My name is Kevin O'Brien and will not hide behind anything or anyone about being a Firefighter!
Where has it gone? Our spirit, tradition and honor! Too many young kids on the job forget what is important. Is it beacuse our lives are too busy? Perhaps!
I worked in the FDNY from 1981 and retired 2002. I have seen so many things. It made me strong in many ways and also made me weak. I learned from the past by paying attention to the "senior" members and so should you! Our history is your guidline to your future. Pay attention!
The days leading up to 9-11-2001 taught me many things. Being a Firefighter is not a job, it's a vocation, a calling if you don't mind. It is a LIFE. We marry , have chrildren but being a Firefighter is almost as important. BROTHERHOOD!
Being a Firefighter from whatever city or whatever town does NOT stop you from being involved. I say this now because so many have forgotten. Not only 9-11, but the firefighters who die each year..every year! This is our job to peserve the memory and honor of these people. OUR CALLING!
I run a golf outing in Myrtle Beach for the memory of NOT those who have died but the spirit of the Firefighters who stood up and came to our side. They helped our families, went to funerals and stood at our memorials! They were/are the key of our being. Come see how a group of people can stand as one. May 16 - 20, 2010 Look at fdnygolf.com for all the info.
Even if you can not attend. Remember one thing! TRADITION
Kind of teared up on this one. Thanks for the military story. As for the passing on tradition and training, we should all keep an open mind to the probies. We all can learn something new as well as teach the new ones. MO.
Very nice topic here. As I said before we need to teach, and learn at the same time. There is always something we can learn. We need not to forget that. But on the other hand we need to be Great leaders to those who are younger not only by age but by seniority (for lack of a better term). We tell those that are new to be teachable. We need the same attitude also and never lose that teachable trait. I am very proud of the tradition of the fire service. It was said by one of my senior brothers on my department and I do, in a way, believe it. he said that, "The best people in this community are on the fire department." The reason I said I some what believe this is because there are a lot of great people in this community that I live in. But as you look at firefighters they are most of the time the ones ready to help anyone who is in need without discrimination.
I'm still relatively new in the firefighting business, so I'll offer up my views on this interesting topic. I'm sorry to say, but traditions and belonging to a brotherhood are of virtually no interest to me. While I am interested in the history of this profession, and love to learn from the past and know the roots and all that, my primary interest is in learning how to be the best at what i need to do today, with today's training, today's tactics, today's equipment and tools. When I don my tog my number one concern is doing my job properly and serving the best interests of those who need me. To me this is honor. I'm not interested in puffing out my chest to proudly proclaim 'I'm a firefighter and these are my buddies and we do great things, tradition, honor, hear me roar!'. Obviously I'm being a little dramatic there, but that is the impression a lot of the senior guys portrait these days. They seem to place such an emphasis on the 'boys club' and the firehouse being some sort of social club between calls.
Another thing to consider is the way newer guys view the way firefighting used to be done. It's very common to hear things like 'thats the way we used to do it but you can't do that no more with all these safety regs and what not'. Please don't misunderstand me here, I will never ever doubt or play down the commitment, bravery and courage of those before me, but it is very easy to form the opinion that us new breed are better trained and equipped now and hence can be more capable and perhaps more skilled than you were. Through natural progression and technology improvements we have the ability to do things and know things that 20-30 years ago were not known or done. I can hear the blood boiling in many of you as i write this and that is understandable. It's a cocky and arrogant attitude to have, if you think of it purely in those terms. Think of it in fighter pilot terms. Are todays F-16 pilots more skilled and capable than the P-51 pilots of WWII? Of course they are. But that doesn't take away any of the recognition that at that time they were the best there was. It's the same with firefighters.
Hats off to the veterans, past and present, you have paved the way for the modern fire service, but change is as inevitable as the sun will rise so please don't look down on us new guys with contempt just because we are not the mirror image of what you once were.
My apologies to anyone who feels disrespected by my comments, that is not my intention. Simply putting out the story from 'the other side' for you to consider.
but it is very easy to form the opinion that us new breed are better trained and equipped now and hence can be more capable and perhaps more skilled than you were. Through natural progression and technology improvements we have the ability to do things and know things that 20-30 years ago were not known or done.
Step back and think about this for a second. Better trained? Depends, where did you receive your training? Coming straight out of a certification class or fire academy doesn't really make one better trained. You may have some latest info and techniques, but it doesn't mean you are better trained. Can you say your training is better than say the training AND experience of people who have been around for all the changes?
Better equipped? How so? New members are not coming in with any different equipment, they will use the dept SCBA's they get gear from their depts and so forth. Now there is no doubting that things were done different 20 to 30 years ago and there were things unknown, but to think the fire service stayed idley by waiting for the new generation of FF saviours is pretty assinine. Yes, there were unknowns then, but many of the things new FF's are learning is because of training, education, and experiences in the field. Coming in with the latest knowledge does not make one more skilled, nor capable, it just means you were able to receive some latest information and successfully puked the info back for a test. There are really many, many things you do not learn in a school or training and comes only with experience.
