Surviving the Fire Service- A Few Points to Remember

Surviving the Fire Service-a fire service adaptation of Rumsfield’s Rules

Attached is a few short points for us all to remember. Let’s start at the beginning of our fire service journey:

1) An honest self assessment: We must ask ourselves-Is it the right job for us?

We shouldn’t accept the job or stay in unless we have an understanding that this job requires humility, courage, and self-sacrifice.

Always under promise and over deliver. We will always be expected to give more than we think we are capable of.

2) Servant hood: The role of a firefighter is one of service. The public trusts that on their worst day we will be at our best. Strive to maintain that trust by staying disciplined.

3) The power of failure: When we make mistakes, learn from them, and let our failures build character and experience. It takes a lot of “Atta Boy’s!” to get over one “Oh Crap!.

4) Surround ourselves with wise counsel. Develop an informal network of those who have been there and done that. Their knowledge and experience is priceless.

5) Be slow to speak and quick to listen: Always remember to take our hands out of our pockets and put our feelings there instead.

It takes effort to do this job and it takes heart. If we walk around with our hands in our pockets, our jaws flapping, and our feelings on our sleeve we are destined for trouble.

Listen intently, work hard, and one day we will be providing words of wisdom to someone in need.

6) The power of perception: Always know that a single interaction with the public leaves a lasting impression upon them of how the entire fire service behaves (scary but true!).

Always leave the situation better than you found it. Mind our words, guard our temper, and treat others as family.

7) In the fire service we have two families: Our family at home and our fire service family. Our family comes first and our fire service family comes second.

We will spend 1/3rd of your life with them. Do not take this lightly. Let’s show them that we value them as family. (Rick Lasky)

As we progress in our career:

8) Don’t forget where we came from! Lest we forget, we all started as a rookie firefighter. If we left the job tomorrow the fire service would go on without us. As Charles De Gaulle said, the cemeteries of the world are full of indispensable men.

9) Learn to say “I don’t know.” If used when appropriate, it will be often. It is okay not to know everything.

Remember as a crew we achieve our goals as a team not through the efforts of one individual. Be wary of those who know everything.

10) Leadership: In the fire service leadership is earned not given. Wr must be respectable in order to earn the honor of our crew’s respect. The trumpets on out collar stand for Leader & Manager as a Captain. Don’t take those responsibilities lightly.

11) Be precise. A lack of precision is dangerous when the margin of error is small. This is absolutely critical in the fire service where decisions made in a matter of seconds can determine the outcome of someone’s life.

12) Embrace Unity: Don’t divide the fire department into factions. We are one fire department and despite the other shift’s inadequacies we will find our shift isn’t perfect either. Don’t make excuses, take ownership, and move on.

13) Done beats perfect: Some days things do not go the way we would have wanted but if everyone went home safely, be thankful; there will be a next time for you to improve.

14)The foundation: Your performance depends on our people. Select the best, train them and back them.

When errors occur, give sharper guidance. If errors persist or if the fit feels wrong, help them move on. The citizens we serve cannot afford amateur hour during their most critical moments. Public servants are paid to serve the American people. Do it well.

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