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Fighting Back with The Smile…

Accusations, mistrust, expectations, and jealousy, coupled with envy are some powerful words and actions. The joy of a life lived and the good life I live is occasionally interrupted by issues. I am saying issues from stuff, people, and the interactive life I lead. I am a polarizing leader. Love or hate usually is the way folks react to my style and person as I have chosen to take a stand in life and how I live that life. I love to smile away most stuff hurled at me with words or deeds. I am not a real fighter. I can if pressed go on the offensive.
Accuse me, imply, trick, or undermine me and I will persevere. I may give just enough rope to hang. I may continue on the correct path knowing my faith and love will overcome. I may use the good and right to be my defense. However I can be offensive and will use the intelligence I possess to look to the future and put events and traps in place to catch and bring those not involved in the good and correct into line or out.
Wise men have told me and still tell me reputation is all we have. Organizations work everyday to put best practices into place to prevent any occurrences or implied suggestion of misjudgment or wrongdoing. Highly moral organizations and those individuals involved have a long way to fall if just accused of impropriety. That being said… Leadership of these groups need to stress the good life, great communications, and a very transparent structure. We cannot hide behind mirrors or walls. Transparency should be the direction and operating principals. Great communication and a clear direction compliments the operating principals. All working together for the same goal cuts down on issues and petty jealousy and envy. Trust in those being lead is also very important.
Accuse me, imply, or Lie, and I will deal with it in a clear and direct manner. Accuse my family and those I lead and I will defend and place my full backing of the individual or organization because we operate on the principals of trust, character, honesty and I have been shown that trust is valued and nurtured over time. I will also deal with personnel issues within the group.
Being prepared is how I live my life. I am prepared with knowledge, wisdom, and equipment for life’s challenges. I am also prepared in my eternal life through the peace and trust in God. I am prepared to Die and live eternally. My question is: Are You prepared to fight the battles of life for good and right? Are you ready for the dirt and filth that can be hurled at you and those you love? Can you smile knowing you can outlast the mean, unjust, and just plain stupid? Will you Fight for Right? Live your life in the upright and transparency required and avoid the pitfalls of greed, jealousy, and lust. I can and Do… Bring it if you dare!

Ridin the Tractor

Having the best friends in the world is amazing. Wayne and Doug are those kind of friends. If it needs digging or piped or concreted they can do it. We had a job to do involving digging and saving 1500 to 2000 dollars. Roberta’s mom had water standing over the septic system every time it rained. We changed the complete slope of the field behind the house and sloped the backyard out to the waterway we dug parially in the field and around the yard. .
I have some practical experience in the Ag Engineering field of my education. I have had to regrade almost every piece of land that I have owned. My little tractor is called Mighty mouse by Wayne… It is a 2530 John Deere with a front loader and belly mower and I have a box scrape that works miracles. I learned from my classes that a wide flat bottom waterway will handle most storm runoff and I have a 100 yr and 24 hr design I keep in my head.
We had to handle the drainage issue first and got finished up and had lots of dirt to move. Wayne had cut a ditch during the winter and I started working flat bottom and sides so we could mow it easily. I was moving dirt to the low spots and filling in the holes while the backhoe helped me out. Doug had used the transit and laser and we identified the high and low spots in the yard. A challenge was to keep the water from the field travelling around the house and not backing up and infiltrating the Septic field.
I got the waterway where I wanted it and started working on the back yard. I had a swale to contend with before I could get the water out of the yard into the new waterway.While I was doing this I was working the dirt left over from repairing the drainage issues. I was able to fill the box scrape and ride around smoothing and resurfacing . Wayne and Doug finished up and took off. I continued to work pulling the scrape and pushing and then walking the ditch-line and eyeing the line.
We had had some storms forecast and it boomed just north and we hurried before lunch. I was content to ride around and smooth and tweak waiting on the rain. I wanted to see enough rain and see what it did. Would it run off the backyard instead of standing and infiltrating the field? Would the waterway work? I finally got the rain and had to race the tractor to the shed. I ran to the garage and got the umbrella. I would check the ditch and backyard while it was raining. Worked Whoop Whoop

How Many Times?

