Pride Makes a Professional
Gene Carlson’s volunteers corner
Starting this month, Volunteers Corner will come to you from a rotating trio of authors. Each will bring a unique perspective to this most popular monthly column — but we’re sure each installment will be just as useful and enduring as the 222 already published.
First up is Gene Carlson, editor of the International Fire Service Training Association manuals published at Oklahoma State University. Before that, he served as a training specialist with the National Fire Academy. Gene was also a state instructor in Maryland and Illinois, where he was active in local fire departments as a fire fighter, lieutenant and training officer.
Since this is the birth of a new approach, we should, perhaps, start at the basis of a good volunteer fire department. The basic element is personnel — not just anyone, but specifically men and women who have pride in themselves and their organization.
This begins with a positive attitude, one that accepts the responsibility of doing a very hazardous job with little if any compensation. There is no room for mediocracy in the volunteer fire service. The lackadaisical attitude of “We’ve done it that way for years'” or “It was good enough before; it is good enough for me” has no place in meeting the challenges facing today’s volunteer fire service.
Your family and your community deserve only the finest fire protection you can provide. This, of course, means there will be sacrifices in time, money and personal preferences for the good of the organization in order to provide the very best.
Time must be spent in meetings and administration of the organization. Time must be spent to promote, obtain and continue financial support. And time must be used to gain an education in fire prevention and suppression techniques. Then, too, there must be the constant training to become and remain proficient in all aspects of fire fighting. Of course, there is the cleaning and maintenance of equipment and apparatus to assure it will be ready when the need arises. All in all, it is a large undertaking for a group with other full-time professions.
Those who devote time to building public relations with positive programs informing others of the services available and working on projects with other serviceoriented groups soon gain mutual respect. The volunteer department that takes the extra step and promotes public education through programs with civic organizations and schools, that stresses fire prevention by code adoption and hazard inspections of all properties and that enforces ordinances and regulations sincerely has improving the overall level of fire protection as its goal. Those departments concerned with fireground efficiency know that it begins with pre-incident planning. Then by learning basic and advanced fire fighting procedures and by keeping skills honed through unending training, the volunteer department develops into a unified fire suppression team that prides itself on its capabilities. The bottom line in measuring professionalism is how well the department does its job of protecting lives and property. Measure the value of property saved versus the total valuation.
A proud department willing to continuously work for perfection and limited fire losses by using all the tools at its disposal will certainly be professional. The best fire is a prevented one, but that requires hard work at educating people. Then, when the system fails, the hours spent in obtaining the sleeve full of training patches will pay off. A quick, efficient inside attack confining the fire to its area of origin with minimal water damage exemplifies a department that takes pride in its work.
The community should soon realize the excellent job done by its fire department, the dedicated individuals who leave the family in the middle of a meal or any time of the night to give of their time and energies to help someone in need. The American spirit is truly exemplified in the volunteer fire fighter.
If you are going to be a volunteer, be a good one, and take pride in your professional image!
In future months, Volunteers Corner returns to the essential how-to information that helps volunteers perform like professionals.
“A quick, efficient inside attack confining the fire to its area of origin with minimal water damage exemplifies a department that takes pride in its work. ”