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Thought the old ways were outdated, and needed changes to make "our" fire service safer and more efficient.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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i love going to the firehouse when the "older" guys are around... Hear the history of the town, fire company, and real uses of tools... They make sure the lines are rolled tightly after you roll them, and if not you re roll them till they are good. Time to get out of a fire when your ears burn... And when they correct you, those are never forgotten...


I am still as you might say a "wet behind the ears" firefighter and I try to learn everything that I can from the older guys. I am always asking questions and that I have found is the best training.

Gopher
i totally agree. when i joined the first thing we had to do was test out on all of our trucks and the tools on them. after that we did scba training and went into live burns (mainly wildland) but that is the best training i have ever had. i learned alot doing that. my situation might be differant because im on a very small volunteer dept. but listening to the ''OLD GUYS'' has been really good to.
Love that!
Hey, Wally:
They're discussing this over at Facebook.
Yeah; I'm on Facebook.
Twitter too.
But my boss has my phone blocked at the moment.
I gotta fix that. Maybe I can get it done while he's in Detroit.
TCSS.
Art
Allen, we all get that way because of a resistance to change. It is easier to just go with the flow in our comfort zones and push aside anyone who is different or thinks differently then we do. What that does is creates this click or group that excludes others and ultimately ostracizes new people coming in. Same with training and new ideas. The only way we stay alive is to keep alive what got us to where we are today. If we keep going with the OLD ideas and ways of doing things it may work for us as a base but we are in constant need to analyze and evaluate how we do what we do and decide whether we need to improve what we do. That is contrary to the Good Ole Boy click and will make people feel uncomfortable. This is good. When ever we get new people coming in I like to encourage them to get involved and interact with the Department. And encourage my officers all the way down to interact and encourage the new people to help them. This is good. It builds teamwork and comradury. If we stop learning we become stagnant. A stagnant stream dies and will not sustain life. Lets not be the dead departments that dry up and go away.
Great Post...GREAT THOUGHTS

Art...how did you know about my 69 Chevelle? Blue with two white stripes down the middle. Unfortunately it's only a 396...well not to hijack! lol

You are all correct. i can't believe the fact that the fire service shares so little commraderie anymore. My first house had a bunk room with 16 bunks. 8 on one side of the room, eight on the other. My second had a total of 12 with a little different configuration, but still the same. In both houses the captain slept in the same bunk room as the engineer and the firefighters....like it SHOULD be. Now we all have our own little "cubbies" that everyone "dolls" up when they come on shift with THEIR things! The day room? Fuhhhhhhhhhhgetabout it. Nobody spends time in the day room anymore. No one spends time around the table anymore...like ya said HALO! or Madden NFL or some otherwise silly game. Maybe we should take our day rooms and put gaming stations all around the perimeter, then we could at least all be in the same room together.

But HEY! what do you mean that getting a photocopied sheet of powerpoint slide isnt the same? LOL....I dont want an animated picture of someone cutting a roof...i wanna cut that roof darn it!!!!

Dont hold up an axe and tell me how to sharpen it. Take me to the tool room, back room, garage, work room or wherever and show me how to sharpen the damn thing!

Burn towers...decent.....simulators...Horrible. Sure I understand that we can use them as a valuable tool at times. but it doesnt show the real thing. You can't feel the heat on your face or the sweat rolling down your back...or that little "pucker (you know what Im talking about)

We have guys that won't go "fill the boot" unless they get overtime!!!!

Ok ..not to 'date' myself, but hell yeah I remember goin out off duty and doing lots of stuff in the way of training. GOOD STUFF! Cuttin stuff, burnin stuff, crawlin around til I could even feel my knees anymore...now I'd have to go IOD. Ok Chief heres my OT slip and Ill be off for a couple days...i got a boo boo!

And God forbid that you have some sort of station logo or motto that isn't acceptable to all people of all groups in the entire world.

