Have You Seen These

What A Ride

Today I formally announced my retirement from the fire service; Pretty historic occasion in the Boyd household. After 30 years of public service in helping others during their worst day, I am turning in my badge and moving on. I always wondered if I would know when it was time. Well, turns out the decision was pretty easy.

But, I’m not going out to pasture. I decided to move my life, passion and energy in a new direction; the private sector. I was offered a new and exciting job overseeing safety and training programs for a company that provides services up and down the west coast (including Hawaii!!!!). Not a bad gig.

However, it is a bittersweet move. Ever since I was a little boy(d) I wanted to be a firefighter. I watched fires, drew pictures, pretended, and worshiped the actors in the 1970’s T.V. show “Emergency!” Only after completing my college degree did I decide to pursue my dream, and I was unbelievably lucky to have been able to make the dream reality for most of my adult life.

As I look back, I learned a few things over three decades of immersion in the fire service;

  1. It’s not about us.
  2. If we think it’s about us, people get pissed.
  3. If we drive code red to every call like it is rip snortin’ house fire or kid in cardiac arrest, we may kill ourselves or someone else, and I guarantee those that respond to our situation will drive the same way.
  4. Public trust is beyond fragile. It takes years to earn it, and three seconds to lose it.
  5. We are held to a higher standard. Get over it, or get out of it.
  6. Pressing “Like” on Facebook can make our career dissipation light blink in high gear.
  7. Firefighting isn’t glamorous. It is hot, shitty, scary and dangerous work.
  8. EMS isn’t glamorous. It is gooey, smelly, shitty, scary and dangerous work.
  9. Being in charge of a large incident isn’t glamorous. It is shitty, scary, and often frustrating work.
  10. Bravado will lose to physics every time.
  11. Dying from a fire can take decades. Wear your mask.
  12. Yelling on the radio bankrupts our credibility account (unless we are calling a Mayday, then everyone will loan you everything they have).
  13. Ask your significant other how they felt hearing Amazing Grace played on bagpipes during a firefighter funeral.
  14. If we don’t write it down, we didn’t do it…. Or maybe we did?
  15. There is life outside the fire service. Trust me.
  16. Some people don’t belong, and we have to help them succeed somewhere else.
  17. A pager is an alerting device for emergencies and divorces. Use the off button.
  18. An IAFF sticker in the window of your car is not a free pass from a speeding ticket.
  19. Firefighters are leaders in schools, neighborhoods, churches, volunteer organizations and sports.
  20. Firefighters can be criminals when we violate community trust, exploit our authority and/or believe we are above reproach.
  21. We will never have enough to do our job.
  22. We are improvisers. We do more with less. But, we must accept that it has to be OK to do less with less if we can’t get the resources we need to do it safely.
  23. We love tradition, yet it continues to kill us. Dying in a fire is not noble. It’s simply sad, and often the result of an inexcusable lack of knowledge, leadership and common sense.
  24. I never want to be shot at. That is why I could never be a cop. They will always have my deepest respect.
  25. Beware the “5-20’s”…. firefighters with 5 years of experience, but 20 years’ worth of opinion.
  26. Senior firefighters with years of real world emergency experience owe it to everyone else in balancing the “5-20” mentality.
  27. The concept of safety should not be viewed as a restraint, but rather as an investment in the health and effectiveness of the organization.
  28. I can’t do enough to protect my heart; both psychologically and physically. The Stairmaster helps with both.
  29. Information is power. Use it or lose it.
  30. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a fire pushed places. But, I’ve seen it pulled into lots of places it didn’t belong.
  31. Opening a door or window in a fire can cause all kinds of problems.
  32. Ask yourself; “Am I doing any good up here?” (Applies to roof operations and chief level performance evaluations)
  33. Digital radios suck in tactical and/or high noise situations. Hopefully they will come up with a solution before people get killed.
  34. If you think you’ll work 25+ years and have a pension that will carry you till you croak, think again. Never stop learning and growing. Invest in yourself and use this investment to sustain your family until the end, and that can be a really looooong time.
  35. Honor those who went before you.
  36. Respect the trade.
  37. Never Forget

