Just to bring you all up to speed. I wanted to put nicknames or last names on the back of our helmets. I went around and asked each member of what they would like it to say. Some wanted nicknames ( which were all clean) and some wanted thier last name. I ordered and purchased these with money from my own pocket. I am the 2nd assistant chief and training officer for our department. I thought by having these names on our helmets it will help associate a name to the person wearing the gear. So no longer will there be a problem on mutual aid calls or tri county trainings. There will be no more "hey you" on the scene but instead they will be able to say a name, be it a nick name or your formal name. So, I purchased them and put them all on. 27 of them. Now, 2 months later it was brought up at a meeting to discuss these stickers. After the discussion, it was decided to remove the stickers with the nicknames and put the last names on. I am proud of my nickname, it has been with me for a very long time. Do others have nicknames on thier helmets? If so what does your department think about it. It was discussed that if an incident were to happen, and behold, the press snapped a photo of the back of some firefighters, that the nicknames would make our department not look professional. We are a volunteer department of 27 members. We serve a town of 1300 and a rural area of about 200 square miles. Having a nickname that is clean, I believe has no harm to the respresentation of the department. We all have them. I am wrong about this? jsut seeing what you all think or what your department does as far as name association goes.

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John...When you are the Fire Profession.....your rights go out the window. If an order is given...are you going to ignore it????
Perhaps I mis-spoke.

The expectation to do the job professionally, to be highly-skilled and dedicated is the same. What is different is the expectation of appearance.

Paid firefighters are issued uniforms, helmets, bunker gear, etc, en masse from a logistics function of some sort, and the expectation of uniformity is there. Everything is provided by the employer.

Yes, in larger cities the Firefighters who respond to your 911 cal will most likely be strangers, who may or may not live anywhere near your neighborhood. When you are dealing with someone you have never met before, the uniform takes on a more important role because serves to legitimize the wearer. In small towns, especially those with a volunteer force, serving their own community the need to have a uniform is not the same because your identity and role is already known to those you serve.

Volunteers often must purchase their own articles of equipment with their own money so the expectation of uniformity is different. Different appearances do NOT mean Volunteers take their function any less seriously than career Firefighters by any means, by be honest with yourselves, the public does NOT expect Volunteers to look like "professional" Firefighters since they are coming from their homes, places of employment or elsewhere, and may or may not have a fire department T-shirt on under their bunkers; they might be wearing Levis in stead of blue BDU pants.

I know there is a strong movement to claim there is no difference between paid Firefighters and Volunteer Firefighters, and when it comes to dedication and professionalism (acting in a professional manner), that is true in most instances. But let's face it, there is a big difference in the hearts and minds of those we serve, AND There IS a difference in the required training (i.e. in Georgia Paid Firefighters go through an eight-week fire Academy before they report to their first firehouse, but volunteers are certified to run calls after a two-week training course with a single live-fire training session. In both combination departments I've been involved with the paid Firefighters conduct training during normal business hours a couple days a week or more, while training for the Volunteers is only held once week or once every-other-week).

In reference to your doctor comment, you're saying that if you called your doctor at his house at 0200 because your wife was sick and he rushed straight form his house to yours with his black bag that you wouldn't feel comfortable with him helping your wife unless he was wearing a white coat and stethoscope around his neck? Marcus Welby retired a long time ago. What about the Docs and nurses at the ER who are wearing scrubs and Crocs? Frankly, I don't care if the doctor is wearing a set of Snoopy scrubs and Mickey Mouse Crocs if their knowledge and skills will save my loved one's life. I don't even care if they have their nickname embroidered across their back and everyone calls them "Bubba." It the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities that matter, and the same is true of Firefighters.

Why do Volunteer Fire Departments save cellars while losing houses? It's not because they're any less dedicated or motivated, and it's not because they have nicknames on their helmets instead of last names or because their wearing Garfield PJs under their bunker pants. It is because they are underfunded most of the time, in rural areas where mutual aid is 20 minutes away if your lucky, and they lack manpower to fight the fire on their own. Which illustrates another difference between volunteer departments and paid departments - resources, including human resources. In paid departments there's often 300 application for 2 openings, but in volunteer departments there's 30 openings and eight active members, two or three T-Shirt members and a few old-timers who can probably help with rehab but not much beyond that.

Miopiacally worrying about whether people have nicknames on their helmets versus having last names, and puffing out our chests because we're "unpaid Professionals" does not help us recruit new, young, dedicated volunteer firefighters. I have read that the average age of the volunteer Firefigthing force is getting older and that we cannot recruit enough younger members in many areas to keep Volunteer Fire Departments viable. Maybe it is time to stop worrying if some who sees a photo of a rescue will be offended by a nickname or a tattoo and focus on proper funding, proper training, building Espirit de Corps and genuine support for your department by the public at large, and figure out why younger adults in the community don't want to be Volunteer Firefighters. I think a big part of it is generational, what a lot of people over a certain age think is "unprofessional" (i.e. nicknames on helmets, and visible tattoos) are not only considered professional by younger people, but are a societal norm for their generation.

