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;
- It’s not about us.
- If we think it’s about us, people get pissed.
- 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.
- Public trust is beyond fragile. It takes years to earn it, and three seconds to lose it.
- We are held to a higher standard. Get over it, or get out of it.
- Pressing “Like” on Facebook can make our career dissipation light blink in high gear.
- Firefighting isn’t glamorous. It is hot, shitty, scary and dangerous work.
- EMS isn’t glamorous. It is gooey, smelly, shitty, scary and dangerous work.
- Being in charge of a large incident isn’t glamorous. It is shitty, scary, and often frustrating work.
- Bravado will lose to physics every time.
- Dying from a fire can take decades. Wear your mask.
- Yelling on the radio bankrupts our credibility account (unless we are calling a Mayday, then everyone will loan you everything they have).
- Ask your significant other how they felt hearing Amazing Grace played on bagpipes during a firefighter funeral.
- If we don’t write it down, we didn’t do it…. Or maybe we did?
- There is life outside the fire service. Trust me.
- Some people don’t belong, and we have to help them succeed somewhere else.
- A pager is an alerting device for emergencies and divorces. Use the off button.
- An IAFF sticker in the window of your car is not a free pass from a speeding ticket.
- Firefighters are leaders in schools, neighborhoods, churches, volunteer organizations and sports.
- Firefighters can be criminals when we violate community trust, exploit our authority and/or believe we are above reproach.
- We will never have enough to do our job.
- 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.
- 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.
- I never want to be shot at. That is why I could never be a cop. They will always have my deepest respect.
- Beware the “5-20’s”…. firefighters with 5 years of experience, but 20 years’ worth of opinion.
- Senior firefighters with years of real world emergency experience owe it to everyone else in balancing the “5-20” mentality.
- The concept of safety should not be viewed as a restraint, but rather as an investment in the health and effectiveness of the organization.
- I can’t do enough to protect my heart; both psychologically and physically. The Stairmaster helps with both.
- Information is power. Use it or lose it.
- 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.
- Opening a door or window in a fire can cause all kinds of problems.
- Ask yourself; “Am I doing any good up here?” (Applies to roof operations and chief level performance evaluations)
- Digital radios suck in tactical and/or high noise situations. Hopefully they will come up with a solution before people get killed.
- 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.
- Honor those who went before you.
- Respect the trade.
- 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!