My inner voice started to get the best of me as I thought that I was going to be “heckled and harassed” for my new age view of command from these gentlemen. My skills pale in comparison to these veterans… whom have been commanding fires, and I mean ALOT of fires. since before I even started my time in the fire service. I started the lecture, perhaps a little on the defensive side, waiting for them to pounce on my program. As we went through the slides I came to a realization, these guys were here to listen to what we had to say. They were there to impart their many years of experience to all that were in attendance.
With their past experiences, they didn’t “need” to be sitting in the class… but yet, there they were. They wanted to make sure they were staying current as to what is happening in today’s fire service and pick up tips they could potentially use on their next fireground. I can tell you, I learned as much from these Chief’s as the students I was there to instruct did. Every comment and question they added re-enforced the lessons that we were teaching. They relayed these lessons learned thru personal stories, verifying our information as valid and useful. Now this is not to say that they didn’t get their shots in on me, who served as a probie firefighter on firegrounds, under their command, on numerous occasions. But they did it in a way enriched the learning experience for all those in attendance.
As I sat down that night after the class, I hoped that the competitive and learning desire that was found in both these Chiefs, I could find in myself. I always tell myself and our students that we can never stop learning. We must never stop striving to be the best and never stop wanting to be the best, in the position that we are in. Well, this weekend I remembered where I got that “never stop learning” mentality and that “failure is not an option”attitude. The members that instilled that in me were sitting right in front of me. They were in the front row while I was teaching class.
If after 50 years they are both still learning, I know there is hope for all of us to continue learning in the fire service. It is in you, never stop learning about your craft.