As firefighters, another occupational hazard exists among us that is often overlooked. We tend to be more judgmental than most professions.
Let’s explain this further:
We are trained to make quick assessments of patients, size-up and implement strategies in dangerous situations, and quickly assess individuals under our supervision. In this process of becoming proficient in our world we can fall into the habit of judging others. We then become especially hard upon our own brothers and sisters in the fire service.
Consider the following examples and then reflect upon our occupational
How often have we criticized another fire department’s performance that we watch from the comfort of our arm chair? Yet we were not there and don’t know all the details. Perhaps if we treated them as those that we respond to rather than criticizing them we would behave differently?
How often have we used our own dark humor against our fellow firefighters when we have heard of someone’s choices resulting in harsh consequences? It is a sad hypocrisy that we exist to save others yet we tear down our brothers and sisters when they fall.
How often have we criticized our leaders: company officers, battalion chiefs, or the fire chief and done so in front of young and impressionable firefighters?
How often have we criticized our bosses for a decision they have made but yet we don’t have all of the details of the situation?
These questions are painful yet the truth remains that we probably have been more condemning than we would like to admit. We exist to serve and help others yet we may have fallen into the dangerous position of a bitter critic.
We sit safely in our presently comfortable position while we assail another who stands alone in their painful position. We respond to those in need despite their circumstances but we are failing to respond appropriately inside our own fire houses.
What kind of example are we setting?
How would we feel if our words were printed in the paper?
How would we feel if the brotherhood turned our words against us?
What if we were the boss making the hard decisions? Would we want the support of those we are responsible for?
It’s time to reconsider the value of our work, why we do it, and who we work for. Let us reconsider who our boss is when defining our work ethic “To work with all our might “as though you were serving the Lord” (Ephesians 6:7)
Let us be reminded of the value of our work and that the workers are few. Our model for servant leadership, Jesus Christ, reminds us of the great need for our work:
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Let us look upon those we serve, internally & externally, with a new found compassion and remember to support our bosses. Let our words build others up and not tear them down. We must practice what we preach as we serve and inside the firehouse.
Andy J. Starnes
Bringing Back Brotherhood Ministries