Recently, I had a conversation with a good friend of mine who has just been appointed chief of his department. I congratulated him on his promotion and also asked him about his outlook for the role and what he hopes to accomplish. He stated, he would like to bring the department closer together and instill the family values of the fire service back into this department. His one concern however, was dealing with some of the older firefighters already ingrained in their ways and continually use the term, "because that's how we always done it!" Well, for this chief who can relate in age to a few of these firefighters doesn't care about how it was always done. His mentality is "but was it done right?" In his mind, he's looking to not change how the department is operating but IMPROVE how they are operating and looking to do that through team building and acknowledgement of firefighters accomplishments.
After hanging up the phone, I left for the gym and started thinking about the talk we just had and thought, this is what it's all about. It's about improving yourself and instilling discipline. Change is all around us and everything is evolving each and every day especially in the fire service. Sometimes when we look at what someone is looking to do, when they are on their mission, we forget that we are all fighting the same fight and all have the same objectives to accomplish yet how it is done vary based on rank or assignment. As humans, in our minds we get turned off that someone is trying to CHANGE what we are doing but are they really trying to change it? Or are they trying to take what is already set up and IMPROVE it?
As we've seen for generations upon generations, there will always be generational gaps within people but we can also see that the blueprint that was laid out by older generations isn't being thrown away yet are still very well alive and kicking. This can be seen from the first strategies and tactics books written by Chief Lloyd Layman which isn't many pages to the numerous books today that are hundreds of pages. All of which is built off of a foundation laid out for us decades ago. So as the fire service is evolving, the tactics and decision making skills aren't changing but are evolving and so to the firefighters, we are evolving as well.
Here's my advice to you, find things you do each day in your life and as a firefighter that is very routine and find ways to improve them. Not change them but improve them. This can be anything from improving your time in donning your PPE, to improving your time hitting the hydrant so when it's time for the real deal you aren't going through the motions that might've taken you 2 minutes to do but now takes 1 minute or less. This is how things, even the small things, get improved. This is how we can develop a culture of improvement for everyone in the house to do the same and develop a healthy competition amongst members.
Until next time; work hard, stay safe & live inspired.
About the Author
NICHOLAS J. HIGGINS is a firefighter with 17 years in the fire service in Piscataway, NJ, a NJ State certified level 2 fire instructor, a State of New Jersey Advocate for the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation and is the founder/contributor of the Firehouse Tribune website. A martial arts practitioner and former collegiate athlete in baseball, Nick is also a National Exercise & Sports Trainer Association Battle Ropes Instructor, Functional Fitness Instructor and Nutrition Coach. He holds a B.S. in Accounting from Kean University, and a A.A.S in Liberal Arts - Business from Middlesex County College. Nick has spoken at the 2017 & 2018 Firehouse Expo in Nashville, TN as well as at numerous fire departments within NJ and fire service podcasts.