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Home>Topics>>Bobby Halton gives the opening speech of FDIC 2011's General Session Ceremonies

Bobby Halton gives the opening speech of FDIC 2011's General Session Ceremonies

Thu, 24 Mar 2011|



Ladies and Gentlemen, Bobby Halton. [MUSIC] >> Thank you. Good morning. I'd like to ask one quick favor could we get another round of applause for the I.F.D. Singers? The beautiful pipers, holy mackerel. You know I'd like to do one thing real quick while we're here to celebrate F.D.I. C. and having a great time. I'd just like to take a moment and remember our good brother Ray Hoff, from the Chicago fire department. He was an instructor here for many years. He was a tremendous inspiration, he was an incredible firefighter. Who passed away earlier this week, and will be memorialized on Saturday, and our deepest sympathies go out to his brother Bobby. And they're all his family and this family of firefighters, he was a tremendous firefighter and a great guy. Also I'd like to ask you all to join me in a moment of silence for firefighter Ken Ray and Ray Walter, two fo our Canadian brothers who are being laid to rest this morning in Canada. They passed away in a fire last week. And on a much better note, I'd like to point out a gentleman who has been coming to FDIC since I guess he was about, I don't know, four. Cuz it's his 35th or 37th trip to FDIC, and over the last year and a half he's battled against tremendous odds, incredible incredibly, disabil, disabilitating health issues. He's a tremendous brother to the fire services. He's been an inspiration to. People back there in Chowderland for years and years and years. I can't, I can't say anything nice about people who help the Boston Red Sox. I just can't. Just kidding. [LAUGH] He's one of the biggest inspirations in my life. He's a wonderful, wonderful friend. He's done tremendous things for the fire service. He's healthy, and he's back with us, and he's here with his best friend Harry Carter, Jack Peltier, if you'd stand up, please. [SOUND]. You know, since, since the beginning of time, society has faced threats from both man and from nature, and history has proven that most people are unequipped, they're unprepared, and they're really unwilling to attempt to manage these threats. Then there are those who society has chosen to call their bravest. Those that must be ready to respond and deal with the unthinkable. The unpredictable, the often times tragic. Today we can be called upon to find a fight of fire in one of these wind turbine power generating stations. Those are a facility that up to about five years ago didn't even exist. Later that same day you might fight a fire in a 100 year old house. Today we're called up to respond to highly complicated and intricate rail disasters sometimes involving rail cars that are colliding at over a 150 miles an hour. And then mean while 5 miles down the road we manage a simple car accident. We're called to respond to highly complicated offshore drilling operations that have failed catastrophically three thousand feet below the surface of the ocean. While still maintaining a watchful eye over the ships and docks and harbors of our nation's waterways. The simple truth is that these events are but a small part of what it means when technology fails. And technology will fail. When nature strikes, and nature will strike. And when it does, it requires men and women like you to solve it. Or at least to mitigate its potential. Whether you're a career or volunteer, whether you're a paid on-call or member of the EMS brigade, you all share a tremendous burden. You all share a tremendous responsibility, not only to those to whom you've sworn to protect, but to those whom you've chosen to train, to those whom you've chosen to lead. Now to meet our neighborhood challenges, you're committing yourself to developing the next generation of the bravest. I would do that. What's the key of bravery and how do you teach somebody to be brave. We know that the answer comes with our obsession of training. In our pursuit of mastery, in our passion for excellence, from our earliest known counterparts, the Veehills they were founded in Rome in 00 A.D. We can learn a lot. They were armed with only primitive pipe poles and axes and ropes, and they tore down the adjoining structures in the event of a fire. Didn't try to put them out, just tore them down. We can learn a lot from the first bravest. They were firefighters and they were soldiers. They were Roman Legionnaires. They were charged by the Emperor Augustus with watching over the neighborhoods of Rome, therefore the name the Vehils. It means the watchmen. The Roman army and the Vehils understood teamwork. They developed the deadliest army in the history of the world. Man for the man, the Roman legionnaires kill ratio has never been equalled. They did it by developing highly skilled and highly supervised teams. The Roman legionnaires had a singular, unwavering focus on leadership and teamwork. A Roman officer would stand behind his three men and consistently give one order: stab. Stabbing is a natural to most men. Some of you guys I don't know about, but most men. People by nature, slash. Slashing doesn't kill. Stabbing kills. The Romans stabbed as a team. In war as in fire fighting, the winning side operates as a team. Now, the Romans understood that the successful team had 3 integral parts. Supervision, specialization, and trust. The importance of understanding specialization, supervision and trust was best explained by a French general from the 1800's. General Anark [UNKNOWN] who said, disregarding small unit operations. Four brave men, who do not know each other, will not dare attack a lion. Four less brave men, who know each other well, [UNKNOWN] their reliability and consequently have mutual aid, will attack resolutely. What the good general was saying was to have a good successful team every firefighter on the team must be sure of the skills and reliability of every other firefighter on the team and then consequently you're sure of the reliability of the overall team. They must be sure of the support of the other teams. Successful fire fighting relies on confidence and assured mutual reliability, successful firefighting requires bravery. True bravery comes from being on a team. The army calls four people a team. General Anartha Peak called four people a team. Teams made up of four. That's not a number to be taken lightly. A team designed to accomplish a specific set of tasks. You see, early on man discovered that no one man could do everything. Maybe Billy G. aside. The only way [LAUGH], that's what you tell, that's what he told me in a secret list. [LAUGH] >> The only way that society could evolve was through the exchange of specializations. We learned the power of specialization from the very first hunter who needed arrows, who needed clothing, who needed somebody to tend his wounds. The hunter was trusted to bring home the game. And another member was expected to make his weapons. That other expected they'd receive