The Brotherhood is a Lie

That’s right. The title is referring to the Fire Service Brotherhood. Before you amass a posse and begin an assault on ELAFF HQ, I ask that you read this post to the last word. After that, please share your opinions…positive or negative.

I’ve been working on this post for a few months now. Until recently, it was merely a set of scattered ideas, floating around in my mind without a central focus to tether them all together. This week, I found my focus. A group of firefighters in Georgia uploaded a video to Youtube, showing an outrageous “rookie prank” which they carried out.

Here is the video:

My immediate thought after viewing this video was,”Wow…these guys are crazy!”

I planned on leaving it at that, with no further comment. As usual, I continued to follow the chatter on Statter911. I  enjoy observing the varying opinions of Statter’s readers, and their reactions towards one another. The comments began to follow two, distinct paths.

The overwhelming majority of comments voiced disgust and disapproval. Those are the comments I agree with. The small number of opposing comments accosted the dissenters with accusations of overreaction and over-sensitivity.

I fail to see the supposed “innocence” of this “prank”. Ask any ELAFF Local and they will tell you that I am a supporter of firehouse fun and harmless tom-foolery. This prank, however, crossed the line. It may have caused mental trauma to the recipient, and even more likely, it could have resulted in serious injury or death. Don’t believe it? I’ll explain…

What if an off-duty member, carrying a legal and permitted concealed weapon, stopped by the station for a visit? How about a local law enforcement officer seeking a cup of coffee and some small talk.  The city that this department protects has seen an increase in violent crime in recent years. If an armed firefighter or law officer entered the station to find his comrades being forced to the floor by a masked gunman, they would most likely react quickly. If they had entered the room as the firecrackers exploded, sounding like gunfire and adding to the realism of the mock execution, I’m sure they would have reacted aggressively. The ironic tragedy of a mock gunman being shot by an uninformed hero would have changed the tone of those supportive comments, and silenced any laughter.

Now, back to the Brotherhood and the focus of this post. There was one comment that veered to the extreme end of the supportive spectrum. It immediately struck a nerve and spurred me to tie those scattered ideas into a solid post. Here it is verbatim:

“You guys are such negative nancy’s. What happened to the brotherhood in the fire department? You are all too busy trying to throw them under the bus. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? As far as the prank being dangerous? I hate to tell you but F.D. Doesn’t mean fire department, but rather freaking dangerous.”

What happened to brotherhood? It doesn’t exist…it is a lie. At least, the “brotherhood” of which this comment speaks is a lie. It seems to be increasingly common for newer members of the fire service to EXPECT the brotherhood. They believe that as soon as they get some bunker gear, they are a solid link in the chain of fire service brethren…and that this link can never be severed. Nope. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. The TRUE brotherhood between firefighters must be earned, and to keep it, you must stay true to the profession. You can get your issued t-shirt, or pager, or union decal for your truck…but that doesn’t make you a Brother. Don’t get me wrong. Senior firefighters should be there for the rookies. They should answer their questions, mentor them, even give them a little razzing when they get too cocky. Don’t shun the new guys, but make sure they know that they still have something to prove before they fully become a Brother.

Earning a place in the Brotherhood doesn’t require a working fire and an act of heroism, either. I recall a firehouse visit by a German fireman(feuerwehrmann). He spoke little English and had never stepped foot in our house before. We began to tour the station and apparatus; through broken English, hand signals, and my very basic understanding of German (thanks to my German roots) we began to communicate. His “detailed” questions about hose lays, pump rate, equipment, and tactics shone brightly through the language barrier. This was a Brother. He knew firefighting. He lived it. He didn’t leave it behind like a businessman on vacation. He didn’t ask lame questions about flashing lights and sirens. With less than 50 actual, spoken words…he EARNED my trust…and proved his status as a Brother. I assume that by gladly sharing our house and rigs, and by answering his questions with enthusiasm, pride, and knowledge…we earned HIS trust, as well.

