Blowin' Smoke is a series of articles published on ModelCityFirefighter.com that consist of a Q&A session with veterans in the fire service. These individuals are asked a series of questions about their career and experiences they have witnessed. This edition is with an 18 year veteran of DFD that is currently assigned to Detroit's Squad 6.
My name is Jim Plieth. I am an 18 year veteran with the Detroit Fire Department currently assigned to Rescue Squad 6. I am trained to tech level in trench, confined space and Haz-Mat and have a few high angle classes under my belt.
I am also a union rep for the DFFA and have been doing so for three plus years. I believe in the union movement very strongly and also respect the various other facets of the fire service around the country. Not every square mile of this nation can be covered by union Firefighters.
I am also Instructor 1 certified through the State of Michigan and am currently trying to find time to get my practical evaluations done.
How many years have you served in the fire service?
Why did you join the fire service?
I joined the fire service because I wanted to try and make a difference in the City that I call home. I think that every day we go to work in Detroit we are protecting the citizens to the best of our abilities and that’s a pretty good feeling.
Is there any distinct way that you have tried to make a difference?
Being involved in the union and also instructing, I think that I have been honored with the chance to serve my Brothers and Sisters in Detroit and also spread what I have learned from the Greatest Fire Department on the planet through teaching at a local community college.
Have you accomplished any specific personal goals during your career?
I continue to better myself through technical training and reading or watching anything that I can get my hands on the will better me as a Firefighter. I think being the best that I can is accomplishing the main goal that you set out with as a young firefighter.
What is the biggest change that you have witnessed in the fire service during your career?
The DFD is a different monster. We have scaled back on our aggressiveness concerning structure fires. It’s a huge change in a Department stepped in tradition.
What do you believe is the biggest challenge that the fire service faces today?
Get past this Risk/Reward crap. Lt. Ray McCormack said it best at FDIC a few years ago: “We are losing our edge and forgetting our oath. Save lives and protect property!”
What is the best firehouse prank that you might have “allegedly” been involved in throughout your career?
Seran wrap on the toilet. Doesn’t get much funnier. Or the bucket of water…a DFD tradition.
During your many years on the job, how were you able to push through the darkest of times?
We are in them right now. I’ll let ya know in a few years.
If you could provide some of the younger generation of firefighters with a few “words of wisdom,” what would they be?
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