Fire Station No. 3’s Four “F’s”

This past Tuesday I had the opportunity to hang out at my local fire department for an 8-hour shift to experience what our hometown heroes go through on a daily basis.  Realizing 8-hours is a very small sliver into their world, here are a few takeaways from this experience…in a very “nontraditional” form of alliteration.

Family: The fire department at our local station consists of 3 teams, serving 24 hours on and 48 hours off.  Over time, you apparently really get to know your small team of 5-6 members;  to the point where they become a “tribe.”  For those regular, 24-hour shifts, you eat, drink, and sleep together like a family, while also working alongside each other to save lives.  When I was sitting down with the other men for lunch, you definitely had the sense of family warmth and good-natured teasing.  Unlike other fire stations (from what I have heard), you could feel this was a unified team that worked seamlessly together, always having each other’s backs.  The key ingredient for this teamwork was creating a culture of family.

Focus: At the end of our chicken salad sandwich made by Greg, the fire engine driver, a bell went off in the station, signaling Nate and Chris to drop everything and immediately jump into the EMS truck.  As I was assigned to follow them, I too had to drop everything to get in the truck, headed to the medical emergency.  The one thing that stuck out to me was how immediately focused the team became, following a time of casual conversation and horseplay just minutes before.  You can and should have those downtimes, but you also need the ability to get the job done and do it well when it’s “game time.”

Friendly: I was very impressed with the patient rapport of Nate and Chris.  As they were dealing with some very difficult situations, they handled themselves with professionalism and a tender, carefree heart to those in need.  In the midst of seeing every situation as a potential task, you can easily separate yourself from your work.  However, they showed a strong ability to be truly present with their patients.

Fun: This unit definitely had fun together.  As we had three emergency calls, where two resulted in rushing the patients to the E.R., the guys ensured there was a balance of play.  Seeing a consistent flow of hard situations enforced the need for these guys to counter the chaos.  As you can’t walk around denying the hardships of life, it is still healthy to see the lighter side of life, and not take yourself too seriously.

As I enjoyed my time with the EMS unit, I have to admit of being a little bummed there was no fire to rush to…but I guess that’s a good thing.


~ by Dave Smith on February 7, 2010.

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