Being a member of the Brotherhood goes beyond joining the department and wearing a t-shirt. It is more complex than simply wearing a pager and has no correlation to the amount of lights on your P.O.V. Being a member of the Brotherhood is about looking out for your Brothers. Putting them, and the civilians you protect, before yourself…and not just on the fireground. Being a Brother requires constant training. Brothers drop the remote and pick up the weights, so that they’ll be prepared for the next call. They take a break from talking about football at the kitchen table, so that they can run through a scenario or critique a previous call. Brothers take part in as much training as possible, even the courses that AREN’T required by the department. They spend spare time going over the rigs, looking for subtle changes which could make the next run flow a bit smoother. To Brothers, the fire service is more than a way to earn a paycheck, or a way to pick up chicks. It takes dedication and commitment to be a Brother. For that reason, not EVERY fire department member is a TRUE Brother Firefighter.

Too often these days, when news of a misbehaving firefighter hits the internet, some whacker-troll jumps out of the shadows screaming about the “brotherhood”. The idiots in Georgia may have been Brothers last week. Then, they pulled this “prank” and posted it on Youtube. They endangered themselves and made their department (and therefore the ENTIRE American fire service) a joke. They disgraced the Brotherhood, and thereby forfeited their privilege as a member. Yes, “privilege”. Not “right”. IF they are allowed to remain in this profession, they will have to EARN that privilege again.

To simply defend their actions because of the “brotherhood” is ridiculous. If a rogue firefighter decides to light a random house on fire for kicks, would you stand behind his actions because he’s a “brother”? What if he inadvertently killed somebody; would you support his act of arson under the veil of “brotherhood”? What if the victim was ALSO a “brother” firefighter?

I’ll stand by my Brothers through a lot, but when they start breaking laws and endangering lives, they go against the very morals that hold the Brotherhood together. I can’t consider someone like that a Brother, and I doubt they were ever one to begin with. If they had time to plan an elaborate stunt like the one above, then they also had time to train or hit the gym. They chose not to, and therefore chose to avoid the Brotherhood.

I have no problem with somebody supporting the “gunman pranksters” above. If you think it was a harmless prank, fair enough. If you think that no harm was done, fine.

Just don’t use the Brotherhood as your default defense. To some of us, it has a meaning which runs deeper than your superficial understanding.

-Lt. Lemon

(Credit to the following blogs for extra motivation and inspiration on this post: Jason Jefferies’ Working the Job, Chris Brennan’s Fire Service Warrior, and Taj Meyers’ QueenCityBurns. Read those posts.)

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53 responses to “The Brotherhood is a Lie”

  1. queencityburns says :

    Excellent post Lt. Lemon.

    The brotherhood needs some amount of self policing. No one is holding a gun to your head (no pun intended) to be a firefighter. A brotherhood that supports activities dangerous to itself is nothing more than a gang with a common occupation. While I’d go out of my way to help a fellow firefighter (or even a cop or……ew…..EMT), it takes much more for me to call you a brother. As you said, it’s a privilege, not a right. The safety blanket of the “brotherhood” won’t mean much when we’re letting ourselves die from obesity and calling it an LODD, giving full funeral rites, yet protecting bullshit like this. If you want to have fun, do it. Just don’t film it and broadcast it and involve me in your crap.

    Like

  2. Michael Caviness says :

    Yes, the “brotherhood” that those people are speaking of is hopefully dying. Unfortunately, something else died a long time ago to most people: common sense.

    Like

  3. hdf561 says :

    Sad but true, I will say however that we are in a kinder gentler FD and that is horrible for us as well. Sure this prank crossed the line, but we have become more of an all inclusive club than a profession for the chosen few that display the aptitude to perform it.

    Not everyone who tries to be a Navy Seal gets in, even if you pass the BUDS course, firefighting should be the same, however since everyone is so sensative they (cause its not we) let them slide.

