Are you a Veteran or Dinosaur? By Captain Jeff Schwering

In our world, we are all Firefighters, regardless of race creed or color. We have sworn to protect and serve the citizens of our community. We all get on the big truck, regardless of color or gender, when the bell hits to do our job.† Are you a veteran or a Dinosaur? This statement applies to every Firefighter, from probationary to retirement.

In my opinion, the major difference in defining a veteran or a dinosaur is quite simple. One word defines this difference and that is Initiative.

We can and do as firefighters add many tags to a veteran Brother, for example, years of service, fires fought, leadership ability, etc. When we shift through all of the tags placed on a veteran, what we truly see at the bottom is initiative. The initiative this member has shown shows whether the firefighter is or is not a veteran.

A veteran will show initiative from the day they start Probie School, to the day they retire and hang up their boots. While as a young firefighter, you need to work on your skills and rely on the veterans in the house with the same work ethic, values, and integrity and initiative, to be trained and ready to do the job. While the journey through the Fire Service will be filled with small bumps and huge difficulties, maintaining the initiative, will continue to make all of us stronger and able to make a difference in the training and molding members that follow us in the future, to be veterans also. Every veteran of the service, understand that last sentence, as our Fire Service future.

I suppose this brings us to the dinosaur. A dinosaur, in the Fire Service, is not the member who has tenure or the firefighter who comes on duty everyday and does his or her job, but the member, who uses the Fire Department as a part-time job. This may offend some, but read on. The member may be on the department, insert years here. This member may be on the job thirty years, one year thirty times. A dinosaur is the firefighter who complains about the calls, being up at night, training more than what is scheduled, etc, the list could continue, but every member can add their own.

Dinosaurs are not rank specific, as some believe. This belief is common among dinosaurs that roam our Fire Service today. Make no mistake dinosaurs are not extinct; they walk in every firehouse across our great nation, each and everyday. As a veteran, our task is to mitigate this behavior to the best of our ability, as we would with any other incident we come to face. A dinosaur, in and of themselves, are not bad individuals, by any stretch of the imagination. As most things in our lives, it an individual choice we make.

Veterans and dinosaurs are our friends and fellow firefighters, that we are responsible for each day.† We have to ask daily in the Fire Service, dinosaur are veteran, what are we? Will we continue to work to keep our service professional, or let it slip away because of a secondary job, its hot outside, or its nap time, etc? So I ask every member, veteran or dinosaur, where do you fit in? Put another way; is this a job or a profession?

2 Comments

  • Lt Tallent (retired & volunteer) says:

    Veterans and dinosaurs? That’s depends who you and where you are? I have little over 28 years as a firefighter. My fellow firefighters who I associate with and other’s with different departments, they make fun of me and jokes about horse drawn water bucket companys, etc. That classified me as a (dinosaur). But as a true Veteran I teach old and new methods, and stay with the quidelines that handed down to us as firefighters. We as Veterans make the safe changes in training to teach others. You will make mistakes in your career, but, dont forget why? The old guy said this will happen , I should have lesson. That’s why I’m proud to be call a Veteran firefighter and a dinosaurs (with joking to aside).

  • Engine Captain Missouri says:

    Thanks LT, I have 28 years in myself, the day I turned dinosaur is the day the good Lord puts me in the ground. Thanks for the reply, nice way to start my shift Brother!

    Be Safe!

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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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