Ya Can’t Teach Heart

As you may have already read, the Lt. And I took a road trip down the road to a little place called Roanoke VA. to visit the King of Blogs: Willie Wines Jr. and …. uh,…. wait a minute, I’ll remember in a second…. anyways, must not have been important…. oh well…. where was I? Oh yes, Willie. Anyways, we were greeted with open arms and treated like family. We were given an awesome tour of the city, Highlighted with a visit to the Fallen Firefighters memorial, and Historic Roanoke fire Station 1. I’ve gotta tell ya, if you are ever presented with an opportunity to see either of these spots, you will be a FOOL not to jump on it. This place is a wealth of tradition, history, and a vision of past fire life long gone. There is a huge difference between a fire station, and a fire HOUSE and places like old #1 take the differences even further than the imagination can go. After the tour, we took a walk down to a local watering hole, and talked some shop. I have to admit, Willie and… jeez its gonna come to me I promise….. well THEY know what they are talking about when it comes to Blogs and the fire service, and they have given Lemon and I some things to think about. There is obviously no substitute for real world experience, and that statement goes for blogging AND being a firefighter.


Day two brought us to 13 house to do a ride along with Captain Wines and his crew. I personally know how important Sundays are at the house. Unless the call volume is just unusually high, Sundays are reserved as “easy” days. This is a fire house tradition dating back to when chaos was just a twinkle in great great great Gammy chaos’ eye. They are typically days when we can sit back and, even though we stay vigilant as our job requires, enjoy a day with our crews. Having a deaf-mute hanging around with his all too wordy compadre might could be an un-welcome addition to the day, But these guys never once showed it if it was. We were already running late due to Lemons hour and a half, epic saga of a shower, yet we were greeted with a fire house feast fit for a king. We were taken to some more places in the city, met some more Brothers, and learned a few more things about RFD. Everyone we met never once made us feel as though we were a bother at all. Brotherhood isnt somethings these guys talk about, its something they live. You walk into the room with these guys, and can feel it. RHETT FLEITZ!!!! JEEZ THAT’S THE GUYS NAME! Talks about critics, deals, and Statter911.com All the time! I KNEW I would remember eventually. So we get back to the house and hang out all day with the King and his crew. Rhett dropped by some BBQ for supper, Bless his heart were gonna have to teach that man something about smoke, meat and sauce! J/k Buddy! The Q was excellent! I don’t know how good of a time these guys had with us, what with not being able to get a word in with Lemon running his mouth the whole time, But we had an outstanding time. True Brothers All of them, and it was an absolute HONOR to get to do what we did this weekend.

Among the many conversations we had, one statement Willie said stuck with me. It stuck, because I’ve heard it before, something I hadn’t heard in several years. My dad said it, My former Captain said it. Two men that I look up to as someone I want to emulate. Someone that if I could be half the firefighter they are, im gonna be alright. And now, here’s Willie Wines Jr. saying it too : “Ya can’t teach heart”. Four words that really don’t look right in a sentence, but have more meaning behind them than an english dictionary. I’ve wondered many times, is “heart” something I have? Because obviously, according to many people in my life that I look up to, If I don’t, It’s not something that can be learned. I like to think I do, Because to me having “heart” is the difference between being a firefighter, and a fire service employee. Having “Heart” means your going to go the extra mile, and not even think it was the extra mile. You went the extra mile because its your natural instinct to do more than what is required, not because you were asked, or told to go the extra mile, or did it to get a pat on the back at the end. It’s just something someone with “heart” does. Do the people around me say, “he has heart?” or “you can tell his heart is in it”. I learned a lesson on heart this weekend with Captain Wines and Lt. Fleitz taking us on a tour of a fire house when there could have been other places for them to be. I learned a lesson in “heart” tonight in training doing bail-out drills, when I see who went out the window once to satisfy the requirement and those that did it again, and again, and again just to reinforce that they were getting this drill right.

