Disillusionment or Looking Behind the Scenes at the Fire Department of Oz

I realize that the last post may have come off a little, shall we say, venomous? I still stand by it. I still think that there are a large percentage of Chief officers out there not running their departments in the right way for the right reasons. But I feel obligated, after a day or so of reflection, to explain a little bit of where that venom comes from.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I am not Dave Statter or Jason Jefferies. I am not Bill Carey or Bill Schumm. I am not Willie Wines or Rhett Fleitz. I am not a news reporter or journalistic-type who presents a very informative reporting site. I am a blue-shirt firefighter who is opinionated about what the fire service should be, needs to be and deserves to be. What you read here is in large part my opinion, which we all know are like anal sphincters. Everyone has one. Doesn’t mean mine is correct, and I acknowledge that and respect others opinions, for the most-part. Sometimes people are just dead wrong. So that’s where the blog itself is coming from.

So where am I coming from in what I choose to write? Well, most of the time it comes from emotion, if you can’t tell. It’s gotten me in trouble more than once if you can believe that (try to hold back your scoffs). Most the time when I sit down to write something has recently gotten my Irish-German mixed heritage up and it’s better than drinking and going out and beating someone up. I don’t sit down and write rough drafts, move things around, change things etc. etc. With the exception of one or maybe two proof-reads what you see is what you get. So that’s where I am coming from with what I write. So now you know what the blog is about, where what I write about comes from so what’s the history behind me and what led to this blog? I guess that’s the big question and what played into a lot of the emotions that led to the last post.

From the time I decided I wanted to become a firefighter as a junior-higher I had a picture of firefighters and of the fire department as a whole that was pretty glorified. Unrealistic, even. I pictured firefighters as a group of honorable men who were out to serve others above themselves. Who were self-motivated to become the best they could possibly be. Who relished training and job-knowledge and constantly looked to improve themselves. I looked at firefighters as masters of every aspect of their jobs and as it being completely unacceptable to be less than so. I looked at firefighters as men who were bursting with pride at the calling they fulfilled and who would never dishonor their departments or profession. I looked at the fire department as a whole, and I guess by default the leadership, as an organization who’s purpose was too important to be influenced by politics or personal agendas. Everyone involved in the organization realized that and was able to put those things aside to serve the greater good and protect his neighbor. The fire department had no room for error or to be unprepared so equipment was maintained to the highest standards. Even the smallest deficiencies were corrected immediately so as not to affect performance readiness. The organization, and again by default the leadership, sought out and promoted the best qualified and most knowledgable applicants regardless of political favoritism or other influences, because that’s how important good leadership is. Over the last 18 years I have watched that entire picture be destroyed. It really is like when Dorothy looked behind the Wizard’s throne and saw the wee  little man and all the apparatus that made the image that he wanted everyone to see.

Over the last almost two-decades I’ve learned what firefighters and the fire department is really all about. Here is a list of just some of them.

