A number of years ago, a Brother Mason and fellow fire person from Texas, Hank Salzmann, sent me an email which included a series of "New Church Signs". There were a number of really cute cartoons each with a slogan which was created to get the reader thinking about their faith and their church.
The slogan which caught my eye immediately is the one which now serves as the title for this commentary. This particular sign, and its message, served to focus my thoughts and allowed me to set down some ideas for you to ponder. Since retiring from the Newark Fire Department, my life has taken a direction which was chosen as part of a conscious effort to achieve a number of long-held personal objectives.
Over the past several years, it has been my goal to achieve a number of personal objectives which were created on August 17, 1997. That day came during the days just after my 50th Birthday. I was casting about at that time as to how best to spend the decade of my 50's. Since life is not a dress rehearsal, I felt that in order to have my greatest effect on the fire service it would be best to set down a number of things I wanted to achieve during my lifetime.
This visit with you is a sort of follow-on piece to an article I wrote a while ago wherein I wrote about the need for the strategic living of our lives. You might remember from one of my earlier articles that I have set a number of goals for myself over the years. My mentors always told me to set out my goals and objectives and work logically to reach them. I did that once again in Firehouse magazine back in 2008 and 2009.
It is my belief that no one should ever want to live their lives in a haphazard manner. If you decide what you want to do and then consciously work toward those things you have elected to do, then you should have a better chance of reaching your goals and having an impact on your world. There are no guarantees, but you have a better shot at succeeding if you work this way.
Through the years other people set the example for me. They never knew who I was, nor did I ever get to meet the late Chief Lloyd Laymen, the late Chief Emanuel Fried, or any of a number of people whose writing inspired me as I moved through the early stages of my career. They wrote in the professional journals of their era in order to share what they knew and many in my generation profited from their efforts. They set the example.
However, it was my good fortune to meet such great fire service leaders as Chief Joe Redden, who was my chief in Newark, New Jersey, and the late FDNY Chief and Commissioner John T. O'Hagan, who was my mentor for nearly a decade. These two gentlemen inspired me to devote my life to the fire service. Their acts, actions, and writings laid the groundwork for the person I aspired to become.
While he was in Newark, it was Chief Redden who wrote the recommendations which helped me to win two consecutive scholarships from the International Association of Fire Chiefs. He also helped me to move into the world of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). He even arranged for me to be one of the speakers at the dedication seminar for the opening of the NFPA headquarters in Quincy, Massachusetts back in 1981. Perhaps he saw something in me and wanted to bring it out. His encouragement was crucial to many of my early successes. For that I will be forever grateful.
Chief O'Hagan brought me onto his consulting team in 1981. My initial duties could be likened to the typical description of what you would picture a "go-fer" to be. However, over time he grew me into a full-fledged member of his team. Eventually he allowed me the privilege of being his New Jersey project manager. He taught me to think on the global level. I owe him a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid. I only wish that he had known of my promotion to battalion chief. He died in early 1991.
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