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Are we a stepping stone?

Even as recently as my child hood (Which was not THAT long ago) I can never remember someone who got hired in the fire service leaving for other professions. Sure I know people who left departments to go to different departments, or even other fire service agencies (I left one career department for another), but never did you hear about people getting hired and leaving the fire service all together.

I feel now though we are in the midst of the fire service becoming a “stepping stone” or “transitional” job. Sure we have the professional landscapers, contractors, etc. who basically utilize the fire service to run their side business, but they at least put in 25-30 years.

Now we are seeing people who get hired and use this experience to achieve their ultimate goal which usually is not the fire service. Now we see people leave the fire department to become, nurses, doctors, county managers, or other professions. Some may say this is not a big deal if they do not want to be here then good riddance, and on some level I agree, but the issue is deeper.

These people took someone else’s job, who actually wanted to be a firefighter. Someone like me who has no other career aspirations but to be a firefighter could be left out for some future nurse! What about if the leadership in your fire departments goals are outside the fire department? How can you be sure they are really putting all the effort for you, and your brothers? How many people have you seen get their other careers started, by going to college on the fire department dime, and then leaving?

Again I do agree with those of you that say if they do not want to be here then let them go, however the above issues just crack the surface on what could grow to be a major issue. Most seriously, how do we know someone who is only doing this to spring-board to another job will do the work needed, train, put their life on the line, for their brothers, sisters, and citizens?

Our profession needs dedicated members who WANT to be firefighters! We need leaders who want to lead fire departments! We need people who will stop at nothing to get this job, and then will not take it for granted once they have it.
We need to all remember the immortal words of Chief Edward F. Croker FDNY

“I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a fireman. The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we who know the work which the fireman has to do believe that his is a noble calling. There is an adage which says that, “Nothing can be destroyed except by fire.” We strive to preserve from destruction the wealth of the world which is the product of the industry of men, necessary for the comfort of both the rich and the poor. We are defenders from fires of the art which has beautified the world, the product of the genius of men and the means of refinement of mankind. But, above all; our proudest endeavor is to save lives of men-the work of God Himself. Under the impulse of such thoughts, the nobility of the occupation thrills us and stimulates us to deeds of daring, even at the supreme sacrifice. Such considerations may not strike the average mind, but they are sufficient to fill to the limit our ambition in life and to make us serve the general purpose of human society.” -Edward F. Croker, Chief of Department, F.D.N.Y. 1899-1911

This job is still a noble calling, the work we do is rewarding, even if sometimes are services are abused. We need people who know that, and want to be a part of it for a full career. Let’s stop our career from becoming a stopping off point, and back to a destination.

Simply put we need more people like this kid!!!!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brNw4qoFJAs&w=420&h=315]

As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!

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