  • I’ve learned that people become firefighters because of the schedule, pay and benefits.
  • I’ve learned that they put more emphasis on their part-time jobs than their primary job.
  • I’ve learned that they put little emphasis at all on learning their job because we just don’t do it that often and it’s easy to hide.
  • I’ve learned that he who finds just the right niche, or does just the right extra job, or says just the right things or fits just the right mold are the ones who get promoted regardless of whether or not they will make good tactical decisions where they count.
  • I’ve learned that there is very little team or Brotherhood and it is more about “me” and what I’m going to get, how I’m going to get promoted or what I can get out of the job.
  • I’ve learned that decisions are not made on what is best for the citizens, the members or even what makes sense but more-so for financial reasons or simply because “I say so.”
  • I’ve learned that switching into rigs three or four times in a single shift, into whatever is least broken, is somehow acceptable.
  • I’ve learned that nothing is important until someone gets hurt or something else bad happens and then it will somehow probably wind up coming back on the people who least deserve it.
  • I’ve learned that very little thought needs to go into the actual mission of the fire department (and EMS delivery), we don’t need to re-evaluate things on an on-going basis because everything is fine.
  • I’ve learned that we don’t need to clean our tools because it doesn’t matter, an ax will still cut with rust on it.
  • I’ve learned that pride in our job and training is for “fisties” or for those that care too much.
  • I’ve learned that there is almost no leadership left in the fire service, there are only managers and administrators.
  • I’ve learned that no one in any position of authority cares about the level of readiness, level of training or effectiveness of their charges.
  • I’ve learned that higher-ups have everything better to do than run their shifts or departments.
  • I’ve learned that it’s more about the appearance of a fire department than the function of a fire department.
  • I’ve learned that there are those who do despicable things as management techniques i.e. dangling carrots, making promises, manipulating lists, releasing new rules and regs at key times to stir things up etc.
  • I’ve learned that, as much as I absolutely do not understand it, there are those that thrive on power, or the perception of it.
  • I’ve also learned that those that speak out get punished.

I haven’t learned these lessons in a theoretical way in which you might learn a lesson about trigonometry. I’ve learned them by seeing them, hearing them, experiencing them and living them. Those lessons I’ve learned over the last 18 years is my fire service experience. Those lessons are made up of the firefighters I’ve served with and the company and chief officers I’ve served under. Obviously not all of them were horrible. But if I’m summarizing my career in this way which way do you think the scales are leaning? The sad part is that to a certain extent, I still believe in Oz. Despite having seen the wee little man and all his gadgets and gizmos and the front he’s put up to make it appear as something it is not I still want to believe. Maybe that’s why I write. Maybe I hope I’ll affect something or someone somewhere.

Many of you out there can pick out one or more people in your careers who you view as a mentor. A roll-model that you would like to end-up like someday. Some firefighter or officer who is a wealth of knowledge and experience, a great teacher and all those other things I used to think made up a great fire service employee. I can’t. Not a single one. Every time in my career I’ve thought I’ve had one they’ve sold-out to something or other. Or they’ve betrayed the fire service, the department or  worst of all, themselves. Sure I’ve got guys that I still want to take bits and pieces of, but I have no one singular person who I can hold up and say, “I want to be like this guy.” Terry Hatton. Paddy Brown. Bob Hoff. Ed Enright. Ray Hoff. Andy Fredericks. Benny Crane. No one like that. But I have a wonderful list of examples of whom I do not want to be like. Maybe that’s just as good. I dunno.

So ‘dats it. When my venom comes spewing forth they got the best of me. If you don’t like it, sorry. Leave me a nasty comment. I probably won’t hold it against you. I hope maybe this explains a little bit of where I come from with this blog and in particular where the Calendar post came from. I don’t hate all Chiefs, if that’s what you think. I don’t hate all officers. I’m an equal opportunity hater no matter what color shirt you wear and it pretty much comes down to this; If you’re in this job for the wrong reasons, if you’re taking more from this job than you’re giving, if you don’t know or are not proficient at your job, then you suck. Get out.

Until next time,

Stay safe!


17 comments on “Disillusionment or Looking Behind the Scenes at the Fire Department of Oz

  1. Jason says:

    Keep your chin up bro. You may be surprised to find that your woes are not your own. They are universal, and exist in every single city in America. It’s an unfortunate reality of this profession and something that I wish we could eradicate. Press on Sledge, and like my old man used to say, “Don’t let the bastards wear you down…”


  2. Chris says:



    • Mike Morton says:

      I promise you’re not the only one who feels this way, brother. When I read this piece, I immediately began trying to figure out how you got in my head — because at one time or another I’ve had these same thoughts.

      But not all is lost. I am thankful to see little glimmers of hope here and there, both in the department where I work and far beyond. Part of the reason why I write is because it does me good to see the occasional responses I get; I happen to see that other people “get it.” It does me just as much if not more good to listen to others who have been “getting it” for a long time, because their existence is proof that the idea we have of what the fire service should be is not dead.

