Thu, 22 Apr 2010|
Lieutenant Frank Ricci of the New Havel (CT) Fire Department took on the issue of political courage in his FDIC 2010 keynote.
You know I'm extremely pleased to introduce this morning a firefighter. Who was a national spotlight -- Along with twenty of his fellow New Haven, Connecticut firefighters. The New Haven twentieth they became known. Are still engaged or engage them in a lengthy lost over promotional issue in which they asserted that they had been discriminated against. They prevailed. In the United States Supreme Court and their argument. The court ruled that no group could be adversely impacted to accommodate any other group. Briefly you cannot discriminate to cure termination. The court said that you cannot exclude anyone intentionally. But rather that you must treat everyone equally regardless of their race color gender or any other consideration. That merit but rather than any other consideration is Paramount to American values principles and when it comes to employment or promotion. It matters. Here with us today is the man who found himself in the center of that controversy. The lead plaintiff Frank -- Briefly a little bit about frank. Frank is lieutenant with the New Haven, Connecticut fire department and co-founder of firefighter safety net dot com. Is also the project manager for emergency training solutions and -- the icy hot instructor and lecturer. He has won a landmark. US Supreme Court case and he has testified before the united -- congress. Frank has been -- lead consultant for Yale University on several studies and is a board member the cyanide treatment coalition. He's contributing author to carbon monoxide poisoning magazine and co author of -- -- survival chapter with -- below. For the firefighter for the fire engine -- -- this one up for -- engineering firefighter went into handbook -- like that. Available on the books -- just -- Frank has worked as heavy rescue unit. Member covering the Bethesda Chevy Chase Maryland. It was a student -- at station 31 in Rockville Maryland. He developed the fire engineering film -- showing. Frank is also the creator of fire -- -- building -- poster series and has done several of our training -- along with Jim Duffy. -- -- author of the dvd firefighter survival techniques. Frank is a pioneer. He's a gentleman. And he's a patriot a true Americans. I'm proud to introduce you to him today. My good friend my brother ladies and gentlemen lieutenant Frank Rich -- Tommy Brennan would be proud. Finally the engine company left room for the truck. We're gonna talk about political courage. The fire service -- the noble calling. There is no other -- -- a bully and -- -- compared to the service we provide. Someone called nine won't want and we show -- no questions -- and no paperwork. We're there to make an impact. -- -- fire or medical or any other emergency. Our members get their first. This dedication and commitment to our community needs is something I -- -- all you. So with the level of service we provide. How could a great leader like Tom Brennan say. On this very stage we are losing the -- service. You see. Com had the vision to realize that -- he goes well beyond strategy -- -- He -- us that some of the most critical components of our survival are dictated by politics. This includes our budgets leadership and staffing. They hold true for both career and volunteer departments -- light. While I have seen our members -- the net Kerry courage needed to -- down that -- -- all. Were -- over the fire. How many are willing to go shoulder to shoulder against City -- or fight indifference in the firehouse. We all must get involved. Stand up and participate in the prop desks. How many politicians will gladly shake your hand for the -- And then last our budget with the other we allowed -- far too long. -- USC -- content to be watered. This is not the fire service I know this is not who we are. He must be educated on our value and no that week. Will hold them accountable for their actions Indian. We must stand together. But in order to be effective in that arena we must have the courage to hold ourselves accountable any sure there are only. Houses are in order. Firefight that dangerous profession. We all leave our -- with the knowledge that eventually we will get -- However. A large percentage of our injuries and deaths are not due to inherent risk. They are due to an unwillingness. To take personal responsibility. For safety. We often addressed the symptoms. Of -- in at the kitchen table. With empty words and banned there but remember if words are important enough to be okayed that action is needed. He -- only way to change the -- mentality is to have the courage to address the real issues not just the symptoms. -- breaking down before. Now for those you don't remember her biblical reference. That signaled the beginning of the end and they will serve -- it was very key threats to her. They are at our door. You can -- away he'd bury your head in the -- but they will remain. Their name should not a -- you many of our members have given them aiding -- for. Lack of accountability and loss of faith. In different and one of the most -- of politics over -- The -- -- -- political cover for the first port. Stopped playing in our cold -- for every day. I myself have been pulled guilty. I talk about culture is a problem and I'm in my classes. I was wrong. Cultures who we are and what we stand for we are caring. Honorable. Worthy professional compassionate and at times even heroic. Yet we continue to blame are called -- For firefighters failing to wear their seat -- not being -- driving too fast for managing their air. Or France -- villa not wearing -- that. We only need to look at the accomplishment. Of the Seattle guy. There. Neither