First of all, if you haven’t read the IAFC Public Statement Against Violence and Hate, released on Jan. 15, 2021, start here:
I like that statement. I like it alot. Of course statements are just that: a statement. The words aren’t worth the paper they are printed on, if it doesn’t become a living document. If what an organization puts in writing, any member based organization, isn’t something that is committed to and actually followed, everyone’s time is being wasted.
I posted the IAFC statement on my social media pages because I like it a lot. And after I did, I received a few negative comments from friends who I like, a lot. One quality I like is the ability to disagree and it doesn’t require the end of a friendship, although that does seem to be the norm these days. I dislike that, a lot.
Years ago, I worked for a fire commissioner named Ray “Big Daddy” Muth. Ray was a phenomenal person for a variety of reasons, but the one quality I like to brag about my late friend is his ability to go toe to toe with anyone on an issue he was passionate about – and when it was over, it was over. His “fighting” with you over an issue (usually fire department stuff) allowed you and him to say what needed to be said. And then you, he or both budged a little and the issue was resolved. It was done. Then it was time to go eat ribs and have some ice cream. I loved that man a lot, miss him every day, and I am so fortunate to have been his friend.
So to those who don’t like any part of the IAFC statement, I’ll give you my thoughts if you have tolerance for a differing opinion. If not, it’s time to close the browser window.
Don’t miss the point of the statement, of which I am proud to have had a small part in developing. The statement isn’t about rules. It isn’t about right or left. I promise it is not. I also assure you there is no hidden message or need to read between any lines. What you read is it. It represents the feelings of every member of the trusted IAFC board of directors, and what is believed to be the responsibility of fire chiefs, fire officers and firefighters.
We (every one of us with bunker gear) are very privileged to be “the last hope” people have when their personal world is going to hell.
That’s why they dial 9-1-1.
They want a whole bunch of “make it better/make it stop” experts WHO THEY TRUST, who genuinely care about people, to do everything they can to make it better, and make it stop – quickly. Literally anyone – anyone – should be able to dial 9-1-1 and know they are getting a “trusted” someone who actually gives a damn.
The conflict is that I don’t think you can separate genuinely caring for anyone who calls and being filled with hate for a type or kind of person. Now look, this isn’t “Kumbaya time,” but to succeed in our business, fully succeed in all that the public expects, you have to be pretty caring and trusted. You have to give a shit – whole-heartedly.
Why do you think in every survey anywhere, anytime, the FIRE DEPARTMENT is #1 in public trust. Each and every time. We/you/us give a damn, and they know it. It is a genuine “trust contract” that allows us to enter their world and try and help.
They trust us because of who we are – who “typical” firefighters are. At least who they think we are.
Please keep reading the rest of this story HERE:
Take Care. Be Careful. Pass It On.