Happy New Year from the West-side of Missouri! The Directors of District 11 hope you all had a great and safe holiday season with friends and family. We all know and hear it every year, the “new year, new me,” commitment but how many personally follow through with it more than a month or two? Can we take that saying and expand it to not just ourselves, but how about, “new year, new us.” As a department or district or even just a shift/station. I’ve heard it every January around the firehouse table of what a company wants to improve on, but fails to implement. Let’s change that for 2020. Whether it’s improving the public perception, training habits, daily station life for the career/combination department or the monthly station life of the volunteer districts, etc.
I challenge every station to set goals and make strides to reach them. Once reached, set another goal to work towards. Some examples could include simple company drills i.e. pumping, followed by drafting, then relay pump to feeding a master stream, gear drills, and RIT training are a few. Public perception could simply include uniformed personnel for public events or when at the station. I am in no way saying badge collar brass and button-down shirts. What looks professional if worn with station pants rather than shorts or jeans. Or clean jeans look more professional with a polo then jeans with rips and holes. Even taking an extra 15 or so minutes to wash and clean the inside the apparatus. Either when getting back from a call or leaving for an event can make a station look outstanding. Especially if you have multiple stations going to the same event. Be the one that shows up clean and ready to present. Not only does it show pride and ownership in your crew and station, but the public will see you take pride in the units their tax money provides and that your crew pays attention to details.
Another great way to improve public perception, is if you do a big training like an auto extraction tanker shuttle or are fortunate enough to get a house to train in. Invite the news media to come do a story. Let me tell you from experience, I did this personally at a car fire training with a local newspaper that was doing an article. We went to the chief and got permission of course. A quick run down of tactics and how to advance and flow the nozzle then put him in full gear with SCBA and put him on the nozzle, with three senior firefighters, and told him to put the car out. Let him experience that evolution and he was surprised of the gear weight and how cumbersome the movement and nozzle reaction was. We ended up with a great article out of it. Same thing with board or council members, if they’ve never interacted with the department/district. Get them out there. That’s the best way to curb the negative perception that fire personnel do nothing but sit around. That would be a great goal to obtain in 2020, because sites like hitting it hard from the yard does not do our industry any favors. It unfortunately feeds the career vs. volunteer mentality that I would like to see erased, since we all do the same job. Some are granted to collect a check, while others do it for free. My beliefs are that 90% of the volunteers do it for the correct reasons and not those we see on the negative media sites.
As company officers of career or volunteer maybe start grooming your crews to move up or fill in maybe start with those non-emergency or even medical calls. Have your members that sit backwards start being the company officers and work up to car crashes, dumpster/car fires, and so forth. The chief officers can do the same with captains and groom them to fill in the chief spot when your on vacation or at work and unable to respond to the pager. For the call it’s our responsibility as leaders and mentors to challenge our crew members to continue to grow and be ready to step into the next role at the department. Whether as driver, line officer, or even administrative/training, it’s our job to guide and prepare them.
In other news coming from of District 11, Kearney Fire is hosting the 66th annual state fire convention May 1-3. We hope all can make it. I’ve talked with a few people that are affiliated with the committee and it sounds like this is going to be a great event. Information is on their Facebook page, FFAM 2020. We need teams for the firefighter challenge games. Get with your members and neighboring departments and put a team together and come take home an award and bragging rights for your department. There will be a fire truck display on Saturday, May 2, and if you or know someone that is interested in coming out and displaying a apparatus, contact Alan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We still have tickets for the side of beef that’s going to be raffled at convention, only 1,000 being sold. If you are interested contact myself or any of the districts representatives and we can get you taken care of. The raffle benefits the state fire museum in Kingdom City, next to the fallen firefighter memorial. So support a good cause and get meat for the freezer!
District 11 also has the Kansas City April F.O.O.L.S conference from March 29, to April 2. Lots of great hands-on training at this conference and guest speakers including Chief Billy Goldfeder. If you are able to go sign up, the information can be found on their Facebook page, “Kansas City April F.O.O.L.S conference.” They had an awesome turnout last year and heard lots of good things about it. Also we have Winter Fire School at MU FRTI in February. They are hosting an unbelievable amount of great classes this year and don’t forget the Friday night expo of equipment. It’s always a good time.
FFAM renewal is underway, make sure your department gets renewed and pass along to the neighboring fire and EMS department/districts and dispatch centers. If anyone has questions about the organization reach out to myself or any of the 26 directors throughout the state. Our contact info can be found on the FFAM.org website under the district link.
Be safe and have a good start to 2020!