In the movie "Talladega Nights," race car driver Ricky Bobby's dad said "If you're not first, your last." Now I'm sure you're asking how in the world am I going to turn a line from a race car comedy into a meaningful blog from the Jumpseat? Hang on, because here it goes. Faster than a screaming Chevy on the high banks of Daytona!
I want to ask: when did you ever participate in something where your goal was to be last? And, why start with your fire service career?
Firefighters have a competitive nature deep inside of us that have grown up through the ranks of little league competition to secure a position within our departments. Many of you had to compete against hundreds or thousands to even step foot into the jumpseat. Remember when you made this attempt; did you want to be hired last or first? This type of determination and passion should be carried with us every day, that God blesses us to pull on our boots and respond to help our communities. Being first should be a lifelong motto that we all should take. I challenge you to be the first one to read this blog to the end and ask how we are going to be first in everything we do.
First is first: there is an unwritten goal in many fire stations to be the first-in company to any reported fire. Many firefighters use this to take an unacceptable amount of risk while responding to the fire. This type of action should be discouraged at all levels and shouldn't be thought of in this light. Let them be first to the fire and we can be the first to lay the hydrant line, first to open up the outside, and first ones to start the overhaul process. See, we can still be first. By using common sense while we're in the responding phase can make us first. We may not be the first ones in the door but there are still plenty of tasks that need to be done.
First one to the truck: his should not even be mentioned to firefighters. When the bell sounds it is time to go. How many times have you been the last one to the truck and thus delayed the emergency response? Reminding ourselves that a call for service is a call for service and it's our job to be their first. From a simple assist to multi-alarm fire, let's take being first seriously and never make our crew wait on us. Does this mean run to the truck? No. It means that your food can wait, or make sure that at any moment during your shift that you are prepared to leave at a moment's notice!
Be first on training day: this is where we all should strive to be first. From the first person on the drill field to the first who performs an evolution, this should be an attitude that we all take. As an instructor, I always look at the students who volunteer to go first or who are the first to pick up. These are the students who show their passion and enthusiasm to truly be a firefighter!
When was the last time you were first in anything involving the fire service? Winning in anything can be addicting for us all. From being first on a promotion test to being the first firefighter through the door, being first can motivate us all to become better firefighters. Let's all take this motto to the extreme and show our leadership by being the first to clean the toilet, first to wash the truck, and first to say "thank you" to someone who has done something nice in your fire station. You never know when you will be helped by someone to make your first!
Stay safe and always #jumpseatready!