I remember at least 3 significant moments after 2 horrible house fire fatalities and 1 gruesome MVA in which several officers came to me individually and put their arms around me and said "I know this is hard and so horrible no one should ever have to see this, so it is ok to be upset and if you need to talk about it, call me anytime."
Their preventive measures helped make me stronger, before I had to go home and think about the yuckiness. Just being told this was normal by a well-seasoned FF helped me integrate the stress better, since it helped me realize that it was normal to see the situation as horrible, and I was not alone in the feelings. This greatly reduced my need to even talk about it, since their moment of leadership covered and said it all.
I saw one officer (my dear friend and LODD, R.I.P) do this action of nurturance to many of the younger / newer FF's often - and the retention of new and young FF's is high on my department.
O yes! I will never forget my Chief (#10). He showed me so much about fire more than a book could ever do. And I still look up to him. He always stayed so cool. know matter how bad it got. I try to be like like him. If his actions worked on me I know it will work on the new Firefighters. Thank you so much for taking care of me at all those fires Mr. H.
So far all my officers and all the FF in my station have been wonderful. One more weekend of basic and then into the fold for real. All the way through trainging they have been there with support and meeting with us at the station for extra training when they didn't have too. There is one officer in particular that took time to really help me with getting the full gear dress test down and kept me calm when I wanted to punch through the wall in frustration. So, on test day I kept in mind what he showed me and I nailed it first time no problems. On Monday night our Capt gave a little speech saying how proud he was of all the new recruits in his station lasting through basic and how he is looking forward to having us on his team. So, from day one they wanted us to succeed and proved to us the level of team work and trust that will have when we join the team properly. I am sure I will come back with some better stories once I get on a fire scene for real.
Yes! Lieutenant Howard Vietzke, Engine 15, Spokane Fire Department. Howard taught me the value of what we do, he taught me to be agressive and never say die because it will make the difference between whether someone lives or dies or saving their home. He was my first Lt. on my first assignment on the department in 1981, I had worked relief prior to that. He was also a union leader, and set an example there to have integrity, work hard and do what is right for the Brothers. He also taught me what a great job we have, to be kind to the citizens and to learn your whole career. Being on the nozzle with a great firefighter and leader made a huge difference in my career. But he was not the only one, I will ad the names of Truckman Gary Brown, BC Danny Downs, Ladder Driver and IAFF V-P Jim Martinez, BC Jim Walsh, BC Dan Brown, Truckman Andy Pellie, Lt. Dale Michales and Lt. Jack Greenamyer. There are more but I am old and the list is long. Train hard, be kind and pass it on.
One of Deputy Chiefs - also a professional truck driver - took time to teach to me to drive all of our trucks - and helped me ace the Driver's Test... highest grade out of all 15 people testing :-)
He taught me all his little truck driver tricks of the trade which took away all my stress and anxiety about it and while I learned he patiently rode with me to calls and through endless hours of tanker shuttles, etc.
A second officer of mine made it is his mission to teach me how to pump with all the trucks and he patiently worked with me for hours on drills and on scene.
I was always keenly aware that if they just did the task for me - it would have been faster, smoother and easier - but they were patient and taught me well to make me independent, proficient and safe.
I had an officer on the HAZMAT team that I was on that was always willing to listen to what we had to say and he always made sure we had an opinion on what our approach would be. That showed me a lot more then just telling us what to do.