These two men set the standard by which I have tried to live my life as a purveyor of knowledge and experience. It is important to point out that Roger later rose to become President of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors. He was a man who led by example and a man whose methods and approach to training I have tried to emulate for a long time.
These two men have been on a mission for decades now. I have tried to follow the path that they have broken. Let me ask you to pause for a moment and ponder your personal commitment to training and education. Do you put your whole heart into being a part of your organization's training effort? Do you walk the walk or just talk the talk? This can be a problem. I do not care how long you have been in the business. You must train to hone and maintain the skills you will need.
My friends, I try to make as many fire company drills as I can here in Adelphia. However, because of my traveling schedule, my tuba-playing exploits, and my consulting efforts, I am not able to make them all. At my age, I have pretty much limited my emergency response efforts to driving the apparatus and supply logistical support as the situation dictates.
Let me also tell you that it has been my practice for the past several years to remind my chief officers of the fact that I think the actual conduct of firefighting, rescue, and extrication operation requires people much younger than I. I do not wish to become a statistic because I have died doing something best left to a younger and more in-shape person. I do not want to get in the way of a younger person who can do what I can do in a better, safer, or more efficient manner.
However, I still make it a practice to attend as many of the hands-on drills as I can. I try to give the younger guys and gals the benefits of my decades of firefighting experience. It is important to note that I do not try to force it on them, but make myself available to them. If they want to ask questions, I am there to provide the answers. In no way do I wish to do anything which would give the least impression of trying to undercut the training efforts of our fire company officers.
To me, being a knowledgeable resource is an important part of the world of coaching and mentoring to which I belong. It is also part of the manner in which I hope to share the knowledge which serves as the basis for my personal mission trip through the fire service world. Many times something I did, saw, performed or experienced in Newark many years ago makes its way into an Adelphia-based operation. Heck, there are even times when my old U.S. Air Force training and experience from the 1960's can be brought to bear on a current problem. Life is, after all, cyclical.
Life has been good to me my friends. It has been my good fortune to have been able to share my knowledge with members of the fire service in many different states (33) and Canadian provinces (3). Let me stress to you that in my quest to share my knowledge with others that it has been my good fortune to learn more than I have been able to impart. People have been both kind and generous in the sharing of their experiences with me. Yes my friends, my mission journey has taken me all across our great nation.
From my first major speaking assignment at the 1979 Fire Department Instructor's Conference (FDIC) in Memphis, Tennessee, through my journey to the Wisconsin Fire Chief's Conference in June of 2012 the feelings of accomplishment which I have enjoyed have made my efforts all the more meaningful to me. I am looking forward to at least a half dozen more trips as we move toward 2013.
Let me suggest that I need your help. As a man who is now Medicare eligible, I am certain of the fact that I need to mobilize as many of you as possible to take up the cause of fire service training and education. Heck it might even be that one of you out there in "reader land" is going to be my replacement. I know a great many fine folks who are deeply committed to the world of training and education like my buddies Dr. Rich Gasaway, Billy Goldfeder, Rick Lasky, and Dr. Denis Onieal to name just a few.
Their sharing and caring approach to their work warms my heart. People in a wide variety of places are the beneficiaries of the hard work of these dedicated souls. However, the reality of the situation is that for as many people as we have on this important mission trip, the needs exceed our ability to supply. We need literally thousands more of you to take up the banner of training and education.