Two main issues that impact training are fear and pride. The time to overcome your fear and swallow your pride should be at the training grounds.
Photo credit: Photo by Glen E. Ellman/FortWorthFire.com
Have you ever witnessed the senior firefighters standing around when it is drill time? Many firefighters take the stance that they have "been there, done that" and that gives them the reason not to train with their crews.
Why would this even be allowed in today's ever-changing world of the fire service? What drives these firefighters to not practice? Fear and pride are two things that will keep anyone from participating in a training activity. Taking a look at these issues from a jumpseat perspective will help us understand the question "why do I need training?"
Fear can cripple the strongest person on earth. It can keep you from performing a task on the fireground, but can also keep you from heading out to practice your skills. Fear in training can come from different sources.
First, it is the fear of not being able to perform a task to a certain level. We all believe that we can make the rescue or put the fire out with our current skillset and much of our pride comes from that belief. This is what can cause a firefighter fear while training. Maybe he or she cannot perform up to the standards they are placing on themselves and if they go training the other firefighters might "find out." Peer pressure is real in the fire service and this fear can cripple someone and lead him or her down the road of not wanting to train at all.
We should take this fear out of the way. Busting chops has long been a way of life in the fire service, even since before Johnny and Roy first popped their first amp of Sodium Bicarbonate on "Emergency!" and I get that. One place this practice should be limited is on the training grounds. Creating a supportive environment will reduce the fear of failure, inadequate performance, and letting your peers down. If a firefighter is having trouble with a skill, we all should jump in to help figure out how we can help fix the issue. Remember, we are all brother and sister firefighters and it's you go, we go in our business. If I cannot force a door in a timely fashion, it may be slowing you down from making the push to put the fire out!
Pride can make us all come crumbling down like the breadcrumbs from Lt. Matt'ss cheesecake. Having pride in our work is another key essential to being a firefighter. This pride should stop if you discover that you have a skill that needs attention. There are two types of firefighters, those who can and those who cannot perform a skill.
Why would we hide behind our pride if something needs to be attended to? As firefighters, we should be realists with our crews and ourselves. Being a realist should start with a self-evaluation of the needed skills required to function in your current position. Should we take pride in our work? Absolutely. Can we take pride in asking for assistance with a skill that we are struggling with? You bet! I would have more respect for a firefighter that would reach out above their pride to ask for help. The place to fix these problems is on the drill grounds, not on the fireground.
Fear and pride can put a firefighter into spots that they may never return from. Managing these two issues will make your fire scene safer, your crew stronger, and provide you with the motivation to get out and practice, practice, practice.
As a jumpseat rider, I have had to deal with both of these issues myself. It took a long time to get over the fear of putting words on paper for the world to read and I must say that it can be crippling. Thanks to you, the readers, the fear is further behind me than the second due company. Let's make sure all firefighters get out and get their hands on to make sure we all go home safe! Thanks for the visit to the jumpseat!
Bunker up, buckle in, it's where we all begin!