On my back, I struggled to keep my face above the dark, dingy water of the East River and did my best to crank out flutter kicks in unison with my team. Looking right and then left, it dawned on me that everyone “got it”. For the past 12 hours we had been blasted with exercises designed to invoke teamwork and leadership and suffered grueling “PT” when we didn’t perform to the satisfaction of our Special Forces trained Cadre. Now we were near the end. At the base of the Brooklyn Bridge we could see the Freedom Tower rising up to the fading moon. Again I looked to my right and then left, checking on my neighbors. I didn’t care about me anymore. I had forgotten about the 40 pound ruck on my back and the nasty water rolling over my face. It wasn’t about me, it was about them.
Leadership In the Fire Service
When I think about leadership in the fire service, many of the lessons I learned that night translate to what we do, or what we should be doing. As a company officer it’s our responsibility to set our needs aside and concentrate on the needs of those to our right and left-the very firefighters we lead. Whether it’s a physical thing or a mental thing, everyone has their demons and we’re all human. In the culture of the fire service, it’s not easy to ask for help. New firefighters battle ego, pride, and the fear of embarrassment. They have something to prove. Officer’s are tasked with breaking down those walls and helping them become an effective member of the TEAM.
teamwork ˈtēmˌwərk/ – noun
noun: teamwork; noun: team work
1 the combined action of a group of people, especially when effective and efficient.
The Leader’s Responsibility
The company officers within a Department are responsible for cultivating teamwork in order to
achieve efficiency and effectiveness both in quarters and on the fire ground. When one member
of the team fails to produce, the entire team struggles to keep their heads above the water.
Every firefighter is responsible for training and learning the “action”, but leaders are responsible
for combining the actions of the team in order to be successful. Company training, one-on-one
training, and talking about personal issues are all vital to the success of the team. The subject
matter might be simple to you, their personal issues may dwarf your own, but it’s not about you. It’s
No officer was thinking of themselves that day. All they thought about were
the people in those buildings-the people to their left and their right. And their teams were right
behind them. – Scott Ebbert
We crossed over the Brooklyn Bridge and gathered outside of FDNY “Tenhouse”. We were wet, tired, and smelled like anything but roses. We had trekked over 21 miles through New York City and we were thrilled to hear we could drop our brick-filled ruck’s. Class #235 of the GORUCK 9/11 Challenge stood tall and listened as the Cadre spoke of the sacrifices made on the hallowed ground before us. No officer was thinking of themselves that day. All they thought about were the people in those buildings-the people to their left and their right. And their teams were right behind them.
To learn more about the GORUCK Challenge, check out www.goruck.com.