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Passion for the Job

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  • Passion for the Job

    Do you look forward to the next tour? Are you eager to run that next alarm? Or are you a kind of person who can't wait to get away from the job for a couple of days? You spend 24 hours a day at the firehouse at least two to three days a week. That is 42% of your week - almost half. If you are less and less interested in the job, then you are missing something really important in your work life - passion.

    Being passionate about your job is more than the old adage, "do what you love". It's looking forward to going to work. It's time flying by when you're there. It's working your best on cleaning all the tools and the apparatus, not because your Captain told you, but because you were so intent on making sure your equipment worked properly, and ensured the safety of your brothers fighting next to you.
    When you are passionate about what you do, you will perform better and enjoy it more, and you will discover the benefits in increased success. Passion is defined as: “a strong affection, emotion, desire or enthusiasm for an idea, concept, etc”. Sometimes you can't be passionate about a job, but you can still take ownership. You can still own the job and “do it well”. Every task you perform has your "signature" on it. Others know who did it. That is ownership. Own what you do. Don’t wait for a member of the community to come to you and tell you what needs changed. Inspire pride and ownership in your department. Inspire civic pride within your community.

    Wait! But Chief! Sometimes there are others that attempt to block our accomplishment! Of course there are all of the negative attitudes and complaints from others roaming in the firehouse. Be a leader. You don’t need to be an officer to be a leader. Get input from others on simple tasks and assignments. Make them feel important to the team, the company, to the department. Instill that pride in the job in them, and re-ignite their passion in the job. We have the best job in the world. Firefighters are the greatest warriors on earth.

    I think that Battalion Chief Anthony Kastros of the Sacramento Metro Fire District (CA) put it best:

    “Ask the Navy SEALS if they would go into battle in 5 minutes from a dead sleep, to an unknown battlefield, facing an unknown enemy, for an unknown target, with little or no intel, with other soldiers they may not know. They would say, “That’s CRAZY!”, yet WE do it every day. We go from our bunk at 2am, to fully mentally and physically alert in three minutes to a fire in a building that we have not been to before, to face an enemy whose whereabouts are likely unknown. We do this not knowing what companies will be with us at the moment. And to top it off, many in the battle have little to no experience. If this does no motivate you to train today, then nothing will.”

    Now in no way am I criticizing our Special Ops operators. This quote from Chief Kastros is simply a side of our profession that no one ever considers or ponders. FIREFIGHTERS are truly the greatest warriors on earth….hands down.
    Keep your mind and body sharp! Try little tricks to jumpstart discussions or learning. Leave post-it notes with basic or advanced questions randomly throughout the firehouse, or at home. Constantly challenge yourself daily, not just on the job. If we continue to learn the knowledge handed down from what past firefighters have taught us, we can emphasize a continual improvement of the profession we all love so much. So take pride in your profession, in everything you do. Fuel that pride with passion for the job. Own every task or assignment given to you and your crew. Lead and inspire others to do the best they can on the job, and take ownership in every task they do.
    Nick Miller, CFO
    Deputy Chief (Retired)
    OVFD

  • #2
    I'm on the volunteer side of the house - so not only do we not know what companies may be responding with us, we may not even know who will be riding on the apparatus with us. Yet we come together to do the best we can.

    Another wise chief (whose name escapes me) once said that in order to be a leader, you have to have followers. The challenge there is those with the passion are sometimes faced with an environment where enthusiasm is suspect. Some stick it out. Some bail.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

    Comment


    • #3
      Nick,

      I loved the job. I was the guy always studying, reading the fire magazines, researching online, taking and teaching classes, and yes cleaning the tools. No one told me to clean them, I took it on myself. I went to the "chief of stuff" and got a right angle grinder with a wire cup, and rust preventative spray. I asked for no help. Same with my rig, I kept it clean and was almost pathological about checking the tools and inventory on board. Like I said I loved the job.

      I liked the camaraderie in our house, we were called the snake pit because of how rough the teasing got at times, we were very tight. I liked going on calls, doing my job. But sadly in the end I hated going to work. The department had changed, new chief, new assistant chief, and the entire attitude changed in the department. It became one of us and them, communication went sour and an entirely hostile work atmosphere emerged. Morale plummeted and from all I here is still at a level that is pathetic. Witch hunts, punishments, elimination of promoted positions, and refusing to support 2 firefighters who went out on the heart/lug bill have soured many.

