In the fire service we like to think we always do things the right way. We go to classes, we go to training seminars, sometimes it seems like we spend too much time trying to learn how to do things better. No matter what your job is, there is a point that you need to stop for a minute and look back at how you do things, and most importantly look at how they can be done better. We need to look at all areas of our life and see what we need to do better.
Sometimes the hardest thing about looking back is to be honest about how we are currently doing things. My blood pressure would go up every time our administration would say “We did the best we could with the situation we had when we arrived on the scene.” That seemed to be the blanket statement around my department to say whatever we did was alright. I guess in some ways you can use that, if no one got hurt, and no more buildings started on fire after we arrived, maybe that was alright.
There was a time in the fire service that a critique would really take a critical look at how we all performed at a fire. From the new guy to the Fire Chief everyone put on their big boy pants and talked honestly about how things went on the fire ground. Every part of the fire was reviewed, from the dispatch, the route taken to the fire, the guy that hit the hydrant, and on and on. If someone made a wrong turn or had trouble finding the address, we talked about it and found a way to do it better. If the guy that hit the hydrant had trouble, it was alright to discuss it. If someone made a critical mistake that was discussed and a solution was found that maybe included some extra training. We all left those critiques smarter and better equipped to handle that type of call next time.
I recently heard a story about a sports team where the coach asked some of the senior players what they could do to get better. They figured a few things out and played much better the rest of the season. Maybe it’s time we ask the members of our department what we can do better. There would be some interesting answers to that question.
Some of the things we can do better at are going to be fire ground and emergency scene things. Different hose lead outs, maybe we can change the pressure in our handline to make it easier to maneuver through a building but still get a strong enough stream to make a good hit on a fire. We also need to ask what we can do better when it comes to living and working in the fire station. Maybe we need to adjust the starting time to make it easier for some of the guys to get the kids to school. We never thought about those things 30 years ago but today it might be important.
We will only know how we can do better if we ask the question and listen to the answer. Put the ego away and see what you can do yourself to make yourself and your department better.
Does your department have this? If so, how effective is it?
By John Morse
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