Compared to many of you I am still just a Rookie. I come from a small Department in upstate New York. I will be starting my 28th year this April. So I guess that means I have damn close to 27 years. Realizing of course that not only have times changed but we have as Firefighters, EMT's have changed as well. But my question to ponder is this. Has everybody changed? Or were we just different to begin with……
When I started it was not uncommon a couple times a week to go out and practice. We practiced (simulated only) calling our fire control, yes, then it was fire control not dispatch and it was KEE 457. The things we remember. We practiced driving, How long did it take to get the pump in gear and start flowing water. Our first run truck was a no-brainer. It was 500 gallons of water with two high pressure fog nozzles, 35GPM but it would knock you over if you got hit, and it would knock some people backwards when they squeezed the hand sized trigger. Anyway, back to my point. We would train, we would wash the parking lot down just to be doing something with the trucks. The floors were always swept. The trucks were always clean. And we stood on the corner on busy Holiday weekends and collected money to buy the equipment we needed. The camaraderie was there. Yes we would complain when we only got 60 or 70 % of the members out there with us. but in retrospect, those were some pretty good numbers. If there was dirt on the floor, we picked it up. You never saw the passenger in a truck or an ambulance riding back from a call with his feet on the dash. If the odd occasion that did happen you can bet, it didn't take long for somebody to make it clear that was not acceptable. And it was not said in a very nice way. However, the point was made and in most cases that was never a problem again. Now this has not changed the people that were destined to be slugs, a slug is a slug is a slug, nough said.
Now we jump ahead 20 plus years. The trucks go out when there's a fire. Yes some people train but not like years gone by. The prices of equipment have skyrocketed and it not uncommon to get in the front of the $100,000.00 Ambulance or the $200,000.00 Engine and find boot prints on the dash. And heaven forbid you as one of the "miserable old timers" would say something about this. It's right to the Chief with their discontent. Yes, I was one of the young "snot noses" that wanted change, We pushed for LDH, 1/34 attack lines and variable nozzles, and yes, we got them. Did we piss the then old times off? no doubt. Was our town and it's people better for? again, no doubt. But did we respect what we could learn from the old timers? Absolutely, From the guy that taught us what the difference in the color of smoke meant to the pump operator that ran the pump based on the vibration of the hose lines against his leg to the guys that taught us how to double clutch the old International pumper that was a bear to shift and everybody ground the gears the first couple times.
So if this sounds like the ramblings of the now “old timer" it probably is........ Is it just me or have TIMES REALLY CHANGED