What Is Pride?
Ron Ayotte with some thoughts on pride.
During the evening of August 28th into he early morning hours of the 29th I was working a firewatch detail at on
of our elderly housing complexes due to the power being knocked out by Hurricane/tropical storm Irene.
I had a small Honda generator to provide power to the centrally located Recreation Hall of the complex and brought a copy of
Rick Lasky's book "Pride and Ownership, A Firefighters Love of the Job" that a friend had lent to me.
As I began reading, I thought to myself "how does one define pride in the fire service?" Let’s take the word pride and break down letter by letter.
stands for professionalism Being professional doesn't mean collecting a paycheck as a career firefighter or paid on call,
stipends or any other form of compensation if one is a volunteer.
Professionalism is an attitude, learning about our craft and keeping up with it.
It is doing the job properly, without making excuses. It is putting our best efforts to do what we were sworn in for: the protection of life and property.
stands for respect. Respect for the job. Respect for the rank. Respect for those we serve. Respect cannot be demanded, it
has to be earned. Most of all, the letter "R" stand for the respect for those
who blazed the trail and did the job before us and made the sacrifices (some of them supreme) that define the job today.
stands for integrity. As firefighters, from
the green behind the ears Probie to a grizzled old Chief, we are held to a higher standard. When one swears the oath to serve and protect life and
property, we assume a position of trust. When someone calls 911 for an
emergency, they are, for want of a better term inviting us into their homes and their lives. They trust us. If we lose that trust, it takes a very long time to gain it back.
stands for dedication. Dedication is putting
the needs of the public we serve ahead of our own. This was evident in the
coverage we had for the storm. The men and women of my Department were away from their homes and families, many of their homes were without power and had
property damage due to the high winds and heavy rains, yet they put the needs of the public ahead of their own. Dedication is also keeping up with the latest
trends in the fire service by constantly training, reading the print and electronic versions of the trade magazines (Firehouse, Fire Engineering, Fire
Rescue) as well as those put out by other departments, such as WNYF, the publication of the FDNY. It is also reading and learning from blogs such as
A Firefighters Worst Enemy
and others. The writers of these blogs share their experiences and insights that we can bring back to our own personnel.
stands for excellence. The very nature of the job means that perfection cannot, will not and never ever be achieved.
There are far too many variables in each and every call we respond to for that to happen. Excellence in what we do is a far more achievable goal.
Firefighting is a proud profession. Firefighters show their pride by wearing
shirts with their department's logo when they are off duty. A proud firefighter doesn't wear the "I fight what you fear", "Big Johnson FD", "I'm only here for
the beer" or any other kind of "whacker" T shirt. Career firefighters show pride by having the logo of the IAFF on their car windows, call and volunteer
firefighters have their own versions to identify their pride, but one has to remember that "pride" isn't a fire department shirt or a sticker, it is
professionalism, respect, integrity, dedication and the pursuit of excellence.