The Code

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I read a lot of articles on the Fire Service. It is rare that you come across an article that hits its mark as well as this one. This article relates to selling your department. That is one of the goals of this blog, to sell the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department to its citizens and visitors. I have only incorporated part of the story, as usual. I strongly recommend that you READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE from Thanks to 43Firefighter for the heads up on the article.

The Code
FF Danny Byrne
Beaufort Fire Department
Sconfire contributing editor

I remember as a young child in the early 70s anxiously awaiting the return of my father, a Lieutenant with the Boston Fire Department, from his shift at the fire station. No sooner had he walked through the door and set his things down was I jumping on him and asking the same old question “did you fight any big fires today?” Though he constantly smelled of smoke, and soot permeated from every line in his face, I always received the same answer, “no, another boring day.” Whether it was for the sake of my mother’s sanity or to not worry his children, he was keeping to “The Code.”

It has long been the tradition or, “The Code,” of the fire service that we do not brag or boast about what it is that we do, except only around the fire station “bean table” and then only to each other. Our life style, our profession, has been for years a secret fraternity that we have let no one other than our own see into or experience. Many times that is because we do not want to worry our loved ones, but more often because we are wrongly convinced that everyday civilians would not, or could not, understand it anyway, so why waste the breath and try to explain it. People call the fire department, we respond, we do our job, it’s that simple. But we all know it is not that simple, it never has been and it never will be, and we need to start making people understand that for the sake of our own budgetary survivability.

The fire service is built upon tradition; many good, some bad, some still applicable, some not. “The Code” however, is a long standing tradition whose time has come to pass, and needs to be changed. We can no longer afford to have our very own society in which outsiders are not permitted to experience. We must explain to all those who will listen, grab the attention of those who will not, and make them understand to the best of our ability what it is that we do, and just as importantly, why we are doing it. Everyone needs to understand the importance of doing this, from the Chief down to the tailboard firefighter.

Recent national headlines serve to illustrate the importance of this very point. The Boston Globe reported to the world that fire department response to building fires in the United States is “slow,” and that such a response has caused not only property loss, but the loss of life to both innocent victims as well as to firefighters. The Globe story also describes that this shocking revelation is largely due to the fact that many departments across the nation have lost not only manpower, but equipment and even fire stations to the political financial machine. As if adding insult to injury, only days later the headlines tell of how our Government is once again looking to find money by cutting into the Fire Act, SAFER Act and the United States Fire Administration…

…We as firefighters need to get out of this mindset and break “The Code.” We need to brag and to boast, to become story tellers, and tell our story to everyone and anyone who will listen because each time the bell sounds, there is a story to be told. Every incident, regardless of its complexity; requires manpower, equipment and training to bring it to a successful conclusion, and no matter how small it was, it could have been worse. If we do not explain that to people, how can we expect them realize the threat of fire, to know about our valuable service, appreciate our sacrifices, or understand what we need in order to do our job safely? (Read More)

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