Like many Firefighters our career brings us happy times, fun times, and memorable times. Unfortunately, there’s times that more often than not bring us sadness and disappointments. From witnessing tragic endings of happy families to complete destruction, for me, those are the ones that stick with me the most. Over my career (16 years) I have a folder in my mind of the alarms that have affected me the most. What some people do not realize is the coping methods that many firefighters use. From alcohol to coming back to the firehouse and sometimes joking away the pain of what they may have just witnessed. The normal citizen would be blown away at some of the coping methods we use to deal with our hurt, anger, and pain. For me I constantly vision tragedies in my head. Many times whether it be a fatality accident, heart attack, or someone being burned severely (even to the point of death), its always there, front and center of my daily thoughts. Whether at the firehouse or home, they constantly appear as if I was born with them already programmed in my head. In time, what happens next is your loved ones and close friends, in your mind, begin to take the place of each ending that involves a tragic fatality. Its your daughter that you hear screaming from a bedroom which you cannot enter because the flames are to intense. Its your father or mother that suddenly collapsed from a heart attack while eating dinner. Its your brother, sister, or wife that has been involved in that fatal accident you worked. Depression sets in. Our minds are a powerful thing. What we encounter each and every day has a direct effect on the way we think, act, and more importantly the way we react. The positive thoughts from LIFE and this association of people are AMAZING! From reading the “No Complaining Rule” (HALF OUR DAY AT THE FIREHOUSE IS SPENT COMPLAINING ABOUT THE CHIEF OR WHAT TO COOK!) to learning about how to counter act the different personalities (80% OF OUR JOB IS GETTING ALONG). I am able to handle situations so much easier. Leadership is a key part in the fire service. We often hear the words “Respect is not given, its earned.” I must say from my experience in the fire service Leadership and respect go hand in hand. Younger generation firefighters look up to the veterans. They want to be led. They want to know that when you take them into an inferno that is dark and hot, as their leader, you will first have their safety and their life in your hands, second accomplish the mission to the best of your ability, and third deliver them back home to their loved ones safe. LIFE and THIS ASSOCIATION (I’M TALKING TO MY FELLOW FIREFIGHTERS) will not only help drown out some of your most tragic moments but prepare you to become the leader you must be! Stay Safe.
Landon Engleman – Firefighter