      Not everyone is going to buy in, and change is tough in an environment such as the firehouse, especially when effort is required. People are creatures of habit, after all, any inherently lazy to boot — this includes me. If we see that we can get by with only half as much effort, we tend to be okay with that because of our nature. And that’s a hard mindset to overcome.

      There’s headway being made every day though. There are firemen across this nation who are being encouraged to do a little more, think a little harder, and live a little better. It’s happening. And as long as there’s a little positive change happening, then our image of what the fire service ought to be is still valid. We’ll continue to reach a little farther towards the goal every day, and those who don’t can either change or find their way out over time.

      The battle is still worth the effort, and the job is still where I want to be. I am certain you feel the same, even if sometimes it beats you down. I know; it gets me sometimes too.


      • Thanks for reading and commenting and your continued support with your site Mike. I know it’s worth the fight and I know that individual firefighters and officers are worth it. It just gets really disheartening when it looks like you’re throwing pebbles in the ocean. I guess that’s why I still believe in Oz. I still hope I’ll have an influence on someone who might make an influence on someone and so on. Just hope they don’t get the best of me before that happens.


    • I know Brother, I know. You know better than some the challenges we face. It just gets discouraging sometimes. Congrats by the way. Sorry I couldn’t be there the other night. Couldn’t get a trade.


      • Chris says:

        The best thing is change is coming. A breath of fresh air is on the horizon and it will get better. Some might be stuck in the archaic past others are looking at the future but the best thing is we are all going to be affected by it. Also, it is OK, we can have a beer another time.


  3. Sid Newby says:


    Although i agree that the fire service has changed during the 30 years I have put in, and not all for the better, if we don’t do the right thing who will? You are right all departments have their fair share of individuals who are on the job for the wrong reason,but there are good jakes too. Believe me I get as frustrated as you do by some of the antics that go on, but it’s the good guys and the young guys that will suffer if guys like you don’t keep up the fight. That’s what I like about the internet. We can at least stay in contact. Other oraganizations like the FOOLS has also helped me. I am a BC and I hope you don’t hold that against me, if you’re at FDIC this year maybe we can sit down and share some kichen stories.



    • Sid, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I will indeed be at FDIC so maybe we can find a way to meet up. Shoot me an email via the “Contact” tab if you’re interested. I indeed do not hold your rank against you. I don’t hold it against anyone unless they achieved it the wrong way or undeservingly. You’re right. Many things have changed and they will continue to. We all need to adapt. Unfortunately what I see as change these days isn’t progressive or beneficial. Just my 2-cents.


  4. Ditto, ditto, and more ditto. What more can a I say? Seriously though, are you spying on my department?
    I suppose misery loves company and all that, but the truth is, fighting these battles is tasking and strains the best of us. Know that you are not alone and that as we all continue to struggle against the Mutts, that we have each other to lean on. Find the good ones and keep them close, network with your local FOOLS, and above all else…. KEEP FIGHTING.
    Do it for the horses… http://firefighterbasics.com/2011/01/remember-the-horses/


  5. What is summed up on all your pages is exactly what you are fighting against. You mention you have been in the fire service for 18 years. It shows because you are turning into just another bitchy veteran fireman. Nothing is good enough. You could do it better than everyone else. Management is out to get me. The Chief is an idiot. Listen to what you are saying. And then, you use the word brother. That is an insult.

    A brother means you’re part of a family. From everyone in the fire service, to everyone in the Union, to everyone on your department, volunteer, POC, or fulltime. If you’re a family member, then you PROTECT YOUR FAMILY. You defend them. You help them. You encourage them. You try to make them safe and better than the day before. When things get confusing, difficult, or dangerous, you stand by them and do what you can to help the situation. You don’t sit there and talk all kinds of shit about them behind their backs. You don’t bash them. Brothers don’t bash their family to total strangers. Brothers don’t plot against them. Brothers don’t act like a coward. Your use of the word brother is disgusting. You have no idea what brother means. I can tell, because you are doing nothing brotherly.

