Are You a Sunshine Fireman?

Let me begin this missive to my fire service buddies by suggesting that the cold winter weather here in New Jersey is wreaking havoc with my front porch-sitting, cigar-puffing, thinking-chair sessions. Ladies and gentlemen, I have been forced to conduct a...

It is very difficult for me to provide advice on what to do here. You have to ask the questions and you must be able to provide answers which satisfy you. Let me suggest that you be true to yourself. We can look to Shakespeare for some guidance on this one. This is the advice which Polonius' gave to his son Laertes who was headed off to Paris where felt that he would be safe. He advised him that it was important, "...To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."

Let me suggest that you will experience some good days and some bad days when it comes to being a member of your local fire department. Sometimes it will seem like all bad days. As a matter of fact, it may seem like that more often and not. However, rest assured that there will a great many good days where you and your associates will be able to savor the fruits of your labors.

Let me close by suggesting that we in the fire service have no great need for people who are not willing to carry their share of your fire department's burden. We need people who want to be team players everyday. We need people who will battle blazes, handle the rescue tools, and ride the ambulance everyday, not just on the good days.

Be honest with yourself here. Are you a "sunshine fireman?" I sure as heck hope not.

HARRY R. CARTER, Ph.D., CFO, MIFireE, a Contributing Editor, is a municipal fire protection consultant based in Adelphia, NJ. Dr. Carter retired from the Newark, NJ, Fire Department and is a past chief and active life member of the Adelphia Fire Company. He recently published Leadership: A View from the Trenches and Living My Dream: Dr. Harry Carter's 2006 FIRE Act Road Trip. You can reach Harry by e-mail at