We just got on shift when we were washing the rig when a school bus pulled up to pick up a bunch of kids for school at the corner of the street. Their mothers kissed them on the cheek and waved goodbye. At that moment the senior guy turned to me and said, “You see all those kids, you see that mother, that’s who you are responsible for today”. That was 10 years ago and he couldn’t be more correct to this day.
What would you do to protect your kids? Your wife/husband? Your mother or father? Would you risk your life? If they were stuck in a fire but you could turn the clock back would you make sure everything is perfect? Your gear perfectly set up to be quickly donned. The quickest route to the call and the location of the nearest hydrant. So I ask you this. Why are they any different?
We have an obligation to risk EVERYTHING in order to save the public. If you don’t agree then this job is not for you. This job comes with inherit risks and putting our own lives on the line is one of them. If you don’t believe me, read the warning label on your helmet or jacket. If you don’t believe me read the NIOSH reports that are published on a monthly basis. Don’t believe me look at the civilian casualty reports. That screaming mother expects you to do everything to save her child. If she had your gear she would do it herself. Some even try to attempt it without it.
It’s time we change the way we look at things. SEARCH EVERYTHING, EVERY TIME, EVERY TIME OF THE DAY!!! It’s not clear until the fire department says its all clear! That owner of the house who said there’s no one else inside didn’t realize his neighbor went in through the back door looking for him and is now lying unconscious on the living room floor. We must SEARCH!
TRAIN! TRAIN on things you don’t know, TRAIN again on things you do know, TRAIN not just until you get it right, but until you don’t get it wrong. It’s your job! Ask the old guy for advice; ask the new guy what he just learned in class, as your neighboring departments why they approached that situation that way. Wouldn’t you want the best trained to respond to your family in the event of an emergency? TRAIN!! All of our lives depend on it!
There will be a time when your unit is going to be called to a situation that is unimaginable. It is going to be your unit’s job to conquer it. Remember we are it, we are the last resort. We are the sheep dogs that protect our herd. So next time you are going down the road in your rig and you see that family stopped next to you at the red light. Just remember… That is who you are responsible for today.
– S. Cox
East Coast Fire Tactics