Friday, April 29, 2011

Personal Firefighter Survival In These Tough Economic Times

By Lieutenant Billy Greenwood, FETC Services - All Rights Reserved

I want to welcome everyone to our new Fire Engineering Blog and would like to quickly introduce our training group to the community. FETC Services is located in Southwestern New Hampshire and offers Advanced Firefighter, Safety/Survival and Officer Development Seminars throughout the United States. We made the trip to present our Interior Benchmarking Concept his year at FDIC 2011 and had a wonderful time networking with many of you. Would like to extend a big thank you to Chief Bobby Halton, Scott and Byron for making this venture become reality. In the future, you will see material from FETC specific to our problems, target hazards, and solutions focused to the smaller city brother, in a paid and/or combination fire department setting. Stay tuned for the official announcement from FE for our live talk radio blog coming May 20th, 2011 called "Tap the Box" with FETC.

Personal Firefighter Survival In These Tough Economic Times -

This is for all who are currently earning a living in the Fire or Emergency Services field. How do we continue to survive in these tough economic times? Luckily enough we are afforded with the opportunity to have the job you always wanted... as some call it "My dream job".

In this day and age of shrinking operational budgets and public outcry for reducing the bottom dollar, eventually the FD personnel line item is going to have to take a hit. Hopefully any and all expendables have been scrutinized with a sharp pencil, maintenance has been stretched, paid details, paid training, or in-house committees, and OT coverage goes before the line brothers get the axe. But what if your Fire Chief, who has already been your "Protector" in the past is now under the microscope of his or her boss, for more?

We as brothers must "pay it forward" everyday, every shift, every call. Believe it or not, I struggled through a previous economic downside with the economy back in the 80's. To be honest back then I wasn't in my dream job yet but I was making a honest living turning wrenches for a major brand car dealership now gone bankrupt and bailed out by us recently. I was one of a handful who recieved "pink slips" from the owner of the dealership. Did I see it coming? Absolutely not, I was young and naive I guess, just a month before the pink slip was presented I was accepting a fresh turkey for a Thanksgiving bonus from that same owner who made an announcement that the company was struggling in the "current organizational structure". Just after Christmas Day, I was handed my very last paycheck that had a pink slip stapled to the envelope...

Wow, the economic times back then were far less dire than today but let me tell you I had bills, expenses and payments that were in need of a paycheck. Did I survive, yes I did. Was it easy? Well, it was easier because I was single, not married or nor did I have three children relying on my financial well being.

So as we are awaiting the Obama Stimulis Plan to become fruition, how can we personally survive the current economic crisis that we are currently feeling? I for one, was hoping for a big fat check in the mail to payoff my mortgage but it appears "that ain't gonna happen" either.

My first suggestion is to make ourselves as marketable as possible to our bosses. When I say our bosses, I mean our taxpayers. Now is the time to come in early or stay late if needed. We should be making the most of what we got, with our tools, equipment, gear and appreciate the fact that we are still employed. We should be working as hard as ever to produce the greatest product or service for the customer.

Product? What the heck is this crazy person talking about? I am a firefighter man.... We are not producing a product, and this isn't a production line that we can produce an extra 50 items today. Well each and everyone of us are in the customer service business. Our business is making the customer, (that patient, that victim or that homeowner) feel as though their problems are OUR problems. We should use the Chief Brunicini model for keeping Mrs. Smith happy. By keeping Mrs. Smith happy, we are essentially keeping our budgets financially supported by the consumers of our service.

As far as personal survival goes, if I had to make a decision between laying off a late, lazy firefighter who does the bare minimum everyday (or) a hard working, hard training, go getter... the answer is pretty clear brothers. Market yourself, do your job better than yesterday, train like your life depends on it (because it does) and don't complain about daily tasks or chores, complete them and ask for more. Better yet, you know what needs to be done on a daily basis,go get it done without being told to by your officer.

Otherwise, when the hammer is about to fall... it is he, the more marketable firefighter who has a better chance of staying to "play another day". Remember this is the greatest job in the world and don't ever forget it!

Stay Safe Brothers and Sisters

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