“Stations and units respond for the reported structure fire with occupants trapped” is a statement that no firefighter wants to hear but every firefighter should prepare for. Preparing for the day you have to go above and beyond to save a life is the focus that firefighters should keep in mind when they are training, responding, preparing, eating, sleeping, and when they think about quitting.
Is quitting an option?
When firefighters begin their journey to ride in the jumpseat they are asked to prepare mentally and physically. This preparation can be extremely difficult for many and impossible for some. During the initial stages of learning the physical aspects of the job, many young firefighters will have to dig deep inside themselves to ask why?
Why am I working this hard? Can I really do this? I am ready to quit!
Responding in these ways is nothing new. Each and every one of us who pull our boots on each day has gone through these thoughts and have answered each one. Hopefully, your answers to these simple questions guide you throughout each day that you serve as a firefighter.
These answers come from inside during the hardest of times. They come during the moments when you are the limit, pushed to the max, and wanting to quit.
Recently I have been working with a new generation of firefighters preparing for the CPAT physical ability test and for the beginning of the journey to become a firefighter. It has given some perspective into what it is like being the elder statesmen looking backward to where we once started, how hard we worked, and why quitting is not an option.
Back to the initial dispatch at the beginning of today’s blog. Reports of persons trapped inside a burning building. Do you think they have an option of quitting? NO! They are hoping for an opportunity to live, one that may ride on your performance on that day.
This is what drives us when training and preparing for our jobs. When you are feeling beat down, tired, and think you cannot go any further remember those folks. The worst enemy of ourselves is the human mind. It limits our bodies and tells us what we can and can’t do. Commander Mark Devine, US Navy Seal (ret.), reminds us that the body is capable of 20 times more than our minds think they are. In the book “Way of the Seal” Commander Devine reminds us to “do today what others won’t.”
How do we not quit? It’s easy!
Find you’re why.
Without a doubt that sometime in your career as a firefighter you are going to have to dig deep inside yourself and pull out some guts to accomplish a task. You will be in an uncomfortable place and it will require you to continue to work beyond your threshold of tolerable. Here is where you need to find your why. Why are you here? Why do you want to be a firefighter?
When things get uncomfortable during physical and mental training it is time to push through. Unless injured quitting should be removed from your vocabulary. Just as Commander Devine says your body is capable of more than your mind will allow. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. We should make this happen during realistic training evolutions based on real world scenarios.
When it gets hard is when we should shine.
If you are a young, or old, preparing to be a firefighter you need to find a way to remove the word quit from your vocabulary. Vomit is ok, taking a small break is ok, sweating is ok, quitting is not. Unless you’re sick or injured you need to find a way to get it done as safely and directly as possible. Until you find you whyyou may never be able to remove this word. Spend time trying to find your why for when things get hard it is what will push you through.
Until next time….. GO WORK…