    We had a rookie who came to our company at age 45 looking for a new start to life from his previous career. This guy was smart, polite, and everythign you would want as a friend however everyday was his first day. After 5 day break you had to retrain him on the simplist task, this guy had no business being a fireman, but because he was a nice guy the bosses let him slide through. Finally after enough fires, drug overdoses, and shootings he figured it out on his own that he didnt belong here. But in that 2 year time period we are lucky he did not die, or that he didnt kill someone else, all becuase he was a “nice guy”.

    Borhterhood is not only the things you described above its also being able to be honest with your self and your fellow fireman about your performance. If I mess up It is my brothers duty to point on my weakness for all of our safety.

    Great stuff on the site, keep it up!

    Like

    • lieutenantlemon says :

      Right on. The firehouse isn’t a frat house style club. I understand, especially in smaller departments with low recruitment rates, that you must give every applicant a chance. After awhile, though, those applicants must rise to the TRUE requirements of the job…or be weeded out. As administrators get soft, it becomes the Brother Firefighter’s job to sort through the mess.

      Like

    • Michael Caviness says :

      @hdf561 – I especially agree with your Navy Seal comparison. We, the fire service, need to set some sort of minimum standard in order to be called a fireman. I actually believe that’s why we are looked down upon as a profession. Take nursing for example, they are viewed as an established profession because of the exclusive nature of minimum requirements to be called “nurse.” I know a lot of nice people who tried to become nurses but couldn’t pass the minimum standards. It’s sad for them but the profession is better because of it. We should be less worried about a “brotherhood” and more concerned with being a professional. Being exclusive would do a huge service to people committed to being professional but it would piss a lot of people off.

      Like

      • lieutenantlemon says :

        There was a time when the fire service was a prestigious organization. Firefighters were known to be old salts who would work tirelessly to do whatever job they were called for. Currently, though, it seems more like an employment agency. People with no other ideas for a job turn to the fire department…and departments eagerly take them in. This is fine, but agencies need to be willing to let them go eagerly, as well. That is the whole reasoning behind the “probationary” period. If you aren’t advancing after one year, you hit the street. Today, poor performers are more likely to get an “extension”…or to simply be passed along, anyway.

        However, those job-seekers wouldn’t even apply to the FD if it held that old prestige. Firefighters are more likely to portray their job as an easy, t.v.-watching, lounge session…then as a difficult shift doing dedicated work. That’s what many do today, though. They don’t train, or work out, or plan ahead on shift. They rush through station duties, so that they can hang out. A steady paycheck, great hours(when you consider time off), and a shift spent doing nothing. Who wouldn’t want to apply for a job like that?

        The cause of this trend lies with the officers and senior firefighters who allow it to continue. It’s a never-ending, downward-spiraling cycle…and it’s KILLING the fire service.

        Like

  4. Ak firemab says :

    Well said Lieu!
    I have been in the fire service for a very short five years. And in that time have myself earned a place next to my brothers. I remember learning about, “the brotherhood” and learning that it’s more than an all inclusive firefighter club. The first time my cap told me ” good work brother” I glowed. It was an achievement for me, something I had earned and that felt great. I try to pass that on, that feeling of pride and belonging felt by firemen when they earn the title of brother, to all of our new guys. Because it’s my responsibility to teach them what brotherhood is really about. If not me, then who?

    DTRT-KTF-RFB-EGH-PTB-FTM

    Like

  5. Jason says :

    I’m glad to see that there are people out there willing to expose the mockery that some folks call “Brotherhood.” I’m adding a link to one of my first posts, not to plug my site, just simply to echo your sentiments above.

    http://workingthejob.blogspot.com/2010/11/uh-oh-here-we-go-with-b-word-again.html

    I took a brutal beating over that one, but I don’t give a damn. Brotherhood is exemplified through actions, not words. Thanks for writing and keep up the damn good work. I always look forward to what’s coming out of ELAFFHQ next!

