Fire Fighters Association of Missouri

Fire Marshal’s Update – March 2016

“You’ll be fighting uphill battle”. Words spoken to me as a caution. My reply, “I don’t mind fighting an uphill battle. In fact, I see it as a worthy challenge.”

If I’m willing to fight for something, then it must be worth the battle. After all, I’m not going to waste my time in a fight for anything not worth the outcome. And if I’m fighting uphill, it means I’m gaining higher ground. Because isn’t that where we all want to be; on the higher ground?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I prefer not to fight. I prefer to work towards a common goal, to find consensus so we can all work together. I believe we must be open to hearing all sides of an argument and then engage in a healthy debate which considers all valid points made by those involved in the discussion. An open, honest dialogue is certainly the preferred choice. But, I’m not one to shy from a battle, especially if the cause is just.

I think often I find myself wanting to take the easy route; the path of least resistance. Perhaps I back away when in fact what I need to do is take a firm position for what I believe. Maybe the fear of upsetting someone or the potential of being seen as “making waves” is what holds us back from making decisions which are correct in that given situation.

So, words spoken to me as a caution I find to be a challenge. A challenge to keep moving forward, even if uphill. A challenge to battle for something I believe is correct. And a challenge to win a battle in a manner which means everyone ultimately wins.

Yes, that’s a challenge in which I’m willing to engage.

On a separate note, last week I was privileged to attend a “pinning ceremony” at the Branson Fire Department.

The ceremony welcomed the new members of the fire department by the pinning of their badges to their uniforms. The new firefighter then rings a bell to formalize their call to duty. The firefighter walks across the room to join their crew, who is waiting to receive the new member. A welcoming ceremony into the fire service family with whom they have been chosen to serve.

But, what I found most compelling is that the family of the new member joins the firefighter in the ceremony. The biological family then walks across the room with their firefighter in a symbolical gesture of the whole family joining with the fire department family. They all become a part of a greater public safety family and a support network unmatched in any other professional field.

I was honored to be a witness to this ceremony. This is the sense of community I have written about before. This is the fire service family of which I have spoken on numerous occasions. This is the fire service I so proudly serve.

May you and all our family remain safe until I see you again.

Greg Carrell
Acting State Fire Marshal