      You can have all the passion in the world but if coming in to work, and the way you are treated, is the equivalent to a repeated kick in the nuts the love for your department can be driven right out of you and it becomes little more than a factory job that pays the bills. I never stopped giving my all, I never stopped cleaning the tools and equipment. Heck, my second to last shift I cleaned the tools on my truck showing our rookie how I did it. But the truth is morale does matter and management that destroys morale will eventually destroy the passion of the individual firefighters.
      Crazy, but that's how it goes
      Millions of people living as foes
      Maybe it's not too late
      To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

      Comment


      • #4
        Yeah, that's all well and good, but when you're in an organization that continually keeps you in the dark, and does things that make no sense, it wears on you and creates apathy. Ask the boys in DC. Most people can only keep up the passion for only so long. Passion for the job is like a bank account, you can't keep drawing on it with a deposit to put into it every so often. It's a special kinda of person that can eke out every little bit, and have some for every day when they're in a deficit situation. But hat's off to them. Me, I can only beat my head against a wall for so long. I can do my job, but I get to the point where I'm not gonna be waving pom poms...

        Comment


        • #5
          Here I will quote Asst. Chief Robert Simmons, a 14 year veteran of the Fire Service with the U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud Fire Department in South Korea.

          Poor Leadership happens. At some point in every firefighter’s career, we are going to have to deal with poor leadership. This reality can be a struggle for us. I can recall being very frustrated with some leaders I have worked for. However, there are some things we can do that will allow us to thrive, even in times of poor leadership.

          We have to make a conscious effort to deal with poor leadership in a positive manner. I have seen too many firefighters lose their passion for the profession because they did not understand how to deal with poor leadership.

          Here are three things we can do to deal with this situation.


          #1 – Focus On What We Can Influence

          Steven R. Covey, a popular author, teaches about our circle of influence. This circle looks like a bull’s eye and represents what we are concerned with and what we can actually influence. Focusing on what we can influence is the first thing to work on when dealing with poor leadership.

          While we may be concerned with the leader’s performance, it is difficult to influence them. However, we can influence our own behavior and attitude. Staying positive and motivated while focusing on the things we can change is vital.


          #2 – Find a Mentor

          The officer in your station is not the only source of mentoring in the fire service. This is particularly true in the modern age of electronic communication. Seeking out a mentor is vital to maintaining our motivation and keeping us on track for success. Find someone who is willing to teach and loves the profession. These individuals make great mentors.

          Finding a mentor is as easy as finding someone at a different station in your department, or looking for leaders in other departments. This person does not have to be a fire officer. There are some great leaders who are still riding the back seat. All we have to do is look around.
          Nick Miller, CFO
          Deputy Chief (Retired)
          OVFD

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Nick_Miller View Post
            Here I will quote Asst. Chief Robert Simmons, a 14 year veteran of the Fire Service with the U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud Fire Department in South Korea.

            Poor Leadership happens. At some point in every firefighter’s career, we are going to have to deal with poor leadership. This reality can be a struggle for us. I can recall being very frustrated with some leaders I have worked for. However, there are some things we can do that will allow us to thrive, even in times of poor leadership.

            We have to make a conscious effort to deal with poor leadership in a positive manner. I have seen too many firefighters lose their passion for the profession because they did not understand how to deal with poor leadership.

            Sorry, but there is a huge difference between poor leadership and working for a my way or the highway dictatorial *****. Apparently you either ignored or didn't understand what I said if this is posted in reply to my posting. I never lost my passion for the career, I love firefighting and that hasn't changed. Heck, even after retiring from my fulltime FD I serve on 2 POC FDs, a POC EMS service, and work as a paid on premise firefighter with another department. I truly believe you can love the job and hate the place you work.


            Here are three things we can do to deal with this situation.


            #1 – Focus On What We Can Influence

            Steven R. Covey, a popular author, teaches about our circle of influence. This circle looks like a bull’s eye and represents what we are concerned with and what we can actually influence. Focusing on what we can influence is the first thing to work on when dealing with poor leadership.

            While we may be concerned with the leader’s performance, it is difficult to influence them. However, we can influence our own behavior and attitude. Staying positive and motivated while focusing on the things we can change is vital.

            I kept myself motivated and did my job like I always did but my attitude became I am here for my Brothers and Sisters and the citizens I protect and I couldn't have cared less at that point what the admin thought of me. They drove us away with their management style not us leaving them. You can stay as positive as you want but eventually always being beaten down does affect you.