    Like

    • lieutenantlemon says :

      Thanks for adding the link, Jason. I had not seen that post. I just read it and I agree completely. I came up with the basic idea for this post before I even got the blog online. I think the original idea was for something more like what you wrote, but the video comment sent me off on a tangent. I was kind of disappointed that my post wasn’t MORE abrasive. The fire service is in need of a revolutionary movement. We need more people who are willing to speak out about the tough topics and call out the lazy posers who are ruining the reputation of this profession.

      Like

      • jasonjefferiesJason says :

        Damn right, sounds like we’d have a lot to talk about over a cold one. I added a link to your site by the way. I guess this is me asking permission, or forgiveness… Keep plugging away and one day the good guys will win. It just seems to me that day is not in the immediate future.

        Like

        • lieutenantlemon says :

          No need to ask permission. I should be thanking you for adding it. You’re right, things aren’t going to change anytime soon. The new generation of over-privileged and lazy kids (who have been handed everything since birth) coming into the fire service doesn’t help matters.

          Like

  6. Gary Lane says :

    Yep. Well put… and here’s my link (same as Jason’s…not a plug- to show support). This entitlement crap has got to stop.

    http://coffeetalkaroundthetailboard.blogspot.com/2010/10/brotherhood-on-soapbox.html

    Like

    • lieutenantlemon says :

      Another great post that I hadn’t seen. Perhaps there are enough of us to make some noise after all.

      Like

      • queencityburns says :

        There can never be enough. A brotherhood of aggressive, smart, dedicated firefighters vs. selfish, me-first, everything-but-firefighters (aka: we want you to be safe)…

        It’ll take a movement of truly dedicated guys who want to preserve the fire service and everything it stands for to over come this “inactivity in the name of safety” disease.

        Like

  7. Chuck Olson (@Chuck_O_) says :

    Good discussion guys! I wish i could add more, but i think i would just repeat most of what was written tonight. I’m glad i’m not the only “one” out there!

    Like

  8. Brian Brush says :

    I will let you know this served as fuel for me this week and many others. Now that we have all done a round robin of thank yous which none of us will acknowledge it is time to get back to work. Bring the like minded together and provide a forum. Live your expectations and accept the fact that change will not come without challenge. It is things like this which help you see how
    many stand beside you. It is places like this where you find those who push you.

    Like

    • lieutenantlemon says :

      Always the motivator, Brian…even in your comments.

      That’s the most important part of the connections these blogs create. Even though I work for continuous change, I catch myself becoming complacent and content with my advances. I start to settle into comfort with subtle improvements and it takes the posts of others, like war-cries on the battlefield, to remind me that it ISN”T enough. I can still improve myself, I can still evoke change in my peers, we can still do better. Every time I think I’ve reached a new high, somebody reminds me that I can still go farther…and I thrive on that.

      Like

  9. Blake Redden says :

    Good stuff fellas!! Keep your head up Jason! You’re making small impacts in our profession every day. Keep spreading ‘leadership from the bottom’!

    Like

  10. Jason says :

    Thanks Blake, the bottom is where it starts… Guys, I think I have a solution to our conundrum. How about a hostile takeover of a city FD? I’m already working on who will staff the rigs. I call dibs on the irons position on the truck, y’all fight over the rest! Seriously though, good discussion like this keeps my tanks full and my nose in the wind!

    Like

  11. RescuingMyself says :

    I’ve been trying to write an appropriate comment for this post since yesterday. I can’t think of one. You have taken a problem in the fire service and broken it down in a way that men who abuse the Brotherhood should understand. All I can say is, great article Lt. Lemon!

    Like

    • lieutenantlemon says :

      Thanks for commenting. The problem is that the “men who abuse” are not likely to read this, let alone understand it. That’s why this needs to be shared. Not this post, but the idea as a whole. The fire service is in need of a revolution (or perhaps the correct term would be revival, since the fire service once held the prestige it is losing today) and it starts with each one of us. Ignore the posers and do what you know is right. Work harder, grow stronger, learn constantly…and pass that attitude on to every possible person.

