Todays fire service faces multiple challenges, one of the biggest challenges that threatened our existence is the waning of public support. Since the decline in our economy, many politicians have made firefighters their enemy and attacked the fire service. Recently, fire department wages have been blamed for our municipality’s dire fiscal condition. A majority of the public has taken note of these attacks and has taken the side of the politicians. Through our actions, we must work hard to regain the publics respect and trust. Without the publics support the fire department would not exist.
Throughout our nations history the fire service has been held in high esteem and very well respected. It has taken generations to establish this reputation and now it is now up to us to carry and build upon this foundation. The majority of firefighters do a great job on and off duty but it is the poor judgment of a few individuals that discredit and tarnish our organization’s reputation. Just in the last few years, there have been numerous charges against firefighters that include; murder, DUI, soliciting prostitution and grand larceny.
All these charges are from within the Las Vegas Valley and do not mention the charges faced by our brothers and sisters across the nation. These charges coupled with political attacks have resulted in eroding the relationship between the fire service and the general public. It is up to our generation of firefighters to win over our citizens and regain their trust. We must do this by performing our duties with the outmost professionalism and customer care in mind. It all begins with our appearance. Whether we recognize it or not, we are judged not only by our actions but also by our appearance.
Our uniforms and conduct must reflect the professionalism that is expected from the fire department. Our equipment must also be well maintained and organized. We must show pride and take care of the equipment granted to us by the public. During emergency calls we must show compassion and understanding even if by our definition the call does not warrant an emergency response. We are in the business of serving the public and we must show our citizen’s that we are here for them and are willing to respond and mitigate their emergency regardless of the time of day.
Once an emergency is mitigated, it should be our goal to have our citizen’s completely satisfied and be astonished to level of care provided by their neighborhood fire department. We should not leave the scene until our customers needs have been completely met. I understand and have responded to calls where people are less than friendly, but we must also treat these customers with the same level of professionalism and respect. Our profession places us under the scrutiny of the public’s eye and we must not forget about the multiple spectators that are always on scene.
With the popularity of cell phones and cameras our every word and actions could easily be recorded and posted on social network sites. We have all benefitted by the hard work and dedication of previous firefighters. We cannot take their effort for granted and we must work hard to rebuild our public image. We must police and hold ourselves to a higher standard. Our conduct on and off duty must reflect that of a professional if we want our legacy to continue and be passed forward.
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