Small Deeds Done Are Better Than Great Deeds Planned

Lately there have been a number of days spent by yours truly enjoying a pursuit that my children have come to call "chilling out".

For that reason, I have adopted a new policy. It is my intention to work toward doing those things which can be undertaken, implemented, and accomplished by me. This is not to say that working with others is out of the question. No, I would never act like that. It is just that rather than spending time waiting for others to act, or climbing over their walls of ignorance, I am going to act independently. Remember thought my friends, I am not a loner. Should someone else wish to come along for the ride it would be my pleasure to have their help. I can always use a little company/

The spirit of Peter Marshal has moved me to decide to see what I can do to affect changes in our fire service on the small scale. As these things are accomplished at my level, I will share them with you. My world is no different than yours. If things work in my world, there is a good chance they will work in yours.

My goal for the past several months has involved the sharing of knowledge with my fellow travelers in my local area. A number of courses have been offered that were targeted to younger fire people in the departments with which I respond. My buddy Nolan Higgins from the Freehold Fire Department convinced me to do this, and we have labored together to make it happen.

We surveyed the younger people who were moving into positions of leadership within our region and decided that the application of a bit of knowledge to the regional mix would be good for us all. Nolan and I decided to provide this generous gesture for a very selfish reason.

These younger folks will be working with us at fires for the next several years. We agreed that it would be really neat if something that I taught could keep us out of trouble. So far courses have been taught in firefighting strategy and tactics, leadership, staffing and funding, as well as problem-solving.

A number of these future leaders do not occupy employment positions which would require them to acquire supervisory skills. Some were being thrust into leadership roles for which they were singularly unprepared. How often have you elected a nice guy to be an officer in your fire department and discovered that they lacked the skills to function effectively?

Our success to date has been on a somewhat limited scale. There are many things competing with my classes for the attention of the target population. I understand this. Patience is critical to the doing of small deeds. At this point, you may be asking yourself what you can do that will make things better for your fire department. Let me offer one small example.

Does your fire department have an official mentoring program? Do they assign senior members to guide the new members in their journey towards productive membership? Some departments do this, while others leave this important function to chance. Does the fact that your department lacks a mentoring program prohibit you from making friends with a new member and helping them to become a helpful and useful member? I sure hope not.

This is but one small deed you can do which will provide a long-term benefit to your department. You can create a positive force between you and the new member. What is the worst that can happen? You make a new friend. More than that, you can help to create an effective firefighter. As time goes on, encourage your friend to become a friend to other new firefighters as they enter service with your department.

In this way, your small deed done can be the seed from which future department successes will grow. There are so many areas where just a little effort can go a long way. The problem is that no one steps forward to provide that little bit of effort toward the common good.

The world would be a much better place my friends if each of you reading my words this week stepped forward and did one small deed. Think of the thousands of good deeds which would begin dotting the landscape of the American Fire Service.

I am not asking you to become an expert in anything. I am not suggesting that you travel the world as a fire service evangelist. There are those who perform that task every day, like by dear friend Billy Goldfeder. What I am asking you to do is simply live a life in accord with the Boy Scout Slogan, which simply states, "Do a Good Turn Daily." Or as Peter Marshall would urge you "do something."

There are people who have devoted their lives to fire service. There are also people who have merely been in the fire service. Which of those sorts of people would you prefer to be remembered as? What would want to leave as your legacy: attendance or diligence? The choice is yours.