      Like

      • RescuingMyself says :

        Amen, Lt! Growing up in the fire service, I can see a dramatic change in the firemen of my fathers time and those of today. We still have a lot of great firemen left in this service. But, they don’t hold themselves the way firefighters before us did. We don’t see as many fires as we used to and I believe some see that as an opportunity to watch more tv instead of training (both physically and mentally). And, that’s exactly why we have stuff going on like in the video of your post.

        Like

  12. Joe Bfnl says :

    Brotherhood my ass. Its dead and gone. My “brothers” would stab me in the back in a hot second and will (and do) step on their “brothers” just to get ahead. We have about 10 “brothers” (and sisters) out injured or ill with open time banks and almost no one has contributed. They have been left out to dry. The only “brotherhood” is in the bar at the tradeshows. The rest is a lie.

    Like

  13. Chris (@redd_dragons) says :

    Excellent Post, I entirely agree. Brothers are earned

    Like

  14. Powder says :

    Great Post!! This should be mandatory reading for all the Generation-X Firefighters everywhere!!

    Like

  15. burned-out medic says :

    the idiots ruined the brotherhood

    Like

  16. captainchaos01 says :

    Wow. To continue the conversation when so much has already been so well written. I will start by reverting back to the origin of the post, at the rediculous prank video. Did I mention rediculous? God knows I do love a good prank, but to post this is beyond words I can really come up with. Every single time something like this gets posted, tweeted, shared, liked, poked, pimped, tassled, LOL’ed, ROFLMAOOMGOMGOMGOMG…. Its like the image of the fire service, and its public trust, is a delicate masterpiece of glass art work, carefully ballanced on a ledge. A mere whisper of wrong, and it will fall, shattering into a thousand unrecognizable pieces. Forever lost right? Wrong.

    The pieces have to be picked up, and the forge has to be re-fired. The pieces can be melted down, and bound again into another elegant piece, to be on display to the public once again. But in order to do it, the work must be put into it. Half assing the job will only result in something no one will wish to see or admire. In order to get back what is lost, two things have to happen. 1: the painstaking labor must go back into making it whole again, and 2: those that tore it down in the first place must never be allowed back in. Not only that, but a restraining order needs to be in place! They must never be involved again. Its over for them. Black ball’ed, how ever you wish to express it, the closest they should ever come to the fire service again is when they pay their taxes, and thats close enough. Idiots all of them. I dont know them, or wether or not they are good firefighters. For all I know, they are, but lack some serious judgement capabilities. Their fate is up to their community and supervisors now. Just like in MMA, “never leave the fight in the hands of the judges”, their choices have left their careers in the hands of the judges. I wish them luck in their endevors, I doubt they will come out of this one with the win.

    The Brotherhood is the exact same. Its delicate, fragile, and can be torn assunder with one wrong move. I hesitate to say, I doubt most firefighters dont understand Brotherhood. Hell, sometimes I dont understand it, when someone does something that makes me sit back and ask “how could they do that? Why would a “Brother” or “sister” do something against another?” I dont have all the answers. As unlikely as that is, me being the greatest dragon master of all time, I truly dont. I often sit back and look at the fire service as a whole in the departments that I represent. Our “Brotherhood” has some serious issues. I sit back and try to figure out where to even start?

    It feels a bit like Alice, tumbling down, down the rabbit hole. When will the freefall stop? Will it stop at all? Morale in one, enthusiasim in the other. Lack of training in one, Time to train in the other. The severe lack of those to go the extra mile. Where do you start, when theres little to nothing going right? How do you determine where to draw the line in the sand? The line that says this is where it currently stops, and the other side is where it will start over?

    It has to begin with excellent leadership, but how can one be an excellent leader when there are those that fight you every step of the way? How can you get rid of them, when they are doing it in a manner that is completely legal, and PER the rules? How on earth do you legally rid the department of people who are technically doing nothing wrong, and keep your ass from having the crap sued out of it? There are some awful trends in our beloved service and brotherhood today, and even now im starting to have some serious doubts on how to pull it back from the brink. Is there a way to do it without letting it fall, or should we let it, and re-forge the pieces?

