Browsed by
Category: Uncategorized

Its only time…

Its only time…

IMG_0338I get asked often about the 9/11 events and climbs throughout the year, but especially September when the schedule is packed. Why? Why is the question.

I guess the answer is, why not? The slogan “never forget” is something that I hold true to and I think anyone in the fire service should strive to find ways to remember. You see, we are already at that time when firefighters are coming into the calling that don’t understand “why” and “what” happened that day and since then. They didn’t see the changes since that point and where we were before then. Its up to us as veteran and senior men and women to educate and teach a little bit of history and implore others to pick up the irons and march forward.

Participating in any one of the many 9/11 climbs and runs either from the Tunnel to Towers foundation or the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation is simple. In the case of the NFFF you are literally making a difference in the lives of our own brother firefighters. Sadly given the LODD statistics around the United States, you may be benefitting your own family in the future should they tragically need their services. Funds from the Tunnel to Towers group are benefitting our most catastrophically injured veterans who have served our country and coming home. The organization started by families of those lost on September 11.

IMG_8753How can you not help out, participate, or donate to keep the memories of those alive lost to the worst attack on U.S. soil since Pearl? You don’t have to be the fastest, the fittest, the best looking, the salty firefighter, or the strongest, its about taking a little bit of time. After all, its only time. If it’s a 9/11-memorial climb for the NFFF you literally are not being timed (although I do try to be very picky about my pace) there is no first place for these. NFFF is a memorial climb with plenty of thought, time to reflect, moving moments, and time to build brotherhood. In the case of T2T runs and climbs, yes these are timed, but the important part is getting out there and being a part of something bigger than yourself and letting people see WE WILL NOT FORGET THEM.

Being a part of these events, remember this. There are no planes crashing above you, no fire above, no victims screaming for your help, there are not buildings collapsing, and there is not the potential in the back of your mind that this is your last job. For us participating this is only time, we will go home in a 30 minutes, an hour, maybe a couple hours, we will go home to our loved ones. The pain of climbing, the heat from running will go away. Take the time, remember our fallen, teach our younger generations and carry on their names so that they are never forgotten.

We are only given so much time on this Earth. On your headstone there will be two dates, a beginning and the end with a hyphen in the middle. Make the most of that hyphen.

Then we were three…

Then we were three…

We’re here, we’ve made it to three years and what a crazy ride its been.  If you would have asked me three years or definitely ten years ago if this is was where i was going to be I would have said you’re crazy!  Three years ago I was pressing buttons and setting up the initial pieces for the website as we camped on vacation.  Unfortunately due to flood damage in West Virginia we won’t be stopping through there on the way this year.

The first year I wasn’t sure what to expect, fearing the worst from others as I hung my shingle out and utilized this new space as a blogger.  I thought I would face all sorts of negativity and backlash from the community, but I guess that depends all on what you’re going with your piece of the Internet.  Over the course of the last several years it has by far been the positive things that have happened, the good that has been paid forward, and the amazing things that have been happening.

Whats been happening the last year or so?

Well, the truth is a lot of things have been happening.  So far in the last year I’ve been involved with around 30-35 events depending on how you count them.  I’ve helped by sponsoring my first events as a “blogger”.  I’ve jumped on board with another two events to help in planning them and launching some awesome projects.  I finished up my second full year as an Ambassador for the Scott Firefighter Stair Climb back in March.  I was an honoree climber for the inaugural “Big Climb Philly”, something I’ve never done before.  My wife and I are now Ambassadors for the non-profit 24-7 Commitment and this is all just the start.  The real answer for the last year is that momentum has been building, and not just a little bit of it.

Sadly just a week ago I had a first that I am not looking forward to doing again.  The loss of my 2015-2016 honoree Brian Ford (six years old) was a first youngest loss that shook my to the core.  Two battles with acute undifferentiated leukemia, his cure was not found soon enough and his body had enough.  This is a first that I knew may be coming, but you can never prepare yourself for because you want to be very positive and hopeful that EVERYONE is going to be cured.

