The question is what to do in-between the calls for battle and how to keep the warrior on edge and ready, and at the same time keep the firehouse harmonized and a place of calm refuge in the chaotic world. Challenge is the answer.
These are exciting times to be in the fire service. Our profession is becoming more science based and we are learning to do our business safer, more efficiently, and our communities are the better for it. It’s time to tap into the warrior’s blood and get it pumping every shift and keep our service moving forward and our stations in harmony. It’s time to maximize learning and molding.
Challenge your firefighters daily! While nothing can imitate the same blood-boiling adrenalin state as a real rescue in a water filling trench or under rolling flames, the warrior blood can be brought to a nice simmer and flowing enough to not only keep the firehouse harmonized but the brotherhood strong and the warriors on edge. Just where they need and yearn to be.
It’s time to put the computers down, take the DVDs out of the players ("Backdraft," "Ladder 49," and "Rescue Me" are not training films no matter how creative your training report reads), and turn off YouTube. While computer-based training and learning has its place, especially in this tight financial time where training resources need to be monitored, it does nothing for the warrior spirit and the diffusion of excess warrior catecholamines that cause anxiety and a foul temperament in dormant stations. Sitting behind computers having those finely tuned skills that were perfected to saving lives in extreme situations now reduced to clicking keys and suffering death by PowerPoint, or watching YouTube video after video, firefighters are indeed left on edge, but not the cutting edge needed to take on the next rescue, but the edge that makes them feel as if they are hanging over a cliff with their last fingernail, and everyone in the station feels it and slam goes the bunkroom doors.
Get the old warriors and new warriors together. While this normally can cause tense moments during training it can be capitalized on; we need to remember, fires were extinguished and people pulled from its clutches successfully long before the invention of thermal imaging, yet at the same time technology allows us to accomplish the same more efficiently and much safer. Both worlds are important to our business and should be brought together because our future will be brought forth from the explosive aftermath.
Get the crews out of the station and on the training ground. Throw scenarios at them that challenge them at all levels and generate out-of-the-box thinking. Bring the old warrior ways out to meet the modern warrior’s ways so the new warriors will develop because it’s the same old warrior blood pushing through their veins. Challenge to develop not to humiliate. Tap into that blood and spirit by encouraging innovative solutions that may or may not result successfully during initial attempts, but the warrior is left encouraged to keep trying so new methods and processes result. As the warrior saying goes “Sweat in training so you don’t bleed in battle.”
Challenging and realistic training gets that warrior blood flowing amongst the crews bringing forth that common bond that brought us, or called us, into this profession. It allows the release and download of the pent up energy that causes discord and tension in quiescent stations, and develops teamwork and appreciation for the knowledge held inside every warrior of every generation.
Even your most “special” crew member that challenges your patience and leadership, the grumpy and apparent disgruntled employee that you wish you could lock in a glass case that says “Break only in the event of an emergency” can benefit from having this warrior blood pumping in their veins. It provides a chance for them to contribute in a manner that brought them into this profession in the first place – the pumping of warrior blood can be rejuvenating.