    Stay alert, and be safe my Brothers

    -Captain Chaos

    I don’t believe in wasting brotherhood on anyone who doesn’t want to practice it with me. Brotherhood is a two-way street.
    -Malcom X

    P.S. I like to end in a quote by me, but this one fit the bill pretty well!

    Like

  17. Jill Hamilton says :

    There is no brotherhood until you embrace the sisters too. Knock the macho fireman shit off, it’s gotten old!

    Like

    • lieutenantlemon says :

      I was waiting for somebody to address this issue.

      Jill, I’m sorry to have offended you. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a gender-neutral alternative for the word “brotherhood”(if you know of one, please tell me), and typing “brotherhood/sisterhood” or “brother/sister” throughout the article would have been a ridiculous waste of time…any English Comp. professor, journalist, or successful writer will tell you that.

      Yes, there are women in the fire service. Yes, many of them can keep up with, or ahead of, the men.

      As for the “macho fireman” comment, I’m not sure what you’re referring to. Please fill me in.

      Thanks,
      Lt. Lemon

      Like

    • Gillian says :

      As a firefighter I adore the terms brother/brotherhood/sir etc. As a woman I wish these terms were a little more gender friendly but I am glad to accept all of them, as long as I have earned it; and it is recognized. What has frustrated me for years is that I have felt that I have had to work 200% more to get the same recognition, only recently did I realize, that is what made me a brother, giving MY all, and my all just happens to be a lot more than most of the men in my department. So sister from one girl to another, do YOUR best and your brothers will recognize that a female brother brings some unique perspective and assets to the Brotherhood!

      Like

  18. Bill Carey says :

    A very well written post and even more thought-provoking comments, especially the literal and incorrect interpretation of the masculine use of the word in writing.The times have changed for many of us, who like myself, may have been in the fire service before the internet. It is sad, but truthful to say that the brotherhood which many cling to died along with the war years. There is no more brotherhood. There is only friends riding across from you whom you have grown to trust, even if you weren’t firefighters, and those who are in it for the check or the t-shirt.

    Bill Carey

    Like

    • lieutenantlemon says :

      Bill,

      Unfortunately, I fear that you are correct. The “Brotherhood”-of-old was a bond forged in constantly-run working fires and under stressful circumstances. The fact is, those calls just don’t happen as often as they used to. The “Brotherhood” will never be as strong of a bond as it was in the past. For those who were around in the “war years”, there will never be another “true” Brotherhood. However, that Brotherhood was gone before many of us even entered the fire service. We only know it through stories passed down to us, not from personal experience. There is, though, a different type of Brotherhood still clinging to life today. It may not be as strong as the old, dead Brotherhood, but it is still there…barely. That is what we, the current members, are trying to keep alive. If we don’t pass it on to the next generation, it will be lost, just like the Brotherhood of the “war years”…and they will be even more disconnected, careless, and lazy than we are.

      Like

  19. Fern says :

    As someone trying to join this profession, I have found it that many people want to join just because “Govt. jobs pay AWESOMELY.” or they’ve failed at getting a job elsewhere. Not because they want to get into a brotherhood that if you give it your all, it will give you back more than you put in.

    Here’s a question:

    If we want to set a bar at a certain level, what the hell are we going to have to do to bring it up to that and restore the term “brother” to its former glory?

    As a college student, my immediate thought goes to a college degree in Fire Science or Fire Protection Engineering, but how do we set the bar for the brotherhood itself, and not just the job?

    Like

    • Russell Stine (@hybridmedic) says :

      Trust is earned, never given.

      Fern, I have a Bachelor’s in Fire Protection from Oklahoma State University. I (incorrectly) assumed it will give me legitimacy when I graduated. I almost immediately violated trust with that attitude when I got a job, and I had to work double time to earn it back.

