A Manifesto of Fire

Triple F–A Manifesto

 

  1. Manifest discipline emotionally, professionally, morally and intellectually. Let your discipline be revealed in the way you dress, speak, walk, work, and comport yourself with co-workers and the public. Develop attention to detail. Start small and work up. Take pride in the little things. Kick ass on the big things.

 

  1. Embrace compassion as strength. Know that to be able to live and work with compassion takes far more strength and courage than hardening your heart and closing yourself off to the vulnerabilities, tenderness, and suffering of others.  Indifference is sad. An erosion of empathy is growing in our world born from fear, weakness, and rampant self-centeredness. It is destroying our world. We all sense it. Be a radical. Be a beacon. Embrace your highest self.

 

  1. Be polite. This is another form of self-discipline. Rudeness is pure unadulterated laziness. Disrespect and poor manners have spread through society like an unchecked virus. This applies to husband and wife, child and parent, firefighter to patient, firefighter to firefighter, and stranger to stranger. Manners, or the lack of them, are astonishingly contagious, especially in the bigger cities. But I have traveled to places where people still act with manners, places where behaving rudely is shameful and considered an act of weakness. You can find this in places like Bangkok and Tokyo, incredibly populated and congested cities, yet surprisingly respectful ones. Today, in our rapidly shifting world, teeming with multiple cultures and belief systems, being respectful and considerate of other people is an act of rebellion.

 

  1. Elevate public service to a spiritual path. Even if the public does not always deserve it. Even if the public is abusing the system, ignorant, manipulative, or drowning in fear and anxiety. Even if you sometimes feel a particular patient or call does not deserve your time, practice service every day you show up to work. Jesus, Mother Theresa, and Gandhi at times questioned their work. They sometimes wondered if the people they were giving everything for were worthy, but they carried on. This says more about them than those they served. Being a servant is a way of life, one that requires a softening of ego, a placing of one’s needs off to the side in order to help other more vulnerable souls. And yet, by living this way, one’s heart is expanded, one’s life grows larger. This isn’t easy. It is really, really, really hard. I fail at it a lot. If it were easy everyone would do it and the whole world would be transformed. Let’s transform our little corner of the world, one call at a time.

 

  1. Be loyal. To your mate, family, crew, fellow firefighters and department. I don’t know why this is so hard, but for some reason it is. Do not aid and abet others in their disloyalties. Do not cover for cheating firefighters. Do not foster an environment where this is cool or accepted. Lying and betraying others is not cool or acceptable. Do not hang people out to dry. Header
  2. Stop using gossip as a bonding tool. We can stop doing this. We’re firefighters. We fight fire. We walk into burning buildings. We dive into freezing lakes. We tear open cars to get to crushed patients. We bring people back from the dead! We can stop gossiping. We can make it as awkward as smoking a cigarette. We are all guilty, but we CAN change.

 

  1. Eradicate racism and sexism from our stations. Anyone who hangs a noose in a firehouse or has one printed on a t-shirt (with a woman hanging from it–true story), should be shunned and shamed by everyone. This is so weak, stupid, and pathetic, it’s unbelievable it still occurs in 2015. It occurs for one reason–because it is tolerated. Do not tolerate it. It doesn’t matter if you’re a chief or a rookie. Have some goddamned balls and make it clear that it’s unacceptable. It belongs in the land of extinction. Hostility toward anyone on our department due to color or gender is lame. It diminishes us all. Man up and stop it.

 

  1. Hold each other accountable. Foster horizontal accountability. There is no need for it to come from the top down unless all other forms have failed. Partners hold your partner accountable if they start to slip, get sloppy, or rude. Mine did this for me a few weeks ago (I was getting really snotty on calls) and I am honestly grateful. We all need a kick in the ass sometimes. A reminder of what our standards are. Officers do your job. You signed up for it. It’s more than just a pay raise. It’s a responsibility. Hold your people accountable. Don’t be a pansy ass and everyone’s best friend. Lead.

 

  1. Jettison the hard ass attitude. We all know who the hard asses are. They seem to congregate at certain stations on certain shifts. They’re the ones that freeze you out when you walk in because you’re new or unknown and they are such hard core badassess (at least they’re pretending to be). They’re the ones constantly testing you, usually in front of a large audience, setting you up to fail. I’m not saying we have to be warm and fuzzy all the time, but don’t be a jerk either. Just because you joined the fire service doesn’t mean you have license to be an asshole. Firefighters are some of the meanest people I’ve ever met. For some reason this behavior can be seen as strong or tough. It’s not. It’s a front. Weakness born from insecurity and a fragile sense of selfhood. Hardness that comes from feeling besieged and threatened by forces outside your control: like suffering or failure. There’s a high tolerance for unkindness in the fire service that wouldn’t be accepted in other professions. I personally believe that’s one reason we have such high suicide rates. It’s not only the trauma from our calls, but it’s the trauma we do to each other that wears mercilessly at our spirits. It is time for that to change. Awareness of other’s feelings takes intelligence and discipline. Be a f*$!king radical. Be kind.

 

  1. Have Fun! This is going to sound really crazy, but if you’re not enjoying your job leaveOr take a vacation. A real break where you restore your body and soul, not a five day thrash at Disney World loading up on sodas and non-stop activity. Do not be a slave to your pension or government time (a revolutionary idea, I know). Far too many of us never make it to retirement. Far too many of us die within a few years of retiring. If you dread coming to work, do something else. What’s the worst that can happen. You die? We’re all dying anyway! Become a massage therapist. Teach English in China. Hike the Appalachian Trail. Downsize. Simplify. Find yourself! Have fun! Life is too short to cling to security. (One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is to show them how to live courageously. That’s far more valuable than an iPhone or Xbox.) Throw your credit cards away and reject indentured servitude. Stop hoarding time. Restore your soul. Rest for awhile. Hunt freedom down wherever it may take you and live your life with guts.


TOS Triple F

STAY TOUGH & NEVER QUIT

BECAUSE TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER!

4 Comments

  • James Dyer says:

    I agree with this

  • Peter Parker says:

    Couldn’t agree more. This should apply to everyone.

  • Freddie Van Middendorp says:

    Keep shouting it out Gea! Great message for us all. I appreciate you’re accountability as well. We as FF’s/EMT’s espouse a courageous attitude in the face of fire and tragedy, wearing our indifference like armor, but our cowardice show’s itself all too often within the walls of our “safe-zone”- the firehouse. Let’s keep reminding each other to practice manners, respect and loyalty to each other. I sure needed the kick-in-the-ass. Thanks Gea, and Chief for passing this on.

  • Melissa says:

    Great advice ! Oh I would add IF your stressed or ij pain get massages ! Massages make you feel so good ! They will help release your stress or pain ! ❤

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