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.
I have been holding my tounge on this one and reading all the comments. There are great views supporting both sides. I should tell you that I am a member of the FD we are talking about here. I also was one of the hadfull that chose to have my nickname on my helmet. "Pistol" in case you were all wondering. Shaun...er...um....Peanut was very democratic about the issuing of the names and asked each member what they would like on thier helmet. He did have permission. Don't know why, but someone had a change of heart obviously and voiced concern. We all now have our last names on our helmets and I have to admit it looked a bit funny to grab my helmet on our last call and see my lastname. I can guarantee you all that there are more people in our fire district and on other departments that know my nickname better than my real name! If at all. I have had the name since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. It was however decided at a meeting that we would only have lastnames from now on. I will proudly display that as that was what was decided by my brothers democratically. Nuff said. And thanks again to Peanut for all his work on this! (I mean Hansen!!!!)
My Department policy is if a name is going to be placed on the helmet it MUST be your Last name only. However I have seen a few fellow firefighters with nicknames on their helmets and the Chief is OK with it. I own my helmet and have had my nickname on it for years and the Chief is OK with it.
There are Big Battles to be fought and there are small battles to be fought. You can't opt not to fight the good fight for either of them, but each does have its place. The discussion about allowing nicknames on helmets doesn't mean anyone is not fighting for better budgets, training and equipment.
Frankly, I lean toward using last names only for uniformity's sake (what if there are TWO Firefighters who go by the same nickname? "Bubba 1" and "Bubba 2", or "Killer A" and "Killer B." At least with names you can add a first Initial for Firefighters with the same last name. Smith, A. and Smith, J.) but I don't see it as something we need to fight for.
As for the "old days" of firefighting? They are gone, as are the "old days" in many fields. It's just the way it is. As Steven King would say, "The world has moved on." Most of what drives these changes is something I already alluded to in my other replies: Law suits. We live in a litigious society, and the threat of legal action against one's department, business or self drives many of our decisions and rule-making these days. In countries where people cannot, or don't, sue each other over trivial crap the "old days" are still here...both the good and the bad.
i believe that nicknames foster espri de corps (i know i didnt spell it right) but cleanleness and public image is important too. (laugh)-we all had to have nicknames on our helmets right after backdraft came out and since i was from "up nawth" they consulted me. i told them that you really didnt need to do it but if tasteful and small (mine was on my helmet band) it would be allright. it was funny that the nicknames fell out of favor after a year and we went back to getting on each others nerves. i like to think that a nickname is something that is shared and enjoyed with friends. like a navy callsign its on your plane not your flightsuit tag. BTW the best use of nicknames on a truck was on each door of a tower ladder. each guy had their name (in racecar script) on a magnetic strip on the door they used on the truck. i thought it was classy and cool looking. on the drivers door he added a series of pannels of things he has hit (2 dumpsters and engine 6-sorry to the guys the read this and know who i'm talkin about). They did the same thing on the ambulances, a red heart with a thumbs up was a code save, a busted up "wile e coyote" was a trauma save, sleeping baby in a blanket for a delivery... When i was a probie we used to put a "10" (our code for a working fire) on our helmet band for every worker we fought. it looked good for a while....bottom line, follow the wishes of your superiors but emphasize that it's all in good fun. until sombody complains. one rule about nicknames, when you get one its because they love you when you dont have one its time to find out why?...i loved my nicknames because i had 2 chubby & midnight, the dive team one was my favorite "Jaques Negro"
I hear what you are saying. But I think I will start this out that we should agree to disagree. Yes the world will “move on”. But I do believe in tradition. It kills me to see tradition fade away in many aspects of this great country that people continue to fight and die for. I don’t think things have to change because people from the outside see a picture or see a video and get offended. They do not do our job; they do not live in our world. Yet to appease them, when they complain, to make the public happy, our rules change.
Let me give you an example. The Chicago fire department says that we are only allowed to wear T Shirts that have the CFD logo/ Maltese cross on the front and CFD or Chicago Fire Department on the back. I understand that they want us to look uniform. But I myself wear shirts from other departments that I have visited from around the country. Why? Not to be a rebel, not to be noticed, not to cause problems. But because I consider myself to be a part of the United States fire department and I feel closeness to all firefighters. I am PROUD to wear their shirt and represent them in my home town. BUT, since others deem that not proper, I can get in trouble for it.
Once again, I do agree. We should not have obviously offensive things on display. I may have misread the original post wrong, but weren’t the nicknames on the helmet? You can still have the members name on the back of their coat. All the more adding to your point above. If you have 2 smiths but one has “sparky” on the back of their helmet, well, just call sparky.
Please remember. I work for a fire department with over 150 years of service. I do understand that some newer departments that start from the ground up may be founded by more business orientated people. But I think the business people should stay in the office and take care of administrative tasks. The Officers in the field should take care of their members. I don’t think nick names will hurt anyone. And I will continue to wear the shirts of the Alpha Fire Company from State College PA and the Plainfield Fire dept from Plainfield IL and the Playa Del Carmen shirt from Mexico.
If the board members, politicians or whoever runs your town don’t like it. Wake them up out of a dead sleep at 0200, have them pack up in under 1 minute, lead out or do a search in a fire building when its zero degrees and stay out there for an hour doing overhaul, and pick up the gear, clean it and put it away. Then do 5 or 6 more runs after that. Ask them if we earn the right to have a nick name on our helmet. Some small battles really don’t need to be fought. But I do understand that only my opinion.
My last thought. Just tonight I was talking with the captain on our truck. We were talking about civilian fire fatalities. He was telling me about a stretch in one winter where their company came across multiple dead families in fires they just couldn’t get to. These men were brought to their knees in grief. But, some were saved. He told me the mental hardships of those times. Some of those men earned their nick names from those fires, and they proudly displayed them on their coats because it’s the name their brothers gave them through some of the worst of times. That name actually gave them a sense of pride and true belonging to their company and the members they served with. Do you really believe that someone who has nothing to do with that companies triumphs, struggles, pains and losses should be able to micromanage and take that nickname off their coat or helmet.
P.S The good old days don’t have to go away completely…… Tradition