Assessing What They LACK: The Culture of Firefighting

Editor's Note: The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation’s Courage to be Safe program identified four area where fire officers needed to improve their awareness, training and skills: leadership, accountability, culture and knowledge (LACK...

A conscientious approach to fire safety should not be considered an affront to the valued traditions that distinguish the culture of firefighting. Rather, it is an opportunity to raise the bar of the firefighting culture and free the industry from the antiquated thinking that injuries and deaths are simply part of the job.

To be clear, embracing the culture of firefighting, as we’ve always done, and at the same time giving it our best to ensure everyone goes home are not mutually exclusive ideas. In fact, just the opposite is true.

Fires should be fought by intelligent men and women that value lives over property and who do it in such a manner that draws admiration from their community. At the end of each shift, everyone should go home to their other valued roles as family members and friends.

As we look to the future, we must embrace a new culture of firefighting so that we safely do our jobs to the best of our abilities while protecting the people we’ve promised to serve.

RONALD J. SIARNICKI is the Executive Director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation in Emmitsburg, Maryland. He is also the former fire chief of Prince George’s County, MD, served as a volunteer firefighter in his hometown of Monessen, PA, and currently serves with United Communities VFD in Queen Anne’s County, MD. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Fire Science and a Master's Degree in Technology Management from the University of Maryland University College (UMUC).