Firefighter or Employee?

“The five steps in teaching an employee new skills are preparation, explanation, showing, observation and supervision.” -Bruce Barton

“An employee’s motivation is a direct result of the sum of interactions with his or her manager.” -Bob Nelson

Is it safe to say that a fire goes as the first line goes?


Who are our managers, or senior men? How did they get to be in that role, and who are they leading? Are you an employee, or a fireman? – Thats a new catch phrase around my job but is very much right on if you search it out.

As a boss, are you instructing your people to handle business appropriately? Or are your people dictating what your limitations are under any given circumstance. Understandably, theres always going to be a company limitation of some sort, but when do you concede to this notion as a supervisor, and when if ever is it OK that you realize you can not get the proverbial blood from a given stone?
When do you push the envelope as far as a persons retention and skill set go? Are they unaware, unwilling or unable to perform? How many opportunities does one get to prove some semblance of reliability?
If your mindset is that of privilege, meaning you are union protected or that your relation/nepotism clause covers your position in a paid or volunteer aspect, then do us all a favor and beat it.

We all need to work hard every day to earn our positions. Regardless of if your position is 75K a year or totally for free, make sure a 15 year old explorer nearby isn’t going to make you look like a total idiot when you need water from a hydrant. If you are an elected volunteer officer, please understand that lives hang in the balance just as they do for the career guys.
Excuses are for PU^^#@’s, no matter what your role is.
If you are not fulfilling said role to the greatest of your ability, then don’t put your pissy pants on when someone better calls you out on it. We will all s#@t the bed on occasion, but when is enough enough? We need more operational pride these days, not operational indifference.

Officers typically try as they might to instill company pride. “Whatever company your in, is the best company there is” says a good friend… But after repeated attempts and training sessions it may become clear that lost causes can & do still exist.
How is it that you may be assigned to a unit with a company logo and that logo is not on your Class A or Class B attire after even the first day your assigned to that particular company?
When these issues are the case, administration can’t hold fast to the company line of “it’s your responsibility to train so-and-so to the level you feel comfortable with. “Thats pure S H ! T to quote Charles Bukowski.

If so-and-so doesn’t understand that his gear should be set up and ready to go on the rig prior to his first load of laundry in the firehouse washing machine or the vacuuming-out of his personal vehicle in the firehouse parking lot, than what can one really do to instill pride and ownership in him? The point becomes more moot than moot can moot.

Excuses aside, theres a right and wrong way to do everything as a fireman, no matter how many ways there are to skin a cat, so pick one and get your function handled appropriately please.

If your fireman liable, please understand that your mindset must have it’s priorities straight, and that the greater good is the most good. Its about we, not me. So to quote Jim Malone “what are you prepared to do.”

We are labeled a Fire Company for a reason, so that we can rely on one another to be in the right place, at the right time, ready and willing to handle our business. Minimum manning isn’t in place or an NFPA standard so that two or three guys on a rig can do the work while one or two guys are spectating like a fraud, in constant battle with a mask problem or a phony injury.

Take a look at this photo… do you think this Ladder Company is prepared to handle business, or blow it?
The trash man isn’t surprised when he turns the corner onto a new block in the AM and sees trash out for collection. Why are our people surprised when they turn the corner and theres fire venting from a structure?

SFFD Photo credit: Joe Aguirre

Gabriel Angemi