Think of it in fighter pilot terms. Are todays F-16 pilots more skilled and capable than the P-51 pilots of WWII? Of course they are.
Pilots????? No doubt the TECHNOLOGY of today is more advanced and updated than it was before, but to say fighter pilots are more capable and skilled today as opposed to WWII is also assinine. For one pilots today rely upon such technologies as RADAR, electronics, smart weapons and so forth. Pilots of the past relied upon what they could pretty much see, pilots who have fought probably more dogfights in a tour than the avg fighter pilot today sees in a career. Where do you think these thechniques were learned? Someone just thought of them one day, or were they learned from those who experienced it and developed the training?
Technology can change, building construction can change, new techniques are developed, new strategies are learned and so forth. These are not ideas just passed on to the newest firefighters, but also those who have been in for years and are still learning everyday.
There is a no class nor certificate given for experience, it only comes with time. One day you too will be that old dinosaur with new guys coming in with the latest technology, the latest lessons and so forth, do you think they will have the same experience as you? Do you think they will come in more capable and skilled than you are now?
I guess with regards to history, oh say, American history that, based on the same logic that is used here; it wouldn't be important to know how we came to frame the U.S. Constitution as long as you can walk across the street to a Starbucks and not have to pass through a checkpoint.
And if our profession's history isn't important, then I just wonder who are the younger firefighters instructors?
I'd be surprised if they were of the same age and from the same on-line university!
The only thing that has changed with fire is that it gets angrier quicker...BUT, it still kills.
THAT is its history.
Thanks for your points John. You are 100% correct with your comments regarding experience, and I specifically avoided that in my post, since on the job experience can only come through time. However experience through training and practice also needs consideration.
Perhaps I didn't make my point clear enough or you missed it somehow, but I was trying to illustrate the differences in new guys today compared to news guys back then (or when ever it was before new guys apparently became so obnoxious and ignorant).
Around my area fire departments are still full of the 'old school' heros who moan and groan about the lack of brotherhood and the undisciplined youth emerging from the shadows. These are the kind of guys who point blank refuse to mask up until the absolute last possible moment or until some other guy has masked up first. The kind of guys who come out with comments like 'I don't need no stinkin thermal imaging camera I know whats hot and whats not'. The kind of guys who don't even know how to operate a seatbelt, a chin strap, some safety glasses or the clips on the front of their turn out coats.
Maybe I'm just unlucky to have so many of these older guys around consistently demonstrating their inability to keep up with the times.
I dont think we have a bunch of IKES. After being on a all volunteer department in the EMS field that was truly neighbors taking care of neighbors. Now to a paid department where I believe the leader has a real conflict of interest and employees that are out for the almighty dollar that they have all forgoten what it is realy about. Yes the money was ok, (we didn't get much over minimum wage), but the real payment that made it all worth while, was the thank you, or knowing someone may have gotten a second chance that had you not been there , they may not be here. Thats what we are realy here for ! Not the money !
Rob, I understand your point, but how you originally portrayed it was wrong. There is a balance between old and new and every generation has their own experiences and has their own interpretations.
In my first post here, I disagreed with the some of the other issues mentioned and that really the traditions and honor and so forth are not just for new guys, it is for everyone. One has to look in the mirror to understand the traditions they are passing down. There are some bad traditions, like not masking up, always going in offensively, etc, but there are still many great traditions. The problem is that traditions are not just in some museum or just the pictures on the wall, or in a book somewhere for a new guy to read and be all up on tradition. Tradition and honor is passed on from one group to the next, it is passed on by the example you lead today.
Now I understand completely with the know it all newbie as well as the FOGs (F**king old guys) who will resist change no matter what. That is not tradition, that is stupidity and laziness, and unfortunately that is also easily passed on. I have worked with the same temperment of people who resisted change and complained and so forth, nice thing is they don't stay around too long when their wind is not as strong and new techniques and tactics are considered. The fire service is aware of the issues with lightweight construction and why we can't rush in like we did before. We know thermal imagers have saved lives and located fires earlier and even limited damage.
Change is an animal all on its own, but it is also inevitable, instead of fearing change it takes a different approach to learn it and understand, and then it isn't that complicated. That is where training comes in, effective hands on training. Not just a sit around a powerpoint talk, but getting out there and setting up a drill, but also delivering the training to not come off as "cocky" or knowing something, but how this is beneficial for all.
Moaning and groaning is a tradition that can be easily passed, do you want to be the person passing that on? Some habits you can't change and you won't change, no matter how hard you try, in order to change that pattern it becomes the example you lead, the important values to pass on. There are some traditions that just don't need to be around and many of those will leave with those portraying them now.
