The fire service is heavy on tradition, rightfully so. The problem is when the tradition interferes with your ability to take care of yourself and your family. “Traditionally” it was unheard of for a public servant to be sued. Everyone can get sued. Being sued for actions taken in performance of your duties is becoming increasingly popular. These lawsuits can be personal in nature and the organization can decide if they will pay for your representation or not. In my state, my organization can decide if a firefighter was “acting within the scope of their office or employment”. If the answer is yes the organization has to handle the lawsuit. How hard would it be for them to find something you did to be “outside” of your employment if they wanted to?
It used to be acceptable to die young and leave a grieving family behind. If you think your life insurance will pay up the day after notification of your death, think again. Check the list of exclusions and see if your line of work falls under their definition of “dangerous activity”. Insurance companies are in the business of making money, not paying money. Tradition is not going to pay your mortgage when you are out injured or deceased.
Fire has not changed since the beginning of firefighting. What burns definitely has. Fires used to be only all natural materials burning, now plastic is everywhere. The heat of combustion of plastics items are double that of the same things made out of wood. I won’t get started on gases that are released. Why would you risk inhaling that crap? Want to look salty? Maybe you want to be the guy on the news with “smoke inhalation” that’s a traditional thing, just like falling off the rear step of fire apparatus, right?
I guess the thesis of this post would be this “Know what you are doing and why you are doing it”. “But it’s Tradition” does not make a strong argument against NFPA, Cancer,state/federal laws, and loss of income/work.
Tradition is what keeps the fire service a close knit community and I promise to get to the great traditions later.
But for now…Think, Think, Think