When Did Striving For Excellence Become A Bad Thing

Hey man are you okay? These are the words heard on the other end of the phone as a brother firefighter calls to check on another after a very late night fire in which a mistake was made. The is response I hate making mistakes, but I have learned from it and will not make it again, but that is not the purpose of this writing. As the discussion went on the brother went on to tell that the firefighter was being ridiculed for giving a good size up and wanting to be precise. My question to you is when did striving for excellence become bad? I have noticed for quite some time that firefighters whom strive to do their best take on a lot of ridicule. Firefighters who go that extra step to be on committee’s or purchase equipment often face ridicule by firefighters who either want to collect a paycheck or lack the know how to get the same job done. It lead me to ponder was this criticism because the firefighter was bad at their job or as I heard it stated they just wanted to be that guy, or is it fear that if in their same position they would have made the same mistake, but dismiss it by belittling firefighters efforts. So how did we let this become a standard practice of taunting firefighters wanting to be the best and striving for that goal? Ambition can be a great tool if harnessed early and guided in the right direction. Unguided and misdirected ambition can be trouble also, but how did it get that way? Was the ambition there to seek excellence but was not given any attention so now it is headed down the path of selflessness and Glorification? I used this story to point out the condemnation that is going on in the fire service today of one another. Often times firefighters are cutting each throats thinking that they are elevating themselves only, the real truth is they are showing everyone that they can not be trusted. We ( The Fire Service ) have enough people trying to tear us down and apart why are we doing it to one another? I encourage all the next time you encounter a firefighter striving for excellence help them along because it is the right thing to do; Even though they may have made a mistake be honest and tell them the truth, but also highlight what has been done right and encourage the continued success in that area. So again, I asked when did striving for excellence become a bad thing?


  • anchorpoint1 says:

    “Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain – and most fools do.
    Dale Carnegie
    I believe the people who do the worst criticizing are the ones that do either the least amount of work or are bad at it. They only do it to keep the conversation from coming back around to their numerous shortfalls. They always know which company made some minor mistake and will gladly broadcast it to all who’ll listen.
    If you are striving for excellence then you know who’s opinion matters and who is just blowing smoke.
    Granted after you have owned up to the mistake and done whatever remediation, the ribbing should begin in earnest.

  • pfd24 says:

    Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
    Albert Einstein
    This is another good quote on how anyone can just criticize, ridicule and joke at the fact of someone on the job that wants whats best for the company. Striving for excellence should be a goal for everyone in the fire service, and to complain about someone doing just that is a disgrace to the profession we live by. So, to the ones who strive for excellence, let no one stand in your path. FTM-PTB

  • Engine Captain Missouri says:

    When someone says this to me, I thank them for the compliment and smile, at least I try to. This is my profession and I will not give it up without a fight. It does seem at times, those that understand our profession are outnumbered by those that want a paycheck, are to worried about their side job, or any number of reasons, however we must continue to push forward. People can ridicule all they want, but who will they look to when things go bad. FTM KTF RFB

  • Amen brother. It has happened to me. Early in my career I took every class I could, just to better myself. Of course I received a lot of criticism about it. It all boils down to this: Do The Right Thing. Striving for excellence is part of that.

  • AFM says:

    This is an age old problem that stretches across all aspects of our society. It has its roots in one of the 7 deadly sins, jealousy. And in alot of instances, as has been pointed out, it comes from those who lack the self-discipline to better themselves in order to better their team and their department. The individuals who strive to do their best will always be criticized by those who “just do their jobs”. The measure of a person in this instance is if they let the words roll off their backs and keep going, or succumb to the peer pressure to be “one of the guys”.

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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

FE Talk: Humpday Hangout

Jim P.
The World is not on fire.
BRAVO. Very good observations. Thanks for writing this. Decisions/leadership based upon fear or lack of training is unacceptable. These things need to be said, to counteract the attitudes that are trying to influence future generations of firefighters.
2015-03-18 14:39:28
Ret. Capt.
The next big thing…or just another acronym?
I'm not sure how the Portsmouth, VA FD normally operates but that is an embarrassment. I am not understanding any part of why the hose team did not make entry while one other member broke out the window with an extension ladder to provide quick ventilation. From what is seen, and the conditions present, in…
2015-01-16 17:21:54
Met Fan
The next big thing…or just another acronym?
Actually it does not seem to raise the temperatures at the floor in most cases. Do you feel feel different after attack begins? Of course you do. Steam is produced when water hits the fire and you feel the humidity through your gear. This is going to happen regardless of whether the stream entered a…
2014-12-29 02:43:23
Ryan McGovern (Ladder Jack)
Ideology vs Philosophy: Are you Slicing or Dicing in the fire service trends
Marques, As I have been following this debate for the past few weeks, and looking for the best way to respond, I could find no "correct" way to join the conversation without maybe coming off as narrow-minded. The response you have here says exactly what I believe is the best way to approach the SLICER/…
2014-12-03 00:41:24
The next big thing…or just another acronym?
Though hitting a fire from the outside lowers the temperature in the room, it raises it closer to the floor. I've been a firefighter for 14 years and work for an inner city department. You'd better be damn sure there are no victims in the structure anywhere near where those heated gasses are going to…
2014-11-24 17:54:49

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