It is my wish to offer you a Christmas message designed to inspire a sense of peace and joy within you. It is my hope that you will be celebrating the joy attendant to the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. However, I also want to motivate you to continue your journey into the next decade of the 21st Century. Let me urge you to continue to do good works in the coming year.
Each year it is our privilege to celebrate the Christmas Holiday. We pause to gather with our friends and participate in the revelry of the season. Let me urge you to look at the celebration of Christmas, followed by the ending of one year and the beginning of another as a good time to take stock of your life. Let me remind you that this is a great time to say thank you for the joy of the season, make wishes, set goals, and create vows which will allow you to change the way in which you live in the coming year.
Have you ever felt as though you were a person whose ideas were ahead of their time? Maybe you were the one who wanted to get SCBA for your department in the 1970's. Perhaps you were the one who pushed for the use of Class A foam in the 1980's. Or could it be that you were the one who pushed for the use of incident command procedures long before it became a mandate from the president?
Let me tell you that I share your pain. More than 10 years ago I came up with an organizational theory which would allow for the combination of several fire departments over a region. I called it a regional fire authority. My consulting staff and I came together to define this concept and present it to a number of consulting clients. We fleshed it in and were bashed for our efforts.
Let me tell you that I was the subject of great ridicule. Why do we need this? You have no idea of what you are saying. This is a ridiculous idea. We can make it on our own. Yes, it was really painful to be subjected to this level of abuse. However, I felt the idea had merit, so I kept pushing it.
Here we are 0 years down the road and things are a bit different now. The economy has gone into the toilet and fire departments are now scrambling to find ways to deliver our necessary budget within the constraints of a disappearing financial base. I am now hearing the hue and cry for regionalization and shared services. I am now seeing the creation of regional service delivery systems which seem to be a mirror image of what I offered to the fire service more than ten years ago.
Let me assure you that it is lonely to be a man ahead of the operational curve. It is difficult to be a wise person in the midst of a bunch of wise guys. If these sorts of words regarding wisdom seem to describe you than it may be that you have served your fire department as an official sage. Our friends at Webster describe the word sage in a number of ways:
- Wise through reflection and experience
- Characterized by wisdom, prudence, and wise judgment
- One distinguished for wisdom
- A mature or venerable person of sound judgment
Now if you are anything like me, and have pushed for change, the treatment you probably received did not give you pause to believe that you were venerated, or even appreciated. As a matter of fact, I was kicked out as fire chief here in Adelphia after one year because it was felt that I had no idea about what it took to be a fire chief. They boys at the training academy in Newark got a real kick out of that story the next day when I shared it with them over our morning coffee session. However, I did not run away. I stayed and persevered.
Nonetheless you and I have pushed ahead because we believed it was the right thing to do. That action might also qualify us both for dreamer status. Dreamers look at the world around them and ask a simple question; "what if". We tend to see things as they might be, not just as they are. People like us are constantly looking for a better way to do this task or accomplish that procedure? I know that I march to the beat of a different drummer.