Aggressive vs. Safe- Here’s to the end of Either/Or

I would like to direct your attention to Backstep Firefighter and today’s well-written article “The 2011 Firefighter” by my fellow brother, Dave LeBlanc.  Among other things, Dave wrote about being an aggressive firefighter vs. an overly-safety-conscious firefighter as we enter the New Year.

This is a topic that will be revisited on a regular basis- in 2011 and that is a good thing.  I’ve heard excellent arguments on both sides of the issue, and Dave is one of the best at articulating his opinions on the issue.  In fact,  Firefighter Netcast’s Chris Naum recently hosted “Looking Forward through the Rearview Mirror” on his program “Taking it to the Streets” during which this very topic was discussed.

You can download this impressive show to your mp3 player here.

As we continue to debate aggressive vs. safe, I would encourage everyone to consider that the truly successful, efficient, and valued public servant will be the intelligent, well-trained firefighter who neither goes completely aggressive nor ineffectively safe.

If you want to be the best, most efficient savior of lives and property, then you will come to understand there is an inherent value on both ends of the debate.

This will lead you to gain the intelligence and experience to become the 21st century firefighter- one who is BOTH effectively aggressive enough to bravely do what needs to be done to protect lives and property AS WELL AS smart enough to make intelligent decisions on the fireground that will allow us to perform our tasks without making the human mistakes that continue to injure and kill us each year.

Not either/or.

Both.

Are any of these statements untrue?

  • Constant training makes us better firefighters
  • If we apply the lessons learned from our experiences, we become better at what we do.
  • Our job is intrinsically dangerous.
  • We will never be able to guarantee we will all go home at the end of the day.
  • The success of the 21st century firefighter will depend upon intelligence coupled with bravery, aggressiveness coupled with smarts.

We need to recognize that there is more to the debate than the either/or two polar opposites being bandied about in the recent past.

Thank you for reading Fire Daily.  I hope it has helped spur your thinking.

Here’s to a happy, safe, smart, and proud New Year!

-J

2 Comments

  • Bill Carey says:

    Constant training makes us better firefighters
    - Possibly, however the condition lies within ‘constant’ and ‘training’. A rifleman knows how to breakdown and reassemble his rifle in a matter almost second nature. For us, the area of training is so varied that the mix of subjects derails the constant. If this were fully understood, then the safety and health week wouldn’t run just once a year.

    If we apply the lessons learned from our experiences, we become better at what we do.
    - The greatest challenge in that is the correcting of learning what and how to apply it.

    Our job is intrinsically dangerous.
    - True, but we shouldn’t be resting any laurels on it and using it as an excuse. Many go to working fires and return home safe. How many of these dangers does the firefighter himself create of his own volition?

    We will never be able to guarantee we will all go home at the end of the day.
    - Exactly. Everyone Goes Home is a fallacy. Can we work on improving the outcomes and such? Definitely, but to trust in a fantasy slogan is wrong. Everyone does not go home, because firefighters are human and humans make mistakes. Not a cop-out, but the cold, hard realization that disproves the idea we will someday have zero LODDs.

    The success of the 21st century firefighter will depend upon intelligence coupled with bravery, aggressiveness coupled with smarts.
    - Wouldn’t have said it any better, other than it will also need to include help from those outside the fire service to fix the ‘disconnect.’

    Bill Carey

    • John Mitchell says:

      Thanks, Bill. In answering the question- which is untrue, I’ll assume you would agree that “none of the above” is correct.

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John Mitchell

Firefighter/Paramedic and a Lieutenant in suburban Chicago
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