change is possible. To -- the culture myth. Is just a crutch for failed leadership and lack of accountability. Simple example is utilizing SE BA during overhaul. We should all know now the dangers of chemical cocktail we call smoke. That means hydrogen cyanide carbon monoxide a groin and a host of other -- the actor. Yet on department recognized standard -- -- Not culture problem it's a leadership problem. Complacency can be a dangerous thing. Ridicule in utilizing your BA ridicule for utilized -- your BA may last for an alarm. But the risk of cancer in der -- will always be -- Have the courage to take care of each other utilize your air. Wash and -- your gear to shower after all fire the -- are used -- smoke screen for poor leadership. And the status quo. -- equivalent of putting water on smoke without crying did fire. So where does accountability stark. From the top. People officers it kind of get off the -- of milk carton and leave from the front. Too many chiefs spoke only in the -- forgetting the practical they spend so much time trying to keep their jobs they forget to do it. -- your responsibility. To increase accountability and -- -- and crack and -- reflect the operational realities that your personnel they. Show your -- stop -- is the -- let them know your focus is on what's best for them in the community. If you leave effectively. We will follow. While it is critical for -- to -- -- and politics. Please. Understand. You are not -- politics game. Your role is that of an advocate support her office serves. He -- -- back them up and make sure they have the right tools to do their job. Work with city hall and at times -- it. Portraying. The importance of -- are not over stated. Opinion in conjecture. And -- -- and quality training -- -- -- -- and transparency are among. More importantly set the example. Treat everyone equal and hold them accountable. The first course lack of accountability will continue to cause more deaths and injuries than any others if our chief officers continue to fall prey. To the status quo. He Charlie her shaft from Guilford Connecticut a true leader -- -- one. Second and third horse always ride together. Indifference and loss of faith. When you open the door they -- that the very spirit. Who we are leaving a lasting impressed. They rear their ugly head whenever remembered bitter or not Kerry because they were wrong or -- they were wrong. They can be found in every fire department in service can't or that. He rob you with -- sense of duty and the -- passion that made our firefighters. It's happened to all of your on the right track you sacrifice. You had a plan you worked hard only to find that the light at the end of the tunnel was a great train. How you handle this adversity. Will define. -- the -- -- -- or becoming different it will lead story. When my department -- a promotional -- we were all -- dated. Shortly after chief call and that I go to next recruit class. That I Dioner. My phone rang off the wall -- comments like why -- you do anything for this fire department. It's not mine. -- -- -- here think that the mayor would have cared if the new guy credit for it to -- we're taking high ranked. Told the mall and today. They will be the ones crawling down that -- -- with -- or opening up over the fire. Our lives may depend upon their actions. The politicians don't care if you're willing spirit and broken. You are not the cleaner check your equipment your bitter. And the only guy you hurt the firefighter next -- you. This lack of vision only gives them more power. We should all look towards our military as an example of how we should conduct or else. They do it for the guy next storm force it and -- country. Regardless of politics our country's brave men and women are there on the front lines. I thank them in every veteran for our freedom. Again. Many think that our national associations. Should back -- every week. Specially when we hold the moral high ground. Unfortunately. As with any large organization they have their -- politics amber -- Taking bold positions that -- seem obvious -- -- -- are often complicated. When the international association of firefighters and I she chose not take a position on merit based promotions. Many suggest it. The answer we'll walk away from both ordered. That was the wrong answer. Both organizations have gone in continue to do a lot of good for our profession. The answer is to acknowledge the conflict and participate in the debate to move the process forward. Think back when our associations and he were -- -- -- against wellness program and drug test. It took years put our members did not lose faith or becoming different. They fought and -- pressed on these critical safety positions as we will continue to advocate for -- base promotions. Today drug testing is the norm and I have -- fat and I -- -- program is the gold standard. Thanks to the quiet and deliberate leadership of Pittsburgh is -- the cold across the country. However the fact remains bad things will happen and at times -- will not always agree with few or be able to stand with you. This is not -- used to give up the fight. You're still must do what you know -- right. It will be hard you will feel alone. And like a target. However in America with hard work and -- -- you can exceed. As more leaders. Had the courage to the end up for our profession. The greater chance of -- taking back our service. People are you walking out. We must be careful never to demonize those who agree with. Going to be issues. When I testified before congress. A national smear campaign. Started to attack my credibility. -- all charges were met by four individuals who would amplify. Political courage. They kept the national conversation. On the issues -- on the personality