I would also challenge the younger members to ask how they can contribute to the effort. Don't forget that learning is a two-way street. Some things have changed since we older firefighters went through the fire academy, and the younger members can share new techniques with us. Although many operational issues are still the same, technology, such as improved turnout gear and lightweight construction, has changed the way we need to look at and perform our duties. Anyone can start a brain-storming session, and you might be surprised where it leads. This will force us to examine the way we do our job and more easily adapt to or make needed changes.
I would also challenge everyone to overlook items beyond your control, such as budget cuts. Change the things within your control. Administrative policies and issues only have an indirect effect on field operations. Many things can still be accomplished at the crew or station level without needing to go up the chain. This might also be time to be reminded of the proverb of not judging someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes.
How many times have we all solved the departments problems sitting around the coffee table? Now think about things from the chiefs perspective. Have they had constraints set in place that do not allow them to fully fund every need? What would you fund and why? I am sure some would wish that the toughest decision of the day was the menu instead of finding ways to keep apparatus on the road. Do not let a pay cut result in a reduction of your effort. Not only will the public suffer, but so will your teammates. The pay cut did not just affect you. Many people are going through the same economic stressors. We still have a great job with a noble heritage.
We are all a team and need to be able to count on each other to do the best possible job. Take the time to study new things and share them instead of taking the easy way out. All of us can lead by example. We are the people that someone calls when things go bad. We don't have the same ability. The public expects a well trained and professional fire service, and we owe it to them to be the best that we can be. Be proud and let your actions show your pride.
JIM MILBY is a lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County, MD, Fire Department. He started in the fire service in the 1980s's and was hired as a career firefighter in 1990. Milby has been a member of the county's special operations team for 20 years.You can contact Milby by e-mail at:firstname.lastname@example.org.