I was trying to teach my children about doing quality work and making sure you can put your name on everything you do. Of course one of them asked “But isn’t that a lot of work?” Yes, yes it is. But the effort is the biggest part of any job well done. Like Ghandi said. Most of the time it’s the struggle that determines if the outcome is desirable or not. In the fire service if you do good training and drilling you will do good work.
I thought of Rocky Valentine for some reason. Rocky was the main character in an old 1960’s Twilight Zone episode called “A Nice Placeto Visit”. Rocky was a career criminal that was gunned down after robbing a pawn shop. He wakes up to Pip, his new person assistant for the afterlife. Pip grants every wish Rocky has. Rocky has amazing luck in this new afterlife, everything works out for him. He doesn’t have to struggle with anything. He wins at the casino every time, the ladies love him, his every wish is granted etc… After a month of this Rocky gets bored and frustrated with everything working out all the time. He tells Pip “I don’t belong here in Heaven, I want to go to the other place or I’ll go nuts!” Pip asks him “What makes you think this is Heaven?”
In my new firehouse I go out with the guys and we do a little drill every day. I’m not a ball buster and I am not trying to test anyone. We go out as a crew and do something.
The last time we went out was to run the deck gun. Nothing fancy, run water and play with tip sizes and talk scenarios and water flow. One guy has been on for 3 years and that was his first time operating the deck gun. I have to wonder when the previous officer expected this firefighter to learn this basic skill. I can guarantee if they went to a surround and drown and that firefighter could not get the deck gun going the officer would lose his mind.
A firefighter I worked with months ago called me to complain that a firefighter that just transferred in ran the line around the stair case instead of up the center; they ran out of line short of the fire. Tragic. So now if we are out on a call and see some funky access or architectural oddities I ask the crew how they would handle it.
I’m not an engine guy so I am most definitely learning while we do it. But we are doing it. When it comes time for us to work, we will work and hopefully it’ll work out right. Other companies that I have worked at like to sit back and talk about the fires they had.
You are only as good as your last fire, right? What about your next fire? What about the satisfaction of a job well done?
I think the deck gun qualifies as a basic firefighter skill. I think shagging a line qualifies as a basic skill also. Do you really want to be known as the company that messed up a BASIC skill? Advanced stuff and the once in a lifetime things are fun to prepare for but if you mess up a basic skill on the fire ground you will wear that mistake forever.