What is culture? Basically, the customary beliefs or social norms of a group. This is why some fire department’s culture can be the same as others or different. You can walk through doors, and just there’s something different. A lot of times, it comes down to the culture. It’s what they consider is routine. This is normal. This is how we always act.
I’ve got a couple of different stories that I’ve read about, and they’ve really just dawned on me for this. They’re about rescue or squad companies. If you’re in the Northeast, a rescue company is like FDNY. It’s heavy rescue. In the Midwest and Chicago, we call them squads.
First story is from Chicago Squad 2. “When I was Squad 2’s captain, I asked another officer to cover my tour one night so I could go to a family event. Catching up with him later, I asked him how the night treated him. He told me, “Pat, we got crushed. We’re going to our third or fourth fire at 3:00 A.M. All I want to do is go back home and go to bed. When I look back at the men, though, they were motivated. They look like they’re ready to go to the ballgame.”
The covering officer learned what I already knew. The men of Squad 2 would fight fire all day and all night and still be ready to go. That had nothing to do with their skill or experience and everything to do with their attitude. I’ve known a lot of firemen from all over the country, and the great ones all have one thing in common. They love this job, and they aren’t afraid to show it.” That quote is from Battalion Chief Pat Maloney from the Chicago Fire Department.
Story number two. This is what was noticed while observing Lt. Pete Lund on Rescue 2. If you guys have ever read 25 To Survive. The story was in there. It was talking about their combat ready concept, which came from Lt. Pete Lund. Something that was noticed was how the attitude of his crew always being combat ready for every run. In the fire service, we tend to idolize these guys assigned to the squad companies or the heavy rescue companies. The similarities between both stories was, it wasn’t necessarily skill. It was their attitude that they displayed and the discipline that they had to do what was right.
Both those are personal choices. You don’t need to go to a fire every day to have those. You can go to maybe one call a shift and you can still have the right attitude and the right discipline. At the end of the day, it’s a personal choice of our attitude and our discipline that we’re going to have to go to these calls.
The more you’re into this job, the more fun you’re going to have. You’re going to be here 20, 25, 30 years. Make it the best. Give it your all out effort with it. A culture that works is the one that’s going to have the right attitude and you’re going to have the discipline to do what’s right because hey, we’ve all had those 3:00 AM calls for the fire alarm, and we’ve been there four times that shift. This could be the one, though, where it’s going to light up on you. Are you going to be the one looking like an ass clown, or are you going to be the hero, save the day, leading an army behind you of guys ready to work? That’s going to be your choice this week. It’s Sunday, we got a whole week ahead of us, work on attitude and discipline.