Whats in store for the next year?

Hopefully with any “luck” there will be plenty of new things.  As I mentioned in a post about a week ago there are some plans in place, you can check that one out for yourself.  In short, the answer is more content, more collaboration, bigger things, and more people.  With some work I’ll be seeking new partnerships and sponsorships to help raise funds for some awesome organizations and keep pushing forward.

As I stated three years ago…

With the variety of fundraisers, events, and goings-on it is difficult to remember every website to point people to, and thus FF4CURES.COM was born.  Not only does this give me a place to be able to link people up with ways to give, but it also gives me a way to outreach, blog, and educate many of the “CURES” that I am fighting for and to ENCOURAGE OTHERS!

That statement above really hasn’t changed and there is a proven and trusted track record for just that.  While I may be the writer, the guy behind the name, and the one running the site, its about making a difference for others!

Thank you everyone that has continued to check this place out and reach out over the last few years.  Hope you’re ready for more!


We climb for those that can’t

We climb for those that can’t

As I sit in the plane this morning at CMH and wait for a mechanical issue to be fixed I find myself in touch with brother firefighters and families of those that we are climbing and championing for.  Some days are better than others as families who are dealing with Leukemia understand.  Some days we learn of good news, great results, and very positive and uplifting things, and then there are other days.  Those days with bad news, sad news, and news that no one is ever prepared for.  Those reasons both good and bad are why we do what we do and why we won’t stop.  We climb for those that can’t, those who haven’t the strength, the ability, and for those that have gained their wings.  We climb, compete, and fundraise so that someday other families will not have to hear the word cancer.

As I reflect back on the last ten years of this event, its amazing to think how far we have came as an organization at the Scott Firefighter Stair Climb.  We measured firefighters in the hundreds and now we approach firefighters totaling near 2000.  We’ve seen firefighters come and go, new volunteers and familiar faces, and so many great changes.  This year we celebrate 25-years and so much success.  Last year we raised $2.2 millon and i cant imagine what is ahead.  I am looking forward to many years ahead and at some point my son Jonas, joining me in the climb and making a difference.  

A “thank you” seems so small for all of the good deeds that have been done for me to get to this point.  The support, the donations, the equipment, the services traded, the sponsorships, the gear, and everything logistically to make it happen, but THANK YOU.  You have no idea how much the support of others means, no matter how big or small.  This is far from a one man job and although I am a team of one representing the great State of Ohio, I am a part of a much larger team.  

Time is ticking, commit to making the change

Time is ticking, commit to making the change

So the New Year is here. 2016 is here to stay for a while, and 2015 can be written off. We can remember and reminisce about all the good things that came from the year, and we can remember all of the lessons learned from the negatives. Today is a new day and we cannot change the past, but there is a full year ahead where you can make a difference, make changes, and go somewhere.

There are a couple questions that I field throughout the year by email, messages, and in person at events. How do I do what I did? How can I make the changes, transform into a healthier lifestyle, and change my life?

I know I have a few brothers that I personally know and a few other friends that are struggling with this battle so I’ll start the year out with a difficult topic. It applies to many in our calling and the number who needs the help isn’t getting smaller. The topic is firefighter health and fitness, but really it can apply to anyone reading my blog because the concepts apply. With that said, please don’t take what is being said incorrectly or that I value anyone any differently. Instead take it as a concern for you, your family, your fire family, and those that you may be serving.

Why am I so devout to firefighter fitness you ask? I am passionate about the cause because I was there, maybe not to the same extent as some because we all face different issues. I was the unfit firefighter sucking down PSI of air, I was the worn out, overweight, borderline in many areas that was headed down the road where many of our brother firefighters have. I was 235 and a 42” waist, I looked like “Winnie the Pooh” in my fire gear and I finally had to make the decision to change my life.

Looking around I am deeply concerned and worried about a growing number of our own that are in the same place that I once was. I don’t have to look far to wonder whats happening because in traveling to training, workshops, expos, conventions, and events around the United States I can see it.

