Wednesday, May 12, 2010

aye aye mon capitaine

During the course of my career, I have had a total of nine different fire captains. Sounds like a lot but it's not really. In the first six months each rookie is assessed by two different captains. If it's a one truck hall, you report to one captain, and if there are two or more trucks, you report to your assigned captain but really, you report to the other captains as well since you can interchange trucks and crews on any given day. You might get a new captain if they retire or get promoted, or if you get assigned to a new station, or get moved to another shift. There are some great captains. And there are also some good and not so good ones. The great ones are the ones who not only have the fire ground experience, but more importantly have the people skills and lead by example. The good ones are the ones with less experience and are wise enough to rely on the talent of their crew when they are unsure in their decision making. The bad ones are the ones who, because they have a few extra stripes on their shoulders, are quick to boss around those who don't, and micro manage or belittle to get their point across. Fortunately, they rarely get away with that kind of behaviour for long. Because for every one captain, there are four firefighters and four firefighters sticking together can pull a mutiny when necessary. And sometimes, no matter how amazing a captain is, try as you might, things may not click simply because of lack of chemistry.

I have had all three types of captains.... the great, the good, and the not so good. Of course I would always prefer to have a great captain, but the thing is, no matter what type of captain, you can still learn a lot: you learn how to be or not to be, how to rely on yourself and your crew if you can't rely on your captain and you learn to pick your fights or when to let things slide. And most of all, you learn that no matter who your leadership is, you are still who you are and nobody can take that away from you.

I am eligible to write my acting captain's exam next year. And I am still deciding whether or not I am captain material or if I even want to be in that position of being somewhat apart from the crew simply by being their superior. I've never like playing the boss. (Well, except when it comes to the household.. ha ha). Part of me is excited by the prospect of challenging myself and facing my own fears and stepping everything up a notch but the other part of me is not sure if I can dedicate 6 months to study for the exam while I am raising two young children. And if promoted, I will have to switch to another crew and perhaps even another shift. And this would be a bit devastating because I have never been happier with the the crew that I have. But nothing ventured, nothing gained. I will probably give it a shot. The worst thing that happens is that I learn a thing or two along the way by studying. And the best thing is that no matter what, promoted or not, I will still remain a firefighter which is, and for me will always be, the best gig in the world. :)

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