Pennington: Stepping Up to the Task - You Go, We Go!

While this story was set for the big screen, it was pulled from the trenches of firefighting.


Now that I have your attention, how many of us had these words stuck in our heads for years after watching the movie "Backdraft." For years I believed that Bull, the character portrayed by Kurt Russell, was the best firefighter on the face of the earth. The scene where the floor gives way and a firefighter falls as his crew members grab him is where the title of this blog comes from. "I’m going, I’m going" said one firefighter. His crew members responded, "you go, we go," as they held onto him. 

I believe that we need to get back to this way of thinking. While this story was set for the big screen, it was pulled from the trenches of firefighting. Today I am seeing a growing number of firefighters that feel like they have "earned" the right to stand around and watch other firefighters go through their training, the same firefighters that will be pulling the line with them.

I have written about what senior firefighter really means, but it seems like many "seniors" just don’t get it.  I agree we should treat experienced firefighters with respect because they have been there and done that. When it comes to drill time seniority means that you should be leading the way. Leading the way to perform a skill, rack the hose, throw that ladder, or be the first on the treadmill. Standing around as your fitness gets lower and skills get rusty is just not acceptable anymore. Fire scenes are dynamic and change on a daily basis. It is all of our jobs to keep pushing to improve. 

Let’s do some math: If you run five structure fires a month times 12 months, so that's 60 fires. Now, for some of you that is a a high number. Of those fires how many times did you carry out the same tasks? For some you may be first minutes of fire attack, while others you were assigned to a vent crew. While on these 60 fires were you able to carry out these task 100 percent correctly and safely? The biggest question is who was with you when it was time for work? I bet it was a mix of junior and senior firefighters. 

Fire doesn’t know, or care how many years you have on the job. While we should show respect to our senior firefighters we should also be falling back on the words of a Hollywood movie. "You go, we go" should be our motto when it is time for drilling. While the junior members may need more time to learn a skill, who else would they like to learn from? They would rather learn it from the folks whom they will be battling fires beside, which is you! 

Thanks for the stop in the Jumpseat!

Bunker up, buckle in, and remember that we all start in the Jumpseat! 

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