I'm sure we have seen this shirt being worn by someone. I get a kick out of telling firefighters this shirt is a lie; and it is there job to do some butt kissing. They look at me like i have to heads. Try explaining to them this. How do you get the millions of dollars worth of equipment in your fire station? I get, we buy it. So where do you get the money from? I get, tax dollars, fund raising ect. So you still don't think you need to do some butt kissing then?  Then normally they walk away. What's your take on this shirt?

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Butt kissing?  Nope.  Positive interaction with the public?  Of course.  Have the station open during the day when possible so people can come in and see what we have and learn about us.  Do the occasional PR event, block party, festival, county fair, whatever, to get out in public.  And when you are there INTERACT with the public don't sit there all glum and pissed off because you got pulled out of the recliner for a couple of hours.

It's all about perspective.

Years ago, I probably would have worn such a shirt. Today, I wouldn't. The reason is because my perspective has changed from being a young, energetic, eager newbie FF, to being in the realities of the job now. I wouldn't wear the shirt today because IMO, it does show the level of immaturity and in some cases, the advertisement of the occupation to laud oneself, without a real grasp of the job.


As Don alludes to, PR is part of the job, it is there, just as running calls, training, rig checks, and so on. PR is part of the job, but so is the "customer service" aspect of the job. We are in a service occupation, that while not everything we do is emergency related, they are job related. Fires are down for the most part, EMS calls are the biggest call volume, the job is no longer about waiting around for a fire to come in, the days of sitting around and playing cards and the social club aspect are over.


However, just because customer service is part of the job, there is also a reality to things. Often heard in socal media etc, is the advice of just be nice and treat all with respect. Easy advice, easy to follow.....not always easy to do. I've been there, I'm still there, I have found myself becoming jaded in parts of the job because our hands are tied. We get attacked by politicians, we have the social club aura still prevelant, we see more asked of us and numbers reduced, and so forth. It gets difficult to always be nice, especially in some EMS cases, but I do remind myself this is the job I signed up for and while I don't like being woken up in the early morning for something mundane, I do the job.


I disagree with the notion that we have to kiss ass. As I mentioned above, the job is about treating people with respect and being nice, I don't see this as ass kissing. Sure being nice can be tough to do, but there is a reality that is there that sometimes should be said. Foremost, we as a fire service, are not a "fix it" service and shouldn't be.

There are private companies out there that should be consulted. For example, a couple weeks ago I was working and we had a call at a business for a water main break, we arrived, shut off the water and went back in service. It is not our job to clean up the place. Can you do so if you wish, sure, but it isn't our job. About an hour after that call we had a call for flooding in the basement of a home. We arrived, water was off, and saw there was a busted pipe off the main. The owner asked us to fix it, we said we could not and he had to do it himself or call a plumber. Auto lockouts is another call, unless there is a life safety aspect, it isn't our job to fix the situation. Sure there are some depts that will do more or go out of their way more, and all fine if you do, I'm just saying that it isn't our job to solve all problems just because someone called us.


EMS calls are another aspect. There is a legal obligation that if the party wants to go to the hospital you have to take them, regardless of severity. The reality is we don't have to cater to the whims just because they called. What I mean is if a pt can walk, have them walk. I don't say this to be mean or to be a form of punishment, but there are way too many back injuries suffered by fire personnel by trying to lift and move people just because they say they can't move or hurts to move or the family thinks they can't or has some ideal of what we should be doing. The issue is being honest in most cases, observing a pt's gait is part of an assessment, if we have a serious incident going on and many rigs tied up, I'll recommend a pt goes to a closer hospital etc.


Point being, we don't have an obligation to kiss ass. So what if there is funding or tax dollars and so forth. My job is to respond and intervene where I can. It is my job to be nice and give respect, but I don't need to go out of my way to kiss one's ass just because they may think I should or that they "pay my salary". I'm doing my job, I'm not looking for anything extra that would entail ass kissing, nor are there really any other depts. I will guarantee you that as demographics change, population change, and call volume changes so does the service. Those depts that did do more may find they can't, being honest and being a realist is not kissing ass.

Excellent post John and 100% right on!

I would never wear this T-shirt as I intensely dislike the message it sends.

I can agree with you both. John and Don. You wouldn't call some of the PR nothing more than a little ass kissing? Not all PR but some. 

