Like many of you, I spend countless hours on the Internet trying to stay abreast of fire service-related events as they unfold across our nation. There seem to be new revelations every day about the ways in which people in our area of professional interest are going about the delivery of fire protection services. Each of us has seen stories which cause us to pause and ponder the direction our fire service is taking.
Human behavior lies at the root of much of what we see. It seems to me that it is sometimes difficult to explain the behavior of far too many people in our business. Many of the things we see are examples of unnecessary human conflict. I don't know, maybe it all stems from the problems that some folks had back in kindergarten when they were learning to play in the sandbox.
Perhaps you remember the two kids who were always fighting over the little toy fire truck. The interaction usually went something like this. "That's my fire truck! No that's my fire truck! Gimme my fire truck! Mine! No Mine!" That little exchange was usually followed by some pushing, a bit of hair pulling and possibly some name calling. This exchange was usually followed by a bout of punching, kicking, screaming, and crying. At least that is the way I seem to remember it.
Let me suggest that being five years old does not carry with it a requirement for a great deal of logic, understanding, or compassion. People at that age are kids and as such they do not know any better. It was, is, and should remain the responsibility of parents and educators to teach these little children the right way to act. Of course I am now 58 years-old, and kindergarten for me was a long time ago. Ergo I could be wrong.
However, that is how it worked when my wife and I were raising our three kids. We tried to model the proper behaviors for our children. I guess we were successful, because neither of us ever had to shape up at the principal's office, or bail our kids out of jail. For all of these things, my wife Jackie and I are eternally grateful. Then again we were just passing along the lessons which our parents shared with us.
Apparently such proper behavior was not taught in a certain area within the great state of Maryland. Like many of you I have been following the Golden Gloves boxing competition being hosted by the Prince George County Fire Department. What is up with those guys (children) in the Prince George area? Their behavior is truly a dark and growing stain on the whole cloth of our American Fire Service. Something needs to happen and it needs to happen soon. Can you imagine how the citizens of that area must feel about their protective services?
Like many of you I have read and seen a great deal about the concept of road rage. I guess we will now be forced to add a new type of rage to our society's vernacular of sad and stupid human behaviors. How about the title firefighter rage? It breaks my heart to even allude to this.
Far too many folks in our society have degenerated to the point where they are living lives of lustful, inwardly-focused, self-indulgence. Far too many folks are living life as though they were the sun and the rest of us were the planets relegated to revolving around them. If you think about it, this may well be the explanation for much of the rage we see at work in our world today.
One perfect example of this selfish animus is the situation in Iraq where people of different branches of the same faith are killing each other. Another example comes from our world where in certain places elements of the career fire service are battling hammer and tong to put volunteers out of existence.
However, there is another example which is often overlooked. It involves the jealousies that keep neighboring fire departments from coming together in a seamless regional delivery system. All of these forces are a negative drag exerting a force that works against fire service success.