I look back and remember the outcome of Incidents from my years in the Fire Service. Some were magnificent saves and sometimes the outcome was less than expected. Some situations were too far gone and others spiralled down until there was nothing left. Defining moments in a long career that has had Easy times and controversy. I think what I remember the most is the Fight. Usually with Fire as the adversary but Time is a real Devil.
In my cadet and early training years the Fight was for the Old guys to let us do MORE!. We wanted to Fight fire, Drive the trucks, and spend the money. We wanted to train as much as other departments and we wanted the certifications as they were being developed. Time took care of the Fight because as the Old Guys aged in the department they rewarded us with responsibility and nurtured us till Their retirement and death.
My next Fight was internal. I was fighting against more experience and more training for the very few Officer spots in the Vienna department. Low turnover and very little movement upward gave lots of competition. I always wondered too if I had it in me to Fight or Run? When the time came to hang in there and give just a little more to put out that fire or back out and quit. I was training with my equipment and apparatus and training with the membership but with a little eye on Who? was stronger, better, and more favored for leadership.
The Fight with Fire came naturally and I had a leg up being both Day and Night Volunteer. I got to run more with the Short staffed daytime and the overabundance of personnel at night. I got to see other departments operate and out of necessity was given more responsibility. I got to choose from LOTS of advice about both the Fire Service and Life. When fires came in other districts I was on a truck in an airpack. Naturally when we arrived I was able to either take a line in or follow one already in place.
The late 70’s and Early 80’s brought a new Fight. Medical calls skyrocketed and EMS assist became a large part of helping the community. Our Department started a Rescue Squad early and trained in both Medical and Technical Rescue. I made the decision to join the Fight. My Fight was can I learn all the Stuff Required to do EMT? Can I stand the sight of Blood or Vomit?. Will I have the fortitude to deal with the Grim Reaper? How will I remember all that is needed in order to do the best for the patient.
Fires, Rescues, and Medical became a natural addition to my days. The Fight ratcheted up as Vienna entered the new Century. We merged with Mt. Tabor and tripled our call volume. I learned to drive in city traffic and that we cannot make all the calls. I had to delegate every responsibility out of necessity. Depending on someone else to do all the right things in the Fight. Vienna got better as a Fire Department and Rescue Squad. With the experienced personnel and equipment Vienna was better for the merger.
The Fight switched to Time. Time to raise a family and build a business and keep all those certifications and qualifications. Time for all the Con-Ed hours, Teaching hours and personal time. ISO/DOI requirements tested Departments. I found my stride and really enjoyed all the Fights except the Ideological and Monetary issues. I do not like to disagree and being a Leader I had to learn to agree to disagree. I had to establish boundaries and discipline when those boundaries were crossed. Time in Service began to take a toll on the body.
I am not ready for the biblical “fought the good Fight” but I have done so. I love a good push on a fire, I enjoy the command details, and I am ready to debate the Youth of today… Keep Fire in Your Life, Choose wisely your Fights, but Fight that good Fight and Do Not go Gently into that Good Night…