            #2 – Find a Mentor

            The officer in your station is not the only source of mentoring in the fire service. This is particularly true in the modern age of electronic communication. Seeking out a mentor is vital to maintaining our motivation and keeping us on track for success. Find someone who is willing to teach and loves the profession. These individuals make great mentors.

            Finding a mentor is as easy as finding someone at a different station in your department, or looking for leaders in other departments. This person does not have to be a fire officer. There are some great leaders who are still riding the back seat. All we have to do is look around.

            My Captain was an awesome leader and I truly believe that our crew was far better trained than any other in the department. Why? Because we did our own company and station training. We did RIT, save your self, forcible entry, and hose advance drill far above and beyond the department's required training. We put the ladder up and looked at roofs of occupancies we preplanned. We were doing table top drills and watching videos on the latest techniques. We were highly motivated in our house. But even that Captain got slapped down enough times that he focused on his station and not so much on what the admin thought of us.
            Seriously, I think you need to remove the rose colored glasses and listen to what myself and Johnsb are saying. We all can quote all kinds of experts and their theories and ideas but if the admin is closed minded and is going to do what they are going to do none of that matters.

            1) Poor leadership doesn't always purposely set out to dominate a department. They may effect negative change due to incompetence.
            2) Dictatorial leaders and their henchmen usually feel they are so right that nothing they do dare be questioned by the rank and file.
            3) Morale matters and all the feel good influence what you can, find a mentor, only goes so far when it seems like every interaction with the admin is another kick in the crotch.

            You absolutely can love the job and hate the direction your department is headed.
            Crazy, but that's how it goes
            Millions of people living as foes
            Maybe it's not too late
            To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by FyredUp View Post

              You absolutely can love the job and hate the direction your department is headed.

              You hit it right on the head. I "retired" from my department due to a chief who was not only incompetent but didn't seek his officers out for advice. I was number 2, his right hand man, yet he didn't take my word for anything. After 24 years of service, I couldn't stand to work for this guy and resigned. I had worked for 4 previous fire chiefs, 3 great chiefs and 1 not so great but this chief was appauling in how incompetent he is in running a volunteer department. It literally made me physically sick to think he was driving my department into the ground. After 1.5 years of butting head with him I had enough and left. I went directly to a neighboring department and have been hired there as a probationary firefighter.

              Like you said, you can hate the department, or the one who is in charge of it, but love the work and love the fire service. Life is great now
              Jason Knecht
              Firefighter/EMT
              Township Fire Dept., Inc.
              Eau Claire, WI

              IACOJ - Director of Cheese and Whine
              http://www.cheddarvision.tv/
              EAT CHEESE OR DIE!!

              Comment


              • #8
                I guess I have always viewed this job differently. It has always been just that, a job.
                I have enjoyed it, and I think I am pretty good at it but I have never let it consume me, I have never let it define me. On the list of things that have been important to me it is very far down. I did my 24, went home and didn't even think about it for the 48 I was off.
                I don't wear t-shirts and hats on my days off, there are no stickers on my vehicles, no fire related decorations or nick-knacks in my house. I have worked very hard to keep my personal and professional life separate, that has always been important to me. I just wanted people to know "Ed", not "Fireman Ed". In 6 years when I retire I plan to leave it all at the station.

                Comment


                • #9
                  fasteddy64,

                  I worked with guys like you and guys more like me too. I never looked at it as just a job because to do this job right takes a special breed of person. We are not like the guy at the factory, or driving a truck, or whatever. Perhaps because I looked at this career differently is why the abysmal admin changed my attitude towards the department. I am one of those guys with memorabilia, books, knick knacks, and I even own my own Mack CF fire engine. That is how much I love the fire service. I don't expect everyone to be that into it, that is unrealistic, but it is who I am.
                  Crazy, but that's how it goes
                  Millions of people living as foes
                  Maybe it's not too late
                  To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I kind of stumbled into this job, but looking back it should not really be a surprise that I did.
                    I joined the US Army 2 months after my 17th birthday and proudly served for 8 years. when I decided to get out this job with the Abilene Fire Department was the first thing I found. I applied, tested and was hired before I separated from the Army.
                    So I have been in uniformed service for 33 years, it's all I have ever known.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by FyredUp View Post
                      You absolutely can love the job and hate the direction your department is headed.
                      Can I hear an "AMEN!!!"
                      They told me if I voted for Hillary Clinton the president would be emotional, impulsive, and unpredictable. They were right. I voted for Hillary Clinton and got a president that is emotional, impulsive, and unpredictable.

