The ongoing debate has been the search of buildings. Often the debate has referred to instances where departments have searched “known” vacant buildings and discovered a victim. As always there are many sides to this issue.

The debate is really a symptom of the bigger issue; The issue of firefighters being killed and what risks are acceptable to take.

There has developed a philosophy of putting firefighter’s lives ahead of everyone else when it comes to the dangers we face and the risks we take. It is discussed in the 16 Life Safety Initiatives; it is the main tenet of “Everyone Goes Home.” This may be considered heresy but not everyone will go home. The question is though, are we committing ourselves to an ideal that we know we cannot live up to?

This week saw the passing of Major Richard Winters. He commanded Company “E”, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, during World War II. Easy Company, made famous by their war record and subsequent mini series on HBO, was a tight knit community of soldiers. Their bonds were formed in their training and carried them through the war. These Taccoa men were indeed brothers.

Imagine the difficulty Major Winters and the men of Easy would have faced if their first principal was self before mission? If every day at Camp Toccoa they were told, “Everyone Goes Home.” It is unlikely they would have been as successful as a combat unit.

Like their job was about combat, our job is about saving lives. You can forget all the other stuff for a second, because that should be the first thing listed in everyone’s ‘mission statement.’ To save lives we must put ourselves at risk. Saving lives involves searching buildings that are on fire. It involves entering an IDLH atmosphere and subjecting yourself to physical and mental stresses that in their own right could kill you.

Since when does “Everyone Go Home”?

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