The stage is set. In the audience are family members, friends and mentors patiently watching you on stage for your pinning ceremony. There are few milestones in life that are held in such high regard. The moment when you find the one you want to spend the rest of your life with and marry to become your significant other. The birth of a child is also a moment that you will truly treasure and never ever forget. And this day, when your dream career profession came true and you were pinned with the badge of a public servant.
The oath of a public servant is an oath of dedication to a lifetime of customer service. Remember this moment when you made the commitment to serving your community. The work of a public servant is never ending in the pursuit of service. At the end of every call is an opportunity to positively engage members of our community. There is no greater reward than a lifetime of service.
My challenge is for you to find an inspiring mentor in this profession. Allow yourself the opportunity to become his or her mentee. Develop into the firefighter and leader that you desire to become. Accept constructive criticism in stride and strive to become a better person daily. Respect their wisdom with grace and listen to their feedback with enthusiasm. Leaders lead by effectively developing future leaders from within their ranks.
The role of every firefighter should be to help the future firefighter receive their dream career position. Pay it forward and give back daily to the future of the fire service. Find those golden opportunities to inspire the members of your community to also become future public servants. The future of our profession requires all of us to actively engage these future members in a positive and meaningful way.
Your experiences throughout your career are yours and yours alone to mold. Be sure to make the most out of each experience to elevate your future success. As a public servant, it is up to you to continue this lifetime commitment of service beyond self. The future of the fire service rests firmly on your shoulders.
The culture of the fire service is currently in the state of a leadership vacuum. The highly experienced and knowledgeable senior members of our organization have reached the twilights of their careers. There is a current demand for the future of our organization to make the commitment of pursuing continuous positive improvement.
Now more than ever the future of our profession requires the future leaders of tomorrow to start leading throughout probation and beyond.
Photos Courtesy of Author's Family.
Chris Baker, has over twelve years of experience in volunteer, combination, and career, fire departments in California. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Anthropology and Associates of Science Degree in Fire Service Command, Company Officer. Chris is a California State Fire Training certified Fire Officer, Driver-Operator, Fire Instructor, and Lead Firefighter I Certification Evaluator. He is a Fire Science Instructor in the California Community Colleges System. Chris is a member of the California Fire Technology Directors’ Association and the California Training Officers Association. He served as a volunteer Peer Reviewer on the FY 2017 Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response Grants (SAFER) for both hiring and recruitment/retention. Chris also served as a Peer Reviewer on the FY 2017/2018 Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG). He is a Volunteer Advocate Regional Manager, Region IX (CA, NV, AZ, HI) for the Everyone Goes Home Program through the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Chris also serves as a volunteer member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Safety, Health and Survival Section serving in their staging area. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the National Fire Heritage Center located in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Chris is a National Fire Service Instructor teaching at notable fire conferences across the country. He is the co-host of the Fire Engineering: The Future Firefighter Podcast. Chris writes blog articles for Firefighter Nation, Fire Rescue and Fire Engineering Magazines on mentoring the future generations of the fire service.