Ask anyone who knows me and one of the first things they will tell you is how passionate I am about the fire service. I am the guy that spends 24 hours in the firehouse and then comes home and listens to the scanner. I am the guy who spends hours on the internet looking for articles etc. I am the guy always trying to find the next training class to go to. I know I am not alone out there, I know other people like me, and tend to identify more with them. Most of my friendships come from people who share my passion (not my opinion), and with the advent of social media we have all discovered even more people who share our passion.
However there in poses a problem. “It is always sharpest at the tip of the spear” is a phrase we often hear in my department. It means that those that are at the fore front of training, tactics, busiest companies, etc. tend to be the sharpest of your firefighters, it also means they are most likely to get cut as they are out where it is sharpest. I think this is where a majority of us like to be. Essentially at the tip of the spear is where the action is, and it is also where the danger is. The problem is those of us with the passion for the job keep using the “tip of the spear” to inflict damage on ourselves!
Consistently on social media, and message boards we see arguments and disagreements which are usually welcome, then however turn into personal insults and inappropriate comments. All by people who share the same passion for the fire service. We do not have to agree on everything, or even anything but there should be a fundamental respect for each other not just as firefighters but as HUMANS! Yet consistently debates that could be constructive turn into insult sessions that gain nothing for the education, or development of our service. Is that brotherhood?
Often I hear that experience matters over education, yet the caveat those sending that message fail to tell you is that experience only matters to them if it is the same as there’s. Simpler if your experience agrees with mine then we are right, if it differs then you are wrong and I am still right. In a field so dynamic, how can one way be the only way? How can one person’s experience be the only one that matters?
Different perspectives are valuable, and it is something we have lost. I do not have all the answers which is why I seek out the opinion, and writings of others. I used to have strong opinions about certain topics, which have changed over the years the more experience I have obtained and the more education I have received. The mind is like a parachute, it works best when it is OPEN!
So agree, disagree, agree to disagree but whenever you are debating or discussing a topic make sure you are respectful to others experience, opinions, etc. Let’s truly be brothers to each other and not inflict damage on the passionate and like-minded with our own spear. Use the spear to poke along the uninspired, unpassionate, and the complacent members of our profession.
As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!