Friday, August 13, 2010

time to go

I see this phenomenon happen all to often when it comes to firefighters who are close to retirement: they seem scared and tentative when they should be taking the bull (or the red devil!) by the horns. They'll find ways to delay getting on and off the truck, park as far away as possible from the scene, or disappear at the scene altogether. They seem to do anything they can to avoid getting the job done... which annoys me to no end. I assume all of us become firefighters because we love to help the community, the challenges, and the hard grunt work but as the twilight years approach I see one too many Captains tell the driver to take their sweet time getting there. Besides the obvious legal implications and the simple fact that lost seconds can mean lost lives, I finally figured out why many of the-soon-to-be-retired within the fire department (and perhaps other emergency service divisions) are lollygaggers: they're scarred by too many memories of bad calls. They want to retire in one piece without any mental or physical injury, they're sick of seeing death and tragedy, and they are hanging back to bide the next few months until their last shift. I can understand their point of view but I think when you're no longer in the game, it's time to go because as a crew member, it is so important to have great leadership. I don't want them to hang on just to keep building up their pension. Money is not the reason to get this job nor stay on the job. I do not want to ever sense that my Captain is scared shitless because that is unnerving at a call... especially when the scene is blowing up all around you... I need to know that my Captain knows exactly what to do and take charge. I need to know that he is in control. That he will keep us safe. That he is not going to save himself at the expense of his entire crew. It is the most horrible feeling when the crew feels like we're on its own to make the decisions... it feels like you're being fed to the wolves. At this point I'm not sure who is looking forward to these Captains' retirements: us or them. Till then... let's just get through all the calls in one piece.

Be safe.

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