Sadly when I first started writing this article I found myself getting an #LODD notification of a brother in Michigan who died during a training exercise. While it will be some time before the full report will be out, they have listed the cause as stress/overexertion. This cause and his nature of death sadly are happening all too often in the fire service and are a leading cause that is not being addressed. I have given up on there being a “good, safe, or appropriate” time to discuss that which is killing us, because that time is now. In fact, the more that I sit here with my thoughts about firefighter fitness the more frustrated and concerned I am for our brotherhood. Here’s another article that hits close to home with a firefighter in the county to the east being transported with cardiac conditions. As I continued to work on this piece I heard of other close calls, and then today I heard of an Illinois FF/Medic that suffered cardiac arrest after his shift. Unfortunately it is not a matter of IF another of our own will be lost to stress/overexertion, but a matter of WHEN. Brothers and sisters, the statistics are out there and they speak volumes. There is NO better time than today to start making the changes in your life, because you matter!

Disclaimer here… Before beginning any new health regimen, make sure to seek professional medical advice and make sure you are fit for exercise. Take the information in the “take note” section below with you and perhaps your doctor may have further advice. If you are going for a physical or yearly bloodwork, make sure to record these numbers with the where you started section.

Take note, take steps to making a plan

First of all, gather a few things for memory sake. Snap some pictures of you today or some someone do it for you in decent light, if there’s one thing that I wish I had a few more of, it would be photos at the beginning. Take these, as you see changes take more photos, maybe its monthly. I am goal oriented and when I had a setback or needed to know why I was working hard I look back at where I was.

Hop on the scale, you need to know where you started. If you have a scale that figures your BMI and muscle percentages that’s even better, record that data too. How you weigh yourself is up to personal preference, but I prefer not to be weighing my shoes and don’t want a deceptive number. I chose to weigh daily in the morning first thing, stick to it.

They say you are what you eat, but sometimes when we are starting out we have selective memory and forget about that extra helping of potatoes or that late night slice of pizza when you get back from a run. Write it down. You don’t need to have an expensive logbook to do this, just a tablet and something to write with. Record what you are eating, everything, when, and maybe even the portion size. Record also your drinking habits and can or bottle sizes. This is not an area to cheat yourself in, if you want to make change you need to lay it all out there to be seen. Chances are you might shock yourself and you may have your own AHA moment.

As I said in the disclaimer above, take this information and talk to your family doctor and see what they feel is an appropriate level of exercise and two if they have ideas. Its not about seeking pills or surgeries, its about applying common sense to what you are putting into your body.

Have a plan

Here’s where it gets tricky and you have to start making commitments because you need to write them down. Maybe it’s to lose twenty-five pounds in the next year (maybe more in some cases). Maybe that goal is to lower your cholesterol or your blood pressure, maybe it is a combination of things that you would like to see. Make these goals realistic for you, if you are hitting the scales at 350 pounds and you are 5’2”, a realistic goal would not be 160 in a matter of months. Likewise, setting the goal small will equally be unrealistic. This plan should be something that I recommend working with a physician on, perhaps they can even refer you to a nutritionist for further consultation.

Honestly just by writing down what you have eaten in the last two weeks you will see the answers that you need to make the plan happen. Looking at my own firehouse I see portion sizes, pop (soda), energy drinks, sugary snacks, loads of salt and carbs, and did I mention portion sizes.

This is not a diet; this is changing your life

I have to add this tidbit in here because I really think it’s important. I had friends, doctors, and other competitors ask me, what diet did you use to get to this point? The thing is, yes I did try some of those diets out there, tried watching points, and tried some pills, but those are just short term. What worked and what I reaped the most benefit from was not a diet, but changing my life. That was two-part, it was putting the time in working on my body and also putting time into planning what foods I put into my body.

Do something with the plan

Again, that time to do something is now, not tomorrow. One of the things that I regret the most is that I didn’t get in shape sooner, or honestly that I ever let myself get to that point. If part of your plan is to reduce or completely eliminate certain types of food, get rid of them and don’t buy them again.

