Wed, 23 Mar 2011|
Michael M. Dugan, Captain Fire Department of New York asks "Why Are We Here?"
This morning FDIC again is going to be graced with a keynote that will be talked about for years to come. It'll be analyzed by the bloggers, it'll be reviewed by the pundits, it'll be replayed for recruits and viewed at fire service gatherings for years to come. But who are here today and those who are watching our live stream on the internet and on ABC will be able to say that they were there when the world class keynoter Mike Doogan took the stage in 2011. Mike's an old friend of mine and he's a neighbor of my mom's back in new york. And whenever we can, we like to get home and break bread together at our favorite Long Island restaurant, the 1019. And we've eaten there together many times. Sometimes during good times and sometimes during bad times for the fire service. But we always talk about the work. Our conversations always come back to the core mission, the work. Wether or not things are going to well, it's the work. It's the service to the public that keeps us grounded, focused, and connected. Mike has a passion for the work, for his family, and for his beloved FDNY. Mike's a world-class fireman. So let me give you a short bio on Mike. Michael Dougan is a 35 year veteran of the fire service and a 25 year veteran of the fire department of the city of New York. ...Where as a captain on ladder 123 in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. He was a volunteer firefighter in the Halcite department and an instructor at the inception of the FDNY's annual dedication day. He developed programs currently taught to all FDNY members during their annual education day. He is an FDIC instructor, a writer for Fire Injury Magazine and a featured lecturer on topics related to truck company operations and to todays fire service. MIke is a decorated fire fighter and in 1992 he was awarded the Gordon Bennet Medal for valor while serving on Ladder 43. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my distinct honor to present to you. The 2011 FDO FDIC [UNKNOWN] order Captain Dugan [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC] >> Good morning ladies and gentleman, my brother and sister fire fighters. My question for you today is, why are you here? Why did you show up? I know why I try to make FDIC every year and why I am here today. What we're going to be talking about here today is why are we here? What are you and I doing in the fire service. And more importantly what are you doing for the fire service? Most veteran firefighters and officers have heard the question, why are we here? Numerous times and in different situations and in different contexts. If we hear why are we here at a fire or in a dangerous situation or scene, we should start to think. Are we someplace we shouldn't be? Are we in danger? Did we miss something in our size up? Do other firefighters and units operating in the building know where you are? And more importantly, does Command? Do you have a way out in an emergency if you need it? If we don't have an exit strategy. And good communications, then maybe we are over our heads and beyond the limits of our team. It might be time to reevaluate our current position and mission. Remember the number one mission at every fire is everyone goes home. Are you here to put the fire out and be safe? I hope that's the plan. Why are we here can also be a question asked at 3 a.m. when a [UNKNOWN] member asks in frustration, why are we here at a nonsense run? We the people of the fire service will run in. We will go where others won't go. We'll be there when other people leave. We will help the helpless. Wherever. Whenever. Because that's what we do. We will assist civilians. You'll change a tire. You'll replace a smoke detector battery. And we even do EMS. And believe it or not, some of us love it. Okay. Why? Because that's why we are here, why we are firefighters. This is the job we do, and therefore, it is really about us, the fire service, and its members. It's about what we do, and what we, why we do it. Most of us are in the fire service because we like the idea of helping people and we love the idea of service. Don't get me wrong. We all love going to fires, and getting that adrenaline rush during and after the fire. We love beating the Red Devil. We love it. We love making the world right and safe again. It's the greatest thing in the world. After the fire is out the world is right, and we love that. The fire service is the only civil service I know of where folks wanna do more. Any of you wanna go to another fire? If you didn't say yes, then go home. Okay? because we want to do it. That being said, if we were asked to assist someone after a fire, even though we were tired, we were beat, we needed a shower, we would help. Why? Because that is who we are, because we are fire fighters and fire officers. We try to make the world a better place for us, being, here. We also love the firehouse, cause that's where we are grounded. If you think you know everything. Or, you think you're someone special. Walk into a firehouse kitchen. And you will realize, very quickly how little you really know. Okay? The fun and games in the fire house? It is great, okay? As one person stated, it is high school without homework and of course that is not true, but if you are not having fun, you are doing something wrong. I know I'm growing old but I'm not growing up. Okay? The jokes are still fun. And they make me laugh even when they get me. We are still professionals but we can and should have fun. Sometimes we can hear the question," Why you here in the firehouse kitchen? During a debate over some hot topic from the current politics, union business, local news, and so on, every fire fighter and fire officer has an opinion. Some member of our team or crew is pitching a gripe about this, that, or the other thing. The mad fire fighter is ranting on and on in the kitchen. And the brothers and sisters are listening, until someone finally being fed up by the tirade says to the mad firefighter: why are you here? Just that phrase brings the member on the rant back to reality, and they realize that they are complaining about a job they love. After September 11, 2001, members of the FDNY had signs made up that said, still the best job in the world. You could find a copy of that sign on every rig in the FDNY. We love our job, and we love firefighting because it appeals to our nature and our sense of duty. Even after the murder of 343 members of the FDNY and they were murdered. 