I know, I know, it's still here. But...

I was one of those hard chargers when i came on the job at 20 years old.

Thought the old ways were outdated, and needed changes to make "our" fire service safer and more efficient.

Well...I was wrong in more ways then I was right. We have done away with too many of the things that made the fire service, the fire service.

The other night my Captain and I were sitting in the empty day room discussing where the fire service has gone dreadfully wrong.

Gone are the days of firefighters sitting around the table playing cards and sharing stories.

Some of those stories, ok many of those stories were embellished a bit, but many more were full of nuggets a rookie could use when things got bad and their experience didn't cover that type of emergency.
When it got bad, something old Jake said about a bad one years ago would pop into your head and that sign staring you dead in the face would become a SIGN, not a death warrant.
Those evenings were full of nuggets.

Those evenings were full of training disguised as a game of Spades.

But not today...

We used to go out on weekends and do live fire evolutions.

You old Jakes remember what I am talking about. Burning the house that was making way for a new strip mall, or that dilapidated 2 story in a rough side of town, too expensive to revive, but with great bones so collapse was several good ones away.

But not today...

Sure in some parts of the country, live fire burns are still the norm, but not many and not for long.

Training meant getting out on your apparatus and going over tools, cleaning them and putting them away.
As much as we all hated doing this, it meant we knew where every tool on the truck/engine was located and that it was in good working order.

But not today...

Now it is the drivers job to check the truck or engine, the firefighters have too many other vehicles and or medical bags to check out to walk the apparatus with the driver.

Today we depend on power point training that gives us yet another piece of paper saying we have completed the training.
But did anyone get a frakkin thing out of said training???
Mostly NO! I'm as guilty as most, but if it is something I don't know inside out will actually read the entire training. But, I still forget 99% of it by evening. And most just click through it to the end and print a certificate.
Then, go to their respective rooms and watch TV or talk on the phone...

We eat 1, maybe 2 meals a week together, and then it is the old guys cooking who have conversations during prep and cooking...
There are no stories to be told, because the young guys would rather be playing HALO in their room with 1 or 2 of the guys.

We don't burn real fires anymore because the EPA and NIOSH, oh yeah and let us not forget OSHA, think it is: 1. harming the environment 2. a liability 3. Too dangerous! (#3 is my favorite)

We can't train the way we work. Isn't that the point!

There is no knowledge exchange in the house.

Idiots in charge at the government level somehow think doing a power point training makes up for actual training.

And not the classes your department spends thousands on to get you certified, ACTUAL FRAKKIN training. Those are wonderful, but a month after the trainers have gone we are back to the same old thing.

Burn towers and Simulators are well and good, but they do not make up for REAL live fire evolutions.

And why do we not burn anymore, besides the agencies listed above???

Guys got hurt and or killed doing live fire evolutions way more then should ever have happened.
But...that is not a good enough reason to throw the baby out with the bath water!

How many of our Brothers and Sisters are still here today because they recognized a situation happening that screamed, "GET OUT NOW"?
They sure as heck didn't learn that situation in a natural gas flames simulator, or from hay bales in a concrete block building with instant egress options.

Now the real point of my diatribe.

How many of our Brothers and Sisters do we mourn a year who should still be here!?!

How many of them could have learned to read a fire in a controlled environment?

stay with me here. I know training fires are not controlled per se, but they are great learning environments that should have many hours of preparation and planning built into them

How many of our brothers and sisters could have learned over a conversation with the old guys at dinner, that all those stars adorning the sides and front of late 18th and early 19th century merch's should be skulls and cross bones instead. Those building will get you killed in a hurry. But they weren't.

Why? Because we are more concerned with having individual space and privacy, than a great training environment taking place when no one knows it is happening.

We need to get back to basics brothers and sisters...

The slippery slope of individualism is killing us...literally!

Young guys: Make time to sit around and play cards or dominoes or aggravation with the old guys a couple nights a month.

Old Guys: Quit sneering at the young guys and take one aside regularly and walk through the apparatus and share a nugget or two.

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Excellent post sir, you share the same sentiments that I do about the firehouse, and the "Brotherhood", I was just thinking about writing a new blog about brotherhood, and these are some of the things I was thinking about. Its true...we lost the art of conversation and TRUE brotherhood, getting together at the station merely to wash a truck and talk shop over a cup of coffee...now a days its the "Cliques" that dominate the stations and bully those unfortunate souls not worthy of being part of the "Clique". Its also the chief officer telling everyone at the meeting to stop making coffee except for training, meetings, or drills, because its too expensive to buy the coffee any more...WTF?!!!

