Tools of the Trade, Customer Service, & the Coliseum

Day 18 started with daily clean up duties, and a discussion of 4 department SOPs: drug testing and pre-employment drug testing, vacations, and duty trades. Each day following “house duties” (clean ups) we start with a quick discussion of pertinent...


Day 18 started with daily clean up duties, and a discussion of 4 department SOPs: drug testing and pre-employment drug testing, vacations, and duty trades. Each day following “house duties” (clean ups) we start with a quick discussion of pertinent SOPs.  These are included – along with our textbook – as the reference material we are required to read before attending class. This past weekend I was able to catch up and work ahead a little on the large amount of written reference material we’ll be discussing in class this week.

Following this brief SOP discussion (always limited to 15-30 minutes), our Training Chief, Keith Morehead, usually provides us with a bit of wisdom or philosophy from his extensive experience in the field. These short sessions provide a good vision of the model public servant he would like each of the recruits to become, and a gives him a chance to provide us motivation for our progress through training. Today his message was particularly reassuring after the anxiety most of us faced last week. He told us to stop thinking about “I’m going to fail out of this place” and start thinking “I CAN do this.” The classes and practical sessions are – no doubt – going to get more difficult, but the attitude of the training staff is that they are here to help us succeed, not to try to “wash us out.” I know that it is much more difficult – and much more work – to adopt an attitude that helps recruits succeed. Mentoring, coaching, feedback, and counseling are always more time and labor intensive then curt dismissal. I applaud the training staff’s approach to doing all they can to mentor and encourage success.
 
Chief Morehead also read another chapter in Alan Brunicini’s seminal work: “Essentials of Fire Department Customer Service” – how exceptional public service should look to the citizens we serve. These discussions of “how it should be” are an excellent addition to class – they help shape the attitude I personally want our crews to demonstrate when they are out there, delivering service to citizens. Brunicini goes a bit over the top at times, but he’s on target with the idea that we should treat each citizen as we would one of our loved ones….Chief Morehead’s “revised” Golden Rule! There is also no denying the success that Chief Brunicini built in the Phoenix Fire Department – he has undeniable support from citizens and policy makers – and for good reason: he provides the exceptional service that his citizens are paying an exceptional price for!
 
The morning lecture session today covered hand and power tools used in the fire service. I love firefighting tools because they are tough and practical – built to do heavy work dependably. They are straightforward in design and purpose, yet reflect the creativity and the need for adaptation that characterizes firefighting itself. Firefighters are often called to handle situations when “there is no one else to call.” We are masters at finding creative, efficient ways of handling all sorts of life’s problems. Some of the tools of our trade were developed to overcome specific fireground or rescue challenges. Others were brought over from another specialty field and improved or modified for the challenges faced on the fireground. In short, the tools we discussed are a lot like the firefighters who use them: tough, practical, efficient, creative, and straightforward.
 
Once again our instructor, Bernie Vrona, used a great instructional method to ensure everyone in the class participated in the lecture, while covering the material from the textbook in a thorough but efficient manner: he had every student present one of the tools to the class. Each of us were required to discuss: what the tool is, how it’s used, when it’s used, maintenance issues and highlights associated with our specific tool, and problems associated with using the tool. Our mini presentations were supplemented by pictures of the tools from Bernie’s collection, or by demonstrating the actual tool itself if we had one on hand in the Training Division’s collection. Everyone was involved, interested, and we covered the material quickly and thoroughly.
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