Work with your family to cut those foods out of your menu and don’t let them back in. Having the support of my family was a huge part of how I got to where I am. Honestly may wife at times was probably pretty bored with some of my foods around the house and what I would not cook for dinner. There is still a long standing order that, “yes you can buy Girl Scout cookies, but you must hide them from me. The same applied to chocolates and other sweets that I found hard to give up at first.

How are you getting there to your goal?

If you thought committing to making a change in your life and making a plan was a difficult task, you’ve only seen a part of the battle. The other part of the battle is attaining goals. Sometimes some of the simplest things can be done to start making more of a difference.

  • Get up. Quit riding the recliner so much at the firehouse or being so static around your own home.
  • Purchase a fitness tracker and set a goal of so many thousand steps per day. Mine is a minimum of 10,000 per day, which in the fire service shouldn’t take too long to hit. Watch it throughout the day, have you been sitting for awhile, then go do something like walk the steps. If you’re getting ready for bed and you haven’t hit your mark, then keep going. My FitBit helped boost me be even more effective at staying active.
  • Don’t starve yourself. You need to eat because your body needs fuel. Not eating is the quickest way to sabotage your plan.
  • Sign up for the gym. Even better if they will do a free physical assessment with a personal trainer. I switched gyms a little over two months ago, and yet still I took the trainer up on the assessment offer and learned new things.
  • Make a date with yourself, no one likes being stood up. Put down on the calendar when you are going to work out. Plan out at the most two weeks and set dates to go.
  • Take the stairs. Why are we so afraid of steps, but will wait what sometimes can be a minute or more to take the elevator that is there? Take the steps, not only will you get where you are going faster, but you will help get that heart pumping.
  • Pre-package your snacks. When I would sit down, the food sometimes just disappeared. Just because the food is there you don’t have to eat it all. See what the recommended portion size is and package those in re-sealable bags or containers to take with you.
  • Water can be boring, I’ll admit it, and in my town the water tastes like a tin can. If you’re looking to change it up a little. Try fresh lemon juice in your water. Squeeze and leave the wedge of lemon in there throughout the day. Other options to infuse in your water that I enjoy are cucumbers or strawberries.
  • Avoid the sports drinks. Seriously, if you’re just hitting the gym for a 25-minute jog, maybe a bike ride, and some weights, you aren’t doing yourself a favor. These popular drinks are full of more calories, sugar, and other nutrients than you are often going through. Buy an easily washable and refillable water bottle from the store that has a wide top and closes well.
  • Surround yourself with good people. Know someone else at your firehouse that is starting the same mission as you or maybe already works out, hit them up and schedule some gym time. Surrounding yourself with negatives will do nothing for your progress but bring you down. I’ve dealt with this first hand. Be positive if you are out there, encourage each other, we are all here to make a difference.

Don’t give up

Lastly, this is a change that is not going to happen overnight, understand that. In some cases it took years of bad eating, too much drinking, and not enough activity to get you here, it will take some work to fix it! Do expect that this is going to be a challenge and that yes there are days when you are going to be sore and tired. Before long however you WILL see change if you are eating right and being active. At first that change might be that you see a few pounds falling off within weeks. That can be water weight, and that can also be attributed to “junk” leaving your body. Another change that I noticed in the first couple weeks when I started was that I felt more alert in the morning.

Need some motivation? Look at your kids, your spouse, your family, your fire family, and then finally look in the mirror. These are the people that you matter to, and these are who matter to you. Do it for them, do it for you, and do this so that your name is not added to the list of firefighter fatalities that is growing.

“My after 5k workout fix”

“My after 5k workout fix”

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 10.39.34 PMI had the opportunity two weeks ago to try a sample of Arbonne’s After Workout PhytoSport product after a 5K race in Columbus.  A runner and competitive stair climber of 11 years I’ve tried a variety of products, foods, drinks, and such to recover afterwards so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I’ve had some side effects and undesirable issues with “products” in the past that I have tried, so I was hesitant at first.