      Once I took my discipline and re-earned that trust, I was one of the best employees and highly trusted. When no one trusts you it can get lonely, but the more time I spent doing the right things and the extra things, you will be seen differently.

      What I am getting at is that you can’t earn trust with a degree.

      Like

  20. Mick Mayers says :

    Well done article. Thanks for sharing it.

    Like

  21. Russell Stine (@hybridmedic) says :

    The sad part is the people that NEED to read this, won’t. None of the commenters from Statter’s page will show up here, and what’s worse is one of them who said that termination and demotion “was too harsh” is a member of my department.

    And even if they DO read it, they will stay silent. Maybe because they were shamed into silence, or simply didn’t understand the post.

    LT, I linked to your post in mine.

    Like

  22. Jason says :

    Ooooohh I soooo wanna weigh in some more, but my pinky had a fight with a sawzall, therefore it’s painstaking enough to write this much. Thanks for stirring up the hornet’s nest guys!

    Like

  23. Black helmet frank says :

    I haven’t been on my dept long and I know I’m not a “brother” yet but I know eventually that will be…but as for this prank I think that is beyond stupid…I understand that some hazing will happen but this crosses the line!

    Like

  24. Jason L-13 says :

    You’re rant on brotherhood is basic crap. The joke was in terribly poor taste, and should not have happened. As far as the comment on brotherhood, brothers don’t play stupid jokes on there fellow firefighters. Brothers also don’t single out rookie firefighters and tell them they haven’t earned the right to be part of the brotherhood. Any man that makes it through the academy with the goal of helping his fellow man is in and by in I mean a brother. It’s firefighters that make statements that say someone “hasn’t earned it yet” that don’t deserve support this is no all exclusive club where membership is gained. We are not girlscouts, we are firefighters and all equal. Rookie or seasoned. “ladder thirteens last”.

    Like

    • lieutenantlemon says :

      You may be lucky enough to be on a perfect department, where everyone is dedicated to the job, but I regret to inform you that there are “fire department employees” out there who aren’t worthy of the title of “Brother”, let alone “firefighter”. The members who only care about the pay check or the t-shirt. The ones who plan on planting themselves on the couch for the entire shift…who whine when they are forced to take part in some form of training. There are non-dedicated scum lurking in the firehouses of America, and they are not “Brothers”. They are not equal.

      The “Brotherhood” IS earned. It IS a privilege. Treat it otherwise and it will quickly lose its meaning. As you said, this isn’t the Girl Scouts. Not everyone gets a merit badge, only those who pull their weight and prove their worth.

      Like

      • FMCH says :

        You are right on the mark here. Sometimes, I think we have an overwhelming majority of “couch pilots” in my FD. I don’t mind the complaining as long as the complainer has a “fix” to whatever ails them. I don’t mean hanging the BC by his undies on the closest powerline.

        While your post isn’t union related, my union suffers from this very affliction. We vets try to encourage the new kids to get active, emploring them that what they do now will pay dividens down the road. Nothing works. Oh, they will complain the loudest, and ask why we can’t be like X department south of us all the while failing to realise that X department has strong union brotherhood.

        How do you get the probies or new FF’s to go all in? As you stated, the new firefighters EXPECT everything to be handed to them.

        Like

        • lieutenantlemon says :

          I think it has more to do with the younger generation and the society of entitlement which they grew up in. They’ve had things handed to them since birth. They can get everything with little effort. Information and entertainment on the internet. Communication through texts and cell phones. They can even watch their favorite t.v. shows whenever they want…regardless of when it aired. They have no concept of WORKING to EARN something. They just EXPECT it when they walk in the door.

          Regardless of what “Jason” believes, that IS NOT how things work.