    Do you think people like Hoff, Brown, or Hatton spent energy bitching about their departments on a blog? Do you think they let some personalities that are present in every department destroy their impression of the fire service? Do you think they turned on their family members? Do they teach in leadership classes that talking about your department in a negative light is a good thing? Common, your the experienced veteran and everyone else is stupid right?. All that you are doing is bitching about how your department and everyone on it sucks. You can’t find a role model in your department huh? What new guys would want you to be their role model? Some guy with a chip on his shoulder who is pissed at the department for everything but nothing in particular.

    If you want to help the fire service, share your knowledge, train your people, and protect your family. If your department isn’t doing that, then stop bitching and change the way things are done. Talk is cheap and bitching is always free. Be a leader, propel your career, and get off the bench. Loser’s are the ones that sit down after the play went wrong and bitch why everyone else messed up their pass. I have read post after post and the only consistent thing you mention is how crappy your department is. Well then be the person to step up and make a difference. If it doesn’t work, then try again. And then again. That is called adjusting, not being the typical stick in the mud veteran. You mentioned that every role model changed? That is because they are good firemen that have grown up and learned that the view from the bottom is often lost in the clouds. People grow up. We learn to adapt. We don’t stay in our diapers shitting our pants and crying. Well, not all of us at least.

    People like you are poison. Your bring everyone down. You crush morale. Your want everything but are willing to give nothing. You don’t see the big picture. You think everything you say is golden and are willing to tell anyone that is stupid enough to listen. You will corrupt the new guys by telling them how crappy your department is. You convince them that the Chief and the Officers are a joke, so they have no confidence in them. You prevent them from making their own decisions. This has already happened as I see you have a new guy from your department already following your lead by posting on your blog page. That is a good idea for a new guy to do, comment on a blog complaining about the department. Where is the leadership there? Couple of years being around you and what? We just made another Sledge.

    What have I learned from being in the fire service?
    • Every department has it’s challenges.
    • Not everyone has the answer.
    • Things are often more complicated than visible.
    • It isn’t easy to make changes with people that came from the
    same messed situation that I did.
    • This is not a normal job with normal people.
    • People will make bad judgment calls.
    • There will be shitty Firefighters, Officers, and Chief’s.
    • Even the best made some mistakes.
    • We are our worst enemy.
    • There is always more than one way to do something
    • I will not agree with every decision my department makes, but I am not the Chief
    • Just because I tried to change something and failed doesn’t mean all is lost
    • There are reasons things are the way they are, and that is most likely because of
    someone stupid doing something stupid.
    • This is the greatest job in the world
    • I have very little to bitch about when comparing it to other lines of work.
    • I get paid to have fun.
    • I look forward to coming to work.

    I have been in this business for less than 18 years but I obviously know more and accept more than you. You go into some long storybook of all the bad things you have seen in the people you work with. What about their good qualities? How about all the things you learned from them? We know that you must have learned how to be a perfect firemen from someone because the simplest issues in the fire service are a mystery to you.

    Backwards and stupid? You have no idea how true of a statement that is. If you are in Oz and don’t like it, then click your heels together Dorothy. We don’t need your dog shitting on everyone’s yard.


    • Lieutenant, there is only one thing I am going to say to you in reply to this. The only person who made this post entirely about our employer is you. I made it clear in this post that this is about MY views, MY experiences, events I witnessed or heard. If YOU choose to read this as entirely about OUR employer because of the fact that you know me and therefore have some inside knowledge or because you notice some things that may or may not be similar or may or may not resonate within yourself that is on YOU. I was purely talking about my experience in the FIRE SERVICE as a whole and not with ONE particular department or another. This includes things I read on the web that get me disheartened like all the firefighters that are arrested for this and that, chiefs and mayors who allow their departments to disintegrate into shells that are ineffective forces, or any of the other issues that are detrimental to OUR beloved career. I obviously don’t believe all is lost or I wouldn’t be involved in what I am involved with at OUR place of employ. I wouldn’t devote as much time as I do to it, whether or not you see it. I could go on about all of your misguided points above but will not. If you choose to discuss this further you know where to find me and how to get a hold of me, off duty.