Do you have “heart”? It’s a question I really think every firefighter needs ask the person in the mirror. I think “heart” is something that, although not taught, is something that a particular thing gives you. Everyone has it, but what pulls it out of you? I know a firefighter personally that has made the statement “firefighting is my job, photography is my passion”. Did that sit well with you when you read it? It didn’t sit well with me when I heard it. Yes, this is a Job, and yes you can be passionate about more than one thing in your life. But if you wake up in the morning, and head to the house dreading another day at work, should firefighting be something you do anymore? I shutter to think I hated my job. If I did, I can tell you this: I wouldn’t do it. Id find another, one that I WAS passionate about. A job that when I did it, I put my “heart” into. Is there a job out there that has your heart, and passion? If there is, please, for your own sake and the sake of others that are working their butts off to get their foot into the door of a good firehouse, go do it. Dont waste a position on the truck to someone who dreads coming in to it. I’m not saying this in an angry or spiteful way. I’m saying it because the fire service can ill afford a group of guys whose heart isn’t in it. Your not going to go the extra mile. The reason that’s so important, is because the extra mile is where the golden stuff happens. The extra mile is where a fire apparatus goes from being a work truck to a show piece, no matter if it saw fire that day or not. The extra mile is where a fire station becomes a fire house. The extra mile is where the un-savable has a chance. It’s where the danger lies, and where safety dears not tread. It’s the difference between training untill you can’t get it wrong, not training untill you get it right. The extra mile: where those with “heart” go, and where those without it stop just short.

Maybe chaos has it wrong. Maybe I don’t have a clue what it is, and I just don’t recognize it? I don’t know, I wont pretend to have all the answers. I just think its something everyone should think about. Untill I CAN figure it all out, and have all the answers, I’ll just have to leave it at that. It’s almost bed time, and I’ll be at work tomorrow…. I can’t wait. I’ll be there an hour early before shift change, the coffee will be ready, and so will I.

To Rhett, Willie and all the guys we met: Thanks so much guys for the awesome time! I hope I didn’t talk your ears off too bad. Everyone was more welcoming that I ever imagined, and the hospitality you guys showed was second to none! The river of Brotherhood truly runs deep in Roanoke! We hope to see you guys again sometime, but until then, Ride hard and stay safe Brothers!

                                                 -Captain Chaos


13 responses to “Ya Can’t Teach Heart”

  1. lieutenantlemon says :

    I took the lighter approach to my post for good reason.

    This is gold.

    You knocked it out of the park, Captain.


  2. Chris says :

    Their is more in my head then is able to come out in print form on this post. Having heart is where this job begins and it ends. I’m really thinking of two ways to look at. 1; You gotta have heart to start doing this job, everything in between is just what we do and proud of what/how we do it. Then when it’s time to end it, do you end it while you still have heart? Option 2: You come into it without heart but as you learn the job you heart either grows full of the love or it doesnt. Thats when you leave, when you dont have the heart for it.

    A+ work brothers!


    • captainchaos01 says :

      Thanks for the comment brother! Keep checking in on us, theres plenty more to talk about! This one just came to me as something needed to be said, and hopefully will get anyone whos heart isint in it to think about something else. Not just for the fire service, but for them as a person. I would hate to know i spent my life pursuing, or doing something that didnt make me happy while doing it. Waste of time, and space. Thanks again!


  3. Dennis says :

    This is true in the volunteer service also. We have to many people in the fire service that show up only when “the big one” is called out. When you have heart for the job you get out of bed at 4am for a tree down in the roadway. Every firefighters should read thisIs


    • captainchaos01 says :

      Very true, good comment. For so long, volunteer fire departments were gaining membership for people to join the good ol boys club and spent training nights jaw jacking and watching porn. Not all were like this obviously, but its deffinatly been a lasting presence. Good ol boys club, and the chance to play with fire and tear stuff up… people joining for the wrong reasons. Thanks for reading, keep checkin in on us!


