What Do I Stand For?

One of the most famous photographs of the 20th century came from Beijing, China on June 5, 1989. The subject of the photo "Tank Man," is shown sitting in the middle of the street as a column of tanks advanced into Tieneman Square. This photo serves as...

"Tank Man" disappeared; some believe he was executed for taking a stand. In the United States of America we have the right and duty to take a stand. Many countries around the world do not have that same freedom. Many of our brother and sister firefighters around the world cannot take a stand on what they believe.

Some in the American Fire Service are entering into the discussion about the Islamic Center/Mosque that is planned to be built near the World Trade Center. The debate is heated and passionate; it is rooted in values, beliefs, and culture. Both sides use references to the 343 brother firefighters who died were murdered, on Sept. 11. Religion and politics are what humans have gone to war over since the beginning of time, which is one reason I try not to get into discussions on those topics. Not that they are unimportant, I know my values drive my behavior and determine where I stand on any issue.

What does the America Fire Service stand for? Standing for firefighter seat belt use will not get any of us executed and there cannot be two sides to the value and behavior of firefighters wearing their seat belt.

August 2010 marked my 40th year in the fire service. We have had seat belts in our apparatus for over 30 years. We have lost over 343 firefighters in the line-of-duty because we did not make them buckle up.

There are many visions of how to honor the victims of Sept. 11.

If we all stand up for seat belts and take actions to insure seat belt use, the vision of no firefighter LODDs due to no seat belt use will become a reality.

It takes courage to ask these questions. What do I stand for? What actions do I take to get firefighters to buckle up?

See you at the firefighter's parade.