Many times in my life, I feel more like a pastor than a fire chief. Many times I feel as though I was in a confessional and people were sharing their sins with me. At other times I feel as though I am sharing and bearing the collective burdens of the world.
Guess what. I love it. I love to work with my friends and professional associates. Together we can sometimes beat down the demons in their lives. At least I hope that is what I am doing.
A few days ago I was having a real serious conversation with a good buddy who is undergoing a series of unfortunate organizational interactions. He apparently ran afoul of the powers what am and is now paying a penalty for his honesty and candor. Now there is one problem with which I am extremely conversant.
We were discussing a number of issues that appear to have been precipitated by people for whom a working knowledge of the tasks necessary to succeed in the American fire service is only a wistful dream. People for whom the comfort of ignorance is much like a warm blanket used to ward off the cold on a chilly January evening.
You know what I am taking about. People like this surround each and every day. These are the folks who are proactively reactionary in their daily lives. They should be forced to wear pins and have bumper stickers on their cars that tell us that "1978 was good enough for my father and it is good enough for me".
These are the people who plod along every day desperately trying to relive the wonders of a bygone era. In short, there are the folks to whom I have awarded the questionable distinction of being the "we've-always-done-it-that-way warriors" of the world. Why worry about change, they will say; Just keep doing it like grand dad did.
My goodness, I am sick to death with these people. I can see them now, parading around in their tin helmets and rubber coats, as though it were 1970 and the Vietnam War was still raging.
It is simply amazing to see just how much energy ignorant people will expend in defense of the status quo in our world. These are people with whom I have crossed swords throughout the decades of my fire service career. The only difference is in the age of the protagonists involved. Originally these folks were veterans of World War Two, however, as the years progressed, the ages of the people involved in the battles changed. Sadly, their ideas didn't.
What I now find hard to believe is that I am battling people who are decades younger than me. They are trying to tell me how great things once were, and how we need to return to the past. I am waiting for someone to put canvas turnout coats and aluminum fire helmets back on the market.
How is it my friends that people such as this can have the audacity to tell me how things have always been? How is it that they can talk about things which occurred before they were born as being the Holy Grail of fire service knowledge?
Am I not the one who has battled upward through four decades in the fire service? How can it be that things you and I have fought for over the years are now being dismissed by people who lack any semblance of experience? None-the-less, people like this are now being given important positions of authority within our service.
We have people who have never spent a moment on the end of a charged hoseline calling people like me a Neanderthal. We have people who have risen to the top on a tide of political favors telling those among my circle of friends that we do not know what we are doing.
Worse yet, these same people are telling my friends and me that we have bad attitudes because we refrain from engaging in the appropriate form of mouth to rectum resuscitation. I cannot speak for you, but I am just about fed up with the non-thinkers who are driving the reactionary train of far too many fire service organizations.