SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Firehouse World is in full swing in sunny California with dozens of classes held, the opening ceremony completed with all the pageantry and honor, including the pipes and drum corps of the San Diego Firefighters Emerald Society.
The keynote speech, titled “The Quest for Success,” was delivered by Mark Emery, president of Fire Command LLC.
In his remarks, Emery said each person in the ballroom filled with firefighters from across the country had within the ability and power to be successful. Success was an individual choice, he said.
Quoting from the late John Wooden, Emery said “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did the best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
Emery, who is a former operations battalion chief with the Woodinville, Wash. Fire department and currently a fire commissioner for King County, Wash., asked if anyone in the ballroom had a personal plan for success. Not one hand went up. Then he asked how many people want to succeed in life. Hundreds of hands were held high.
“How come everyone wants to succeed, but no one has a personal plan for success,” Emery asked rhetorically.
He explained some people measure success in terms of rank, or owning a large home, having lots of power, prestige, and other extrinsic measures.
Intrinsic fulfillment should last a lifetime and comes from within, Emery said, adding that always doing one’s best is success.
“You can never do more, but you should never choose to do less,” Emery said. “…How do you do more than the best you are capable? Improve. There is always room to improve.”
Real success and peace of mind is not about the acquisition of stuff, rank and power, it is the peace of mind that comes with doing the best always, Emery said.
Emery said it’s always an individual’s choice to one’s best. “The choices you make will determine your character and your success,” he said. “…Everything we need to succeed is within each of us.”
Also speaking during the opening ceremony was Todd McNeal, chief of the Twain Harte (Calif.) Fire Department and the commander of the notorious Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park in August.
The Rim Fire was the third largest wildland fire in California’s history and consumed everything in 400 square miles.
“During the Rim Fire, we experience exponential fire growth like we have never seen,” McNeal said as dramatic photos of the inferno were displayed on large screens to his left and right. “It displayed extreme fire conditions… and became the third largest in state history.”
At the height, more than 5,000 personnel fought the blaze, amassing a total of 2.5 million staff hours, McNeal said. Miraculously there were only 10 minor injuries, he said.
“All the while, I had in mind the 19 brothers we lost in Arizona,” McNeal said, giving a nod to the hotshot firefighters who perished during the Yarnell Hill Fire that occurred just months before the Rim Fire erupted. “I can say that event helped guide me in my decision making process.”
McNeal asked for a show of hands indicating how many firefighters in the ballroom either were personally deployed to the Rim Fire or where part of an agency that participated. There were dozens of hands that shot up throughout the ballroom.
“We should all take pride in the California mutual aid system,” McNeal said.
Also during the event, a “sneak peak” of a new National Fallen Fire Fighter video was debuted. It featured firefighters and officers with the Denver Fire Department.
Harvey Eisner, the editor of Firehouse magazine and the director of the Firehouse World conference, said Firehouse and its parent company Cygnus are proud to sponsor NFFF and appreciate the relationship that gives show attendees the privilege of seeing NFFF produced materials first.