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.Continue Reading →