I think some people are confusing what they define as a "professional Appearance" with a professional attitude, dedication and knowledge, skills and abilities to carry-out the job in a professional manner.

"Why would the public not expect the same professional attitude regardless of whether they work at ACE, Quickie Mart, or as a domestic engineer."

You're confusing what you define as a professional appearance with a professional attitude. We work under a variety of circumstances, and when responding to a call at 0200 the public doesn't care if you have "Bubba" or "Smith" on your helmet. As long as you have the right PPE, it's serviceable and you have the Knowledge, Skills and Ability to do the job.

If the Firefighters are being paid to be at work for 24-hours, then there is an expectation they be in uniform for all calls. But when they're rolling-in from home, all people see are Firefighters in bunker gear who are there to save them.

It's not "us vs. them" thing. There ARE differences between paid departments and un-paid departments, and there are differences between paid Firefighters and un-paid Firefighters, and we're only fooling ourselves to think otherwise. That's not an excuse for Vols to be lazy and untrained, it is a fact of life, and it should serve as a motivator to Volunteers to work harder, train harder and ensure they have the same Knowledge, Skills and Abilities as their paid counterparts.

what the 50-year old defines as a professional appearance is not the same as what the 25-year old defines as a professional appearance. A truly professional appearance comes from confidently doing your job correctly and from using tools and PPE correctly every time; the name on your helmet, or the tattoos on your arm just don't matter to a growing portion of the general public compared.

"Domestic Engineer." I assume you mean a stay-@-home parent. Many Moms and Dads do a fine job of raising upstanding kids while wearing shorts and a T-shirt, or jeans ans a tank top, or many other "Not Liz Clayborn" clothing. I don't really care what someone looks like as long as they're clean and are teaching their kids good values likes trustworthiness, loyalty, selflessness and courtesy. Professionalism is defined by how well you do your job, not by the clothes you wear.

Excllent point. There was a post on here just recently about a dept. looking for a slogan or something like that for their new engine. I don't see a problem with it as long as it's clean and not easily taken to mean something else than it is.
There aint no harm in it as long as its clean and dose not look all trashy or biker helmet style (nothing wrong with those) but as long as its not vulgar like some it should be ok here in Columbia on my helmet i have a Big ole Tarheel shoeing my pride in the tarheels and the other side has my game cocks on it showing my pride of that i also have a 9-11 sticker on my left side so my opinion go for it its a way to identifiy you on a scene and to know who is at your side when you are working cause sometimes you cant see the sheild or what ever you are trying to look at and the nick name or last name may catch you attention since it is higher up and seen alot better. plus its all about tradition in the brotherhood of firefighting which was around long time ago as some may call it thier lucky charm. just my opinion........
I agree with you. There always has been a personal touch on something in the service. Be it a helmet, your locker, or your hand tools. Its what makes us individuals. Take a look at my profile some time. My helmet is my profile picture. It has my number on it as well as my nickname. All the other nicknames are in the same font, and color and size as mine. Some of the other nicknames are, T-Dog, Fluff, Goober, Spike, Feather, Scrub. No harm I feel, but department spoke and as a Assistant Chief, I will fullful that decision. I am not unpset with the decision I feel it is just a little over the top for our department. We have a lot of other problems that need worked out and this is just silly stuff to add to that...
Sounds like a good idea as long as nicknames are clean.
I also don't agree with the nickname idea. Professionalism is denounced when "Baldie, get your butt over hear" is shouted across the fire ground. Sounds better if John or Smith is hollered out, or even a unit number. JMHO
I have my last name and a nickname on the back of my helmet and I also have a sticker for a fallen member that was killed in a MVA.
This is a bit of a sore spot with me. I do understand that the good old days of the fire service are fading away. Some of those “old habits” are better gone. One for example is drinking in the firehouse. Granted a cold one would be nice after a fire.But would I be happy if the members showing up to my house half in the bag if it were on fire? No. Especially if I lost a loved one. With that being said, I feel the pussification of the fire service is getting a bit out of control. The majority of the fire service is staffed by “Type A” personalities. No we are not fighting fires every day but we do have a dangerous job. People need to give us our little freedoms that make us “us”. I am getting sick of people that have nothing to do with the fire service making our rules. What is especially sad is officers that start making rules that micromanage us so they can look good and advance their careers. I could go on forever. But my god let them have their nick names. There are 100 firefighters that die every year and countless injuries. If one of your members goes down because of a preventable accident, will you be happy that you fought against nicknames or should you have been fighting for a better training budget, equipment, manpower etc. Be safe out there. Bo… and that’s my nickname.
Amen Brother....
Our department has no problems with it. As a matter of fact mine is "Chaplain Crash"
Because I had an accident in our tanker. Just about everyone in our small town now
calls me Pastor Crash! I'm proud that the men and women on our department think
enough of me to give me a nickname. One actually, I will charish because brave souls
have given it to me.

Chaplain Bob Craig
Gosport, IN Station #19

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