I’ll stop here. It has been a helluva ride, and I can’t wait to hop on my next adventure and go balls to the wall. Life is too short to do otherwise.
With the deepest respect and honor to those chiefs, firefighters and paramedics who showed me the way, and those who step up in the future. Thank you.
PS: I’ll keep posting about relevant stuff related to fire service and social media and crisis response.  But, I’ll start sliding in stuff from my new sphere of influence as well.  Should be interesting!

About chiefb2

Retired fire chief,Type 3 AHIMT IC, PIO. Current industrial services safety professional, social media emergency management disciple (no, I'm not a "guru"). Crisis communications consultant. Dad with an open wallet.
  • Congratulations Chief. As a citizen of the city you served so well for many years, allow me to express profound gratitude not only for myself, but for all those who don’t give a thought to the dedication and self-sacrifice of you and your fellows. Your leadership will be sorely missed. But, I trust that your work of teaching, training, encouraging and leading by example will continue with this new assignment. The very best to you in this change.

  • Dan Pike

    Congrats, Chief. It was an honor working with you. Best of luck in your new career. I’m guessing Diane will volunteer to help with some of your Hawaii work…


  • Tena Carr

    Congratulations on your retirement and Thank You for years of Service. Some great tips, in your article, that people should read 🙂

    • Thanks Tena, greatly appreciated!

  • Tena Carr

    Reblogged this on Jottings and Writings and commented:
    Some great tips for Firefighters everywhere!

  • Tena Carr

    Forgot to add that Emergency was also my favorite show growing up 🙂

  • Bolsen

    Thank you Bill for everything you have done in the fire service. I have learned allot from you the past 25 yrs, and look forward to learning more.

  • Congrats on making it home from your last call Bill. And welcome to the other side. Stay safe.

    • Thanks Mike, greatly appreciated. I’m pretty excited.

  • Your a good man. It was a privilege to work along side and under you ( except that time you pounded on the roof to flap it on Cornwall, LOL). Wishing you the best!

    • Thanks Jim, this means a lot.

  • Linda Smith

    You were a wonderful help to me when Jim died. I know that he respected you and considered you a great friend.
    Have a wonderful, long life in your retirement and new job.

  • Pingback: Dispatcher Blog » Blog Archive » Retiring Bellingham fire chief offers 37 pieces of advice()

  • Todd Ramsay

    UNBELIEVABLE. One, I am reading a blog and two I am posting. Never done it before and never will again !! Yet, to respond to you is worth breaking my principle. You make great points and they very much apply to my, in concept, profession as well as yours.

    You have been an amazing leader for the community and public safety in general ! It has been an honor and sincere pleasure to work with you, especially when we got in trouble !! (Some people just need to get a sense of humor and a life !! LOL)

    Here is to our retirement my friend, I know you are as excited as much as I am !!

    1 B 1

    GO COUGS !!!

    • Thanx Brother! You too, (all except the Go Cougs comment) LOL!

  • Bob I

    WOW I just found your blog today. Congratulations in your retirement chief. Awesome Blog I’m going to be sure to share it with my new recruits. Thanks

  • Ken Gustafson

    Congratulations Bill! I enjoyed working with you from day one. You are a true professional and a great friend. There are countless stories I could tell of our times together, some difficult, most of them fun. Do you remember that call…?

  • Julia Po

    What great advice, Chief, thank you! And thank you for your many years of service. You are much appreciated and will be missed in the public sector, but your new work sounds worthy and will benefit from your expertise.

  • Amy C.

    Chief, as someone who shared the horror of June 10, 1999 (from the news side, and as a parent) and as one who shares the excitement of always growing and learning (gotta love that social media), I honor you, your years of service, and your heart for this community. We were blessed to have you; now blessings on you in this new chapter of life.