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FDIC 2012: The Fire Service Code

Thu, 19 Apr 2012|

At the opening of the FDIC 2012 General Session, Chief Bobby Halton discusses the need for firefighters to recommit to a code of ethics.

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Transcript

Ladies and gentlemen. Bobby -- there. Thank you for joining with us this morning we've got a very important morning with -- lifetime achievement award and the instructor of the year. Also -- pandora is gonna give an incredible presentation had a chance to watch -- rehearse and I know you're in for a fantastic day but before we started let's take just a moment of our time to. Recognize a few very important people that are here. Our dear sweet friend -- -- Steve's widow and we're so glad you're here with us Steve as always you know a proxy for. -- -- -- It was such a huge part of -- -- -- our lives and and we mr. Steve and we know -- -- must get through this. You year after years of compilation. -- Also. On. Different note we've got a very special announcement to make. We've got. Growth in the fire -- family were always doing new things and and -- engineering is always looking for the very best possible. Ways to make the material that we deliver more meaningful more relevant and more connected to the fire service and with that we're very happy to announce the -- they would stand up. It was -- McCormack and battalion chief Eric -- -- conducive for moment. These -- the editors and owners and publishers and creators of urban firefighter magazine. Which is now combined with fire engineering will be doing a monthly column they'll be the new editors or -- the new -- board staff. American -- will be crafting fire engineering and FDIC. From now into the future so -- firefighter and -- now one with the addition of the probably to most. Cutting edge minds in the fire service today and we're very thankful that you guys have. Acquiesced and decided to join the family. Ray is always reminding us to keep fire and our lives and and we thank -- absolute blessing to have these two. Distinguished fire service. Gentlemen. In the fire engine and we thank you guys. And -- -- -- have a few brief remarks this morning. I'm proud to be -- farm fire. There's no higher aspirations is no greater ambition. And to serve one's fellow citizens as a farm fire. As a firefighter. We accept certain. Unspoken and understandings. Between us and our communities. And between one another. Because of these understandings. What we do. And how we behave matters. And so there's a great deal of discussion today in our magazines online and in even here in FDIC. About our behavior. Both on and off the job. With the proliferation of the Internet cameras everywhere and an increasing interest in our profession. And its occasional contradiction to those unspoken understanding is. We are coming under increasing scrutiny. Many of us are worried today that the public can easily get the wrong impression. When something happens which reflects poorly on our profession. Now we can prevent a lot of this worry and we can stop a lot of this behavior. If we periodically just stepped back and rededicate ourselves to the mission. It's always good to recommit to pledge -- honor to affirm that we are dedicated to a more noble cause it's what sets us apart. And gives us a sense of purpose and belong. If the act of dedicating oneself to a higher purpose. Has fallen out of favor. Even the simple act of praying publicly. Is prohibited. In some places now and it's ridiculed in most. To say nothing. Of swearing your fidelity and -- You know Vince Lombardi once. A man can be as great as he wants to be. If you believe in yourself and you have the courage the determination the dedication and the competitive drive. And if you were willing to sacrifice the little things in life. And pay the price for the things that are worth while it can be done. That is why being dedicated to a set of moral principles and having an ethical compass it's just a huge part of our tradition. Most of us are always had a true north. But what about those that are publicly gone off course to address this issue many firefighters feel with the fire service needs to be. Recommitted and reaffirmed to our ethics. It's proper and fitting that we should have a discussion. About our ethics. Ethics are set a moral principles. Ethics -- traditional. Recognized as accepted behavior over a significant period of time. To be sure our adherence to higher ethical behavior principles has defined in the fire service for its 2000 year history. Everyone a year would agree that the fire service considers humility. Honesty integrity. Hard work courage and personal responsibility. To be the foundational. Values. Of our fire service culture. We universally agree. That among our fundamental moral principles is first and foremost that we are devoted. To the protection of human life. That we exist to serve our communities in the protection of its citizens and its property. That the dignity of each citizen is foremost in how we conduct or work. That we care for and love one another. And that we will diligently. Obeyed the laws of our community with -- exception. Fortunately the fire service is composed of human beings. Were flawed and imperfect. Susceptible to temptation. Roth and thought listener conduct. And so we have a dilemma. It's been said that every state has -- past and every sinner has a future. In the past the minor discretion by a firefighter to be kept within a local system. Now with the Internet even a minor -- discretion can go worldwide in an instant ending a promising career in the court of public opinion. It we've all seen firefighters on videos doing pranks which in hindsight we probably should not have done. On the issues of firefighters behaving badly. We can all this dozens of stupid things irresponsible behaviors which involved firefighters. Most of which were harmless and goofy. And resulted in no lasting damage to our reputations. On the other -- Clear violations or moral principles. Ethical violations. Such as firefighters dealing. -- complete other issue. We are trusted implicitly by the citizens we serve. Any blemish on this trust like stealing money is a major hit to our hard earned reputations. And one that we cannot afford or tolerate. The public will not tolerate -- stealing and neither should -- The fire service is dependent on the trust of the community in order to do our jobs correctly and efficiently. People must trust us to do the right thing regardless of temptation or opportunity. This is why understanding our ethics and being committed to them and -- them is so critical. Unethical behavior advocates reported on the news just firefighters paying others to work for them. That's fraud and tax of Asian. Claiming physical disability than -- bodybuilding contests or working physically demanding jobs under the table. That's illegal and on ethical. The problem is the nightly news has it. People see us now every firefighter -- a -- a scam artists -- fraud. Our trust is squandered. The faith that the community had that that fundamental element that bond with the citizen that previously unquestioned trust. Is costs. In an attempt to provide education and guidance on the issue of ethics and fire service leaders. Published media fire service -- statement. It's several pages long. And it -- a multitude of behaviors. Which are identified by the authors as an ethical it is an extremely. Noble and worthwhile endeavor and one which we should all vigorously support. But we should also have a way to provide ourselves with the more simplistic and let's elaborate reminder of our basic ethical commitments and -- A code of honor for the fire service. And along with that code we should have a more formal covenant of creed. A profession of our beliefs. The united states military academies recognize the need for code. A way to keep moral ethical behavior as a norm for our future military officers. West -- -- -- code reads simply a cadet will not why. Cheat. Or steal nor tolerate those who do. Cadets accused of violating the honor code face severe consequences. Including expulsion. US air force honor code is very similar but they. Added -- under -- We will not why. Steal or -- nor tolerate among us anyone who does. Furthermore our resolve to do my duty and live -- -- -- so help me god. Simple and clear. Do the same constraints on behavior apply to firefighters absolutely. Can we adopt that honor code absolutely. Could we include this brief on her statement in our appointment -- in our promotional posts perhaps we could recite -- -- our major events like FDIC. I don't see why not. Re dedicating ourselves is important. It is noble. And more than ever it is necessary. If we look at our core moral principles we have everything covered with that simple code. The -- -- is critical. To do my duty and live honorably so help me. It's always fitting to ask for the help of divine Providence in any endeavor such as ours. We're lions are on the line and where the ultimate sacrifice. Of oneself is an ever -- clear. For reality. We can all memorized the fire service -- And limit our really 99.9. Percent of the -- -- But something is -- -- just telling someone what you won't do. Because these are things that no man or woman should do. Regardless of the fact that they are firefighters know honorable man or woman should buy cheaper steel so what makes firefighters different. What makes firefighters stand apart. What is -- that compels us to strive to be a fire fighters fire fighter. I asked my kid was a naval officer -- the navy and stills in its charges a sense of duty and loyalty. He just had simply dad we all know believe in and can recite the -- creed. I went and read the need to increase its beautiful. Same goes for the army the Marine Corps. But when I read that Coast Guard -- -- -- -- My pulse race I'd read it and regret it. All over and over again if you consider -- it's remarkable how closely the mission of the Coast Guard matches of the fires office. The -- united states Coast Guard and could have been written for the fire service its principals in this beautiful -- Our our principles the values and -- our our values it's an eloquent statement. Of all our ethics. United states Coast -- was written by vice admiral Harry and his words were inspired. And his vision was clear. The Guardsmen captured those timeless traditional moral principles that and body honor. It expresses a commitment to duty which resound as in the heart of every firefighter and it makes us want to be better men and women. Better firefighters. I wrote to the commandant of the Coast Guard I asked to be allowed to share with you. Very respectfully. Adopted from the united states Coast Guard -- The firefighters creed. I am proud to be a firefighter. I Revere that long line of expert firefighters who buy their devotion to duty and sacrifice itself. Have made it possible for me to be a member of a service. Honored and respected. In good times and bad throughout the world. I will never -- word or indeed bring reproach upon the -- name on the fire service nor permit others to do so unchallenged. I will willingly and cheerfully Obey all lawful orders. I shall always be on time to relieve and shall endeavor to do more rather than less than my share. I will always be at my station alert and attending my duties. I -- so far as I am able bring to my seniors solutions. Not problems. I shall -- joyously. But always with due regard to the rights and privileges of others. I shall endeavor to be a model citizen in the community in which I live. I shell sell my wife dearly to my enemy fire but did -- freely to rescue those -- With God's help. I shall endeavor to be one of his noblest works. In reciting -- -- we recognize that long line of fire fighters. Who so selflessly came before us and from -- sacrifice. We learn that the mission comes first. In reciting the screen reaffirm that although we are individuals and have responsibilities. And commitments. But we respond in teams and that we -- most proud of our work when the mission is accomplished and every one on that team comes home safe. Reciting the screen we acknowledged that -- -- we carry a burden of a virtuous honor. Which fumbles -- boggles our knees under its way toward a blemishes to tarnish its -- is something that we can never permit ourselves and. Any other today. In reciting the screen we commit ourselves to principles or core moral principles of hard work and individual responsibility. In reciting the screen we dedicate ourselves to being problem solvers and teammates forever bonded in a brotherhood of morally principled. And ethical fire fighters in -- Writing this -- we acknowledge that we will celebrate life. With a reckless abandon as a only those who live every day with that constant reminder of the fragility of. -- existence can. But always mindful of others. Always respectful. Of those around us. And finally. If you choose to recite this pretty. And freely you must choose where to do so was something no one can force -- to dedicate yourself to -- such a noble and selfless cause. In reciting this -- you pledge to be a role model to other citizens. Willing to be held to a higher standard willing to suffer the consequences. Of higher expectations. And everything that you did. When you recite this creed you dedicate yourself your life your energy and your eternal passion it's. Even so the point of resting your last full measure so that. Others -- All this we -- before god. And one another. We ask for this burden to be placed on our backs this yoke around our next ten weeks -- joyfully and we do it. Willingly. -- you -- this could be you're defending this honor. And -- today. I am honored to be part of this -- -- -- To stand with men and women who are willing to recite this greed and -- their lives. There honor to god the mission and one another. And -- Should feel firefighter. Thank you and god --

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