Why do I do what I do? Admittedly, I had to initially pause and ponder that question myself in order to answer it honestly. It’s like the young firefighter, when asked that question, who reflexively responds with the canned answer about how they want to help people. That answer may be true, but if we’re truly honest, we all know that we love the rush, the camaraderie, and the admiration we receive from the public. Heck, I even love the smell of moldy hose and diesel fuel that I’ve come to associate with the firehouse. Similarly, I don’t know if I can give a simple, single reason why I “do what I do,” but here are the reasons I was able to think of.
GRATITUDE: I know it sounds cheesy and maybe it is, but I’m grateful. I really am. It’s cliché but the fire service is the greatest job in the world. All in all, the past 30 years have been unbelievable for me. With very few exceptions I’ve loved deeply the men and women I’ve worked with, both in the fire service and EMS, and the Law Enforcement folks I’ve served with. You’re my family and I owe you for being there for me, for your friendship, for the laughs, and for the long nights we leaned on each other.
BEEN THERE TOO: I’ve worked with small, rural volunteer fire departments, combination departments, and now a larger metropolitan department. I understand not having resources to purchase even the bare necessities, and I know the frustration of having leaders, political or otherwise, who deny your requests, thinking they understand your needs better than you do. You are America’s heroes. You really are. You deserve decent gear, apparatus, and equipment to keep you as safe as humanly possible. If I can provide a resource it’s the least I could do.
TOO MUCH TRAGEDY: Fire service suicides, assaults on FIRE/EMS personnel, depression, Critical Incident Stress, heart attacks, cancer, cardiac events, strains and sprains, sleep deprivation. John Q Public knows very little about these things. The manager at your bank, your plumber, and the cable guy? They’ve never had to bury a friend with a job related cancer or listen to bagpipes play while a siren wails in distance because one of their co-workers just dropped dead…but we do. If by providing help with fitness programs, equipment, nutritional advice, enhanced scene safety, or even providing a link to mental health will help you avoid even one of these tragedies then it’s all worth it.
From a purely selfish standpoint though, I’m in the twilight of my career. I stood on the ramp of the firehouse drinking my coffee on a fall morning about 3 years ago and it dawned on me “Three more years and it’s all over…just three more. No more tones dropping. No more laughing over dinner, no more every third day…” If I can provide tactical training, or fitness training, or health coaching, or a connection to economical, quality turnout gear I want to be able to do it. I want to still be a part of it.
I wouldn’t trade the last 30 years for anything in the world, but maybe I can repay at least a little.
Contact: Bryan Reid, Bryan@ideta.net