Everything with the morning was typical for me, from my meal to my pre-race hydration and warm-ups.  It quickly warmed up into the 70’s with humidity in the upper 80 percent range and kept noticeably going up as the morning progressed.  I pushed hard through the course that offered some decent change in elevation and maintained a great pace.  By the end of the course I felt my usual side cramps, leg pains, and of course thirst.

Grabbing a typical banana and half a bagel I headed by to my truck to mix up the “After Workout.”  The mix had a slightly sweet smell to it and quickly turned my bottle of water a pinkish tint.  With a good shaking the powder dissolved easily in the cool, but not cold water.  The first taste was not what I expected.  It wasn’t overly sweet, wasn’t gritty, not bitter, not metallic, and left no aftertaste.  It wasn’t something that I wanted to chug right away, but I really couldn’t put down.  Unlike other sports drinks after a race, the Phytosport drink didn’t upset my stomach because it wasn’t sweet as syrup.  Within 5-10 minutes I was feeling a heightened sense of alertness and had completely lost the winded feeling that I am used to after a good workout.  Typically it takes me a couple hours to feel quite that well.  If there is one thing that I really want to point out, it was the lack of muscle cramping, discomfort, fatigue, and soreness after finishing.  It was gone and in fact was non-existent the rest of the day.

Keep in mind this is the first Phytosport product that I have tried, but I am struggling to come up with many negatives to it.  The slightly fruity flavor appears to be the only one at this time, so maybe it’s not for everyone.

My first impression of the product leaves me wanting to test it again under different circumstances after a stair climb competition when my body is even more maxed out and my leg muscles are screaming in pain.   I look forward to trying more of the products and seeing what they can do for me.

Interested in trying the Arbonne products that I have mentioned?  I recommend you contact and order through:  Kayla Shomaker, Arbonne Independent Consultant, District Manager

Phone (740) 485-1665

Jonas…bottle changer

Jonas…bottle changer

FullSizeRender[3]This little guy might as well be in charge of the motivation aspects of my competing.  Jonas even a five is starting to get “it” when it comes to helping people.  Certainly his level of competitiveness and wanting to win, help, and be involved is awesome.  He’s got the SCBA bottle changes down pat and I’m looking forward to getting him more involved.

While I’m not doing a bottle change at the 40 this year and finishing with one bottle I know i could count on him to get it done.  I’m looking forward to him coming to Seattle in the future.

Capital City – Commit to Be Fit 5k

Capital City – Commit to Be Fit 5k

Finish line photo at the Cap City Commit to Be Fit 5k.

What an amazing run, it was something that I wanted to compete in for quite some time and I decided that this would be the year that I do it.  Registering for the Commit to Be Fit 5k was an awesome choice and a way to kick start my running this spring in 2014.  I set a PR last winter on my 5k (I wanted to finish fast…it was 15 out) and I had something that I wanted to try and surpass.  I wanted to chase after that time and see what a few months of different classes, training, and events did for me.

The day of the race I was in complete and total shock.  I mean you hear how big this event and the Capital City Half Marathon are, but then to see 15,000 people all converging on downtown is crazy.  I’ve seen racing corrals before at Ohio State, but not to the extent that they were here at this event.  They stretched probably 12-14 blocks or at least that’s what it seemed like, with the 5k folks bringing up the rear.  The event opened with the National Anthem loudly echoing through the downtown area off the buildings on a cool and slightly damp morning.  As we advanced to the front we were tight packed in like sardines and the ability to stretch in place limited.

As we took off from the line I knew I had to stick to my plan, my pace, and keep moving.  I passed…and passed…and dodged…and weaved to try and move to the front of the pack, finally finding my stride.  It was a great course with some change in elevation, a nice downhill, and an annoying uphill that I somehow forgot about.  My moment of “oh no” happened partway through when I felt myself get off pace because I was worried the 5k course was somehow not going to be clearly marked from the ¼ or the ½ marathon course.  I lost focus, I changed up my run, and it threw me off.  Did it contribute to my finish time, yes, but not entirely.  Lesson learned, “keep focused and push forward.”