  6. "What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say" says:

    If you want to make a difference, so passionately, it seems to me that you should work up the ranks and leave a footprint somewhere. Are you doing that?

    You speak of all the officers getting promoted by going about it “the wrong way” or “not deserving it”. I’d like to understand what exactly they are doing. You mentioned finding a “niche”…so you mean like a specialized interested? Or a niche as in…kssing someone’s ass? I find it very hard to believe that the latter happens as often as you are inplying. And the former is what firemen generally do. With all of your down time, you find an aspect of the fire service that you are interested in or have an affinity for. Then you focus and excel in that area, become a master of it, and help others. You don’t just sit around dwelling on the negativity or how you’re all getting screwed by the “undeserving” officers above you. What area is that for you? Maybe you need to find one.

    This is only my opinion, but, you seem pretty open about voicing your views and opinions on the fire service, and some of it blatantly comes off as being about your own department. Now, do you think this sort of attitude would ever be perceived as being beneficial enough to help you climb ranks and make the changes you so fervently speak of? Your “passion” comes off as blatant and utter negativity, and I’ll tell you one thing, that’s not someone I would want on my team of leaders. You say things that allude to the fact that you have some great intensity of spirit towards your profession and hope for changes…

    “Unfortunately what I see as change these days isn’t progressive or beneficial.”
    What are you doing to positively influence any aspect of your job? I’m not saying you’re not. I don’t know you. Perhaps you are involved in things. I would just like to hear more about what you are actually TRYING to do instead of rambling off the things that are being done that need to change.

    “I still hope I’ll have an influence on someone who might make an influence on someone and so on. Just hope they don’t get the best of me before that happens.”
    Again, the feeling I’m getting from these posts is that “they’ve” already got the best of you. I’m assuming “they” are your superiors, or anyone in the service you feel is jaded, not doing the job for the right reasons, not making good decisions, etc. etc. etc. Or perhaps you are holding some sort of direct grudge for where you are currently at in your 18 year career. Regardless, I really want to understand what this “influence” you are trying to make really is. By telling newbies and other firefighters how jacked up and corrupt the service has/is becomming? So, in other words, you want to complain and list off the problems, and hope someone else jumps in one day and can fix it?


    Maybe if you actually tried to turn this around and get into a position to actually INFLUENCE (and I’m actually using the word in it’s PURE, TRUE definition) and make a difference, you might actually gain a little more clout. lt also may stop the whole thing from “getting the best of you” because you may actually feel better once you get out of the shitty scenerio you’ve painted yourself into, and out of your own head, and actually feel some sort of progress. The things you find disheartening about the fire service these days didn’t happen overnight and, in turn, WON’T FIX ITSELF. So get involved. Be fearless. Be strong. Be motivated. Take all the shit you’re bitching about and stop attracting company with your misery. And if you just aren’t strong enough to take that sort of position (not everyone can be), then sit back, do your job, and retire. When a boat is stuck in a storm, and the wind doesn’t blow the right way, it adjusts its sails. Or the storm wins and the boat sinks.

    “If it is important to you, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.”


    • First off, Anonymous, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Even though I begin most all my responses that I way I truly mean it, because, even though we may disagree on something I still appreciate the actual time investment of reading and typing out your thoughts. So again, thanks.

      Secondly, given your url I think we do know each other. But if you really want me to spell everything out I will. Some of this information can be found under the “About” tab above or if you have read any of my other postings. But I’ll placate you, although not necessarily in order.

