Serving vs. Acting

      In today’s Fire Service, we have members that step up into a role that they are not normally in. A Firefighter stepping up to the Driver position and is the “acting” engineer for the shift. The Engineer that moves to the right side of the truck for a shift. Or the Officer that goes from the truck to the Battalion Chief for a shift.

     My question to all who have, or could possibly have, the opportunity to “act” in a position above their normal rank, is will you serve or will you act? Now some may be wondering if there is a difference and I will tell you that yes there is.

            Someone who “Acts” in a position above their normal rank goes around with a chip on their shoulder and lets everyone know that “they” are the one in charge and making the decisions. They treat the members they are with, in a different manner than normal. They get a very different attitude than they would normally have and let the honor of being in a higher position, even if it’s is only for a few hours or a shift, go to their head. They make the personnel perform duties and do not offer to assist. They hover over and have micro-managing tendencies. They forget that one day the very people they are “acting” above may one day succeed them.

            Serving in a position one would not normally be in, takes on a much different role. One who steps up and “serves,” treats their personnel with respect and gives them opportunities to step up into their position. If you are serving, you are providing a service to the community and your department. You take on the responsibility with great pride and honor. You take the role seriously and make absolutely certain that you do not do anything to make yourself, your crew or your department  look bad. They offer to assist their crew with tasks but at the same time they do not micro-manage their personnel.

            If you have a tendency to “Act,” I would ask you to consider your actions and how they affect the rest of the crew. Make a conscious attempt to change your ways so that you may “serve” in the position. Be aware of how you conduct yourself and remember that YOU in the position you step up into, set the tone for your crew. You decide whether or not your guys are going to respect you as a leader and do what you ask them to without question.

            I would like to end with a quote from a movie that I would like everyone to remember:

“Attitude reflects leadership.”

2 Comments

  • Anchor Point says:

    I agree with the “serve” idea. I prefer “custodian of your position”. You are in that spot to fill a void. I’m entertained by the guys who have to step up due to contract wording and then behave as if they are promoted because of personal achievement.
    Yesterday you were a blue shirt and tomorrow you will be one again. The deeds you do, or do not, will reflect on your position to the rest of the world. The guys you work with know the truth. The newer guys will learn from your actions, good or bad.
    Sorry, ‘king for a day’ is a pet peeve of mine. Be safe.

  • scfireman says:

    Acting vs. Serving does not only apply to the person who is working out of their rank. I find that it also applies to those that actually hold the position of Engineer, Captain, ect. If you find yourself in that position take a moment to ask yourself, are you acting as a (insert rank) or serving. It makes a world of difference.

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Marques Bush

Firefighter Basics launched in February 2009 after Founder/Editor Marques Bush was looking for a way to express himself and share his experiences with brother and sister firefighters. Shortly after founding the site Marques spoke with several trusted friends and ask them to come on board and contribute also. Firefighter Basics is a dedicated group of firefighters who strive everyday to practice what they preach about Training, Safety, and Tradition.  We can be reached at firefighterbasics@gmail.com

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