The last mile felt pretty good once I regained composure and saw that the 5k route was marked well (great job and kudos to the event folks!) I don’t know how you could miss it.  As I approached the final stretch to the finish I could see the arch up ahead, I looked at the watch and while part of me doubted I knew I had to sprint it out and try to beat my PR.  Pain of a slight tweak to my knee I kept pushing to a strong finish of 25:56, and 50 seconds off what I needed.  Overall I shocked myself when I found the results online and it made me want to sign up for several more events.  I placed 45th out of 1301 people overall, 33rd out of 421 males, and SECOND in my age category!

The race swag was awesome, the food to die for, and the entire day felt like a great one despite coming up short.  It left me wanting more and gave me even more of a push to try and break under 25 minutes on the 5k.


The playlist

The playlist

I’ve seen the question posted on many a runner forum, sports forums, and talked about it at events, what is on the playlist that’s pounding through the headphones.  I am motivated and moved by the music in many ways and break my training and events down by list to get me ready and get the head in the game.  To me, every song here has a meaning a reason and a purpose for being in the list.  The song might be on because of a life event, a cadence, a great lyric, or in some case a specific person of significance.  As haphazard as it may look, it works and is quite the variety of genre to keep me going.  While some songs change yearly, others are left on here.  From the time the alarm goes off in the morning the music is on and running pretty steady with the exception of meetings, ceremonies and some work that has to be completed before the climb.

The following are my lists for this weekend at the Scott Firefighter Stair Climb:

Warmup and Stretch

Someone Like You – Adele
Beneath Your Beautiful
Another Day – The Album Leaf
Collide – Howie Day
Lose Yourself – Eminem
Unconditionally – Katy Perry
The Dream Goes On – Mekka Don
The Man – Aloe Blacc
Happy – Pharrell Williams
Jump Around – House of Pain
Don’t Stop Believing – Journey
Jump – Kris Kross
Headstrong – Trapt
Roar – Katy Perry 

Staging area music

Seven Nation Army – TBDBITL
Its Our Time – Mekka Don
Til I Collapse – Eminem
My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark – Fall out Boy
Go Nuts – Mekka Don
Thunderstruck – AC/DC

In the Stairwell

Hall of Fame – The Script
I will Wait – Mumford and Sons
Hey Brother – Avicii
On top of the World – Imagine Dragons
The Monster – Eminem
Radioactive – Imagine Dragons
F*ck You – Cee Lo Green
No More Sorrow – Linkin Park
Sabotage – Beastie Boys
Babel – Mumford and Sons
Whistle – Flo Rida
Burn it to the Ground – Nickelback
Empire State of Mind – Jay-Z


How Firm Thy Friendship…

How Firm Thy Friendship…

Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 5.46.38 PM

What more can you ask for in an event for its inaugural running, this Ohio State backed event dripped athleticism, friendship, and football all for a great cause.  The Ohio State Four-Miler on Sunday, November 10th on the campus of The Ohio State University benefitted the Urban and Shelley Meyer Cancer foundation and was amazing in its first running.  As a Buckeye fan and athlete that likes to compete in events for a great cause, this was a no brainer to sign up and help keep me fit for upcoming firefighter stair climbs and benefit runs.
From the time I registered all the way up until race day the process moved smoothly.  Registration a breeze and adding people to my team brought fast answers from their support.  Communications leading up to the event were great and the packet pickup times offered plenty of options.

I must say from start to finish, this run seemed to get at every sports nerve in my body.  Former Ohio State athletes, cheerleaders, TBDBITL, Brutus, and all of us starting in the shadow of Ohio Stadium fed the hungry Buckeye fans.  10,000 fans signing Carmen Ohio and then our National Anthem just gave it all that more of a game day experience.  The race course had its small ups and downs, offered great pavement and plenty of space for 10,000 runners/walkers to traverse the campus in late fall.

