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Stay Sharp

Four ways to beat the retired on duty attitude

A culture/attitude of retired on duty is gaining prominence in the fire service. Once you’re on the job with a little experience under your belt you start doing just the bare minimum to stay proficient and be somewhat decent at your job. Attitudes like this are killing the fire service because firefighters are getting complacent and getting seriously hurt or killed. Beating the retired on duty attitude is tough; especially when your entire fire house or crew has that attitude but it can be done and you can turn them around too with these four simple tips.

  1. Don’t complain about whats wrong, fix what you can fix and leave the rest to the bosses.

A large portion of firefighters are guilty of sitting around the dining room table or in the day room and bitching; STOP IT!!! It is a really easy trap to fall into, one guy starts complaining about something small and then it turns into a much bigger deal that it ever should have been. Focus on what you as an individual can change and work on that, little changes over time add up to big changes.

2.  Surround yourself with a group of like minded individuals and start reading.

If you have tried to fix your firehouse; change the retired on duty culture and not gotten anywhere you as an individual need to seek out like minded individuals that have a passion for training and the job. Start by reaching out on social media to people and different groups because there are a ton of them out there. Second pick up a book and read, tons of great fire service leaders have put their ideas on paper for other firefighters to pick up and learn from. Great people to start off talking too are Instructor John Dixon; Andy Starnes and Ryan Pennington.

3.  Keep each other motivated.

It is very easy to just leave the slug back at the fire station and not include them when those that are fired up about the job are conducting a training or busy with running calls. When you plan a drill whether you’re a volunteer company or a career department you need to do your best to try and include every single member of the company. Don’t let them dodge calls and don’t let them get out of training. One of two things will happen if you keep this up; they will either quit or transfer to another company or station.

4.  Don’t get complacent.

Complacency is a huge contributor to the retired on duty attitude/culture and complacency kills. Every time there is an alarm you need to treat it like it’s the real deal even if you’ve been to that address a million times; that “oh it’s just a check for a fire or a BS medical call” thought process doesn’t cut it any more. Too many times videos have shown up of firefighters looking stupid because they had that attitude when the alarm bell went off, don’t be one of those guys…

The job we have chosen is a dangerous one and only we as brother and sister firefighters can keep the firehouse from turning into a retirement home for those that are just there to collect a paycheck and nothing more.