What would you say?
I have been honored to be the guest speaker at the graduation ceremony of the regional fire academy for several classes now. My speech is often a revised version of the same message focusing on the graduatesâ€™ family and the fire service.
As proud as I am of the words I speak, I know that no one remembers what the speaker said at graduation. Â They are just ready to get that diploma and pose for pictures with friends and family. In all my speeches I have given, there is one part I have never changed. I call it the â€˜down and dirty.â€™ Here are my words for them:
â€¦Now the down and dirty: Â take care of yourself. Take care of your body. Eat right, exercise, protect your heart and your lungs. Someday your physical abilities may mean life or death for a citizen, your crew, or even yourself.
Learn the job and respect those who went before you. Stay positive, foster good relationships with your co-workers, advance your education, seek opportunities to learn, practice good communication, have courage, have compassion, have integrity, respect others, take absolutely nothing for granted, follow good leaders, and do the right thing.
To me, these are the bare bones words of advice I want them to take away. As I creep closer to the 25-year mark, maybe this is what I would want to tell the 21-year old me when I started. What are your words for the next generation of firefighters? Looking back, what is your advice you would like to give yourself as you started this journey?
Please leave us comments on what you have told new and upcoming firefighters in your career.
Chief Dave Cline
Sr. Staff Correspondent
Hooks and Hooligans Training