Quit Telling Me to Change My Culture

By: Christopher Brennan

We will now bring you a diatribe from our frustrated author:
I am sick and tired of hearing that the fire service needs to change our culture.  It’s what “Everyone Goes Home” is about, it’s in the 16 life safety inititives, and hords of folks come out an [sic] comment when ever there is a LODD that we need to “Change the Culture of the Fire Service.” 

If the culture they are talking about is the one filled with out-of-shape men and women who have signed on because they want to carry a badge and a pager, and wear shirts that say something like, “I fight what you fear,” while driving 63mph on a county road to get to a call, I agree.  That is rarely what they are talking about.  What they say is that we need to avoid things like, “Duty to Die Syndrome” and use “Victim Survivability Profiling” to determine if people can be alive before WE commit to the inside.

&^%$ me, are we serious?  Firefighting is a combat position.  If you don’t want to go into combat you don’t join the military.  If you don’t want to risk YOUR life in a burning building don’t join the fire service.  For the love of the memory of every firefighter who has perished in the line of duty please STOP advocating risk adverse policies and ideas in the name of safety. 

If you want to be safe acknowldge that this job places the same physical strain on us as Navy SEALS are expected to cope with (12 METS during both firefighter and combat swimming operations).  Train like a professional going into harms way! 

If we want to truly reduce fireground injuries and fatalities let’s start training our people to where they are physically incapable of making mistakes in the basic skills.  “Amateurs train until they get it right; professionals train until they can’t get it wrong.”  You know what happens when throwing a 24′ two-stage ladder by yourself becomes instinctive? You can use your brain to worry about maintaining Situational Awareness and Sizing-Up the building.  You know what happens when you have drilled on SCBA emergency procedures a 1000 times? When you have a problem you don’t freak out and enter the cascading series of failure that comes with a run-away Sympathetic Nervous System reaction.

Let’s quit tip-toeing around the facts,  If YOU are unwilling to train until you can’t get it wrong, maintain a level of fitness that with help you excel on the fireground, AND risk yourself because those neighbors we serve need US to do it… THEN LEAVE. There are other ways to lend a helping hand.  Volunteer with the Red Cross, help out at a Hospital, participate in a clothing drive, but please, for &^$# sake get out of the fire service.

Own this job.  Own your responsibility to your neighbors.  Own your responsibility to your brothers and sisters.

We now resume our regular programing.


Editor’s Note: Originally Posted January 5, 2011 this post generated a ton of comments, phone calls, and Chris had a few sit down meetings with folks who wanted to explain to him the error of his views.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.