As I sit here trying to build a plan for the future I think of what has happened over the last 41 years in the fire service. It was 1968 November my Father joined the fire dept in our small mid west town of around 1,200 people, I was 11 months old. He was told show up bring a CASE and be there at 7. So he did and I am sure he never thought that 41 years later so many things would have changed and how far the fire service has come. That night in Nov. he was handed his gear, which was a plastic helmet, red ball gloves along black rubber coat and tall pull up rubber boots, they told him that the dept had 2 air packs in the truck but you were a p#@$! if you put it on, so the story starts. As the years went on he became an Inst. for a local college teaching firefighters the proper way to fight fire do rescues and most importantly how to were the gear the right way. So lets fast forward 41 years to the present day, my Father has since retired from the job, 25 years with are local dept and 37 years in all total, I have taken over running the college program and am also with our local dept, my gear today top of the line PBI gear, SCOTT NXG2 packs, leather boots, and great gloves. We wear our packs the way we should and we preach when we train this is the way it has to be to stop all the deaths and injury's. So then in 41 years why are we still killing the same numbers of firefighters when the equipment has gotten so much better, we have more protection and the training is better.
Tradition and the fear of change, I see people that have 40 plus years on the job but still think that they are 40 years younger and if it worked then it will work now. This attitude must change and that change must come from the bottom. If you as a firefighter has an idea and want to get it to go up the change to the top you must get buy in from the rest of the fellow firefighters at the bottom. The more buy in at the bottom the better the chance that the folks in the middle will get on board as it passes upwards. You can't act like a know it all or it will never happen, just be one of the guys and watch things happen. Tradition is a great thing,yes Leather Forever I am in, but it also gave us a hole to dig out of, we can change and we will but it will not be an easy task. We need to stop firefighter fatalities and train the new firefighters coming in that they are not invincible and that they need to be aware of everything that is going on around them so that they and the firefighters around them safer. Be safe