      An axe to grind; I do have an axe (or ax, if you prefer) to grind. I have an axe to grind with firefighters (including firefighter/EMT’s/Paramedics) and fire officers who do not know their jobs, cannot function efficiently on the emergency scene and are allowed to skate through their careers for one reason or another. Whether the decision is because “they’re not that bad”, “we have too much money invested in them to fire them now” or whatever, there are numerous members of our fire service who, in my own personal opinion, do not belong on the job. It’s really that simple. Now, given your calling out above your response to that would be to;

      Get involved; As stated in the “About” tab, I have been involved in training in some capacity in every department I’ve served. While it would be a violation of my department’s Rules and Regs to directly discuss department business on a non-sanctioned public forum I think I can say that I am a member of the training division at my job. Which would then probably lead you to say that I wasn’t doing my job if people were making it through probation that shouldn’t or people who are on the job do not perform well. My response to that would be, 1) While I and any other training instructor or Training Officer in the world can put on the best, most interesting and informative training there is, it has to be a two-way street. Some people simply are not going to engage in the training past doing what little they have to in order to get by. Some cannot be motivated by descriptions of close-calls, LODD’s or recent incidents. Some people plain old don’t give a crap. 2) I, or any other training staff, only has so much control. Observations are made. Reports are generated and passed along, Recommendations are solicited and given. If they are not heeded or examined further then the training staff cannot be held responsible. If support is not given to the training staff to enforce minimum or uniform performance standards that all personnel are made to adhere to then the training staff’s hands are tied. Besides training, I sit on a committee, am involved in paramedic student training, build training props and teach on the outside. Whenever we have probes I spend extra time with them on whatever they need to work on and giving them any help and/or insight into the job I can. And NO, I DO NOT poison them as one respondent claims. I am very careful to keep my opinions to myself and let them draw their own conclusions. We need good people in the fire service, not more bad ones. Why would I want to poison them from the get-go and turn them into another guy that I’m going to struggle to try and train? Oh, and just for fun and because it’s a personal passion of mine, I like to maintain and repair hand-tools.

      Ok, lessee, Ah! Working up the ranks; I think you should read a post of mine called “Company Officer or Company Manager”. I am not in a large, urban department. Most of use aren’t. As a result most company and higher-level officers have to wear not only the “Company Officer” hat but the “Company” hat as well. Meaning, not only do they have to respond on the rig and make decisions on the emergency scene but they also have other tasks assigned to them too that a “traditional” company officer does not. I cite a couple examples in the post. What this does is take the officer away from his crew and puts him in his office. What that does is leave less time for the officer to train with his crew and for his crew to know exactly what their officer wants and how they will do things. What that leads to is a lot of on-the-spot decision making. What that leads to is a lot of confusion or miscommunication or conflicting orders. What that leads to is a not so well-run incident. But the paperwork got done! I have looked around at many different departments and decided that a company officer can, if he works very hard at it, make a difference with his crew. On a grander scale, however, his ability to influence things is diminished. Then why not get promoted higher? All those things I listed above? Just get compounded the higher you go. B/C’s can’t train with their Lt’s and their shifts etc. etc. The administration of the department loses touch with what’s going on in the streets or gets a filtered version from the people below them. The opportunity to affect change, as I see it, is to train firefighters the right way and make them very good, smart, thinking firefighters so that when they pass me by maybe they’ll buck the trend. I don’t see myself in that role anymore.