          Like

  25. captainchaos01 says :

    Jason L-13: You have absolultly every right to your opinion, But I ask you this; You say the title of Brother is earned when someone has gone through the academy. Brothers dont play stupid jokes on their firefighters. All are equal. What do YOU say to the new hire that spends the entire shift doing nothing? The ones that put their gear on the rig, and veg out on the couch? The ones that do the absolute minimal amount, and the ones that only contribute a warm body on the fireground? Do you have any on your department? The guys that hang out with their own kind during training, huddled in a group whining about how stupid this is? Do you see them and still pat them on the back and call them brother? Are you satisfied with their ability to have your back, even though they have no greater ambition than to fill in a spot on the rig? Respect in any firehouse is earned, and must CONTINUE to be earned. Its no all inclusive club, but you dont get the title of being a Brother without respect, and you dont get respect with a state certificate, or a college degree. You get respect when you do your duties without being told. You get respect when you piss all over your boots because you didnt see the celephane someone wraped on the toilet and can honestly laugh and say “ya got me, but I’ll get ya back”. A joke that stays in house, off the internet, no one got hurt and is a pretty far stretch of the imagination to say it could. You get it when you spend more time in the bay than you do on the internet, and on your phone. You earn respect when you can tell me exactly what your equipment can do. Not what it was designed to do, but what it CAN do. Yes an L.A. trash hook is good for moving around smoldering debris for final extinguishment, but it punches holes in ceiling from the vent hole like no ones buisness, and much better than a pike pole. Yes a Halligan is good for forcible entry, but it also makes a dandy step to hoist yourself into a first floor window, or to quickly make short work of breaching through dry wall, or as an anchor in a wall to attach your bail out system when your egress has been over run. “Firefighter” is a title given to you by a certificate, or the department that hired you. The title “Brother” is given to you by those whom you have earned their respect, and to those whom will earn YOUR respect through their actions, and work ethic in your department. We live in a world now where everyone makes the team, and everyone gets a trophey at the end of the season. If thats how your department works, great, it fits right in with the rest of society. In my opinion, its something earned and not given when the minimal amount is applied and a you get a 70 on the test. Its gonna leave a bad taste in your mouth when you pat the back of the man and call him “Brother” that couldnt push his dying comrade out of a window because he’s never heard of a denver drill, or worse yet, seen it and stood on the sidelines with his friends calling it stupid. Were not all perfect, and we will all make mistakes. We must answer for them when they happen. “Sorry Chief, I backed the rig into a parked car because I didnt use a backer when I had the opportunity” is much easier to answer for than ” Sorry Chief, I thought it would be funny to bring a gun to the house and make the rookie think he was going to be killed, and then post the video of the whole thing on the internet for the whole world to see”. The Brotherhood is something we must take care of, and keep safe. Not something to run and hide behind when we screw up.

    I hope my view isint offensive to anyones fragile feelings, but If it is…. eat it anyways!

    -Capt. Chaos

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  26. Ron Ayotte says :

    When I got on the job in 1981 with 4 other firefighters, we were called into the kitchen at HQ on our very first day of orientation. The senior man on the shift that day spoke with us about what was expected from us. He also told us that we had to be pay attention not only to what hapens at a call but in the firehouse in general, because and I quote “we don’t want you new guys to ruin this job”.

    We have far to many personnel who are “brothers in name only”. BINOs are the ones who do the very least, consider the FD to be their part time job with the benefits, bang out a vacation or sick day when some heavy training is scheduled, disappear when committe work needs to be done, never show up at union and association meeting, never go to wakes and funerals; yet when they get into a shitstorm of trouble they try to pull the “Brotherhood” card.

    We have to ge to rookies in early so they don’t become BINOs!

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  27. Larry Whitwer says :

    There is no brotherhood in this day and age. from a click high school group of cheerleaders to the company “yes Man” firefighters who seek to climb the ladder will sell out their own mother just to be with the in crowd or have themselves noticed for promotional purposes. The are more about getting their name on paperwork rather then getting things done for the better good of man. It takes true friends on the department, which there are many, but the strivers, sell outs, and attention hounds who call you brother and then talk behind your back the minute you leave the house. . . . . Please. Don’t think there is a brotherhood.

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