We are all wire differently (thank goodness) and I got the caring and compassionate gene. I have been putting this part of my repertoire to work since the late 80′s. EMT required some caring and people skills… Funny huh. I got the Deputy Chief job and Rick was our Assistant Chief and we started conducting and attending funerals.
Our Original membership was aging to the point of leaving us slowly. A tight knit family even with some members retired from the service 10-15-or 20 years. A Brotherhood both literally and figuratively. We named our death benefit fund “The Brotherhood”. Members could join and if served 20 years we kept paying the assessments. A huge benefit was the cash money available to the spouse when all assets were frozen.
After a few Vienna Deaths I, Walt, or Rick became the contact person with the family. We made contact and paid the Brotherhood check in the 1st 24 hrs. We also used this time to offer Vienna FD presence at the Funeral or Memorial. Rick, Walt or Myself made the arrangements with the Funeral home and Church and Family and the amount and level of presence we had.
We merged with another Fire Department and I got a whole new Brotherhood list. This was harder because we Key 3 may have not seen or spoken to this group in years or ever. I took the Chief job in 2004 and between Vienna and Mt. Tabor we had 12 funerals that year. Vienna was Incorporated in 1954 Mt. Tabor the Same Year. That put many members in the 70+ age bracket during the 2000′s.
I have had to attend LODD in other Departments and after experiencing 911 in 2001 and the memorials I am proud of the Honor we attach to our Veterans and Members. The tradition and meaning is magnificent.
I guess the answer to my question is “As many as it takes” as long as I am Able.
We bought a Bell to Honor all past members and those we lost each Year and I almost hate to get it out. I am so proud after we Ring that bell for Last Alarm it gets me over each time.
Thanks for the ears and Eyes to those that read and the untold amount of support over the Years. I give a piece of myself each time I help someone else. Thanks for helping me stay Whole!!

FF Worldwide

I have been blessed to enter a large number of Fire Stations and Departments over the years. I have arrived as a visitor, assisting FF and as an Instructor. I have enjoyed my time as a NCDOI DCC Certified Instructor since 1986, I have taught at Vienna and in Forsyth Co, since the formation of our FF1 n 2 Classes.
I followed through to Specialty classes and became an adjunct Instructor for the National Fire Academy in ICS. The basic classes allowed me to be very personal with FF of all ages. Youth and Skill and the ability to bounce back from stressed muscles really kept me on my toes. Teaching what I knew and what I could get from magazines, Books by Leaders, and training series starting with Overhead and slides was my goal. I learned along with the rest of the class when I took on some evolutions I had not experienced.
The FF and their friends , cohorts and families have been a blessing along the way. I am a list making kind of guy. I also give nicknames to help my memory with names. Every Fire Department I enter has a common mix of individuals and I like to classify them as well as wonder Who are the Book, paper, and tough as nails FF.
In my department (Which is the Best By the Way) we have our fair share of individuals and characters. We range from the very experienced and very competent to the very young and naive. Competence and experience do not always go together. We all have the ability to have bright shining moments and those less than stellar. We have individuals that can walk through walls and lift and move just about anything. We have FF that will hang in there and go through Fire to get the job done. Tested and hardened by fire is tempered. Steel heated and folded upon itself and heated and molded becomes changed and many times hardened.
We have the core group and each member knows who can be counted on for each of the different situations we may encounter. Great interior FF may not like heights, Great Rescue members may not enjoy the confines of the SCBA and Black, Hot, and unknown. Great Extrication techs and Engineers may not like to swim. We have all kinds and my mentor used to say not everyone needs to visualize the whole plan,”We need ditch diggers too”.
It takes a large number of individuals to accomplish the goals of any Fire Department. Safety of the Community and Ourselves is our Goal. Achievement of the Goal is based on Talent, Risk accepted, timing, and most important the People (Individuals or Characters) coming together to achieve that goal. MORE TO COME
#Besafe, #LeadingfromtheFront, #myfrontporchtotheFireService

Drop it and GO!

   The casual observer may miss the looks as we listen to our pagers and radios. We hear the tones drop and look around to see who is moving, we feel for that vibration or the second set of tones. Sometimes the dog runs to the door and looks back. A father may set his supper, children or just the paper aside and look at the pager or phone or radio.. Then in an instant if we have determined the call warrants the motion or action We are Gone. We dropped it and run, walk, or raced out…

   The veteran has left everything important to them. They have left jobs, kids, wives and girlfriends and everything precious or meaningful in their lives. Some were prepared for the Call either at the station or enroute already . Other times we are going about our usual lives and Drop it and run. Wives, girlfriends, and co-workers will sometimes just turn around and there is nothing…. sometimes just the sound of the truck cranking or the door slamming. Phone calls ended with empty sound or just hung up.

We can empty a meeting hall just as quietly or sound like the running of the bulls… Depends on the call and how it sounds when toned out . We know the words… the sound of the dispatcher, or just the time of day … This is the BIG one or the next big one!  “The house next door”, “across from”, “Fall of 20 ft.”   ” Head on Collision “… Action words.. cause movement and we drop it and run.