      Ok, on to the meat and potatoes. The officers; Again, if you read the “About” tab, you’ll find I have worked many places in many different capacities. This post is NOT about my department, my officers, my firefighters etc. etc. It is about a conglomeration of everything I have experienced from everywhere I have been, everything I have seen, heard and been involved with. If you want to draw conclusions, that’s on you. But, from what I have seen over the years, you can go into a department on your first day of probation and ask someone in the know how you get promoted at that particular department and you’ll hear answers like, “Through the Fire Prevention Bureau”, or “Through the Training Division”, or “You’ve gotta be on a specialty team”, or “You’ve gotta be on the Union board because they really look at that as a leadership position.” A variation of that theme is the “what Have You Done For Me Officer”. This officer got his promotion because he is really, really good with computers and saved the department a boatload of money that they would have had to pay some IT guy to figure things out. Or this officer is a really good mechanic and does all the maintenance on the rigs for a fraction of what we’d have to pay someone else and he can just do it on shift. Or this guy is plumber, or a carpenter, or an electrician or a freaking astronaut. But what does it have to do with being a good fire officer? Call me crazy, among the other names, but I have seen it. I have seen lists that were made out by members of departments prior to the testing process even beginning that was based upon both the above scenarios that were scarily accurate to the final lists after it was all over. I simply believe that if you are going to be promoted to a position where you are responsible for others lives and the running of entire departments you should have gotten there because of your actual job knowledge and skills, not because of other influences.

      Ok, my daughter really wants to go out and enjoy this beautiful weather we’re having. Hope you are too. Hope I answered enough of your questions. I’ll get to my other Brother above later. That might clear some more things up for you. I do have a burning passion for this job, and my current department. I think about it (the fire service and my department) and try to learn something about it every single day. I’m invested in it and sold-out to it. What you, and the others, see as bitching, I see as facing up to our short-comings before we can start the rebuilding and improvement process. The first step is admitting you have a problem.


  7. Okay all. This is my third attempt to leave this reply. Each version has gotten a bit shorter due to my frustration over the issue at hand. Let’s delve into it and hopefully it’ll take this time.

    Sledge. Pal, ya write from the heart and I respect that. I do as well. Sometimes when we go off all half cocked and ticked off, there are people out there that take exception to what we say, whether it’s because their interpretation of the message is different from what the post truly said, or the fact that you may have thrown a huge rock and it landed squarely where it was supposed to. Either way, it takes guts to pour your heart out about what’s on your mind. I agree with a lot of what you have stated. I see a major change in the type of people that have been filling the ranks of our profession and promote up the food chain. Honestly, I’m not impressed with most. Their ability to perpetuate the good of this job is questionable, however not all are bad. There are still some good firemen out there. I know you are frustrated brother, keep your chin up. Don’t let the bad outweigh the good of this job, otherwise you’ll become “that guy” and nobody wants to be him. I’m proud of you though. Even if this posting has gotten you in hot water at work, it takes a bit of gumption to swim against the current and let folks know where you stand. After all, in 1776 some famous old dudes did the same and look at what they accomplished.

    “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say” and “Just a guy doing the greatest job in the world”. Why the hostility? I’m sure you can see that the message transcends the department in question and really addresses some of the issues facing the ENTIRE American fire service. But I’m not a moron. Looks to me like Chris has written something about his department and you both work there in a supervisory role. If that is the case, and I’m pretty sure it is, then apparently he laid the hook out there and you took the bait all the way in. If I’m correct, why not call him in the office. If he’s “like a dog shitting” everywhere, then you are no better for trashing him in a public forum. Perhaps there is some blame on both sides. Sure, he said some strong things that can’t all be true. With that said, they can’t all be untrue either. If his game of posting frustration on a website is so bad, you are equally as bad for playing into it. Give the man some credit, at least he’s put his name out there and stands behind what he says. Hiding behind a clever screen name and cursing a guy is Bush League middle school stuff that an officer should be above. So is tossing around the B word (Brotherhood) and then trashing a man with vile language. Brotherhood is so much more than slapping each others asses during the good times. Sometimes, being a brother means that you stand up to do something that might not be the most popular or comfortable thing.