                      I'm not saying you're stupid. I'm saying you have bad luck when it comes to thinking.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Nick_Miller View Post
                        Here I will quote Asst. Chief Robert Simmons, a 14 year veteran of the Fire Service with the U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud Fire Department in South Korea.

                        Poor Leadership happens. At some point in every firefighter’s career, we are going to have to deal with poor leadership. This reality can be a struggle for us. I can recall being very frustrated with some leaders I have worked for. However, there are some things we can do that will allow us to thrive, even in times of poor leadership.

                        We have to make a conscious effort to deal with poor leadership in a positive manner. I have seen too many firefighters lose their passion for the profession because they did not understand how to deal with poor leadership.

                        Here are three things we can do to deal with this situation.


                        #1 – Focus On What We Can Influence

                        Steven R. Covey, a popular author, teaches about our circle of influence. This circle looks like a bull’s eye and represents what we are concerned with and what we can actually influence. Focusing on what we can influence is the first thing to work on when dealing with poor leadership.

                        While we may be concerned with the leader’s performance, it is difficult to influence them. However, we can influence our own behavior and attitude. Staying positive and motivated while focusing on the things we can change is vital.


                        #2 – Find a Mentor

                        The officer in your station is not the only source of mentoring in the fire service. This is particularly true in the modern age of electronic communication. Seeking out a mentor is vital to maintaining our motivation and keeping us on track for success. Find someone who is willing to teach and loves the profession. These individuals make great mentors.

                        Finding a mentor is as easy as finding someone at a different station in your department, or looking for leaders in other departments. This person does not have to be a fire officer. There are some great leaders who are still riding the back seat. All we have to do is look around.
                        I have to agree with some of the other members here. There seems to be some "Management Handbook 101" type stuff going on here. You can tell guys until you're blue in the face that they need to keep a "positive attitude". That does not mean it will easily happen. It's really kind of trite, IMO. True but trite nonetheless.

                        How will a dysfunctional superior react when he/she finds out that a subordinate is looking elsewhere for leadership? Probably not too well. It could exacerbate the already bad situation.

                        Maybe it's time to tell us how you personally overcame some poor leadership as opposed to quoting others. I believe that would be more helpful, and certainly more genuine.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by captnjak View Post
                          I have to agree with some of the other members here. There seems to be some "Management Handbook 101" type stuff going on here. You can tell guys until you're blue in the face that they need to keep a "positive attitude". That does not mean it will easily happen. It's really kind of trite, IMO. True but trite nonetheless.

                          How will a dysfunctional superior react when he/she finds out that a subordinate is looking elsewhere for leadership? Probably not too well. It could exacerbate the already bad situation.

                          Maybe it's time to tell us how you personally overcame some poor leadership as opposed to quoting others. I believe that would be more helpful, and certainly more genuine.
                          I couldn't possibly agree more with you on this post.
                          Crazy, but that's how it goes
                          Millions of people living as foes
                          Maybe it's not too late
                          To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by captnjak View Post
                            How will a dysfunctional superior react when he/she finds out that a subordinate is looking elsewhere for leadership? Probably not too well. It could exacerbate the already bad situation.
                            This can be further complicated when that dysfunction superior isn't an officer, but an "opinion leader." While probably more prevalent in volunteer organizations, I can see it happening in career houses, too. Possibly that senior guy mentioned in another thread.

                            For those who just tuned it, an opinion leader is that guy who wouldn't wear a gold badge if you held him down and pinned it to him. But he still holds sway in department matters - people look to him for guidance. Odds are, though, that he's looking out for his own best interests (and continuing to hold that position of power), not for the best interests of the organization...
                            Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

                            Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by tree68 View Post
                              This can be further complicated when that dysfunction superior isn't an officer, but an "opinion leader." While probably more prevalent in volunteer organizations, I can see it happening in career houses, too. Possibly that senior guy mentioned in another thread.

                              For those who just tuned it, an opinion leader is that guy who wouldn't wear a gold badge if you held him down and pinned it to him. But he still holds sway in department matters - people look to him for guidance. Odds are, though, that he's looking out for his own best interests (and continuing to hold that position of power), not for the best interests of the organization...
                              "Opinion leader" sounds like a nicer term for a kitchen loudmouth. We have them too. Luckily they don't "hold sway in department matters" but they can influence the workings within a fire company. Sometimes for the better and sometimes not.

                              And you're right about them never seeming interested in becoming an actual boss. They just want to pretend they're one.

                              Comment

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