Success: A Matter of Persistence

The topic of last week's visit with you involved a discussion of some intensely personal thoughts on patience. What better topic might there be to address as a follow up to patience than persistence. Many have written over time that persistence is perhaps the most important characteristic that a person can bring to bear on the living of their lives.

If you think about it, persistence in the absence of patience is almost an impossible task to accomplish. Did Alexander Graham Bell invent the telephone on his first try? How many failures did Thomas A. Edison experience before he flicked the switch and light came into the bulb? Did Marconi start his career by sending radio messages across the Atlantic Ocean?

I think not. Each spent a long period of time reading, training, researching, experimenting, and failing. However, each man stayed the course and battled the challenges they faced. Their eventual reward was success.

There are those in society who place a great stock in education. I believe that education has a great value in each person's life. However, education cannot occur within a vacuum. There must be a rhyme and a reason for education. There are those who feel that the world owes them a living, just because they possess a college degree. Let me assure you that such is not the case.

My friends, the stories about well educated bums are the stuff of legends. Education without direction and persistence is meaningless. There are those who continue to attend school after school in search of some magic pill that will bring success to their doorstep. There is no magic my friends. There is just hard work, education, diligence, and persistence.

In this week's visit with you, I intend to share a few success stories. It is time to tell the world about some of the really neat things that happened in the world of the fire service over the past few weeks and months. Thankfully a number of you out there in America have shared some really neat things that have happened to you. Without your comments and feedback, my work as a writer would be greatly diminished.

In each of the following cases, the success which is portrayed came after some period of hard work and persistence. People who give up never get to experience the joy of success. These folks worked hard, persevered, and came to enjoy success.

The genesis for this commentary began earlier this year when a friend at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Institute shared a bit of good news with me. Mark McCall and I have worked on highway safety issues for the Emergency Response Safety Institute for a number of years now. He is a diligent and hardworking man, dedicated to making a difference in the world of fire service deaths and injuries.

Outside of his normal employment, Mark is a member of the Star City Volunteer Fire Department in West Virginia. Mark shared some really good news during a safety-related phone call. His department had received a Fire Act grant during the past year. He was amazed at the changes that come about in his department.

After years of struggling to make due with outdated equipment, they suddenly had the resources to purchase new turnout gear and SCBA. They had worked hard, but were beginning to suffer from diminished personnel numbers. Still a core group of dedicated members worked to keep the organization going. They came together around the grant process and were successful.

Mark mentioned that pride was on the upswing as were the number of people responding to calls. The Fire Act funding served as the bridge from the hard work and frustration of the past to the pride and dedication of a brighter future. This was a case where hard work and persistence paid off.

Let me now share another success story with you involving Fire Act funding that is much closer to my heart and hearth. The Farmingdale Fire Department is one of the Adelphia Fire Company's long-time mutual aid partners. The Borough of Farmingdale is a very small community that lies completely within the confines of Howell Township. The tax burden is somewhat high and funds for the fire department have always been in short supply.

Many times the gang in Farmingdale had to make do with hand-me-down equipment from the fire districts in Howell. The relationships we have built up with them over the years have been a positive force for good in the region.

In each of the past two years, the Farmingdale Fire Department has been the recipient of funding from the Fire Act grant program. They have been able to upgrade their turnout equipment, their SCBA, and a wide variety of ancillary equipment, such as an air compressor system to support the new SCBA units.

To me as a neighbor, things in Farmingdale appear to be flying a lot higher now. But remember, it was dedication and persistence that got them to the point where the funds made a difference.

Let me now share an interesting tale that came from my long time friend, John Harris of Sevierville, Tennessee. John and I were roommates back in the days when we plied our trade as firefighters for the U.S. Air Force in Fairbanks, Alaska. I shall let John's words tell the story.

"Sevier County, where I live, gets over 9 million tourists a year.