The fire service is alive with discussion on fire behavior science and how it will affect firefighters. There are those that are encouraged by this and there are those that are refusing to even acknowledge the information before them.
I am encouraged that there is debate because it means that we still value our beloved fire service. We have ‘fought’ many changes over our history thus far but let us discuss this from a perspective of principle.
Would you want to go fight a war with World War I technology against an enemy who is using the latest technology? The troops have to be trained and equipped for battle.
Firefighters need to understand that our world is changing. Firefighters will forever be the same passionate, driven, and aggressive individuals but the incidents we are facing today are even more complex than ever before.
To dismiss this is dangerous.
The fire service has to understand that tradition isn’t about doing things the same way; it’s the principles and values that are timeless. Our very beliefs and core values will not be eroded by improving our awareness; they will be strengthened.
Courage and valor will not be diminished because our tactics have changed to fight an ever evolving and improving enemy. Building construction has dramatically changed in the last twenty years and so has the fire load. We all should be fundamentally sound on the basics of firefighting and this also should go hand in hand with the environment that you function in.
Those who fail to recognize science will find themselves trying to defy gravity and failing. Our culture has fought each major change as if it were sacred to us. For those that are leading and communicating the change can sometimes create confusion rather than clarity. We must take an objective look at the science, our environment, and our resources and decide how to best apply those principles within the department we serve.
Look at the fire service today:advanced fire apparatus with on board computers, SCBA with GPS locator technology, PPE that protects us against extreme temps and the list of improvements (change) continues. Has any of these changes diminished or tarnished the craft of firefighting? We are getting there faster, with better equipment, with more knowledge and providing better service to our citizens.
We are still firefighters and always will be. This is a matter of the heart. Those that hold the fire service near to their heart should be ready for change as they are for their next call.
As you journey through your fire service career we must continually learn and improve. This is our responsibility; which is to not become complacent in all aspects of our calling.