politics. I've had the privilege to work with these individuals -- a staffing issues. Last chance filter technology. And moving the fire -- this conversation on race. Forward. And I really need thank them. Bobby called him. -- -- -- Glenn Corbett. In my union president Patrick. Representatives of our great military will present the flag of the united state. These flags flew over the capital on the day testified at the behest of senator Jeff Sessions from the great state of Alabama. And senator John Corning from the great state of texts. The fourth horse. Politics over -- -- -- this -- New York Chicago. Lewis Philly Camden -- -- almost all of our urban centers have been affected. It's -- needed by the good ole boy network. Politics as usual as well as our own so department. You see. At one time this nation was -- of course. However this was not the America I grew up -- I grew up in a nation of possibilities where I was taught that you must rising -- Based on your own merit that individual and it would be rewarded and we would be judged fairly based on the -- law. And our commitment to our communities. The first civil service law originating in China in 52. BCE. With a simple premise that -- much trump all other generations. You would think in a thousand year -- we've learned to keep politics out of George Washington who was a master at politics and public service recognized in his first term as president. That it when McCain to professions of consequence. Is the military and judges. -- must trump political will. As for the fire service. The decisions we make our great consequence they can resulting from -- a personal property injury or even death. The very reason we need to embrace of the service and Mary based testing. We need to ensure that no one's hands are on the scale. Make no mistake about it this is the only way to ensure that our readers are not only company to provide appropriate direction at an emergency. But all suited -- their members how to handle the next war. And fortunately. We cannot -- unintended we need to dating game demand transparent he can guarantee that the rules are applied equally. If politics. Nepotism cronyism or discriminate -- sneak in. Then we owe it to each other rooted out. Does the color of one's -- -- -- Harriet make someone a better firefighter. Of course not. When a citizen calls -- won't want they're not thinking what to rescue her will look like. Only that they get -- quick act professional and be confident. I've had the honor to -- throughout the US. And yet -- want that Peter volunteer that red. Most popular firefighter. Mayor's friend -- socially engineered. But she admits he's neither limited nor determined by one's racial politics but determined by -- skills dedication commitment and -- there. Ours is not a job that can be handed out without regard for -- and qualifications. While equal opportunity must be guaranteed for all it did not guarantee equal outcome. -- point is. -- -- We cannot utilize to use our leaders. In the same breath we cannot lower standards for entry level positions and then -- in disparity in later competitive exams. The practice of dumbing down. Exams is a form of bigotry we're low expectations. -- -- -- performance. No one deserves to obtain a position under that cloud of suspicion. Eric Holder are attorney general. Said. When it comes to race we are nation of count -- That's because when warning. -- show us department. Despite legal precedent continues to divide people -- -- is who don't wish to be divided we are one America. Diversity cannot be G -- handout quarters in litigation but through hard work dedication and education. I saw this firsthand -- -- recruit class talked and walked in after hours. And I found the study group led by crew Miguel resign -- he just happens to be there has an engineering degree. He was mentoring -- of -- Now that's affirmative action. Still some argue they're entitled to a free ride. So to speak and experienced. Feelings. And kissed it should rule the day and worse yet. Some argue that national textbooks and classes such as the ones that FDIC. Are of no value and -- question. Experience that is not balance with training and knowledge can cut both ways and often contribute to tactical -- If we develop and hey pat that are reinforce the positive -- they become the norm and contribute to greater failures that can Coleman -- In an injury or -- debt. Let me break it down experience is the best teacher but only up or engine that school loan. Anthony bill that we all learn from our own mistakes but only the -- learn from other. That is why so critical that when -- Walter we might have the courage to recognize it. Learn from it and -- it. That's why -- FBI state. The only way to harness the revolutionary spirit that makes us Americans. Is to realize the price of hard to mock who he is vigilant and protect -- pay. Ironically. I worked in rationing for three judge. Signed the death warrant for an on Jeff King. The crown bond was indeed our great city. -- with the most powerful army the world has ever seen the common people had the courage the end of the tyranny. The British -- in their lives and to burn our city to the ground. The colonists they did not Walter they viewed this hot collapse as a call to arms they stood their ground and they did not hand over the judges. This revolutionary spirit is in all of us. We all had the ability to set the right example and lead regardless of title. Edward. -- your choice to be the predator of the right. While our challenges will not have to be -- with blood they will have to be thought -- knowledge and political courage. -- -- -- -- He's been my greatest honor to stand before you stand up together -- take back the fire service thank you don't.