Creating My Own Norm…

If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you will notice that I don’t write about MY fire department much.

I have tried to add in bits from my firehouse more and more and even created a Facebook page for my firehouse (link).

The reason why I don’t write about my fire department is because it is not welcome. My department is made up of 240 or so firefighters. The people in charge do not accept, me traveling and speaking, etc… To be honest they seem to despise me because of it. It is unfortunate, but it is not something I have been able to change.

I can only imagine being a Chief and having the potential of showcasing my department on one of my members blogs that is read Worldwide. That being said, I am not a Chief…so maybe my Chief sees something I don’t. He isn’t the only one. I have the added benefit of other members filtering information to the Chief about me whether it is true or not. Yeah, that isn’t a lot of fun either.

Creating My Own Norm

I have removed the last remaining identifier of my employer when I travel. Up until Baltimore, I would travel with my Phenix Leather and a custom helmet front from Box Alarm Leather. The shield identified me as a Roanoke City Lieutenant. I had them make me a new one to wear when I traveled. Now, I marketing the full package of being The Fire Critic. You will not hear me disown where I work, I just don’t market them anymore.

The truth is that I am proud of working where I do. It has simply become too much of a hassle to be seen wearing their name. Yeah…it sucks.

In an effort to show that I am not turning my back on my department, I decided to create a Facebook page for my firehouse. After all, I am very proud of my company and we work very well together. The other shifts are hopefully getting involved too.

I have found my new norm outside of my department. I have connected with, network with, and enjoy the company of firefighters I have met in my travels and those I have met via and The Fire Critic Facebook Page. It is a community of firefighters who “get it” and understand what I am trying to do here, even if I am just a small piece of the puzzle.


Yeah, I have some fire service tattoos. Some I am not proud of, but many I am. Either way, these tattoos are mine and they are not going away. Some are from my previous role as a Local IAFF Officer. Some stem from the previous blog I penned Some are from the fact that I am/used to be outspoken, yet much is due to misunderstanding.

I am not alone

If you look around at some of the other Fire Service Blogs, you might be able to identify with other bloggers who might be in similar shoes. They may not be outcasts, but they have found a better fit outside of their department connecting with firefighters who are similar to them or firefighters interested in their message.

It is great to see so many firefighters creating a name for themselves. Occasionally, I will sit back and wonder who will be the next Rick Lasky, John Norman, Billy Goldfeder, Ron Siarnicki, Bobby Halton, etc. I wonder how they will get there. I wonder how hard they will work to get to that point. One thing is for sure, there aren’t too many hand-outs in this job.

There is a tremendous group of firefighters who have the ability to make change. These men and women have created their norm in articles on paper and online, through Facebook pages, blogs, and other means to get their message out, share it, and learn from others.

I commend them for looking at the bigger picture. That is exactly what has gotten me to where I am today.

Brian Brush writes on Fire Service Warrior:

If you are the type of firefighter visiting this site, than more than once you have felt or heard this directed at you “Who the hell does that guy think he is?” I know all too well that at times there can be a certain conflict between being a proud professional and being among your peers in the firehouse; I just can’t understand why it is so powerful. It wasn’t until this year when I was given the opportunity to present at FDIC that I put sharing my message and experience ahead of what my nay saying peers might think. 14 years in the fire service before I really stood up? I guess I wasn’t quite the proud firefighter I thought I was by letting perception limit my opportunities. I now wonder if I will ever be able to look back. read the entire article here

Creating Your Own Norm

Let me reiterate what Brian said above:

I guess I wasn’t quite the proud firefighter I thought I was by letting perception limit my opportunities. I now wonder if I will ever be able to look back.

He wrote that article in June of 2011. I know Brian, and I know he has not looked back.

My experience is very similar, and I occasionally find myself taking a glimpse back only to realize where I am and where I am headed has a lot more to offer.

Creating your own norm isn’t an overnight change.

  • Evaluate your past
  • Decide on changes you would like to make
  • Set goals (short term and long term)
  • Remain focused on the outcome
  • Re-evaluate once goals are accomplished
  • Remain dedicated to the change you want

Most of all, do yourself a favor and be yourself.

“The worst part of success is trying to find someone who is happy for you.” ― Bette Midler