Sunday, January 16, 2011

Who's Talking Now?

Who’s Talking Now?

By Ray McCormack

Watch your step. Be careful. Be safe, indeed – and watch what you read. Today the fire service critic lives in a protected area: the internet – and is not required to have any fire experience to draw upon. Like birds awaiting Momma’s feeding, fire service critics sit with mouths’ open, ready to chew on whatever mistake or omission is provided them. How does that happen? How do we collectively know it is wrong and still allow it to exist? Does outrage serve as amusement? Is it the accident we cannot look away from that draws us in? A senior firefighter once remarked upon being interrupted: “The Firefighters are talking now.”


  1. Its unfortunate, but it seems like its the 'thing' to do now... point out every (alleged) safety violation you can in a said pic or video. Rather than try to *learn* from experienced firemen, guys with little to no REAL fire experience, build themselvs up, by trying to knock down those that have been there and done that.
    I dont see this changing, as the fire service in the world continues to go down, less and less folks will gain real world experience. They will continue to (try) build themselve up, by stepping on the heads of the decreasing number of experienced guys. Using words like 'dinosaur' and 'cowboy' to make them seem stupid and outdated.
    Maybe the folks with less experience, would benefit MORE, by trying to take IN what folks who have been there and done that have to offer... THEN decide for YOURSELF whats safe and whats not safe. (end of rant)

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  3. What makes a person “the person” when it comes to talking about this business? There’s cliques, sides, troops, camps, groupies, followers, and a whole lot more…there’s even a few leaders.

    For anybody that’s been in the business a while, and that means anybody, it’s a rare event when something ‘totally new’ comes along. In fact, it’s almost always a variation, or remake, of something that’s worked for years. If the new kid on the block can explain it better (or more effectively) to another new kid (or an old one for that matter) — then who really cares. If some guy told me how to properly hold the nozzle isn’t it really a responsibility of mine to pass that information on to as many people as possible? So what if my jacket isn’t specially marked, my helmet isn’t totally trashed, or my ‘wisdom’ isn’t self-promoted — doing the right thing is making sure that the next guy keeps the message going.

    The funny thing about this business, and the people passing through, is that they all have revelations at certain points in their journey – when those revelations come along (when they really have an impact on the individual) the best way to pay it forward is to share them with someone else.

    Experience…who’s the judge and jury on this one? The funny thing about developing any habit (good or bad) is that when it becomes habit it’s extremely difficult to evaluate and/or change. It’s even more difficult to evaluate it, personally, identifying both the pros and the cons as it relates to you and to others.

    The more you invest in “a” way the more you tune out “other” ways (that is, the more you promote your way the more you think other people can't promote their way — when it probably says the same thing in a different way).

    Since there are 50 states in the country let’s look at it from that perspective…I guarantee there are at least 50 quality descriptions (and accurate) on how to properly flake, stretch, and position an attack line in preparation to enter the front door of a residence fire. Out of those 50 descriptions I guarantee there’s a very large gap in the experience level (maybe some other time) of the individuals doing the describing. If 50 listeners get the message from the 50 people doing the describing then there are now 100 folks with the knowledge. Of the newly enlightened 50 some may never share it and some may go on to share it as often as possible — even across the 50 states. They may even share it 100 times before they stretch the line again. They may even promote before they stretch the next line. Some may not actually stretch the line again on an actual fire while at work. What if they stretch that line 1000 times in training sessions — some with no smoke, some with fake smoke, and some with live fire, some in the apparatus bay, some in a training tower, and some in an acquired structure, some by themselves, some with their crew, some while attending a course, some while teaching a course — do they lack the EXPERIENCE to pass on what they knew, know, have learned, and have continued to learn?