By: Gary Lane
I was shown something by another fireman that I really think should be shared. It is so simple that I am actually embarrassed to admit I never thought of doing it. Before I share it with you, I wanted to just talk for a quick minute about what that means, “To share”. A quick web search on dictionary.com gives us this definition: 1. the full or proper portion or part allotted or belonging to or contributed or owed by an individual or group. Other definitions I found include the words divide and distribute. Now I know everybody already knew what the word share meant (and we’ll skip all the stock trading and land ownership references here), but look at a few of the other words and phrases in the definition. The ones I’m talking about are “belonging to” and “owed by an individual or group”. This really hints at what it’s all about. The information, skill sets and experiences we acquire as individuals in this line of work, do not just belong to us. They belong to every firemen out there. We owe it to others to pass the information and ideas along. Our FSW Ethos includes the following statement: Fire Service Warriors own their responsibility to their Brothers and Sisters. However small the detail may seem to us, it may be a gold mine to another. WE OWE IT TO EACH OTHER TO SHARE WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED.
There are two examples that I would like to cite here to add some relevance, but my apologies for not knowing the exact details of the events. The first is the story of the probie that saved his captain on his very first day on the job. If you know the details, please post them up in the comments. The second is about a junior fireman that noticed something during a fire and told a chief, who then took a look and evacuated the building which moments later collapsed. While my extremely short recounting of the two incidents doesn’t begin to do them justice, I’m sure you can grasp what I’m getting at. Someone along the line, whether it was in recruit school or during some drills at the firehouse, shared with these members things that made a difference in the outcome of people’s lives. From calling a mayday and dragging a brother out, to noticing a potential structural failure looming and having the balls to say something to someone about it.
Not all things we do or encounter will have such a profound outcome or degree of importance. But at some level, they are still important. We must remain ever vigilant in our quest towards self improvement and open minded to information and ideas from others. Taking the time to “transmit and receive” is how we make the job safer and make our operations more efficient. If we are not trying to pass on our knowledge to others, we are failing future generations and quite honestly, waisting their time as well. What is the benefit of keeping this information to ourselves? There isn’t one that I’m aware of. Some departments have even taken it to a more “official” level by creating programs or log books that contain decades of good information that is passed down to its members! That is a tradition that we should all be so lucky to have!
So where do we start? We start by recognizing that every single person that puts on the uniform regardless of time on the job, sticker in our windshield or number of fires taken in, has more to learn and plenty of room for improvement. We also all need to recognize that WE ALL HAVE SOMETHING TO CONTRIBUTE. From Denver, Colorado to Duck, North Carolina, any one of us may have that one little tip or trick that makes the difference for others when time is of the essence and all other attempts have failed.
Oh, and that simple little trick that I was shown? Here it is: Clipping your SCBA waist strap around your face piece as it hangs down at your side, ready to go, will keep it from getting snagged on everything we do prior to making entry into the building… from hitting the hydrant and getting it tangled in the wrench as it spins to snagging it with a tool, ladder or newel post. Doing this one simple thing can save us time and aggravation while performing other fireground functions. When you’re ready to mask up, just unclip and reclip in one motion(similar to SCBA waist belt/RIT conversion), freeing the mask to be donned. See, I told you it was simple. Now, what have you got to share?