23 members of the NYPD and 37 members of the port authority police department, we all still love our job. Today, young men and women still want those jobs, why? A sense of duty, pride, tradition, or their values. Who knows what drives some of us? But we are all working towards the same common goal. We want to help our fellow citizens and make a difference in the world while keeping our crews safe. So why are you here at FDIC. What are you hoping to get out of your experience. FDIC for most of us is a chance to learn from others. What they are doing to get better at their jobs and how they are trying to be safer. What is working. What is new. And what is happening. Throughout the fire service you will hear these questions asked throughout FDIC. What changes have happened or are being planned? Its also a time to teach. When Bobby Holton spoke to us last year, he introduced some of us. Paracletes a greek general who said, out of every hundred men that they send me, ten shouldn't even be here. 80 are just targets. 9 are real firefighters and we are lucky to have them for they make the battle. But that one. One is a warrior. And he will bring the others back. In the fire service, the one and 100 is you, okay? That is the teacher, the mentor, the brother and sister to your fellow firefighters. The one percenters are the backbone of the fire service. They are the ones that make it great. They are the ones willing to take. To risk it all, to try to do it all, to make the fire service better. They are the people who wanna leave the firehouse, the fire ground, and the fire service a better place because they were a part of this. That's what we do, you and I. We try to make a difference. We cast stones into the water and try to make waves. Every stone that goes into the water makes a wave. Some of the waves wash away with no one noticing, but some of them become large waves, they wash up on shore. The large waves have an impact. On people around you and people in front of you. What we have to learn is when to throw the stones and which way the tide is goin'. Cuz you don't want all your waves goin' out to sea. They're useless. You want to have an impact. You want to make a difference. Each of you today is here because you are involved in the fire service. You want to learn and hopefully to teach what you learned at FDIC to your fellow fire fighters back in your home town. At FDIC you can meet authors of fire service books such as Chief Lasky, Pride and Ownership. Chief Montagna, basic emergencies. Captain Mike Gag, Gag,Galliano and the Seattle boys managing your air. Chief Sulker, the engine company. Chief Norman, company office handle of tactics. Or Chief Mittendorf, truck company operations. These men have written books that are considered to be reference standards throughout the American fire service. Have you read them? Are you informed of their content? Because you will have a chance to meet these men and ask them questions at FDIC. That's a great thing. Okay, I hope you've taken time to read their books before you start asking the questions. Okay, you should also be at FDIC because it's a chance to meet people. Okay. Learn from them and interact with them. I have met some very good and dear friends at FDIC. We met and found that we were like minded and had common goals and formed the bonds of friendship. Some of these people live miles and states away from me, but we continue to be dear friends. When you get home, you are duty bound. To pass on the knowledge you gained from FDIC and the classes you attended, your job is to go home and share what you learned with those around you, those fire fighters you work with. If you keep all of your knowledge to yourself, then no one else will benefit from it. But if you pass it on, then we will all benefit from it. Its not always easy to be a teacher, especially if you're young a new to the fire service, but it can be done. One of you sitting out here is the next Mike or John. John Norman, John Mittendorf, John Saulkon, Mike Champo, Mike Wilbur, Mike Galliano. We're all waiting to hear your thoughts and your ideas and waiting to read your opinions. We all got started somewhere, and hopefully we have kept moving forward. It's your turn. The fire service is looking for the new shining stars to step up and lead us forward. Are you ready, you should be. We are here because of the people that went before us and made the fire service what it is. The firefighters and officers who went before us and made the fire service great. Such as Chief Ray Downey, who the courage and valor award is named for. Chief Vinnie Dunn, Andrew Fredericks. These men helped shape my career in the the FDNY along with my first captain. Captain Dan Marshall, who was and still is one of my heroes. Dan was the captain Lot, Lot of 43 when I got there. And he taught me how to be a fireman because he was the captain. He walked the walk and he talked the talk because he was a leader and a teacher. He let me know what he expected from me, and that he would help me anyway he could. He would teach me what I needed to know. He was a great man. I have the honor of carrying badge number 6-6-2, that was the badge that Captain Dan carried. Okay? These men were mentors, they were role models to anyone who wanted or asked for their help or guidance. They led by example whether it was popular or not. They were not afraid to do things to make the fire service better. No one had to ask or wonder if it was done, because if it was right it was done and it was done right. The question is now are you a role model? Are you a mentor, are you a friend to new members of the fire service? As a newer