Paid, Volunteer, Paid on call , Chief , Officer , Probie, or just the Average Firefighter will at some point in  their career stop something really important  and just leave. We all know when to go into shut up and listen mode then act. Silently just stepping into the boots and  gathering our stuff and out the door.

We arrive prepared for the job ahead as we have gathered the information and set our mind for what we have heard. Sometimes the task is bigger or just as we imagined . There it is…. “What we imagined” . We all picture in our minds from the first set of tones what we will find. We add to the picture each bit of information from dispatch and first sizeup. We add the walk around and crew info and go to it…

Silently just as we left we slip back in…. sometimes 30 minutes or 3 hours or days later. We dropped everything and left. We arrive and pick up the pieces of what is left. Cold food and sometimes the silent treatment. We arrive to stuff done for us or to us. We get to redo or attempt to make up the difference. God love us if the tones drop again….



Stories from the Heart

Stories around the Stove… Campfire tales, Watercooler discussion, Tabletop events and more . The telling of the story and the event discussion and the humorous replay of our situation of stress or pressure or failure or victory is cathartic. The group discussion relieves stress and according to the Brain Science of @samatters Dr. Gasaway actually helps increase situational awareness for other individuals to hear the events replayed. The telling of the story is a magnificent process and when in the right arena will create an open environment that allows others to either add or tell another story.

I have been blessed to have both the experiences and the arena to tell the stories of my life. Sometimes the telling gets old for those around the teller… (the crowd is the same)  but the situations foster sharing with each other. I am a dominant storyteller and try to get the sharing started. I need a little time to remember jokes and stories and make them appropriate to the groups and time we are together.

We were sitting in a restaurant one day with a full shift of County FF and Paramedics and several volunteers remembering a call when we got to sharing our strongest individual accomplishments. We were all finished eating and were espousing the magnificence of our shared and individual procedures. We respond into many jurisdictions and have followed the experiences and failures of others. We all understand that each situation and experience is different so we can only learn from the experiences of those we follow.

Automobile Extrications really get the ball rolling because it is like a concert. Many working on the varied problems and patients and some have to be done before others and we all have the opportunity to observe during and after performing our tasks. A particularly difficult extrication and the more stories. Sometimes we make the rescue very easy even in difficult and complicated situations. Sometimes we just work so well because we have trained together. Unfortunately with possible 5 agencies and multiple shifts we have to have many calls and or trainings to get to know someone much less actually have the intimate need to know the others skill levels and even thoughts.

My small Volunteer department has the opportunity to be a Full Service Fire Department. We perform Rescue , Heavy Rescue, Medical BLS and ALS, We do Fire, Woods, Urban Interface Structural and Industrial Fire Suppression, Fire Education and Prevention. We are a Combination Department that has merged with a smaller but busier Department. We border  Winston-Salem and run mutual aid calls with and have contracted until about 3 years ago. We also sponsor a 100k cfm fan that we will take anywhere. I have worked with FF and Officers that love to have the help and those that think I am taking a job away from some FF somewhere.
My expertise is saving lives in Fire, Rescue, Medical and Training. I will assist all public safety organizations to help the public. I will help FF everywhere for Safety and Sanity. I am but a humble servant leader and I love to tell the Story. More to come

Stories win the Day

6 funerals in as many weeks. They run together in my mind. I have been intimately involved and emotionally involved . Every one different and similar . Mourning and shock and acceptance and celebration were the emotions. There were the scriptures and songs and pastoral eulogies. Pastors are great but nothing like someone who has known and interacted with the deceased. Stories from the heart, stories form the visual images and bring back your own memories. Stories of virtue that speak to character and values. Stories that tell of the life and love and sacrifice of each individual.

   The funerals I remember are the ones with a great story-teller. They can bring out the wit and wisdom of each individual. Storytellers can make each attendee remember the individual and can bring new insight or a revelation about the family. The last years many times define the funeral. It is difficult to remember those great times after a long struggle with a debilitating illness

Going out in style and dying suddenly can rush the mourning and cloud the image of the individual.
My cousin Lori eulogized my Uncle Sam… she talked of the things she remembered and his amazing personal interaction with the family. His debilitating strokes changed his personality but Lori was able to show his wit and comic timing as well as his intellect.
The last 2 funerals were this week and just like the 2 ice storms came about and were much different than other funerals. Bobby Lawson and John Litcher were in service to their world. Bobby dictated how he wanted the Memorial to be held. John no doubt wrote his out and planned it for simplicity. Bobby allowed all the attendees to gather in the parking lot around his Mt Tabor fire truck and start the story process. John had us gather at the Fire Station 13 that was well needed but planned meticulously. We told stories and listened and laughed and cried. Both Funerals were touching and spoke about the men we buried. RIP Y’all


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