Letters to the Editor: October 2021

September Issue

In reference to Bobby Halton’s Editor’s Opinion “The Past, the Present, the Future” (September 2021), Never Let Go of the Grudge!

John Norman
Deputy Assistant Chief (Ret.)
Fire Department of New York

I just got my September issue. It is absolutely spectacular! The choice of the artwork by Chad Wimmer is as perfect as the description of it—”a grateful citizen of the United States” says it all and is not to be outdone by the description of the cover. The cover and Bobby Halton’s Editor’s Opinion are the best that Fire Engineering has ever done. Thank you for supporting the United States and our fire service and for remembering our fallen heroes like Andy Fredericks and all the others. God Bless America.

Jerry Knapp
Rockland County (NY) Hazmat Team

Inconvenience Yourself in Service to Others

As a young firefighter in Montana for the city of Havre, I had a thirst for education. I read every book I could get my hands on. I sought out an opportunity to learn. I was very fortunate to meet people who went out of their way to help me grow as a firefighter. If we all look back on our careers, we all have someone who went out of their way to help us. The Oxford Dictionary defines service as “the action of helping or doing work for someone.” It is an interesting concept that is very important and needs to be done for the right reasons. I want to break it into three areas: the public, the next generation, and our members.

Everyone in this career is here to serve the public. We have an amazing responsibility to our constituents. And, it is easily stated as, “Be the responder you would want to respond to your house and assist your family—expert, caring, compassionate.” Be an expert! The public deserves and demands that. It is very easy to be irritated on a call because of time or a frequent flyer, but we always need to be proficient and professional and treat everyone like Mrs. Smith. Remember why we are here. Relentless forward motion in training is a must, and it is paramount that we do everything necessary to be qualified to assist others. Seek out opportunities to serve the public we protect.

We have a duty to prepare the next generation for success. Whether it is working with the Explorer program, fire department prep camps, or teaching at the local college, we need to put in the work to create that foundation that we can build on when they start their career in the fire service. As generations change, there always seems to be some misunderstandings, and we do not always appreciate the next group coming up. We need to seek understanding and make heroic efforts to ensure that the next wave of firefighters can meet the mission.

We also need to serve our members. Our human resource is our most important resource. If we put the time into helping members grow, the public will reap the benefits. Be the leader your crews need. Our members will emulate positive behaviors they see, and this process will become revolutionary. No matter the level, every officer needs to sit down with their members and establish a professional development plan. We have an amazing opportunity to be a guide and mentor on their journey. A well-rounded firefighter will grow to be a well-rounded fire officer.

Our members are loaned to us by their families, and we owe it to them to ensure that they are trained to meet the worst. Vice Admiral James Stockdale, a U.S. Navy pilot, a Medal of Honor recipient, and a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, summed it up best, “The challenge of education is not to prepare a person for success, but to prepare them for failure.”

Our responsibility as fire officers is immense. There are so many needs to be met and there are times where operation tempo, station duties, and our own lives take up the lion’s share of our day. However, as fire officers, it is our duty to inconvenience ourselves in service to others.

Sean F. Peck
Deputy Chief
Federal Fire Department-San Diego


Michael N. Ciampo’s article “Redundancy” (On Fire, July 2021) was an excellent piece. It reminds me of the drills when I first got on the fire company in 1962. Times, tactics, and tools have changed, but the basics are the same. He covered them well. This article should be mandatory reading for all probies—career and volunteer.

Bill Adams
Past Chief East Rochester (NY) Fire Department
Former Fire Apparatus Salesman

Paul Combs Drawn by Fire

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