member to fire service, are you listening to what is said? Are you passing on your knowledge, your passion, your pride? Okay? Do you know the history of your department? And if your company. Do you have pride and ownership. [BLANK_AUDIO] In your department. Do you where your uniform with honor. [BLANK_AUDIO] Are you an example. [BLANK_AUDIO] Every man and women can be an example, But is it for good or bad? Okay. The fire service is changing and that's a fact. Some of us started when bunker gear was not around. We wore three quarter coats, rubber boots. We had the orange fireball gloves that melted when they got hot. Smart, right? Okay, give gloves that melt to firefighters. Some people want to go back to those days. They longed for the old days when we had wooden ladders and iron men. When SCBAs were not used and men went to fires every night. Those days are gone. And we better be ready for the fires of today. Because buildings and the materials in them have changed. The fires are not hotter. Then the were in the old days. But they reached their peak temperature much quicker than ever before. What used to take 30 minutes, now takes as little as 120 seconds, two minutes. These changes are making firefighting more dangerous for us. Because if water is not applied quickly. Firefighters and officers inside will be in danger. Not using an SCBA is going to get you hurt or killed. Each of us should make a commitment to our own safety. When we leave the fire service, we'd be able to live a long and healthy retirement. So why are you here? We are here to make a difference and hopefully, the better service. The one problem we have is in some circles there's a move to mould the fire service into a business plan and a business format. These people think that, that approach will make us better and more efficient. People who make the decisions about the fire service are not the ones fighting the fires. They have never crawled down a hallway. They don't know what hot is. Things are being done based on the people making our equipment not the ones wearing it. If you and I, the people who care about the fire service, allow that to happen, then we make firefighting just a job. Firefighting is not a job, it's a career. It's a passion. It's a vocation. My dad used to say if your vocation and your avocation. Are one of the same, you would never work a day in your life. If you love what you do and you're a passionate about it, you will have a good life, okay. We who love it, have the passion and the pride of what we use. We use words like duty, pride, tradition. We learn from the people, before us. And we use these words to define our jobs and our duties, and therefore ourselves. We have honor. We believe that we can and do make changes in the fire service. And by doing that, we change the world. If we change the world and make a difference then we are truly doing God's work. We, the one percent who truly lead, teach and mentor, believe that we honor those who came before us by upholding the love and respect of what we do and where we came for. I want to thank my good friend Bobby Halton for inviting me to speak to you today. I would also like to thank the folks at Pennwell corporation and Mr. [UNKNOWN] for letting me have this time to spend with you. And most importantly, I would like to thank the people in my life who made this day possible, my mom and dad who I miss every single day. To all the people in my career who had a positive impact on me, who taught me, mentored me, or just pointed me in the right direction, while putting up with me, I wanna say thank you, okay? Lastly I wanna thank my family, my brothers and sisters who helped me find my way as I grew up. To my daughters Sarah and Emily, who've had to put up with their dad being gone a lot. I gotta say thank you. To my wife Missy, thank you. Without your love and support I would've never been able to do any of this. To all of you, I thank you all with all my heart. Please remember firefighting is not just a job but a noble cause to leave this world a better place. If you leave the fire service a better place for your being in it. Then you are having an impact and doing gods work. Anyone can make a statement and some noise. But not many people have the courage to make a difference by making change. Are you making a difference? If not why not. To paraphrase president Kennedy have you asked what you can do for the fire service. Not what the fire service is doing for you. If not, why not? Why are you here? Thank you for your time. Thank you for listening to me. Please be safe. May God bless you and yours and always God bless America. Thank you. [SOUND] Well, thank you so much for being here at the 83rd FDIC. You really make the show. I don't how to thank you all for coming. Classes will be starting up in about 30 minutes, so you got time to get over to your respective classrooms. Welcome to the new building. Welcome to the new FDIC. Remember we've got the Tomorrow night, tomorrow night, or tonight rather, we've got the Fool's Bash out there, we've got Bruno and Brenan tonight. Tomorrow we've got the 5K, everybody's running tomorrow right, we've got the 5K tomorrow night, Courage and Valor, please sign up. We're running in memory of Steve, we've got Steve on our shirts. We've got all kinds of stuff. We got the combat challenge, the Memorial Stair Climb on Friday, if you haven't signed up 343 the first 343 get to climb in memory of 9/11 and Lucas Oil. There's gonna be a union party Friday night. Don't forget to get to there. And stop, drop, rock and roll in the Indiana ball room. Make sure you make it there. Lots of great stuff being raffled off. Again, thank you so much for being here. Thank you to everybody from the. Voices the IFD, the Color Gaurd, Mr.s Downy god bless you thank you so much for comin' it's such an honor to have you here ma'am. . [APPLAUSE] God bless you. Our friends from India thank you so much. Chief Sharma who's the chief of the Delhi fire department and of course Donna Alk. God bless everyone stay safe enjoy FDIC we'll see you all back tomorrow God bless good bye.