When you think about brotherhood, what comes to mind? Do you think about firefighting, and the brotherhood built on living together, laughing, crying and fighting fire together? Do you think about those in the armed forces, fighting, bleeding and dying together? Do you think of police officers, upholding the laws of the land together, and keeping society from falling into a caveman state of lawlessness? Do you think of team sports, striving to be the best and winning the title or big ring together? There are many forms of Brotherhood. All of which are bonds forged in different fires, struggles, and triumphs. Bonds are strengthened, and bonds are broken. Brothers and sisters come and go, for one reason or another. I’ve been contemplating something over the past few weeks as I have hit a bit of a writer’s block in my postings. I was not sure how I wanted to approach what I want to talk about, and to be frank, I’m writing this now still a little un-sure. So I will begin, with this: How can we make Brotherhood better?
Again, I am going to be frank. If you don’t like a little rough language, stop reading right here. As always, I don’t hold back what I say, because it’s how I feel. It’s what I am passionate about. And I’ve been considering what I’m about to talk about, and whether or not I’m going to be able to stick with it. I don’t want to be a hypocrite, something I hate. But its something I want to try my absolute best at, and I want you the reader, to try with me. Every morning, with a cup of coffee in one hand, and some type of breakfast in the other, I sit and listen. I talk too, but I like to sit and listen. And it’s not just around the kitchen table, its in the bay, it’s during training, it’s here and there. At some point in the day, SOMEONE is the topic of conversation. And you know what topic im talking about. Who is saying what, who’s done this, who’s a shit head. Lets be honest with ourselves, its like a damn sewing circle sometimes. Sometimes, that one person drives us absolutely crazy. Their personality clashes with yours like a freaking meteor crashing to earth, and were talking wrath of God crash too. Maybe you think their lazy, maybe you think they love the taste of the chief’s sweet ass on their lips. The reasons are as long as the reasons people get out of the service. I did a little research on the topic of “talking shit” about other people, and finally found what I was looking for. A Brotherhood that don’t talk shit.
I don’t know much about freemasons. I know it’s a pretty old secretive society. But you don’t hear much about what goes on there, and what their rules are. But I did find some stuff on the Internet that was very helpful in what I wanted to get across. I completely lost my reference, though, I remember what I read of it. The passage in one of their many books had to do with not talking about another Mason in a manner that you wouldn’t speak to that mason directly to his face. Furthermore, if you cannot speak to a mason in a way that isnt in a reasonably courteous manner, then do not speak to that mason at all. In a way, it’s the ol’ Golden rule on treating people like you would have them treat you, but its taken to another level. If you can’t speak of someone well, then keep your mouth shut. This is a rule of Masonry that is taken very seriously, and punished harshly if broken. It continued on to explain how the state of society today is due to everyone speaking in a manner unfit for creatures of God. Now you may already be thinking of people you don’t like, people you talk about on a regular basis, and think to yourself “I’m not going to quit talking about this guy, because the fire service would be better without them”. I’m not asking you to stop talking about people, at least not at this second, I’m asking you to think about this: How much better would our brotherhood be if we could be better human beings toward each other.
But what about the people you’ve spoken about in the past Capt. Chaos? What about the Bung holes who take up seats on trucks with sorry asses?!? I’m not saying this rule is going to change that. More like, make a better approach to how you speak to, or of, someone. In a brotherhood where a rule like this is the norm…. Silence is Damning. Now think of that person you think is a waste of your precious air. Another firefighter walks up and says, what do you think about that guy over there, the one that’s always sleeping? Instead of your normal, F*$U THAT F&*I#KER IN THE F(*#$ F(@#*$ F(@*#(*@#$(*@#$ F!……F!, you politely look at the person speaking to you, and say nothing. In fact, after they are sure you have heard the question they asked you, politely change the subject. See? Silence is Damning. When everyone around you can find nothing good of you to say…. perhaps, just perhaps it’s not them….. its you. Remember part of the rule, if you can’t speak to them in a manner befitting the brotherhood, you shouldnt talk to someone at all? If this person approaches you and wishes to have a conversation and you can not find a way to speak to them politely…. then don’t. Turn and walk away. Hows that for a shot in the arm on how the guys think of you? They can’t even find a way to speak to you? Again: is it you?
After thinking about this for a long while, I decided not to be hypocritical and post this, without giving it a try. Luckily, thus far, I’ve not had to outright ignore anymore….. yet. But I do have someone in mind, I wont talk about him. But that has not stopped everyone else, and when the topic has come up, I’ve remained silent. No one has really noticed….. you know what…. .I just thought of someone else…. HA! Anyways, no ones noticed me abstaining from keeping the conversation going, but I honestly think they may eventually catch on. It takes…. Jeez it takes A LOT…. to get ME to not look at things positively. Even if I remain silent on your abilities, knowledge and commitment to the fire service, I’ll find something good about you. I WILL find something good in you, even if it kills me. But I’m digressing here….
