I was recently engaged in a healthy dialog with a fellow fire service professional on the issue of fire chiefs who are losing their jobs for standing up for what is right... refusing to make cuts that will impact the safety of the citizens and the safety of the firefighters. My friend inquired: "Where are the firefighters who are willing to put their careers on the line? If the chief is willing to give up his career because he will not violate his oath, what about the firefighters? Are they as willing to walk away from their careers when they know in their hearts they can no longer provide the services they were sworn to provide?
Before you kill the messenger (me), open up your mind and contemplate for a moment what might happen if there was such solidarity among the rank and file. Would it make a difference or would the city simply hire replacement firefighters as they do when they terminate the chief? Impossible you say? Are you old enough to remember when Reagan fired more than 11,000 air traffic controllers and hired civilians? It can be done, but not without a cost, for sure.
When the rank and file are on the same page, there is strength. As Lincoln noted: A house divided against itself cannot stand. Of course, Lincoln was talking about slavery, not public safety. But the concept is still applicable.
Ladies and gentlemen, if there were ever, in the history of the fire service, a time to get together and stand united for the common good... that time has come. Set aside your differences... or your house may fall.
Richard B. Gasaway, PhD, EFO, CFO