You make your point(s) clearly and succinctly: "was trying to illustrate the differences in new guys today compared to news guys back then (or when ever it was before new guys apparently became so obnoxious and ignorant)." I going with the idea that that's what you think the oldtimers think of you.
"'...old school' heros who moan and groan about the lack of brotherhood and the undisciplined youth emerging from the shadows. These are the kind of guys who point blank refuse to mask up until the absolute last possible moment or until some other guy has masked up first." Or maybe, rather than mask up in the truck (or the bay) they wait until they are ready to make entry, you know, situational awareness.
"The kind of guys who come out with comments like 'I don't need no stinkin thermal imaging camera I know whats hot and whats not'." The tic is a great tool, but I'm guessing these guys realize that if you rely on it and it fails, then what? Better to find you way in and out without one, or at least be capable of doing so if need be.
"guys who don't even know how to operate a seatbelt, a chin strap, some safety glasses or the clips on the front of their turn out coats." Do you have to wipe the drool from their chins as well?
"Maybe I'm just unlucky to have so many of these older guys around consistently demonstrating their inability to keep up with the times." Rather unfortunate indeed because there is probably little if anything you could learn from those old geezers. You know, the ones 20 or 30 years ago had to make do without all the knowledge and technology you now have. To bad none of them lived to tell their stories...wait, what?
I'm not hearing brotherhood here, and not very much respect, either. What I am hearing is some guy who has no respect and little use for anyone that is not on (what he considers to be his rather high) level.
What you know (or at least were supposedly taught) was built on the years of experience and lives of all past firefighters, including those "older guys" you disdainfully mention. You see further (if I may paraphrase the original quote) because you stand on the shoulders of giants.
"I'm sorry to say, but traditions and belonging to a brotherhood are of virtually no interest to me." "They seem to place such an emphasis on the 'boys club' and the firehouse being some sort of social club between calls."
Hence, why you think brotherhood is not important and, more importantly why you will never be part of it. Sad to think what you're department is going to look like in another 10 years or so.
"but it is very easy to form the opinion that us new breed are better trained and equipped now and hence can be more capable and perhaps more skilled than you were." Nice to see ego hasn't affected your outlook, or lessened your humility.
"I can hear the blood boiling in many of you as i write this and that is understandable. It's a cocky and arrogant attitude to have, if you think of it purely in those terms." Yeah, go figure that some of us "older guys" would actually think of it in those terms.
Rob, (IMHO) you are not a firefighter. You might be trained to be one, you might (?) be able to perform the duties of one, but you are not a firefighter. With your attitude no one will ever speak of you as being a fireman's fireman.
Maybe you like the idea of matching wits with fire, the challenge of beating it and the risks (I'm guessing not a lot of them) you take to do so. But if that is the case then those are pretty cold, hollow and selfish reason for doing the job. I think your version of firefighting is the fire service equivalent of a certified public accountant.
I apologize in advance to ALL CPA's, no insult intended to you fine folks.
Old vs. new? This will be a lifelong battle with no winners because the new will one day soon enough have the same opinion. The real BORTHERHOOD stems from us as a whole. What we do for the community around us as well as our oun!
If a dentist dies you do not see his peers gather by the thousands to honor him/her. The community rallies around a line of duty Firefighter death because they understand what we do for them as a whole.
Charleston, Boston, California, Buffalo, Chicago, New Jersey & Worchester-I have been to all these cities and more to pay respect to our loss. I feel that way from the heart (our loss) The public see's thousands of us attend and are taken back by our respect....Thats BORTHERHOOD
When you and your company helps a family in need....Thats BROTHERHOOD
I see it in a different view....I remember seeing BROTHERHOOD You might forget the days, weeks that followed Sept. 11, 2001 In my world I was standing in the rubble of the South Tower, when the North fell..for the seconds it took that tower to fall I stood frozen wondering what it was going to feel like to die. Months after I wondered why I didn't.
What got me thru it? YOU and every Firefighter from around the world that came to NYC. You stood at our funerals, memorials and raised funds for the familes. It was a time of respect to the people of our profession...BROTHERHOOD
One such funeral I stood next to 4 Firefighters from Japan in uniform. They did not speak a word of english nor was it nessesary. Our calling is to "take care of our own" to never forget them and their families. Forget the BS that the "new" guy feels above mopping a floor, in the grand scheme of things it is not important.
If you want to do something great in your career then help the families who's Firefighter spouse died while non-line of duty. NO big long line of thousands attending their funeral, NO press and certianly no funds from anyone. This is where you can make a difference.
Try attending the FDNY 9-11 Memorial golf outing this May in Myrtle Beach. See for yourself the gathering of some of the best guys in our job. Those that remember and will never forget. fdnygolf.com