Tactical Safety – Developing New Categories of Danger
By Ray McCormack
Fighting fires is dangerous - and apparently that is not the only thing that is dangerous. Some dangers are immediate and some are time-lapsed. The closer we examine many new categories of danger brought to us by trend merchants, the more complex our occupation becomes - and the more blurred the lines of distinction become between what is real and what is perceived. You see: not all dangers are created equally, and not all dangers are readily visible. Some dangers bring us off course by a few degrees and are barely noticeable. When they are combined with other developing dangers, you still may not feel the shift, but one day you will finally see how far we have traveled.
When the police attempt to profile citizens they are told to stop; When security agencies develop profiles they keep them under wraps; When the fire service profiles we are told by many that it is prudent. As a firefighter, you improve your survival by wearing your gear and knowing how to operate within a building containing fire. Civilians do not have structural fire gear; they instead depend upon us to bridge the gap of survival for them. They are not aware of the profile some have developed for them. They are not aware of our course change. They are not aware that they will soon be placed into another category by a Public Information Officer (PIO).
What is it that we don’t do anymore? Listen up and you will hear all kinds of things, and reasons to support inaction. Is this where society is going? No, society highly values service companies and altruistic efforts. Is the current generation of firefighters to blame? No, not yet at least. Those that impact service delivery and those who preach fear believe that diminishing our tactical range of effort is commendable due to the fact there was nothing we could do. Inaction is not dangerous to your body; but what about the long range impact? The more “nothing” we do, the more inaction we applaud; the more they were dead already fires events we have, the more the fire service’s mission and principle(s) will digress.
Politicos can do a numbers job on us - but only we can devalue our service - and there are many already busy with that effort. The fire service is different from any other emergency service… so far. When we are not proactive in doing what we can do for our citizens, then the danger of extinction is real. Let’s not put ourselves on the endangered list. Instead, work to improve our service delivery model - do everything you can to save lives, explore all options and stay tactically safe.
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