With the endless hours of training, a question that many new firefighters ask is, "So when does it get to be fun?" The short answer is, never. The demand for your courage and your honor is constant, even when you're off duty. If this is more than you are willing to bear, then now is the time...
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You must also understand that being called a professional firefighter does not denote that you receive wages for your time, but rather it implies a level and standard of service delivery. Professional service is always a stipulation you must meet. Edward F. Croker's proudest achievement was not being named chief of the FDNY, but rather in wearing the badge of a simple fireman. In the early 1900s, he wrote the words that have become the hallmark of real, professional, dedicated and courageous firefighters everywhere: "I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a fireman. The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we who know the work which the fireman has to do believe that his is a noble calling."
I leave you with words I received in my rookie year that still ring in my ears: The day you stop caring, the day you think you know it all, the day your compassion has reached an end; that day should be your last day as a firefighter. Love the job. If you love it, you will protect it and nurture it, always striving to be the very best. Have courage while always focusing on the truth found in the words, "I am my brother's keeper."
MICHAEL BRICAULT is a 17-year veteran firefighter serving with the City of Albuquerque, NM, Fire Department. He is a nationally certified fire service instructor, frequent speaker, and author of residential search and rescue tactics and procedures.