At the end of every year I like to take a look at what went well and what could have been better. I like to evaluate my priorities, make sure I've learned from the mistakes I've made and to resolve myself to improving in the upcoming year. This post is a quick snapshot of how I feel about 2012. It's not necessarily about me as an individual, but I have some things that I feel I need to say "thank you' for and some things to pass on that I've learned and would like to share.
This year was our first full year with Engine House Training, LLC. If you haven't checked us out yet, feel free to do so and let us know what you think. When we started this company the goal was to provide realistc training for all levels of firefighters. No matter volunteer or paid, we wanted to give back the skills and methods that we have had the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the business over the years at the larger conferences, mainly FDIC.
We always said if we could pay for our expenses, our food and beer, we would be happy so long as the content was good and requests were made for the training. Our training model was simple: provide a class that we would want to take; train on the equipment that is immediately available without gadgets and special tools, and keep it simple. Luckily, in large part due to the great instructors that are part of our company, we have been able to do that. So, here is shout out to Frank Lipski, Gary Graf, Dave Konys, and And Seers who are co-ownerss with me. Our instructors who make the classes so good are Jeff Weffelmeyer, Kelly Foster, Andrew Krato, Bob Little, Matt Black, Scott Hulsey, Steve Heidbrider, Jim Silvernail, and Mario Montero. Thanks for keeping this meaningful and fun!
This year also created some opportunities for me personally and for EHT. Because of the graciousness and encouragement of Penwell, Fire Engineering and Bobby Halton and staff, we have been able to share on Fire Engineering Blog Talk Radio. This was definitely not on our radar and was a pleasant surprise. We are humbled and honored to be a part of the Fire Engineering family and we hope we can provide topics that are interesting and timely for the fire service. For Bobby, Fire Engineering, Pennwell, and anyone that has listened and supported us, Thank You!
On a more personel note, I have been lucky enough to be able write and blog for Fire Engineering and I can't tell you how blessed I have been to have had such encouraging role models in the great fire service community. A lot of what I have been lucky enough to do I never dreamed I would be doing. I would like to thank some very supportive folks who have encouraged me over the years. First and foremost, thanks to Bobby Halton for giving me a chance and allowing me to contribute to Fire Engineering. To guys like Ray McCormack, Billy Goldfeder, Chris Naum, Eddie Buchanan, Doug Cline, Dave McGrail, Dave Dodson, Erich Roden, Curt Isakson Rick Lasky, John Salka, Skip Coleman, PJ Norwood, Anthony Avillo and many others, you were supportive and encouraging even though may not have known it. Thanks!
So, on to a few things that I learned this year. I was lucky enough to make it to the Andy Frederick's Training Days, and what a great conference. If you ever get the chance, you should really take the time and money to attend. It is a fantastic time. As I sat through the first and second day of the conference, I noticed a veteran firefighter that looked familiar. He was sitting across the audotorium and I couldn't tell for sure who it was, but I thought I knew him. I noticed this guy taking notes and really paying attention.
At a break I found him and realized I did recognize him and he is a well respected leader and instrutor in the fire service. The entire conference he spent time taking notes and immersed into the presentations. It was obvious he was there to learn. It made a huge impression on me as an instructor, as a student of the fire service and as an officer. If Bill Gustin, the final speaker on the final day of that conference feels like he still has more to learn, then I sure as hell do to!
Not that I have ever felt that I didn't need to learn more, it's just amazing to see a leader like Captain Gustin walking the walk and practicing everything he teaches. It made me even more driven to stay an active student of the fire service. It was also a clear reminder that we are always being watched. I may not be being wathced a the level of the fine captain, but back at our departments, firefighters are watching to see if we are walking the walk. Thanks Captain Gustin!
This past year has been incredible! Not because of any of the writings, radio shows, presentation or articles. It's been incredible because I have had the blessing of working a side job with some of my best friends training other firefighters and learning from each one of them. It's been incredible because I have been given a gift of working in the fire service, doing what I love to do. It's been incredible because I have honest, caring Brothers and Sisters to lean on when times get rough that will lift you up and give you encouragement, because we all have bad days.
To all of you out there, have a Blessed New Year and thank you for all you have done for the fire service. Keep doing what your doing, it does make a difference. Keep walking the walk, someone is watching and your actions speak louder than words.
Finally, even thought they likely will not read this, my fist family; my wife and kids. Without their patience, understanding and support I would have nothing. They are the best and are as much of any successes as I am personally.
I love this fire service with all of the best and the worst it provides. Please keep it in your heart, maintain it's integrity no matter where you are, and plaease, pass on your passion. God bless you all and I'll see you in Indy!