The fire service is alive with research, livid debate, training, and education. Sadly, many passionate firefighters suffer from the fall out during the passionate process of fire service change. It’s like trying to smile while having a root canal. We all want to improve but deep down there is an inherent fear of change.
A quick look at the internet reveals ‘spirited debate’ and heated battles between some of the fire service leaders and on many fire service blogs and discussion boards.
Many firefighters become disheartened and feel that they are under attack during these moments. As a member of a research project that takes more than its fair share of ‘spirited debate’ I welcome the discussion.
Let me explain:
If you had a classic car that you poured your life savings into, all of your sweat equity, and years of restoring it; would you let just anyone come in and start making decisions about paint color, accessories, interior, etc.? Absolutely not! You poured your life, your passion, and quite a bit of your financial resources into this vehicle and you are not about to let just anyone come in and change what you have worked so hard to build from the ground up.
Firefighters are passionate, they are dedicated, and they have (rightfully so) developed a sense of ownership over the way we do business. I applaud each and every firefighter who debates, discusses, and passionately defends his or her position because it means that you CARE!
However, I do believe that there is no place for tearing each other apart and destroying others brands or businesses simply because you disagree with their tactical playbook. We are better than that. The discussions that I have witnessed and seen online are reduced to name calling and hyphenated discussions that are a waste of time and a blemish to the honor of what we are trying to do as a fire service.
With that being said, might I suggest a new acronym to guide us through the murky waters of change. Consider these principles the next time you have a ‘discussion’ about change.
N: Now- As you discuss controversial, new, or change in the fire service before you respond take a moment and consider how far the fire service has come and how change has benefited it along the way.
I: Integrity- Consider the remarks that you make can me repeated, twisted, and misinterpreted by others very quickly. Your remarks reflect who you are. Consider the impact of your words before you speak them.
C: Community-remember the person you are talking with is a part of the firefighter community, the brotherhood, they are our family member, and we should honor them even if we disagree. “Don’t sacrifice a relationship just to win an argument” (Alan Brunacini)
E: Encouragement is in short supply these days. As you end the conversation, whether you agree or disagree leave each other with encouragement. They care enough to discuss the subject which reflects the depth of their passion for the job.
R: Respect, Reflect, Refine: The fire service reminds me of Christianity. There are a lot of churches out there, trying to save souls, but are inefficient because they are too busy arguing about the best way to save someone.
We let our differences get in the way of the main objective. Respect each other, reflect on what was said, and use it to refine your own knowledge and beliefs. But most of all remember the mission is to save lives! Your purpose should be to educate not cause division within the ranks of our community.
Let us lead change and be above reproach. During the course of each others education we should be building relationships not tearing them down.