What is happening to the moral character of the fire service?

Is it just me or does it seem like the people around us, that work at our station or at the neighboring mutual aid station, have lost a little bit of moral character? Does it seem odd to you that many people are caught up in the flashy side of the fire service and not focused on what we are here to do?

In my time in the fire service I have noticed that alot of people are getting caught up in the fact that they are paid full time firefighters and that they are better than the volunteers. But on the flipside, I see volunteers that just want the t-shirt or the sticker or license plate for their car. Did we all forget that we are here to do the same job? Did we forget that there are things more important than getting recognition or the paycheck? Thousands of us are volunteers. We do it for free because we truly want to make a difference. We feel a calling from the Lord(or if you aren't a believer, you do it because you feel that you are obligated to pay back your community for supporting you). Either way we do it because this is where we are supposed to be. The fire service is not to only work 8 days a month, or to get the proffessional courtesy of a police officer letting you out of a ticket when you get pulled over for doing 65 in a 35 in your brand new Sliverado HD3500 Dually lifted with the DVD player built in to the seats with the big mud tires....blah blah blah........

We do it cuse we genuinely want to help the public. Because we are moral creatures, that feel we need to do un to others so that it might be done unto us. We believe that we should take care of our neighbors because it's the right thing to do. We love this job. We wouldn't trade it for anything. Volunteer or career I believe we all need to put our hearts back into it and quit looking at what are we going to take and what can we give? Is that wrong to ask?

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Comment by Jacob Fouts on March 11, 2009 at 12:36am
This posting has brought out more reaction than I was expecting, however I am finding a common theme in the fact that we all believe that the flashy , guys don't last long, and almost all of us do it for the right reasons,. Whether paid or volly or young and old we have different points of view and work ethics or beliefs. But time and time again it is people like the ones who have responded to this posting that gives me faith in the responders. We do it because we care, plain and simple.
Comment by Paul Young on March 10, 2009 at 11:49pm
First of all, the question doesn't refer to who is "better" career or volly. The question has to do with the moral fiber of the members. In my 24 years in the fire service, on volly, combo, and career dept's, I have seen morally and ethically corrupt people. This type of behavior has absolutely nothing to do with the type of compensation recieved. For us that are the last of the Boomers, we have different work ethics and values. Notice I didn't say better or the right type, just different. As far as morals go, I have known POS's on all the departments that I have had the honor to work with. On an upside, I have seen the salt of the earth, and that is more common than not.
Comment by Ryann Hanford on March 10, 2009 at 11:35pm
Dont get me wrong I like people to know who I am. But there are a lot of firefighters and EMS personal out there who need to do comedy, sing or be a stunt devil if they want attention that bad. But like many have said this problem is everywhere and every dept has at least one.
Comment by Joe Stoltz on March 10, 2009 at 9:54pm
"Is it just me or does it seem like the people around us, that work at our station or at the neighboring mutual aid station, have lost a little bit of moral character? Does it seem odd to you that many people are caught up in the flashy side of the fire service and not focused on what we are here to do?"

It might just be you overreacting to a specific incident, perhaps? Which is fine, however you're painting the picture with a pretty wide brush.

My experience is that the majority of firefighters, career and volunteer, do the job in a professional, caring manner and respect each other regardless of paid or not. It's the relative few that cause the headlines and hard feelings, in my opinion.

Also, the folks that join my department for the glitter and glory and the flashy side don't generally last very long, for we don't reinforce that type of behavior.
Comment by Art "ChiefReason" Goodrich on March 10, 2009 at 5:55pm
You just described "ethics" issues, which is what I said. :-)
Comment by Ed Laugesen on March 10, 2009 at 5:22pm
I don't think that it is necessarily an ethical or a moral issue, we live in a changing world where young people place more importance on "It's someone elses responsibility, not mine" attitude. Our City pays to send recuits to Paramedic certifications and all you have to do is sign an agreement for two years of service once you are out of school, and some of them have been heard to make statements that they won't take any college courses unless they get reimbursed for them. Now I'm not saying that just because we had to pay our own way they should have to pay too, just that the attitude is there and it isn't good. I see an a trend that some of our younger generation don't want to learn the "In's and out's" of their equipment so they know how to keep it working properly. They just beat it up and expect someone else to fix it. Too many people get into our profession for the wrong reason now days and that hurts.
Comment by Art "ChiefReason" Goodrich on March 10, 2009 at 1:07pm
It's a conundrum, for sure.
However; IMHO we suffer from ethical issues more than moral issues.
Split it out however you would like, but the math is simple. 800,000 Vollie/POC; 400,000 Paid.
Regardless of the reasons, the number don't lie.
Comment by russ allen on March 10, 2009 at 5:49am
it's been this way for ever. I started as a vol. and made a career and now am a vol. again. we are were all on the same team, period. the dynamics of ego and men who feel better about tearing others down to make one's self feel more important is a malady that only a faith in God can help. Us as supervisors can only lead by example, pray for our subordinates, chastise when necessary and exhort continually. Rule 1: can't expect a non believer to act like one, rule 2: if you are one, don't act like we are not.
Comment by Chris Sterling on March 10, 2009 at 4:02am
I've been in the fire service 30yrs., and it's always been that way. I guess I do my best to focus my moral obligation, and leave the rest to the others. I do remember a time that I heard a paid firefighter comment, that, it was one of those Volunteers that did that! (broke every window in the structure) In reallity, it was one of his guys. I just smiled and went about my business. We train just as much, but we're not paid. That's the only difference. Your right, we're all here to do the same job, because we love it!

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