The New Tradition…

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I was just reading an email from Billy Goldfeder. The email wasn’t to me personally, actually it was broadcast to probably several thousands of email accounts nearly daily. The email is titled the secret list. Long story short, it started many years ago between peers and today it informs thousands of LODD’s, on duty injuries, accidents, stupidity, and the like relating to firefighters.

Today’s email began talking about the Charleston 9 and then talks about an LODD in Deleware. In the email, Chief Goldfeder talks about a quote he heard from a non-firefighter. His discussion led me to another point off topic of Charleston’s 9, however still near and dear to our hearts. Read below what he typed and I will comment afterwards:

Text below from Billy Goldfeder view entire email and sign up for the secret list here

I was recently in a meeting with our website partner Gordon G along with some others who are deeply focused on the issues of firefighter safety and survival-and one of the comments that came up (from a non-firefighter) is “we need to see what we can do so fire chiefs, fire officers and firefighters can sleep better at night”…the simple but serious comment was referring to the many survival and risk related issues that are on firefighters, fire officers and firefighters minds when planning ahead…to avoid tragic events. When I heard that comment-and I love that comment-because it refers to some level of peace of mind when a FD is well led, well trained and well disciplined, I thought of the 9 Firefighters who were killed in the Line of Duty in Charleston. In thinking about the comment, if there is anything that can be learned from Charleston, it is that leadership of any FD, at all ranks, must look beyond what they personally “like” or the traditions they are “comfortable” with…and learn what the best practices are in protecting their members when providing service.

In many cases, what’s best isn’t always within the confines of our own departments. Chiefs, Officers & Firefighters: it isn’t “our” fire…it is someone elses…and we have to do what is best for those having the fire-and must do our best for those who are fighting the fire. The folks having their fire called us to do whatever we can to make it all better. And our families expect fire leadership to do whatever we can (before and during) to avoid those operating from getting hurt or worse. Sometimes we have to get hurt or worse. Most of the time, we don’t.

This hit me as an interesting thought, and I put a twist to it. The Firefighters in Roanoke have (had) a lot of tradition(s). We have given a lot of those up for more safe, efficient, smarter ways of doing things. Some of these traditions were given up voluntarily, yet most were taken away without a thought of asking us or allowing us to buy in to the new program. The thought that comes to mind is it being shoved down our throats. However, there is a new tradition in town!!! That tradition is budget cuts, engine-to-ambulance makeovers, and more work for less firefighters. This tradition needs to stop. REREAD the comments from Goldfeder above!! He is a Deputy Chief and he is saying these things. We have been saying it for so long.

I like some of the old traditions, I understood some of them had to pass. At least I was here to seem some of them go…On the other hand, who will not be here when this tradition passes. When one of us pay dearly with our lives and everyone points the finger at our Chief or whoever is sitting in that seat at the time, who will have resistance to change then.

It is plain as day, we need change for the better. We all had stock in the new regime, but it didn’t pan out.

2%? 3%? 5%? I think not. Apparently, some of us aren’t getting around to the stations like others of us. Most firefighters won’t tell one of the 3 top Chiefs to their face that they are disgruntled and that the job has been damn near ruined because of poor decision making by the City and the Department.

I will tell you this, whoever is reading, I get around to the stations. I get around to them a lot. I run into firefighters at their stations, at my station, at the Credit Union, on fires, at the Union Hall, talk to them on the phone (a lot), get emails from them, read their comments. I bump into them at the grocery store, at the furniture store, at the restaurant, at the mall, at the doctor’s office. I meet their wives, I meet their children, I meet their parents. I know every one of our firefighters names and a lot of their families. I enjoy bumping in to them. They mean a lot to me because they are my brothers, my sisters, my peers, and my friends. These people are disgruntled! These firefighters deserve better! These firefighters need leadership and they need a department and a vision, core values, and a mission they can believe in. Not just words written and hung in the stations, they need words that the leadership believes in and abides by. We need reform…now.

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