There is a Severe lack of respect for the first whips anymore, with all of the newbies strutting around the station flashing their Firefighter I certificates saying " I KNOW what I am doing, dont tell me what to do." and the experienced members just get pushed off to the side and ignored...SHAMEFUL of those that disrespect the first whips...They were fighting fire long before you even stopped having wet dreams about being a firefighter and this is how you treat them?!! It makes me sick to my stomach to hear the self proclaimed over night sensations run around the station bossing the old timers around like they were rookies again. I used to go to the station with my father, on Long Island, and go to the back room and listen to the chatter. There were usually 12-20 guys sitting there, talking, drinking coffee (and other beverages) discussing past calls, drill ideas or just sharing stories. SOme were even discussing plans to renovate members houses one weekend and all were eager to come and help, no questions asked, nothing expected in return...just simply because we are family and thats what families do.

Today...HUH!!!...You would be lucky to get mentioned at the meeting if you were sick in the hospital in the ICU let alone get one member of the station to come visit you. Its depressing, and sickening. We lost the structure of the fire service, the natural order that was lost to OSHA, NFPA, and NIOSH standards and thrown out the window thanks to stupid acts of former brothers getting hurt at controlled burns because they thought they were god...Invincible...I never forget that one video circulating around showing the FD burning down a house, there is an officer throwing more junk into the back door to get it burned and the back room is flashed and in open free burn...and here comes this moron, wlaks right into the back door...thats right, Walks, in other words, STANDING UP, and gets about 3-5 feet in and THAN everyone starts to yell and scream to get him out. He comes back out, crispy, but alive. BUT...it could have been worse...why did he even go in in the first place? Was his girlfriend watching? Was his buddy taking another video for him to post on "YouTube"!!! Its things like this that ruined it for the rest of us.

Lets get back to basics, like Allen states, and learn more about respecting our elders and officers, and getting the "Brotherhood" back in the fire service.

Great Post, thank you.
I may be a young pup in all this, but I agree 100%. This is supposed to be our family, why not treat each other as such.
Amen my brother Amen.
Ask...just ask.

Most of us would love to pass on knowledge to the next generation, just as our mentors did for us.

Set a night that is a NO TV night at the station. Spades, Poker, you name it, just sit around and play games, then bring up something to do with the job. You will be amazed how easy it is to get the guys going.

Better still get 2 of the senior guys at the same table and you will really get things going.
I absolutely agree with you!!! I can remember doing live fires in vacant houses only 13 yrs. ago. Seems like we have gotten away from what was really making us agressive fire depts. I learned alot more out of those than I do just watching a power point. We used to love it so much that the time just slipped away from us. Now we sit and stare at the clock during a presentation. Back then it was a shame when you had to let the house burn all the way down because after so many evolutions it had gotten unsafe to go in anymore. Now I have 2 new guys (one who is only 20) who remind me of me back then. They want to learn so much and jump anytime they hear tones drop, even if it's not our tones. They are ready and willing to learn. I will pass on as much as I can to them because they have the heart and desire to do this job. I have even let the young guy get in some nozzel time on some of our smaller fires just so he can get used to it. I will go in with either one of these guys anytime, anywhere.
Cap' that is exactly what most of us "older guys" learned as young pups.

The thread about moral relates to this as well. I don't remember moral issues when we were all together every day. OK so I do remember a lot more shenanigans...
Gotta love and miss the shenanigans...LOL
This is exactly why I became an instructor, to not only teach the way the book says to; but to pass along the things I have learned in 27 years in the fire service.
Well I have 2 live burns this weekend, 1 Saturday and 1 Sunday, they are both permitted and this is becoming a thing of the past. Historical checks, asbestos abatement takes time and money(maybe a lot) but there is hope; legislators in our area have been drilled as to the value of such training and are working on legislation to make this process less costly and shorter, at least for the fire service so don’t lose all faith.
that is great to hear!
You been thinking again, haven't you?
You know; I can compare the fire service to classic cars.
OUR fire service-pre 1985-is like a 1969 Chevy Chevelle with cowl injection with a 427 big block. Just instruments and a four speed shifter and maybe an 8 track tape player, but let's face it; we'd rather listen to the roar of the engine than to music. It was pure!
Today's fire service is still our's but is shared with firefighters who have a car with a powerful 4 cyl, front wheel drive, On Star, GPS, hands free phone, iPod dock, satellite radio, a dozen cup holders, coin caddie, DVD players and any thing else that will turn the car into a play room. We no longer drive to work; we "get" to work.
I think "our" fire service is still there. We just have to peel the "skin" back some to find it.
Very thoughtful blog.
For a minute, I thought you'd had a birthday and was feeling melancholy.
i havent been in the fire service long only since i was 17, but i grew up in one and i know alot of things have changed since i was little, til i joined and even now..

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