We have all heard stories about firefighters that have struggled early on in their career. Some of these firefighters overcame their struggles to have successful and fulfilling careers. Others saw their careers extinguished faster than a vehicle fire. Regardless of the outcome, firefighters have to make choices on re-igniting their passion for the fire service. Ultimately, firefighters have to choose to “reinvent” themselves to their work crews and department. I submit four ways to do this.
Tip 1 – Admit Our Mistakes And Missteps
First, admit that you’ve made some mistakes and missteps along the way.
Self reflection is an important characteristic to have. We have all made mistakes on the fire ground, in the firehouse and in our personal lives. We have to reflect in a way that allows us to understand and then learn from those mistakes. Work hard to get better and try not to make the same mistakes again.
Tip 2 – Find A Fire Service Mentor & A Fire Service Coach
Next, find a fire service mentor and a fire service coach.
These are two different people. A mentor is some that you look up to and want to emulate. They should be easy to find. They are people that you can talk to on a regular basis. We can find mentors using social media, and you can have several different mentors.
However, a Fire Service Coach is different. A coach, by definition, is someone who motivates and teaches you how to get better in your skills. They may be critical of your strategy and tactics or personnel decisions. Hopefully, you will get this feedback from a Captain or Chief in the normal supervision process. If not, seeking this Fire Coach is essential to your development in the fire service.
Tip 3 – Surround Yourself With Motivated People In The Fire Service
What I have found is If we , you too will become motivated. I’m sure you have heard this before but hanging around positive and motivated people changes your outlook on the fire service. You are who you hang around.
If this is not physically possible at your station, search for professional groups in your area such as FOOLS or other fire service social organizations. In addition, attending fire service training opportunities gives you the opportunity to network with like minded individuals.
Consider getting business cards and exchange contact information with other fire service leaders and personnel and stay connected with them.
Lastly, the advent of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and other mediums allow you to connect with other fire service personnel in other states or even countries on a regular basis.
Tip 4 – Consider Changing Positions, Roles or Work Crew
It is very difficult to change if your environment stays the same. Take this opportunity to challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone. If there’s a promotional opportunity, “Go for it!” If there is an opportunity to become an Inspector, Investigator, Community Education Specialist or another position in your fire department, again, “Go for it!” Seeking other opportunities in your department allow you to gain additional knowledge and skills. It also gives you a different perspective of the department and its workings.
Lastly, if you believe that the crew you are currently assigned to is hindering your growth and development; perhaps it is time to ask for a transfer. All transfers are not negative. A change can be good for your career development and advancement.
For example, if you have been on an engine company for most of your career and you would like to develop your ladder company skills, and then ask for the transfer. If you would like special teams training, then ask for that transfer.
Reinventing your career means taking action and making changes. Change is good. Change is taking action. It is time to take hold of your career. Reinventing your career will take hard work and dedication but you can do it. With these four steps you will be on your way!