 I personally wouldn't were this shirt,and really don't care if someone else does. In many areas in the country it is all about ass kissing, begging or whatever you want to call it.

I believe if you call what you are doing ass kissing that either you shouldn't be doing it or your attitude about it is wrong.

I knew i'd get a answer like that from you. 

And what exactly does that mean?

In many areas in the country it is all about ass kissing, begging or whatever you want to call it.


It really does come down to perspective, and part of that perspective will be individually dept related. One can not assess the realities of an individual dept in a lump sum statement, because everything is dept related, and individually related. Heck, there are even times that this can be shift/call specific, there are just too many variables. What I mean here is that what one may perceive as "ass kissing" may be considered something else somewhere different.


In the water main break incident I mentioned above, one of the guys I was working with said in his last dept they would be breaking out the squegees, getting wet dry vacs and so forth to clean up the place. In that case we had, the emergency aspect was over. Is it wrong to say the dept that put forth effort to clean up was ass kissing? Perhaps in their mind they viewed it as customer service. They were also a volunteer dept with low call volume, here it is a career dept with a much higher call volume.


Another service that could be deemed as "ass kissing" in perspective could be car seat installation and inspection. There are some depts that do this and someone can stop by a station and have their seat inspected or installed. In some places this can be a customer service or PR aspect. My dept also does this, but the trained personnel are limited and only one station has those personnel and they are day personnel available M-F. So, because other depts do this, we have people stop in at stations asking to have their child seats inspected/installed and we tell them we don't do it or they need to make an appointment. Results vary from those people, but it is what it is.


So it comes to perspective. Personally, I would view it as "ass kissing" if non-trained personnel would go and inspect/install such seats if they are not trained to do so. If personnel "cave" to public whims and goes against policy or SOG, that is ass kissing. In the event of a flooded basement (another real incident) the "customer" wanted their basement pumped out and asked the chief to do so. The chief said no, and the reason was that if they pumped out the basement the potential for collapse was there due to the outside flooding. Maybe, maybe not, but the reality is just because the customer expects something doesn't mean it should be done. If one expects their FD to do something at their whim, and the FD does it, that is ass kissing.


If a dept does things IAW their policy and SOG, then that becomes part of the job. The car seat issue, if the personnel are not qualified and say no, then that is reality, not ass kissing. If they are qualified and can, then that is job related. If your depts does a car wash for fire prevention week as a fundraiser, that is not ass kissing, but a dept function. If a rig is requested for a block party and goes through the proper channels, that is part of the job. It is ass kissing if say a prominent citizen demands a rig for the event without going through the proper channels...........And yet, say that does happen, say that prominent citizen calls the fire chief the day of the event (bypassing proper channels) and the chief stipulates and that engine company goes to the event.......is it ass kissing? Perhaps. But by whom? The crew on duty, or the chief?

Our job means we follow orders, if those orders can be construed as "ass kissing", then who is it from? IMO, not me, I'm following orders. So again it is about perspective. If I'm ordered to do something, I'm following orders, even if it can be construed as ass kissing. So I disagree that there is a certain element of ass kissing involved just to do our jobs.

Don Catenacci said:

And what exactly does that mean?

It doesn't really mean anything. Other then you are that predictable. 

Derek J Sinesi said:

Don Catenacci said:

And what exactly does that mean?

It doesn't really mean anything. Other then you are that predictable. 

Oh I believe you do mean something.  Sorry, but I don't kiss anyone's ass.

Don, believe what you want. I have always respected what you have to say. I've been on this site and have read your post on all subjects on here. You are just predictable in what your responses are going to be. I believe you don't kiss anyone's ass. I don't neither. like you i'm not afraid to voice my opinion's neither. If they upset someone then so be it.

I can agree with John we are just following orders. But we my be doing something that the Chief is ordering us to do because he's doing some ass kissing. So does that mean there is no ass kissing going on?

Perspective here is how the reader takes it. My main goal here was to get people who read this thread to stop and think on how professional shirts make you look. Your department look and the fire service in general look.

Heck Derek,

I would not wear this t-shirt because of the image it protects.  I also don't wear things like the co-ed naked firefighter t-shirts, the big Johnson firefighting t-shirts, or anything similar, again because of the image they project.

Part of the way people view us as firefighters is appearance and inappropriate t-shirts send a message to the citizens we protect.  

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