The Course Ahead

Issue 1 and Volume 12.

It’s 2017, folks, and the nation is already off to a polarizing start. After one of the most tumultuous election cycles in world (yes, world) history, the country is waking up to a new year with an entirely new type of politician and political climate and ideology. I’m not here to engage in political rhetoric by any means, or to predict what the next four years will be like, but I will predict what the fire service will likely see: more of the same. And that’s a good thing.

The fire service is anything but apolitical, but when an emergency comes in, it becomes everyone’s priority-no one is considered any differently when they need us. I’m proud of this fact because when we respond to emergencies, we put the typical political distractions and morale-reducing daily anecdotes aside for a bit. Believe it or not, going to emergencies has never reduced morale. In fact, observe the mood in the company after a fire or getting steady work-everyone is all in. It’s the other parts of the day that the myriad political and socioeconomic realities enter our fray. How we manage these realities’ contexts and outcomes is how we begin to navigate their consequences, and it’s up to us to chart the course ahead in 2017.

To quote Alan Brunacini: “Firefighters hate two things: change and the way things are.” I often use this truism in fire officer classes that I teach because it’s a comical approach to perspective building. What I’m getting at here is that every year on the first, the fire department starts out with the usual uncertainty: budgets, changing political climate and community support, peer misfortunes, transfers, retirements, etc. Furthermore, in my 25 years in the fire service, all the fire departments I have worked for or known have never had money-nor will they likely ever. Resources are like friends: They come and go, but I’ve never seen any fire department give up as a result. Budgets will always be what they are, and when cities cry poor today, they actually mean it this time. And most of our problems tend to be champagne problems, anyway. This is not to take a dismissive tone; rather, it’s to build further perspective to see what’s ahead of us on our course for the year.

Much of the appeal of this profession comes from the fact that we are charged with dealing with the real uncertainty that life throws at our citizenry and the fact that we’re the first ones they call and want to see. Let’s approach 2017 with the same resolution and resolve we do every year, and everything will be fine. All of us at FireRescue will do our part to help you navigate this course and will support the fire service every step of the way. And although we can’t cover everything (another champagne problem!), trust us that we will try harder than anyone! So, let’s start this year off right with 2017’s inaugural issue of FireRescue!

There’s a lot in store this month, and we start off with a great perspective on our course by looking at changing our community role from hero to guardian, some training ideas for volunteers, and a good way of implementing new fire behavioral research-by creating a fire research guide for dummies. As we look toward our departmental goals for 2017, we bring you an innovative use of drones as these new tools for the incident commander are becoming the new normal for size-up. We also look at the chief officer with regard to our fireground survival training and close out the issue with an in-depth look at performance measurement and why it’s going to be more important than ever.

All of us here at FireRescue support your resolve and vow to bring you editorial content that we all need to determine our course for 2017 and beyond. As we begin to chart this course, we promise to bring you more culture, stories, people, and goings on and will work even harder to get more of this into our lineup each month. As we watch the political spectrum unfold before our eyes, we’ll be reporting what the fire service is up to and how you are all leading the way to a safe, productive, and successful 2017. So, join me in welcoming in a new year, and remember to chart your own course as well. It’s your career, profession, and fire department. And they’re the best because you are there. And we’ll be there with you, too.