Don’t Get Too Comfortable

Many of us enjoy existing in a comfort zone. It becomes easy to accept that our little corner of the world has everything we need and nothing worthwhile could possibly exist over the horizon. Although a comfortable existence can be easy, ignorance of the world around us is dangerous to all firefighters. 

We enter a particular fire department as a recruit, graduate to an assignment as a probationary firefighter, then begin the career-long process of learning our craft. From indoctrination in recruit school, many of us are told that “our way” of doing things is the best way to get the job done. This line of thought holds some value to the new firefighter. The new member must digest an immense amount of information and learn and demonstrate a wide variety of complex skills in a relatively compressed time frame. The best way to accomplish this is through recitation of information and repetition of actions. There is little time for alternate points of view. All recruits must absorb and conform in order to form a cohesive unit from people of differing backgrounds, education, and life experience.

However, there comes a time in one’s career when the basics have been mastered and the institutional knowledge has been absorbed with great efficacy. Rather than getting comfortable within the confines of the box of knowledge and traditions with which we are familiar, this is an opportunity to develop as a firefighter. Challenge yourself with new goals, expose your department to a fresh perspective, seek out new perspectives and evaluate the possibility of change. There are numerous ways the modern firefighter can gain a wider exposure to the fire service outside of his or her own department. Experiencing many of these venues throughout a career will help to create a more versatile firefighter who can expose their fire department to the best of what is available throughout the fire service.

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