What an exciting time, you just got hired on the fire department and your realizing this path is not just a career but a lifestyle. You go on focusing on probation and all the while you hear the buzz of the ALS team competing in Orlando, and you hear about the extrication team heading to Colorado and the Combat Challenge team training at the tower day and night. So many things going on and your interested in them all. I remember when I was first hired feeling the same way and looking down the line and seeing all the great firefighters and where they end up, what they are known for, their expertise. I always thought, what will I become? What will be my nitch, my destiny in this long career. If you would have told me that in 14 years you would be a Pipe Major for the pipe band and Captain of the Special Operations station I would have laughed in disbelief! We start as a clean slate and as we progress through our careers we realize we have talents and interests and we need to focus on those talents and strive for excellence in whatever you believe speaks to you..
My first interest was the Combat Challenge team, and why not? These individuals were focused, driven and motivated. They trained every day, they had awesome gear and in absolutely incredible shape. I went out for some practices and trained and I enjoyed it so much that I purchased special boots and gear to make myself quicker and faster. I continued for about six months and lost interest. While it was fun to be with the team training and having fun, I just was not cut out to be a part of that team. So I could say I tried and it was not for me.
My second interest, if you want to call it that was the Honor Guard. We
had several Honor Guard members retiring and they were looking for new blood. So after a evening rest session I came to find the Administrative Chief sitting at the table greeting me! His exact words were, good morning! I just found out your interested in being in the Honor Guard. We are meeting on Monday to practice and measurefor your new uniform. What could I do? I said absolutely chief! I'll be there! After several months of practice and doing a few funerals and gigs I actually realized I enjoyed this a lot. What better way to honor the fire service that to carry in the American Flag dressed to the nines and representing my department,the Fire Service and myself. This was a fruitful endeavor and I got back way more than way I gave and still continue to be a part of the Honor Guard to this day.
My third team was the ALS team. What a reputation these individuals had. Two teams, led by EMS gods winning first and second place at every competition. We were known for our yellow jump suits, others would call banana suits and it was known we were the team to be weary of. Great guys and gals on these teams and it had me in the books constantly which helped me on streets as well. I was an alternate in one competition which was fun but I wasn't able to actually be a point scoring participant. My second competition I was able to compete and I scored best of my team and we took second place following our first place A team. This was a great feeling and I will never forget it. After a few more months however, I could not commit to all the travel and time away from home so the team leader decided, I was no longer a good fit for the team and that is all I have to say about that.
My fourth interest was the Pipes and Drums. As an honor guard member, we would always watch the bagpipers lead in the funerals and hearing Amazing Grace played at every memorial just grabbed hold of my heart and I knew what I wanted. Not having a team at our department, me and my fellow honor guard comrade decided to start our own. After months of practice and several failed attempts to get the appropriate attire and funding we finally got on a good path of progress. Two became three and so on. Now we have ten individuals playing
in our band and we are able to give back in the ultimate way. We play for the Fire Service, we play for the fallen, we play for the families and engrave in all of those people that THE FIRE SERVICE NEVER FORGETS.
The pipes give the ultimate honor and tells the story of all those before us, this tradition dates back to the beginning of firefighting in the early years of this country. The best part of this team is that your a member forever. Once you retire you do not hang up your pipes, you continue on, you wear the badge
and patch and play for all the new recruits, all those promoting up and remembering all the fallen. Your immortal through the pipe band and that is so important to me since the Fire Service is my life and always will be.
Lastly, I recently competing on the Hazmat team and wow, this is very challenging but once again it keeps me reading and learning and staying hands on keeps me ready for anything that may come my way. Now if your into sports, you have probably been approached to play football or softball or something like that. Also great times with the brothers and sisters, only negative to the sports teams are the possible injuries. We have a whole light duty battalion now after a Cops vs Firefighters charity football event. Torn ACL's, broken toes and ankles, sprains you name it. Be careful out there!
Find your nitch, find your passion and chase it. It is a long career and one day you might be looked up to by a rookie firefighter after hearing of all your success and expertise. This job is for those all in, this is your life, and it is a firefighter lifestyle. Don't just clock in and clock out. The memories are yours for the taking, and the stories will live on long after you retire.