Given my propensity for the human voice, I asked him to give me a call. Apparently he was unaware of my role in investigating and reporting on this sorry episode in fire training history. When he got back to me a bit later, I told him that indeed I recalled the incident in question. I told him that it would be my pleasure to inform him that indeed I did know a great deal about this incident and would assist him in his battle. I advised him that I would send him copies of the articles I had written on this matter back in 1993.
The results of this latest repetition of the mistakes of the past are most disappointing indeed. There is, I have been told, a fire department in Georgia which still conducts their live fire training within the confines of an old school bus. Hmm, does this seem familiar? If this does seem familiar to you then you have been a member of the fire service for more that a dozen years.
You may also remember my writings and my seminars devoted to this issue many years ago. These folks down south repeated the mistakes which were made in New Jersey a long time ago and they came away dinged and singed for their efforts. They repeated a past fire service mistake and achieved the same results. In other words, they danced up to the edge of disaster and lived to tell of it. Have they learned anything? Only time will tell.
Part of my response to this gentleman's call involved providing him with a series of quotations from the report which I prepared as an expert for the county prosecutor's office in the area where the incident occurred. I then suggested that he call Randy Corbin at FETN down in Texas and request a copy of the September 2003 videotape training session wherein I discussed this training incident within a historical context. This man from the south needed help, and that is what I offered to him.
Frankly my friends I was somewhat astounded that such an asinine stunt was still occurring here in the 21st Century. We learned in New Jersey learned a great deal from the1992 incident in our state. We revamped our training methods and changed the manner in which live fire training is provided in our state.
It is important to note that my research on training mistakes over the years has uncovered countless examples of the "screaming dumb-asses" who roam the earth amongst us and who are running amuck under the banner of the America Fire Service. These morons think that all you need to be a fire department is some red trucks, a half dozen yahoos and a passel of good intent. Wrong!
These same people are the idiots who think that scaring the crap out of people is the best way to run off the sissies. After all, they suggest, only manly men can be fire people, right? Don't tell my daughter that one. Frankly I fail to understand what is going through the mind of far too many people who falsely fly the fire service flag in their communities.
We need to change my friends: you and I both. We need to start living life differently. This is America. Each and every one of us has the right to change our minds on any given day. Those who do dumb things can change on any given day if they so choose. Sadly the problem is that since these folks are dumb asses, they do not know that they are dumb-asses. That happens to be a sad fact of life.
It is my belief that this unwillingness by so many people to recognize their own shortcomings makes your job and mine that much more difficult. We who want to create an aura of change in the fire service by are hindered by people who revel in the mistakes of the past.
Let me offer a bit of advice which has worked for me in the past. It does not work every time, but it does have a decent rate of success. We need to avoid using the discredited style of personnel control which I have come to call the "Do as I say, not as I do" approach to organizational leadership. If you are to begin living strategically, you must begin to understand the impact of your actions upon others.
Unfortunately, you cannot grab those people who display a severe case of the "dumb-ass" and do them physical harm. That is strictly prohibited in about 48 of the 50 United States. You must model the appropriate behaviors for those people whom you wish to influence.
Let me assure you there is something you can do to help these people to understand what they should be doing. You can begin to live life strategically and provide these people with an example of how they should live. Think about it. How often have I suggested to you that the only person you can control is yourself?