    Perhaps some of his woes are in fact truthful about the state of his (your) department and you are hearing it for the first time. Perhaps he was just having a really crappy day and needed to vent. Either way, it’s his site. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. How about this, if he does work for you, do what you should do. Man up and talk to him like a good chief/captain/lieutenant and maybe you can find some common ground that benefits the entire organization. You have a right to disagree, I can’t take that from you, but throwing rocks at one another helps nobody. Either way, he stood out, didn’t hide behind the moniker ‘Hallway Sledge’ since everyone knows he’s Chris Sterricker now and stated his stance. Why don’t you do the honorable thing and come out and do the same?

    But what the heck do I know? I’m just a dumb redneck from Belmont, North Carolina whose name is Jason Jefferies and can be reached at jason.jefferies@yahoo.com.


  8. Aerial_Mistress says:

    You write with clarity and honesty. Many bury their heads in the sand and ignore the problems at hand. You drive home the fact that we lose family bonds and ties of brother and sisterhood. There is a whole culture that is defamed by reckless actions. Thank you for your honesty.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. oaktreezulu says:


    This is good writing, keep it up.

    I enjoyed this conversation. I myself have been in the military for ten plus years, and have seen a very similar (negative) set of things occurring for us as well. The whole conversation you’ve had here could be transferred almost seamlessly to my workplace, including the reply telling you to do something vice complaining…I actually try to use such feedback as a motivator to check my actions and see if I am actually “doing” vice “talking. I usually find myself falling on your side of the fence though; things are bad, and I need to call them out. I do what I can with what I have and I’m failing against the system.

    Of note, I will tell the good part to my story: The one thing I’ll never bitch about is my local leadership. With a couple of notable exceptions, I’ve been fortunate to have good tactical leadership above me, who at their worst were good people with too much work and not enough resources.

    The exceptions were actually invaluable in showing me what good leadership was, since with them I no longer had it. And I know from this experience that good leadership makes all the difference in the world; when absolutely everything else falls short, good leadership made coming to work an opportunity rather than a punishment.

    The only thing I’d like to add my opinion on is this: “Brotherhood” would seem to stand in for loyalty here. I agree that loyalty means taking care of your family, and working to make it better when there’s a problem. But I agree with you, there is a breaking point: Loyalty doesn’t mean willful blindness; sometimes loyalty means calling people out, even family, when things are bad. When things are bad, it is just as much a duty to tell your family their stuff is in the street as it is to help them fix it.

    (Oh, and I’m also involved with training new folks right now…while I actually think I could make things better higher up the chain, I feel I’m in the same position at the moment: pound for pound, there’s no better use of my time than the training of young folks, as you say, to be thinking members of the team.)

    I’m proud of the work I’ve done in the military, and there’s plenty for us to be proud of. You will never find a more loyal defender of the righteous acts of the US military than me. But likewise, you never find a more vocal critic of our failings, because I know us and we are capable of so much more.

    Keep fighting the good fight, I wish you all the strength and honor in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. jwatrel says:

    Dear Chris,

    After spending sixteen years in the Volunteer Service of Fire Fighting I have to agree with you that there are good apples and bad ones. It is nice to read that this is the same situation in another department.

    I think all fire departments go through this when you get egotistical officers who have never been “the boss” and this is their first taste of power not realizing that the only influence they really have is in the four walls of a firehouse, not in the town they participate in. Some think they are ‘oh so important’ and do not want to lose that power, what little it is to the detriment of everyone else. The problem is they have nothing to back it up with in the end and they do leave eventually.

    What they have left in the wake of it all is bitterness, apathy and people no longer caring about what happens and that is the curse of the volunteer fire service that is having a difficult time just finding members.

    I think in the end we have to look at ‘what it is that keeps us going’ and that is helping our communities, setting examples of ourselves and looking within to be the best we can be and set the tone of who were are and where we stand. It seems to me that you are leading by example and just keep being true to who you are. Low hanging fruit eventually rots and falls off. They will do themselves in in the end. I have seen this enough times as well.

    Keep your chin up Brother because we all get through it.


    Your Brother,


    Liked by 1 person

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