Firefighters doing everything from building props at our Zoo to collecting money for MDA, from fighting 100 year fires downtown to fighting for our citizens needs.

Our firefighters gave up their vacation to implement the 3rd platoon back in 1972. I cherish the work schedule I have now, and it didn’t cost me a thing.

Our firefighters fought for many of the benefits ALL of our City employees take for granted. I may have had some battles since I have been here, but the ones before me are the ones who fought so hard!

To what do we owe the men who founded our department? The honor, respect, dignity, integrity, pride, tradition, loyalty, and brotherhood that created it? Why am I sitting here almost 125 years after the first fire department in Roanoke was created seeking ways to bring back the best of what it has been? What has been lost? Where can we find it?

This is going to be a long uphill battle…yeah, I am used to that. I don’t like failure, but realize that this thing is bigger than what I am capable of. I need help. Will others get it?

Walk into one of our firehouses and ask them how things are…

You will hear all types of stuff, not much of it will be good. However, I know that each of them loves what they do. They just want it to be better. They want it to be the way it should be. Are they willing to make changes?

Our firefighters don’t believe in our management, our IAFF Local is broke, and our leaders accept mediocrity. Our firefighters are our best asset. You put our guys in front of anything burning and they will put it out. They can figure out and fix anything…except their fading department. What we lack is a blueprint. We have leaders, we have some great leaders. They just aren’t focused on saving our department.

We have had numerous bumps in the road…and championed them with being excellent stewards in our community…in the past. We still have battles, but we don’t champion them with being stewards anymore. We are paycheck collectors through and through.

We have excuses. That is all…excuses why we don’t do this or that, why this is that way, why we aren’t who we should be.

We are not involved. We should be. We should be seen here there and everywhere doing great things.

Hell, even the ones who take the time to lead or try to create change are beat down. I have never understood it.

So where do we go from here?

Unfortunately I do not know. I am going to start with my company. I know of another Brother who did the same in my department. I understand it was well received. That is a great start.

I know it needs to start with me…Whatever I do, I have to start it with me. It isn’t about me, I just have to begin the change within myself to effect change in others.

Wish me luck

What about you? Does any of this hit home with you in your department?

What will you do?

The video below is of Retired Captain Pete Price. He passed away a couple of weeks after I filmed this at one of our retirees breakfasts. He had great stories and shares some of them in the video below. This is some of our history…