Each of us in the fire service is part of a very special world. It is a world defined by great periods of mundane, often boring work, interspersed with infrequent moments of death, danger, and excitement. It is a world that can make great demands upon each of us. Sadly, for some that demand will be their life.
In order to play our part in this special world, I would suggest that we need to be different from the rest of the work-a-day world. Being a member of the fire service is not an act of individual choice that can be done in a disinterested, casual manner. In order to be effective within the fire service, you need to have a deep and abiding commitment to the special demands of our world.
I would suggest that each of us needs to define what it is that brought us to the fire service, and why we choose to remain. For some it is a choice made early in our lives, for others it emerges over time. Quite simply I want ask you an important question. What do you believe in?
How can you put your life on the line if you do not believe in the value of your fellow citizens? How can you perform your duties without an understanding of who you are and what you want to give back to humanity? How can you be part of a team if you do not believe in the team and its members?
In order to make my point, let me go back a few years to the beginnings of my journey as a member of the fire and emergency service community. To be effective, you have to believe in something.
Like many among you, I wanted to be a firefighter from an early age. In the Freehold, New Jersey of my 1950