Most important to this athlete and firefighter philanthropist was the cause and who I was able to do this event with, my family.  As some may know from reading my blog that I started over the summer, my mother is a Leukemia survivor and ultimately found her cure thanks in part to the great people at OSU.  What a lot of people didn’t know is that my mother Peggy signed up for this event and was one of the walkers to benefit this great cause.  Being joined by my sister Amanda and my wife Jennifer it was a huge experience for her to be able to finish on the 50 and reach another milestone for her.

If you missed the opportunity to be a part of this year’s event, I highly recommend that you watch for announcements and sign up early next year.  Surely with its popularity, this event will sell quickly.

An excellent job was done by all.  O-H!!!

You win with people. Who is on your team?

You win with people. Who is on your team?

As I’ve mentioned before, my ties with athletics and firefighting often give glances into two environments that are so closely tied.  With every call, with every resident I come in contact with inside my community it makes me further realize and appreciate the details of that bond.

Woody Hayes made the quote famous, “you win with people,” and how true that is in the public safety sector.  Your department can have the best apparatus, the safest gear, the most hose, best station coverage, 24-hour staffing, managers to oversee every aspect and detail, and the best ISO, but without people it makes no difference.  People are the best asset that any department or organization can have for that matter and building a successful team of individuals that share that goal is key.

What is that state-of-the-art fire truck good for if it is staffed with people that have the wrong attitude, or are there for the wrong reasons?

In sticking with the football theme I have going on here I will give you another quote from retired football coach, author, sportscaster, and motivational speaker Lou Holtz.  Holtz made an excellent point when it comes to excellence and getting performance from your team when speaking at a Konica business meeting in the 1990’s.

“You have to have a passion to win.  You can pay people to perform, but not to excel.”

How true is that?  We pay firefighters and medics to work their job, ride that truck, and do what is requested in their job description, but it doesn’t have to stop there.  There is more than just being a body in a chair that is at the ready, it is taking that job and having pride in what you have chosen to do.

Building your team and selecting your firefighters is perhaps this is an art that needs discussed more often to affect the results that we get when the call goes out.  Paper resumes, test scores, and an application give us information that the person wants to give us, but they only show a part of who that person is.

One thing that I think in all of the process for joining a fire department that gets overlooked is getting to know that person whether through interviews, or other means finding out how that person really ticks.  I know a great number of people that didn’t test well for a big city fire department that have went on to lead very successful careers on a volunteer department.  Likewise we can all name those that tested well and were in the top five to get hired and don’t turn out to be what anyone expected.

Winning.  How do you do that in the fire service you ask, we aren’t battling against anyone, or are we?  In the fire service, if you aren’t competing to win against someone or something you are truly missing out.  Our competition is different than on a field or court with numbers, ours is winning against a fire, successfully achieving a safe rescue, building a successful prevention and education program, and pleasing our customers.  For some it is the competitiveness of being the first crew and making the knock down because everyone in your truck is proficient at their jobs.  From the engineer/operator knowing how to get you there safe and then being able to pull water from a dry sponge to the guy on the nozzle leading the way to bring it under control, everyone is important.  When I don’t hear second tones for my department, we are winning.  When a truck rolls from my station that is filled with eager people I feel that we are winning.  When I look around and seeing the firefighter that used to be the “new guy” only a short time ago teaching a probie what to do, we are winning.

How we win or lose and lead the people/resources that we have is up to us.  We must focus on the great assets that we have already, not those that we do not possess.  Who doesn’t want every probie that joins the department be the “hungry” firefighter that excels at everything?  The truth of the matter is that everyone has their own talents and it is up to us to help them excel.  Not everyone is going to be the perfect firefighter, but it is up to us to utilize everything perfect and help them grow where they aren’t.

Lastly, I will leave you with a final quote from Holtz, who I dearly enjoy listening to in commentary even with his rambling.  He says, “it doesn’t take talent, it takes a can do attitude.”  Keep that in mind when you look around at your team.  If you’re in that officers seat of that truck and look over your shoulder and see those newer or lesser talented crew, that with the right attitude EVERYONE can win and EVERYONE can affect a successful outcome.