Fire Fighters Association of Missouri

A Message From The 1st VP – July 2020

I am not sure if I took a longer nap than I thought, but did I miss the convention? It was certainly unfortunate that the convention had to be postponed and then canceled after all the hard work the folks in Kearney put into making it an event to remember. My thanks to everyone involved in the planning for the event as I know what commitment that takes. With the cancellation, it looks like we will be holding the annual meeting at the August 9, 2020, Board Meeting in Sedalia at the fair fire station. If you have the opportunity, join us.

I would like to visit with you in this article a little bit about “doing the right thing.” This topic was discussed in a recent training I attended and brought about some additional thoughts beyond what that training was focused on. When you hear the words “doing the right thing” what comes to mind? Does your mind see the picture of the diligent Boy Scout escorting the little old citizen across the street? Do you envision a world where there is no “evil” and everyone acts in the best interest of their fellow citizen? Do you conjure up memories of being rewarded because you did your chores without being told? We called that “getting to eat supper” Do you see the image of a gallant knight galloping through some mid-evil time to rescue the damsel in distress?

No matter where your mind goes when you hear those four words we all have some concept of doing the right thing. The point that sometimes can be a bit blurred is who gets to determine what the “right thing” actually is? There is not an easy answer for that and each instance dictates what the right thing is and that is compounded further by the person making that decision. What one person may think is the right thing can often vary greatly from the next person and due to that we can often develop conflict in our lives or departments by taking actions not completely embraced as being the right thing.

Somehow we have got to reach a happy medium to figure out how to balance what is the “right thing” across the board. If we can reach this step I firmly believe we can relieve a lot of conflict in the fire service and our personal lives. Not an easy task, but something that we need to work towards.

Now with all that said, what right things are you doing? Take a minute, get a container of your favorite beverage, and sit back and give that some thought. It doesn’t matter if you are a member of the fire service, a member of the legislature, an elementary student, or an aged old sage. Surely you are doing something that is the right thing. It may be little in nature or it could be something huge, but we each do something that is the right thing for the situation we are involved and hopefully it is done for the right reasons and outcomes.
Let’s face it, in this line of work we all have our opinions about other personnel, administration, the staff, or even other agencies. Does it do any good to constantly downgrade them and point out only the shortcomings and never the positive? It is so easy to destroy working relationships with misplaced words and it is extremely difficult to repair what has been torn down. I am not saying that we will always get along and we will always wander around with stars in our eyes looking at the world through rose-colored glasses, but I am saying we can each do our part to act appropriately and make sure we are doing the right thing.

Is achieving various levels of training and then refining your skills and continuing to learn and grow in your profession the right thing? I would put money on that being the right thing as it is likely the thing that is going to keep you and your partners alive. When we have been in this business for a long time we tend to drift towards the “been there done that” attitude and become a little complacent.

I don’t think sitting around waiting on the world to accommodate us is the right thing in this constantly evolving line of work. I believe we each have to seek out the things that make us better in this profession to keep ourselves and the industry vibrant and functioning efficiently.

Have you looked at the new members who come into your agencies and think, well this one is a lost cause? If you have then maybe you should step up and do the right thing and take that person under your wing and be the mentor they need to make it in this profession.

It is likely if you have been around for any amount of time you have a vast knowledge base that needs to be shared.

It is also likely that when you started in this business someone made the same remark about you, but apparently, someone stepped up and did enough to keep you alive and in this profession.

Could it be your turn now?

During that training I mentioned earlier the instructor asked that we do a little self-evaluation.

I will pass these questions along to you for consideration:

“Why are you here?” Seriously, what brought you to the fire service, and why have you stuck around? What right things have happened along your path to make you want to continue and how do you use those experiences to help others? What do you want out of the profession? If you can’t determine why you are still here perhaps it is time to seek other options before something tragic happens.

“When was the last time you did something on your own to make yourself better?” Remember what I said earlier about keeping current with knowledge and skills. If we don’t do the right thing and make ourselves better how do we expect to serve our communities beneficially? How you treat your health can easily fit in this area. Remember this is a demanding and non-forgiving profession.

“When was the last time you made someone else better?” Think about being that mentor to the new members. Think back to when you last did positive things to make others grow instead of dismantling their spirit one slap at a time. We all know we needed help to be where we are now. Why shouldn’t we want to help others succeed?

“Would you want you to be your mentor?” If the answer to this one is no then you might want to examine where you are in the profession and what you can do to improve to the point that you would want you to be your mentor.

All of these questions affect “doing the right thing” in our daily pursuits both professionally and personally. Are you doing the right thing for the right reason? Are you doing the right thing to be successful, to help others grow, or to make your agency better than when you joined or have you taken a back seat and are watching the world pass by without it benefiting from your knowledge, input, and guidance? It is never too late to reset your attitude and do what you can to do the right thing.

As always if I can be of any assistance to your or your agency please contact me. Be safe!