Things Have Changed

 "I probably shouldn't tell you this, but…"There are few ways to get a group of firefighters to be quiet. This one works pretty well. I was doing some training with a group of firefighters recently. In the mist of training, one of our department’s retirees stops by. He’s a well-respected firefighter. He retired as an officer and is known to be a great on the fire ground. When this guy spoke of how to handle an incident, knowledge just oozed out of his words. The way he started out this story made it even easier to listen. He goes on to say, "Back when we got acquired structures to burn in, we would use a live victim for rescue. That probably would not go over too well these days."Boy is he right! Anyone who knows current safety standards, or has read Line of Duty Death (LODD) reports in recent history realizes the danger those people were put in.   

As I soaked in the words he said, it made me think. The retired guy realized that even though what was done in that era was commonplace, it is now known to be extremely dangerous. Learning has occurred for him, and hopefully, for the entire fire service. For those of you that can’t fathom how anyone would have ever done this practice, consider this question: What common place things have you done that you later you found out could be the worst thing to do?

I am just beginning to teach my youngest kid, baby girl, to ride a bike.She has a helmet, and knee pads, and elbow pads. All of which matches her bike, by the way. What did I have when I learned to ride a bike? An afro. That's what protected me. My afro.My mom wasn't a bad parent for it. That was acceptable. Just like the retired firefighter, I realize that times have changed for the better. It may take more effort and resources to accomplish training in the fire service or training on the playground, but it's worth it.Change for the best often requires more work. But before change can happen, one must realize the need for change. If you don't see something wrong with what you are doing, why do something different?That retired firefighter understood the need for the change in training. What changes do you see a need to make?In yourself?Your organization?Your profession?Change is inventible, why not make it a change for the good. It takes ordinary people to make a change to have an extraordinary impact.

About the Author 

NICK BASKERVILLE has had the honor of serving in the United States Air Force for 10 years, followed by 4 years in the United States Air Force Reserves. He attained the rank of Technical Sergeant (E-6). Nick also has 16 years of fire service time, with 13 years of that being in a career department in Northern Virginia. Nick has had the opportunity to hold positions in the Company Officer's section of the Virginia Fire Chief's Association (VFCA), The Virginia Fire Officer's Academy (VFOA) staff, and in the International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters (IABPFF) as a chapter president, a Health and Wellness committee member, and one of the IABPFF representatives to the Fire Service Occupational Cancer Alliance.