What do you think? Do you think you can accept Capt. Chaos’ challenge to you? Hell, make it a new years resolution. Tell everyone you know, at the house, at work, what ever where ever, to read this blog. Make an honest to goodness attempt to STOP talking badly of others. If you can’t speak well of someone, change the conversation all together. People will catch on…. it might take some time, but they will catch on. As for me, I’ve actually enjoyed to experiment. I’ve been Frank to people, but I’ve been frank with a little bit of conservatism. Im not going to tell someone out right that I think you’re a lazy stain on the mattress, but I may Frankly bring up the subject that I think we need to do something about the stain on the mattress you have become. Ive not had to worry about speaking to someone I don’t want to…. I just don’t. They pass me by, get the grumpy coffee, and leave. I don’t have to say good morning, because I don’t care if they have a good morning, because people like you just bring MY morning down. Well…. It’s an Idea anyways. Please, be my guest and give it a try. Tell me what you think about it…. better yet, give it a try to tell me how it’s worked for you!
Stay tuned in guys, we’ve been cooking up some ideas here at the HQ, and trust me…. TRUST me, you’re not going to want to miss out!
As always, Ride Hard, and keep your front to the fire!
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear.” – Mark Twain
The above quote is one of meaning to those in our profession, as it is to all who put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of others. We call ourselves “the bravest”, evoking the image of courageous lads riding steam engines to extinguish blazes, as our predecessors once did. We plaster our “fearlessness” on our cars, helmets, and t-shirts. We advertise it to the world. Was this the case with those men over 100 years ago? Did they call themselves “brave”, or did their actions cause the public to bestow that title upon them? Were they more concerned with simply “doing the job”, rather than getting the glory? I’d like to believe so, but can we say the same for ourselves today?
For the most part, yes. There is still a large group of the fire service working for the right reasons. Those who remember that WE are here for THEM, the civilians, the public whom we SERVE. Those who remember that THEY are expecting us to rescue them. THEY are expecting us to put out the fire. THEY expect us to GO INSIDE. THEY expect us to be ready. Those with the right mindset ARE ready, but the right mindset does not require one to be fearless. In fact, the “fearless” mindset is as foolish as the “no entry” mindset.
It is time to correct the tired, old “We fight what you fear” cliché. The proper saying should be, “We fight what you fear, but we fear it, too.” Yes, firefighters FEAR fire, and why shouldn’t we? It is a fearsome element. Fire kills, has killed, and will continue to kill…and THAT is exactly why we must master OUR fear and continue to ENTER BUILDINGS for interior attack and search. As long as there is a chance of a life hazard, we owe it to the citizens, whom we SERVE, to make the interior attack and search. That is our JOB. Any random citizen can stand in the front yard and spray water through a window, Statter911.com provides a plethora of videos demonstrating this. The “green line jockeys” have even begun to gather “helmet-cam” style point-of-view footage. Imagine if your municipality began distributing 1 3/4″ lines to strategic hydrant locations in your response area. Teams of citizens could replace many “yard attack” departments. However, those average citizens likely will not go inside. That is the benefit that a good department brings to the table. We don’t just put the fire out and save the foundation. We come in to look for you, even if we don’t have a report of an occupant. We go in to put the fire out, and stop the damage before things burn to the ground. Obviously, there is some risk management to be considered and, at times, a defensive operation is required, but I don’t believe it should go nearly as far as some would like. But, back to the fear.
As I stated, we FEAR fire. If you’ve never felt a little twinge of fear as you make the push towards the fire room, then you: A) have never made an interior attack, B)are clinically insane, or C) just didn’t recognize it AS fear. You see, though firefighters and civilians both fear fire, there is a difference between the nature of our fears.
Normal, sane civilians fear fire in the most natural way. Fear through panic. They see fire or smoke, recognize the threat to their life, and react instinctively. Their brains shut down into the most primitive state. Their sole function becomes staying alive. Most flee for safety. This is good. It means less work for us, and most importantly…survivors, if they manage to escape the structure. If they don’t escape, we know that they will be near windows, behind doorways, or headed down hallways towards egress points. Others will simply hide, their brains conflicted to the point of freezing. This is also useful, as it gives us an idea of where a victim might hide. Under beds, in closets, in bathtubs. Knowing how possible victims might react can be invaluable to us, and there are many resources where you can read more on this subject. The fear-through-panic mindset is most evident in multiple occupant situations. We rarely hear of family members finding each other BEFORE exiting the structure. Part of this is because WE teach them to exit first. The other reasoning behind this may be that, in a fury of self-preservation, they completely forget about the other residents. They focus on getting out, and only upon exiting do they remember, as their brains restart, that there were others inside. Perhaps this is why we see more incidents where occupants re-entered to make a rescue, rather than finding the other victim in the first place. Or, perhaps they simply follow the escape plan and hope that everyone else does the same. Maybe it is a bit of both.
Firefighters, on the other hand, cannot afford to panic. We are trained early on to face our fear, master it, and use it to master the fire. We have a fear through respect. We know the destructive power of fire. We’ve seen it since the academy. Because of this knowledge, we train harder. We learn the behavior of fire and we study the effects of applying water to it. We learn how to defeat it, and to find those who cannot. We train on it…over, and over, and over…while we weed out those who will not. We master our fear…and master our ability to defeat its cause. This is why we feel excited when we conquer the beast, because we have, in turn, conquered our fear. It isn’t that we aren’t scared of the beast, it’s that we recognize and respect what will happen if we don’t overcome our fear and do our job. We know what will happen if we don’t make the search efficiently. We realize the outcome of not aggressively extinguishing the blaze.
We are not aggressive out of fearlessness and insanity. We simply realize that we serve a purpose greater than “saving the foundation”. We owe it to the public to perform to our full potential. It is what THEY expect…and what WE should deliver.
– Lt. Lemon