Owning the Job. Part III – The Power of a Firefighter’s Wave

Read all of the “Owning the Job” articles here

Sidenote: This column was formerly named “Pride and Ownership”. I decided to rename it “Owning the Job”. I did this to maintain a differentiation between this column and the great class and book “Pride and Ownership” by Chief Rick Lasky. 

I drive the fire engine…that is my job. Many don’t get that a Lt.’s job is to drive, but that is how it works in my department and that is my rank. I act if the Captain is off.

I know my territory. I know it pretty darn well. That includes my 2nd due, much of the 3rd due. Also noted is that some of my 1st due is automatic aid to the County.

photo by author

I do have to stay focused on everything. You just never know when we will get a call, so I have to be ready to make my way through traffic. I stay in lesser congested lanes when possible and am always paying attention to other drivers.

When responding (lights and sirens) I am even more focused.

One thing that I never miss is the opportunity to reciprocate a wave from a young child, or make sure I wave if they are looking but not actually waving. That will typically get a smile on the child’s face and a wave in return.

That small gesture, which only takes a couple of seconds is very powerful. How powerful you might ask? Hell I don’t know, I am a firefighter not a statistician. I do know that a simple wave can make a profound impact on that child even if it is for a short moment in their life.

In addition, think about how their parents (or whoever is in the car with them) might think about a firefighter taking a moment to wave to their child.

Here is my political spin…those parents might be taxpayers. They pay our salaries, they vote, they are just as impressionable as the children!

In all the hustle and bustle of our lives, getting children to and from school events, sporting events, the parents events they (the children) get to enjoy a wave from a firefighter in a big red fire truck! Your fire apparatus IS red isn’t it?

Whether or not that child is a Run to the Curb Kid or not doesn’t matter.

I am not sure what it is, but I absolutely love waving at children when I am driving. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t look like we are in a parade or anything…I just do it when I get the chance…every time I get the chance! I can only imagine the waves that I miss while driving. After all, I can’t see everything.

What about you? Do you take the time to wave?

I actually wrote this post back in November. I had just got back to the station after waving to a child in the fire engine. I put my thoughts down in this post, but never published it. I think it fits now.