Hell in a nearby town one new town councilwoman wanted all decals related to 9-11 taken down because it may offend Muslim citizens!!! Why? Did they personally fly the planes into the world trade center or something?

I was told not too long ago by a rookie...actually...2nd shift rookie, that "my" ways were too old school for his generation and he was going to request a transfer to a different station. He went to a different station and made another request. Now he is working back at burger King...on the upside though, he is the new assistant manager. I know because my crew visits there quite often....lol....too old school indeed!!!!

How about the fact that when you work for a paid department the cities and counties have decided that it is safe "enough" to have only 3 firefighters on board. On a truck...well, heck they don't really do that much, they only need three as well. Maybe we can hire some "reserves" to cover those spots!

Incredible!!!!
Chief, I missed the point of your post somewhere. I am not bitter, or jaded, or even feel left behind.

I truly believe we have to keep learning, but at the same time reinventing the wheel just to reinvent it is a total waste of knowledge.

I am always looking for new ways to do things better and am a big part of our departments change to a computer based dispatch system and MDT's in our vehicles. I think RIT is a vital part of our training, and learning from others mistakes make us all safer.

However...simulators will NEVER give us the level of training that live burns (real structures) and face to face knowledge transfers give us.

Do I want to go back to the old days...not a bit.
Would I like to see the fire service return to the community it was 25 years ago...you bet!
Now Jake gets it!

Great post Jake...Im with ya Brother!
I am young to but the old ways were better then the way we are doing it now. You said exactly the way i would of said it. We are family and thats the way we should act.
BRAVO Allen. WEll written and worded. I am one of the young pups so to speak. I would love to sit down with an old salty dog and pick his/her brain. Like you mentioned might just come away with something to save my life or one of my fellow members life someday. Sooner than later all the old guys will be gone and then what will we have?? God Help Us All!! TCSS
"But HEY! what do you mean that getting a photocopied sheet of powerpoint slide isnt the same? LOL....I dont want an animated picture of someone cutting a roof...i wanna cut that roof darn it!!!!

Dont hold up an axe and tell me how to sharpen it. Take me to the tool room, back room, garage, work room or wherever and show me how to sharpen the damn thing!"


"And God forbid that you have some sort of station logo or motto that isn't acceptable to all people of all groups in the entire world.

Hell in a nearby town one new town councilwoman wanted all decals related to 9-11 taken down because it may offend Muslim citizens!!! Why? Did they personally fly the planes into the world trade center or something?"


You've hit on two things that have damaged not only the fire service, but society as a whole: hypersensitivity and "tolerance" used as a weapon of censorship.

Learning hands-on no longer really happens in fire academies. It just doesn't. Sure, they have "practicals", but the methods they teach are the ones the pencil pushers choose-and we often end up "re-learning" everything after passing the academy. And God forbid, what if they actually make the evaluations and practicals tough? Someone might hurt themselves, they say. Never mind that firefighting is a tough job and some people just aren't cut out for it. But you can't say that. Someone's feelings might be hurt.

And everywhere-in the academy, in the firehouse, you have to hold your tongue and choose your words carefully. Because, God forbid, you say something that mildly offends someone of a certain group, and they can get you a nice suspension, and even a lawsuit. Funny, I thought we had freedom of speech in this country, but I guess not anymore.

I may be a rookie and only 19, but I see what's going on in society and in the fire service, and I listen to you older guys when you talk about how it used to be. Sure, training methods and technology can change over time, but what it means to be a firefighter, and a member of a team, shouldn't, and it seems it unfortunately has. Firefighters are all brothers, and we function best as a team when we act like brothers, complete with talking, laughing, off-color jokes and training. If you take away the brotherhood and everyone stays glued to a computer screen, you lose the ability to work as a team. All the powerpoints in the world can't make up for that.

Thankfully, I have a great group of guys at my house, who hang out there every weekend. It might not be just like it was back in the day, but we're doing our best to keep the brotherhood alive.

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