While attending the Firehouse Expo in Baltimore, I had the occasion to speak to two firefighters who took personal time off from work and paid their own way to the Expo. I asked them why they did that and in both occasions they said their city administrations would not allow them to travel out of state for training so they took vacation time and came at their own expense.
How impressive is that? After I heard their stories I conducted an informal poll of firefighters who I met on the exhibit floor and in my classes. I asked them if their employer would not give them time off or pay for the registration and travel expenses, would they take vacation time and pay for the conference out of their own pockets? In the framing of the question, I assumed that most everyone (sans the two I had already mentioned) attended with their city's approval and on their city's expense.
I was really shocked to learn that many of the firefighters who attended the Expo had taken vacation time off work and paid their own ways because their city administrations would not support their attendance. I asked if this was because of the economy. No... many had paid their own way there for years.
It is shameful that cities will not invest in the future leadership of their departments. I applaud the firefighters who use their own time and spend their own money to become smarter and safer. You have my admiration.
Richard B. Gasaway, PhD, EFO, CFO