Firefighters train and discipline themselves to create muscle memory, to have an almost innate ability to recall the right information,
and to apply this knowledge to make a difference. If you have been involved with the fire service for any length of time you understand
the constant amount of information that we have to process on a daily basis. We are required to be able to do anything at anytime and to do it well.
This is no small undertaking. Some of us understand this great responsibility and seek to better ourselves daily; while others seem content to meet the minimum standard. As a veteran or a firefighter that has only been on for a few years, we all can fall victim to a disease called “the routine”.
We get used to coming work, throwing our gear on the rig, and sitting around the kitchen table talking with the guys.
Let us examine a new routine we should all embrace; a different perspective on continuous improvement.
The day before you go to work as yourself:
How often do you go to work exhausted?
How often do you report for duty with your mind completely not prepared due to the stresses of life?
Are you truly ready to give your all if the situation requires it?
I can honestly say from my past that I was not.
Think about this statistic: Every three days a firefighter dies in the line of duty. (about every 82 hours)
It should be our mission to reduce line of duty deaths. If we are reporting to the fire department mentally, morally,
and physically unprepared we are doing a disservice to our family, our co-workers, and the citizens we serve.
The Ride To Work
Let’s take a look at another unused resource which is your ride to work. Some firefighters drive an hour or more to get to the station.
“If you read 15 minutes a day you are in the top 1% of the fire service.” (Frank Viscuso)
Well, you obviously can’t read and drive but there are numerous audio resources available to firefighters today. Our own FirefighterToolbox.com website is one of those resources that provides a wide variety of valuable fire service podcasts. Our podcasts have fire service leaders from across the county discussing topics that are of importance to you today as a firefighter. This is a perfect time to listen to one or two interviews and learn something new.
Identify your weaknesses and spend that time in the car listening to expert commentary on those subjects. Time is a limited and valuable resource. With the demands of work, family, second jobs, schooling, and activities it seems there isn’t any time left. If you take a long look at your life, you will be amazed at the amount of time that is wasted: riding in the car, waiting in line, watching TV, etc.
We are all given 86,400 seconds each day to spend. Invest your time wisely and it will pay dividends.
If your commute to the fire station is a short drive take some extra time and ride through your area.
This is a great way to learn your territory, look at buildings under construction,
and to be on the lookout for other important variables that could affect your response: street closures, construction, and special events
Next time we will dig deep and discuss some common but not often thought of routine things we do as firefighters and how we can make them the un-routine.
Until then stay safe!
Part 1 of 3