Why is it we laugh about the phrase “100 years of tradition unimpeded by progress”? Maybe because it’s hard to rationalize that we are part of that tradition that is holding back progress. It’s easier to laugh it off than it is to take action and stand up against the old ways.We know there are better ways to do business, but we can’t be run like a business,right? Or can we?
Our proud culture builds strong dragon slayers from day one. These warriors of the flame are fairly polarized about their mission in life. “Fight Fire and Save Lives” that’s what they do. We created them and when we try to get them outside the box they resist. How can we get any better at our craft than those that came before us if we embrace our traditions so tightly that we can’t imagine a world without them?
Our role cannot define our purpose
If you ask one hundred firefighters what it is they do, and you’ll get many different responses. I would guess few would actually come close to an accurate purpose of their job. This confusion starts early in our career. The solution would be to start re-imaging what it is firefighters really do. Teach cadets that our role may be to slay fire and rappel from tall buildings but our purpose is to take care of each 911 call like they’re our family. The other side of our role, is the acknowledgement that we serve many levels of emergencies that are defined by the caller, not us. Understanding our role and how it allows us to accomplish our purpose will create a culture that will most likely differ from today’s.
I am very proud of my profession and it’s traditions. My department embraces the ceremonial traditions with pomp and circumstance. My department is entrenched in some of the old ways, but we are slowly realizing that the world we live in is passing our profession up with technology, business acumen, creativity and leadership that cares. I urge you to not only learn the ways of the business world that is flying by at a dizzying pace, but to employ some of the practices. Even if they don’t fit into our traditions.
Photo Credit; East Austin # 4 Firefighter Ed Petersen