Like most fire departments, we have a kind of sterile mission statement that’s enclosed in a picture frame or found at the bottom of our letterhead. In short, it focuses on these five areas: employee health and safety, customer relations, quality, efficiency, and recently we added fiscal sustainability (not a bad idea in today’s crazy economic world).
I believe in our mission, but also think it’s too long and doesn’t carry a punch. So, for better clarity, and a little more impact, here’s what I preach to the troops, in 4 short sentences:
Be safe. Be a master at what you do. Be professional. And, be nice.
Here’s a little more detail on each one:
- Be Safe. Respond safely, work safely, and train safely. Follow your policies and standard operating procedures, and execute them safely and effectively. Stay aware of everything. Watch over your brothers and sisters and have their back. Speak up when you need to, and say it right. Continue to maintain the readiness of your safety equipment, and use it properly when you’re supposed to. Practice personnel accountability, all the time; and know where you are at all times.
- Be a master a what you do. Don’t just settle for competence, be a master at what you do. You have to, because people are counting on you. Stay physically fit, because your work involves great physical exertion. Stay mentally fit. Be a continuous learner; read books, go to conferences, and get a college education. Cultivate your powers of observation and have inquiring minds. Know WHY and HOW to do things, not just what to do. Communicate effectively and often. Have the initiative and will to keep going. Be disciplined and follow orders. Constantly train for readiness and improvement. Arrive on scene ready and prepared to help. Always look back at what you did and ask, HOW can I do it better next time?
- Be Professional. Be courageous, but calm. Be patient, because it can be difficult dealing with people who are in a state of considerable stress (sometimes, including your brothers and sisters). Practice a positive image everywhere, all the time. Consider every person a customer, especially the other members of your Department, the support people, and the administrative staff. Maintain your fire house, your truck, and your equipment in a constant state of readiness; and do it with pride in appearance. Maintain pride in your appearance and wear your uniform proudly. Get involved and provide ideas to make the job easier, safer, and more enjoyable for all of us.
- And last, but most important, be nice. You’re in the people business, so be nice to everyone you encounter. Behave and work with your peers, not against them. Be a servant to others, because it’s the true calling of the fire service. Practice compassion and consideration for everyone, including customers, bystanders, family members, and fire department members; show that you care. Treat each other and the public with respect. Help people and do a little more.
These are my four simple suggestions for a mission. If each of us makes an effort to follow these, we will have a safe and rewarding career.
What’s your simple mission?