Thursday, February 23, 2012

Will You Be Remembered Or Forgotten?

Don Erbin, Jr. is the Fire Chief of Kuhl Hose Company, Greene Township, Erie, PA. Don and I have known each other for over a decade. My parents don't live too far from him, and when I visit them, I always work in a visit or two with Don while I am there. I am honored to have been allowed to, over the years, partake in training with Kuhl Hose Company, as an attendee and as a trainer. I even have a few different Kuhl Hose Company shirts that I proudly wear around here!

I have used him as a vent, as a sounding board, and just shot the shit in general with him. He has also used me as a vent and sounding board over the years. My only regret in our relationship is that we live 900 +/- miles apart, and I cannot serve with him as a member of KHC.

Recently, there have been several deaths in the fire service community in Erie County, PA, including two LODDs. It hits on a personal level for me, in part because of my friendship with Don, and in part because my parents live there too, and my dad is still an active member of the Corry Fire Department - Standford Hose Company. When news from Erie County hits the wires, I pay close attention.

Don wrote a nice piece up, and shared it with me this morning. I asked him for permission to publish it on An Ordinary Fireman, and he graciously has allowed.

So, with no further adeiu, Will You Be Remembered or Forgotten?


Will You Be Remembered -
Or Forgotten?
Don Erbin Jr. 23-Feb-2012

Fire Chief Don Erbin, Jr. Kuhl Hose Company, Greene Township, Erie, PA

Recent personal exposure and involvement with several line of duty deaths, and many other firefighters who have passed after countless hours and years of fire service dedication I’ve thought a lot about how will you or I be remembered? Will we be remembered, or will we be quickly forgotten.

We teach weekly fire or EMS training and can name several case studies or refer to several different NIOSH report. Quickly someone’s name or agency gets mentioned with positives, negatives and suggestions. We’ve remembered these firefighters/departments most often because of the things that happened. We learn and teach from these incidents in the hopes of not having a repeat occurrence of events. I can also mention names of those who are well published; are YouTube featured, or have a BLOG or web site stating the latest and greatest fire service ideas and opinions and they are remembered for various reasons.

What about you? How will you be remembered or will you be forgotten?

Let’s first start with your own department. Where do you stand? Are you someone who has earned your place in the rank and file? Have you earned your place on the apparatus? Do you have the training and education to keep yourself from harm’s way as much as we can in our job? Do you demand respect and so called rights of the fire service just because you signed your name once?

Maybe you will be remembered as the knucklehead who drove 85 mph to an outside odor of smoke when you’re SOG states that this is a non-emergency response, but because it’s always been done that way you tote the “TRADITION” banner. There is always the possibility you will be remembered as that guy who thrives on drama and dissention rather than taking the time to listen to other opinions or ideas and agreeing to disagree sometimes.

A better option is to hope you will be remembered as someone that has put in countless hours training, educating yourself and others, knows lots but remembers there is always room for improvement, has humility, and is a friend that some of our brothers and sisters sometime need.

Will you be remembered as a true fire service leader? No rank required. A leader is one who leads or guides. Will you lead and guide or be remembered as that guy who yells and barks orders from a book or manual rather than leading and teaching as you go.

How will you look to others outside your agency? Don’t act or think the world isn’t all about you or I. Brother firefighters know each other and talk. If you’re well known it’s more likely not for being a good leader or firefighter. What have you done? Do you even know what you’ve done? Maybe not the case but bad news travels much faster than good news.

Will you be remembered because you and your crew risked a lot and saved a lot? Did you save grandma and the baby? Did you make a good stop on a quickly advancing fire because of coordinated efforts of hose line deployment, ventilation and search teams? You’re training counts.

Our job as firefighters is dangerous most days and we have safety haters in our profession. I hope for you and your family that you’re not remembered because of something dumb that you or someone else has done because of lack of training, knowledge or skill. Read LODI or LODD reports and you can learn a lot.
So how would I like to be remembered you might ask?

Well I would like to be remembered as a leader not just by my own department, but abroad. I want to be someone who leads his troops, not by demanding things that I won’t do myself, but as someone who is right there with them no matter the situation. As General George Patton once said “No good decision was made from a swivel chair.”

I want to be remembered as a knowledgeable firefighter, friend and mentor, someone with humility who gives praise to others that deserve it rather than trying to take it for myself.
So where will you be?

Possibly you will be forgotten in a few months, weeks, or a year? Have you made an impact on your department, the fire service, your community? Have you accomplished things that will make a name for you and your agency that show your commitment? Maybe you will just be another face that came and went and a few months later no one can even remember your name.
Remembered or forgotten, you decide?

1 comment:

  1. Nice Ken.

    I rememeber your Dad's Departments day in hell so many years ago. So many people gone so quickly.