a share of the game. He expected another to make his clothing. And that other expected a share of the game. And he expected another to tend his wounds and that other expected a share of the game. Now when our lion hunting team faces the lion. The leader has to draw its attention. He must trust that one of his teammates will know when to throw the net, the second one to set that snare, and the third when to thrust that spear. For he has to bravely hold that lion's attention. In our firefighting team, the leader must locate the fire and then he has to draw its attention. He must trust one of his team mates will know when to ventilate, the second one to succor his egress, and the third one to supply his backup, for he has to attack that fire without doubt and without fear. But, made brave by the trust in his team mates, and his fellow teams. Through teamwork, trust, and specialization, we become powerful, and we become effective. We become brave. When we look at our challenges today, we can see the influence that technology's had on our lifestyles. Each time there are advances in technology, these advances affect our tactics. As we develop pumping capabilities, we left behind the buckets. As we developed motorized apparatus, we left behind the horses. As we develop commu, better communications, we put aside our speaking trumpets. What has not changed is the team. The nature of good teams is the key to our success. This has remained unchanged since the [INAUDIBLE] We're now facing hard times, financially, socially,. Organizationally, you must decide, all of you, fear or courage. Optimism or pessimism. Fire fighters have always chosen courage and optimism, because we know that hard times drive innovation. Hard times reveal character and hard times build strong teams. Back in the 1800s, there was a mountain in Alaska, Mount McKinley. And it was considered an insurmountable mountain. It was unconquerable, unclimbable, and undefeatable. There was this one man, Dr. Cook, who claimed to have conquered Mount McKinley. But there was always a bunch of skepticism about his claim. So in 1910 while rumors of Dr. Cooke's claim are swirling all around. A saloon keeper and a liquor vendor decided to put up a $1500 prize for the first team that could actually conquer Mt. McKinley and prove it. They decided that the team who claimed the prize would need to accept the title of The Sourdough Team. That was the name of their bar. The four men who accepted that challenge, none of them were experienced climbers. They were simply four Alaskan minors. In January of 1910, that team set out. They spent most of February establishing a bunch of camps on the North side of the mountain. They had little equipment. Most of it they actually made themselves, and they had no support except for one another. Now, it's important to know that Mount McKinley has two separate peaks. It's northern most peak is visible from Fairbanks and it's southern most peak is visible from Anchorage. Now, as the men struggled against insurmountable odds, they stumbled across. A 14' pine tree, which they oddly accepted as a symbol of their indomitable spirit, and they tied to the pine tree an American flag. And then they took turns carrying this pine tree along with them on the climb. They climbed climbs that no one would've ever believed that they could've climbed. Yet climb they did. And when they reached the summit, they took that 14-foot pine tree and that American flag, and they planted it on top of Mount McKinley. They descended the mountain, and they were met with a completely unreceptive and disbelieving crowd. They were met with complete skepticism. To which they merely said, we planted our flag, we climbed that mountain, and we're the first team to ascend Mount McKinley. Years went by. Nobody believed they were telling the truth. Many years later, a highly organized expedition was put together by some very experienced climbers. Accomplished climbers. They had state of the art equipment and they had fantastic support. They were the first persons to set foot atop Mount McKinley's South Peak. But upon reaching the summit, they turned their gaze over to the north peak, the one that the Sourdough Boys claimed to have climbed. And directing their binoculars up to the top of that mountain, they saw perched upon a pile of rocks a 14-foot spruce pole with an American flag tied to it. You see, the sourdough team had made it to the top of Mount McKinley, many years before, without the benefit of experience, equipment, or support. They made it because they were a team. Four men, who knew each other well. Those four never fought for their vindication. They didn't care that no one believed that they were telling the truth. Didn't matter to the sourdough team that they were underestimated. No one thought that they could conquer Mt. McKinley bu they did and they did it as a team. And no one know better than you here this morning that four firefighters that know each other well. Sure of each other mutual reliability and working as a team can conquer. any obstacle. So you come here to FDIC to exchange ideas with firefighters whom you trust, to learn from the experience of others, so you can return home with a new inspired confidence in your own capabilities, in your own knowledge, and that you can go and build confidence in your team. Your work here at FDIC allows us to pass on hard earned knowledge, rather than having that knowledge die with the individual that discovered it. Your contribution here at FDIC allows us to specialize, it allows us to create teams, it allows us to be brave. You know that getting our house in order, we must put first things first. And we must focus on the skills of the team. You know it, and you show it by being here at FDIC. You see, ours is a calling that you really don't understand until you try to teach it. You come here, driven by your pursuit of perfection. And all you do, especially in training. You wanna be perfect because you all know that in our work, good enough isn't. By being here, you're demonstrating your commitment to lasting solutions that can only be accomplished by impassioned training. Training that must improve our skills, our confidence and therefore increase our trust in one another. Therefore improving the reliability of our team. Our training must give us that unshakable belief that we are reliable, that we are competent, that we are dependable. Our efforts must be equal to the problems that our neighborhood are gonna face. So I'll leave you with this final thought, these are the good old days. We are our neighbor's keepers. You men and women here today have accepted the responsibility to train the next freehills. Your confident that our best days are ahead of us, and you're confident in your ability to make a difference. You're confident that there is a bright and shining future, that we will leave to those who come after us. Thank you very much for being here this year. God bless and I'll, God bless you and your teams. Thank you. [SOUND]

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