The "rules don't apply to me firefighter"


In my time working as a firefighter I have met and worked with so many people from other organizations as well as my own.  I have come to the conclusion, as most do, that not all firefighters are made the same.


From old timers to new, from previous experience to green, each and every firefighter has their own views on how the job should be done, and which rules they decide to follow, or which rules apply to them.  I would venture to say that the majority of individuals adhere to the rules regardless of whether they believe in them or not, however, some individuals just ignore and disregard them as if they are special.  It is a hard concept to wrap my head around because these infractions are so minor in nature, but when you’re in a situation where your job is to enforce the rules and oversee the work of many, one person can impact the company.  Why do some feel it is ok to follow some rules but not others?  For example, helmets are not allowed on the dashboard on the rigs because they have shattered some windshields when firefighters throw them up there, but when I look around the helmets are still there.  We have a tattoo policy stating that any firefighter after 1992 will not have any new tattoos on the arms, hands, neck or face and if they do decide to get one it would need to be covered but it seems the sleeves are worn for the first few weeks then off they go and the rules are broken. Some of these individuals have even been spoken to by their officers, or even the Fire Chief himself and still the helmet is on the dash.  It boggles my mind when I see this because it is not difficult to place your helmet on the ring, it is not difficult to use your sleeve, zip up your boots and tuck in your shirt.  


I don't know if it is a sense of entitlement, or saltiness but I can guarantee that in the interview process while trying to get hired for the job these firefighters were singing a different song.  Something happens when a firefighter finishes probation and gets mixed in with the general population.  Maybe it has something to do with the departments they came from before where rules were different.  Regardless of the reason, the rules are there and they should be followed without having the officer coming to tell you at shift change that wearing Crocs is not part of your uniform.  Bottom line, in my opinion it comes down to pride in your work.  That uniform is more than just clothes on your back from your employer, it is a symbol of the Fire Service, the public service we provide.  The public looks at us with high regard and the work we do is emergent, dangerous respected.  There needs to be a sense of pride in your work, pride in the uniform you wear and the work you do. You are not children and it is not the responsibility of the station officer to treat you like one.  Come to work prepared to work for 24 hours and leave your sense of entitlement at home.  


Funny enough, it's the same individuals that constantly bash our department and administration and rules and policies.  All this combined is like the plague of the department.  With young firefighters seeing these individuals do as they please and bad mouth chiefs and the department they learn these same behaviors and it spreads.  Have respect, and regardless of your personal beliefs, don't bite the hand that feeds you, rather you should "buy in" and make the organization a better place.  It seems like these days, we as a people are so quick to citizen, bash another people's work and pass judgement.  It needs to stop plain and simple.  If you’re an American, don't bash the country or it's leader because that is YOUR COUNTRY AND YOUR LEADER.  If you’re a firefighter, don’t bash your department or it's leader because it is YOUR DEPARTMENT AND YOUR LEADER.  You're just bashing yourself when you do so.  Make a change, make a positive impact, run the calls with a smile on your face and leave it better than you found it.  Love the job you do and if change is needed, make it from within.


Jason S.




    After reading Jason S.’ essay, I felt compelled to respond… After 31 yrs. of service, in several fire depts., I feel I am more than qualified to give an opinion… Retiring at the rank of Capt. and having been in charge of a station with 12 people under me, I really sympathized with Jason S. It seems I was constantly having to ensure/enforce all the rules that our dept. had even though, I must admit, at times some of them (rules) didn’t seem to make any real difference in the ‘grand scheme’ of things . I always tried to be fair and set a good example and a good work ethic. But, getting back to the essay, I agreed with it up until the last part about not ‘bashing’… In my many years of service, there was one thing I quickly realized. The “squeaky wheel gets the grease”! ‘Bashing’ is such a strong term… I have always felt that if something’s not right, speak up! We have all, at one time or another, had to work under a Chief that, simply, needed to go. Or, worked in a dept. that was in dire need of change/progress. To say that everyone should just be quiet and do their job is okay up to a point. Many times ‘change from within’ is not enough. Long gone are the days of “shut up, do what you’re told”! Many a time, I myself, circumvented the ‘chain of command’ to bring to attention something I felt was important at the time. Yes, we should all try and do our best as public servants, but, never be afraid to voice your opinion/concern. As long as it’s positive and well-intentioned, it’s totally okay, and, many times needed.

  • Bill Williams

    Very well said sir

  • Julie Farrell

    Very well said. Every FF should read this!👩‍🚒

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