In my last few articles, I have written about my steadfast belief in attending training, in bettering ourselves and in our duty to return home from the call.
For this article, I thought I would stay on the training theme, specifically certification and the certificates you receive from the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
I recently had a firefighter ask me about my signature on his certificate. He noted both Training/Certification Deputy Chief Kim Becker and I had actually hand signed the certificate instead of using a computer generated signature. Allow me to explain our reasoning for that.
Both Kim and I understand how difficult it can be to find time to attend training. All of our certification courses require significant effort on the part of those who choose to attend. Extensive practical exercises are also part of the certification process. The individual then studies and prepares for an exam; an exam that is no walk in the park, I might add. After successfully completing the course, practical exercises and the certification exam, the individual is awarded the certificate.
We share the belief that if an individual is going to commit to the certification process, the least we can do to show our support is take the time to hand sign each certificate. The only caveat to the original signature is the HazMat Awareness and Operations certificates, simply due to the sheer volume of those certifications.
I take a moment to read the name on each certificate before I sign it. If it is a name I know, I usually include a note along with the certificate to congratulate the recipient on a job well done.
My signature also serves a second purpose, one maybe a little selfish. As I write this article, I look on the wall of my office and see certificates issued to me by the State Fire Marshal’s Office. One certificate bears the signature of late Fire Marshal John Coburn, the first State Fire Marshal for whom I worked.
The certificate is twenty-nine years old and yet, the signature remains. His signature is part of what I consider to be the legacy of his service to Missouri’s first responders. I hope my signature on each certificate serves as part of my legacy.
Additionally, my signature also serves to remind me of my father, Lowell Carrell. I proudly share not only his last name, but also his middle name, Thomas. Shortly after he passed away nearly eleven years ago, I adopted a signature which included my middle initial, a signature practice he had for as long as I can recall. The very prominent “T” you see in my signature is in memory of him.
Thirty years from now, I hope a responder looks up on the wall of their office, sees the certificate they worked so hard to achieve and maybe takes a moment to reflect on the names of those who took the time to sign that certificate. That, my friends, is a legacy truly worthy of my time spent signing certificates.
Acting State Fire Marshal