When do you quit being a firefighter? When was the moment, wherever you are in your journey in the fire service, that you stopped being a firefighter? Was it when you made driver? Made Captain? Made Chief? I remember years ago when I was in some social situation with my wife and after an introduction one of her colleagues would ask, â€œAnd what do you do?â€ My response was, â€œIâ€™m a fireman.â€ (I will dive into my thoughts on gender titles some other time.) My supporting spouse added in, â€œHeâ€™s also a Captain and a Paramedic.â€ While that was true and I was not trying to conceal those facts, my first response was that I am a fireman. 10 years, and a couple promotions later, I still like to say that Iâ€™m a firefighter. Do I get to spray water? Force doors? Perform a search? Vent the roof? Rarely, and it is a blessed treat when it comes along.
I will admit that I have weaseled my way in on a few extrications here and there with the justification that, â€œThey just needed another pair of hands.â€ But thatâ€™s about all I get these days. Such is life as a chief officer.
For me the desire is still there. Regardless of the bugles on my shirt I still want to be a firefighter. Given the choice of sitting in a meeting or training on pump ops? Its pump ops every time. QA reports or drill on setting up a Z-rig? Z-rig wins. File training reports or wash the rigs? Hand me the brush.
My point is this. If you can answer that question, if you can point to that spot along your journey that you no longer considered yourself a firefighter, then what are you? The bigger question is, â€œwhy are you still here?â€ Think about all the things that make up being a firefighter, the values and the ideals, the things that drew you into the job. If that isnâ€™t still a part of you and your purpose for serving, then what are you doing it for?
In my opinion, we have no other purpose than to serve. We may serve in different ways, operations, support, training, prevention, but we should all have in our hearts that we exist to serve. Hopefully, along the way in our journey we have retained the essence of being a firefighter. We think of service before self. We think of brothers before self. We see what needs to be done and we do it. We solve problems that our within our realm and we make a difference.
So my question is, are you a firefighter? And if there is any hesitation in your response, how can you get back to it?
– Chief Dave Cline
Hooks & Hooligans Senior Correspondent