Firefighters Need Multiple Personalities

By Michael Morse

Any firefighter worth anything needs multiple personalities to thrive. Personally, I’ve been aware of my multiple personality traits since I can remember, or at least since one of my others told me so. Some days, one personality dominates and stays for a while, not letting anybody else through. Other times, two of me appear and argue among ourselves, which gets complicated when my third joins the fray and downright impossible when number four joins the party.

As you can see by the following descriptions of the most basic personality types, an internal war rages at all times. We need all of these skills to do our job, sometimes all within seconds of each other.

A. Choleric: This is the commander type. Cholerics are dominant, strong, decisive, stubborn, and even arrogant.

B. Melancholy: This is the mental type. Their typical behavior involves thinking, assessing, making lists, evaluating the positives and negatives, and general analysis of facts.

C. Sanguine: This is the social type. They enjoy fun, socializing, chatting, and telling stories and are fond of promising the world, because that’s the friendly thing to do.

D. Phlegmatic: This is the flat type. They are easy going, laid back, nonchalant, unexcitable, and relaxed–desiring a peaceful environment above all else.

I consider myself an A Type personality (choleric) because of my natural ability to be awesome. People follow me no matter what I do, most of the time anyway, I think. The more I think about it, perhaps there have been times when I led nobody but myself (melancholy). Hmm, the facts suggest that I have led myself at times, right to where everybody is, because I do love telling stories, especially ones about myself (sanguine), the best of which revolve around my most recent fishing trip or laying on a beach somewhere, peaceful, relaxed, and nonchalant (phlegmatic).

Anyway, I’ve used all four of these personality types to get the job done, sometimes all at once, sometimes one after the other, at times a combination, and more often than not chose one that fits best into whatever the situation dictates.

We need to adapt to be effective, and adapting ourselves to thrive in any environment is a vital first step.


Michael Morse recently retired from his position as captain, Rescue Co. 5, with the Providence (RI) Fire Department after 23 years. He lives a few miles from his old station with his wife, Cheryl, a couple of Maine Coon cats and their dog, Mr. Wilson. He writes about his experiences as a firefighter/EMT in his books, Rescuing Providence and Responding, and contributes articles to many fire/EMS-related publications.

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