A Combat Classic Reborn
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Polyester Double Jacket
Heavy Duty EPDM
13/4" and 21/2"
FOR COMMAND AND CONTROL
responsibility to seek out and correct those things
before they manifest themselves into, at best, the
next headline and, at worst, a line-of-duty death.
To the political figures in our communities: Listen
to your fire departments. Allow open lines of communication and, when there are things that need to
happen for the safety of us or the members of the
community, don’t hide behind excuses and falsehoods. Don’t be afraid of having honest conversations that lead to positive change. While you might
not like the answers you hear, they may be the cold
hard truth. Standing up for what’s right and making change will almost always land you in a better
position than having to answer to the public for a
tragedy that could have been prevented.
To the chief officers of our departments:
Listen to your people. Ensure that there
are open lines of communication from the
newest person hired to the one who will
retire in a few days. Make sure that your
organization’s culture embraces autonomous problem solving. You trust us to drive
millions of dollars worth of equipment
with lights and sirens blaring, but you don’t
trust us to know the difference between
right and wrong, effective or ineffective?
Take the time to review issues with an open
mind and prevent persecution or retaliation
for bringing topics to light. We know the
answer might be no, but when it is, at least
give us an honest and respectable answer.
To the company officers: Be the leader.
Stand up for your people. We know that
you are stuck between “the crew” and
“the administration,” but in the end, that
is the perfect place to be when trying
to make change. Allow your people to
innovate, adapt, and develop solutions.
While you may have to play gatekeeper
on which ideas are obtainable and which
are not, when there are things that must
happen, you and your crew are the first
line of defense against the perfect storm.
To the firefighters: Don’t be afraid to
think. Know your job and make the most
out of every opportunity to learn. Be the
round peg in a square hole. See things
differently, imagine, invent, explore, and
create. When you find things that you
know must change, develop the solution
before you come up with the complaint.
While there is always the chance that
your concerns and ideas will fall on deaf
ears, there is also the chance that you may
make the change needed to prevent the
perfect storm. We all have a responsibility
to each other and to those we serve, and it
starts with you.
I challenge all of you to review your department
operations and look for the “what-ifs”; look to address
things that may have slipped through the cracks and
been forgotten. Take the time to review your standard
operating procedures to make sure you know what
needs to be done. And, most importantly, look for
the red flags. Make sure that every call you go on
serves as a forecast for the perfect storm.
David Mellen is an 18-year veteran of the fire service and is a captain
with the Reno Township (KS) Fire Department. He is a medical officer
of the Sherman Township (KS) Fire Department and a fire science
instructor at Johnson County Community College. Mellen is an
instructor at FDIC and a contributor to various fire service magazines.