  4. RescuingMyself says :

    Captain Chaos,

    I’m a day late ( and about to be two penny’s poorer) on commenting. However, after reading this yesterday, I knew I had to let it sink in before leaving my two cents. As I re-read it tonight, the volunteer service stuck out the most in my mind. Than I read through the comments. I was glad too see yourself and Dennis had already explored that side of it. We can’t lose sight of our volunteer service.

    It’s time we revive our volunteer brothers. We have volunteers that only want the shirt(pager, badge, lights,etc). They don’t want to show up. They want the title, but not the hard work that goes with it. We need to direct questions like these towards this type of firefighter employee. Is your heart still in it? Do you still care?

    If they answer “No”, they know where the door is.

    Now, I know we have a similar problem with full-time firefighters. However, our volunteer service is dying out. The hard working, make every run humanly possible type are retiring. It’s time we work on getting our unmotivated volunteers hearts back in it.

    I believe I’m done rambling(for now), great article!



    • captainchaos01 says :

      Superb point RM, your spot on! The article was a little heavy on the paid/job side, but still has the same meaning on the volunteer end as well. I guess i could have taken a note out of lemons last article and grouped it all in to simply the “firefighter” catagory. Aside from money, theres no difference. Ego’s and motivation are a problem in all departments at all levels. But back to your comment, you make an excellent point. People want the title of “firefighter” just for that alone. They have little motivation for helping out the community at large, dont want to wash trucks, train till they cant get it wrong, clean up, pre-plan, inspect, pump test, flow hydrants, flush points, etc. Etc. The list goes on. They are happy to get a 10% discount off a morning biscuit, which i personally dis-approve of… maybe another topic for another day, but they dont want to go on a 3am nose bleed. Its all about perspective, i understand, but at some point the rubber HAS GOT TO meet the road, or its time to pull over and let someone else drive. Thanks for reading! Keep in check with us!


  5. Dennis says :

    After posting my comment I have talked to some of my fellow firefighters and URGED them to read this and posted it on my facebook. After 23 years in the fire service I agree with RM about the volunteer service dying out. It’s in my blood and I have been on both sides(paid and volly). I truly hope the next generation of firefighters pull their head out of there bottom and become REAL firefighters with HEART! I am lucky to call my department my second family but how many can say that now days? I think thats a good way to keep HEART in the fire service both paid and volunteer. OK I am done for NOW.

    By the way Captain Chaos, how do I get a hold of a Lemon Wedge? Would love one for my helmet.


    • captainchaos01 says :

      Well sir I am glad you asked! Thanks so much for spreading the e-laff word with your fellow brothers! I hope they too will do the same and get the name out there! The more our statistics in readership grow, the more motivated we get to write more great articles on motivation, and indeed we do plan on expanding to tactical things as well, but thats on down the road. The best way to get a wedge is through Lt. Lemon at this time, you may contact him through this site, our facebook page excessive leather accessories for fire fighters, and email. Let me know if you cant get through to him. Lucky for you we just picked a fresh, ripe bunch off one of our many lemon trees out in the lemon grove! They are free at this time to ANY reader/fan that requests one, all we currently ask is for you to pay for the shipping, preferably through paypal, but there are other means as well. Thanks so much for reading, and keeping tabs on us! There are a great number of topics out there, so anyone is more than welcome to request a topic as well! Keep your front to the fire, and ride hard brothers!


  6. Bugg says :

    Just checked out your site after following the link from Captain Wines. Great Job! It was a pleasure having you guys visit and your welcome back anytime. You don’t always have to hang out at 13 your welcome to ride at our house. Can’t promise different results though. We usually have the same luck with ride alongs.

    Lt. Robert (Bugg) Reid
    RFD Station 5


    • captainchaos01 says :

      Thanks for the comment bro! We had a blast, and thanks for the invite! We’d love to sometime! Keep in touch with us, we hope to keep up the road trips, and Roanoke will always be a place to stop back by! Thanks again for having us, till next time: keep up the good work in RFD!


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