Now that I’m retired, I thought I would tell some stories that have been entertaining my friends for years. Over the last 4 decades many crazy things have happened to me while working as a county structure firefighter and a federal wildland firefighter. No matter what agency you work for, you get to experience what most people don’t get to see or don’t want to see. Many of the stories are funny but not all. Some of the stories include serious topics as you might imagine. Many of them have decent leadership lessons embedded as well. But my favorite stories are the funny ones. You might hear me laugh a bit as I tell the story. No matter how many times I hear myself telling the funny ones I still laugh. l really hope you enjoy listening to the stories as much as I enjoy telling them. If you do, let me know. I appreciate any feedback and suggestions to improve the stories.
Since beginning this site, I’ve been approached by fire professionals, educators and others to speak to their groups on the topic of firefighting and leadership. This new turn has become a great and unexpected opportunity for me. If you have a group that could benefit from this old fire leader telling some stories and how those stories relate to your group, send me a note through this site.
Update: Between July 1, 2019 and February 18, 2020, stories have been downloaded over 50,000 times. I really appreciate everyone’s interest and support. Please tell your friends to visit the site and enjoy one of our stories. Thanks!
When first responders work long hours, are under pressure to protect lives and property, they can often become exhausted from the pressures of the job. This week I illustrate some examples of what that might look like. The examples I site are just a few and are not at all complete in any way. The list is long and exhaustive and can be very personal. I hope after listening to this story you’ll think about yourself in whatever job you spend your time in as well as those around you. If you’ve listened to my story about 9-11 or PTSD, you’ll hear some common themes. Take care of yourself, love yourself and those around you and don’t feel like you have to act like a hero all the time.
I appreciate everyone listening and please share this story with your friends. Thanks.
In the fire service I’ve often said that the worst thing that can happen to a well functioning crew with good attitude is having no fires or no emergency calls. Even though we always had lots of work to do around the station or out on projects, the attitude would sink into the toilet when the call volume decreased. During those slow times is when my firefighters began to “bitch” about the boss (me), the bosses boss, the uniform policy, the caterer on the last big fire we went to, the equipment on the engine, the other crews we work with…. and it went on and on and on and on. The best cure for sport bitching is being busy on skill testing and demanding emergency calls.
In this weeks episode, I talk about some of the dangers of bitching on the job. I think it’s an important lesson for all of us. It might not be an “exciting” topic but if you’re a worker in an organization, a company officer, a manager or leader you have the ability to impact the entire organization through your attitude. As an experienced but recovering bitcher I can speak from a perspective that might help you in your career. I hope you enjoy this episode. Thanks
This week’s story takes place when I was a Captain on a Fire Department years ago. It was really just a routine medical call. But while responding and even treating the patient we really didn’t know it was just a routine call. There was mystery involved. Initially we had no clue what we were even responding to. It makes it hard for the first responders to show up and not know the nature of the emergency incident. In this case we didn’t understand all the particulars of the incident until after the patient was transported to the hospital. The way it unfolded was unique to say the least. A common theme in my stories has been to trust your intuition, follow your gut and be prepared for anything. This short story is another illustration of why I feel so strongly in those lessons. I hope you enjoy this story. Thanks to both John and Curtis for joining me this week.
Back in 1996 I had recently quit my job as a Fire Captain at my Fire Department and had returned to school to get my Masters Degree. So I wasn’t currently working for a Fire Department or a Wildland Fire Agency. Instead I had been hired as a temporary firefighter for the summer and had been working for a State Agency and the Forest Service. Because I already had 22 years of experience at that point and carried the commensurate fire qualifications, I was utilized as a Division Supervisor when assigned to active fires. This particular fire was located in eastern Oregon. I was excited for the dispatch because I had never fought a fire in Oregon at this point of my career. So off I went to Oregon as I describe in the following audio story.
What is significant in this story was my perception of the man I was working for. I had never met him before but from the way he spoke to me, I assumed he thought I was a bit of a drone. But as you’ll hear in this story, he had a direct and lasting positive impact on my career. The lesson I learned from this is to not judge based on some hasty communications or limited knowledge of someone. My advice to other younger and often female firefighters I’ve mentored is to not be scared away from the gruff communications style of some of their supervisors. You don’t really know what’s going on behind his mustache. I hope you enjoy the story and please leave comments. Thanks.
As I’ve often mentioned on this site, you never know what’s going to happen in the course of your day, week, career or even your life. Today’s story is about a time when I was minding my own business and thought I was going to have a nice evening having dinner with an old family friend. My evening was surprisingly interrupted by a citizen’s request to respond to a fire instead. How I responded wasn’t all that dramatic but my reaction to the entire episode was something I still wonder about. Hope you enjoy this episode and as always, please share my site with your friends. Thanks!
In life you never know if you might be called upon to help fix a bad situation. You might not have any expertise to resolve it, but you’re it! You’re all there is. In this week’s story I’ll relate an experience when I was a responsible for rescuing a young boy from an abandoned mine. I had no training in mine rescue, let alone lead a group of firefighters into an old dangerous mine. My expertise was related to high angle rope rescue so I did have some specific experiences to draw upon, but this was definitely a new one for me. In life it’s nice to be “good” rather than just “lucky”. In this story I think I was equally good and lucky.
It’s Christmas this week and my story today is about how to accept a gift. It shouldn’t be that hard to accept a gift but I might have had a tough shell wrapped around my soft sweet center for all those years while I was working as a firefighter (maybe even still). I believe most women firefighters can identify with what happened to me. This story doesn’t include any knuckle dragging firefighters calling me a bitch. On the contrary, it is a story of a gentlemen wanting to be helpful to me while I was on duty. But it’s pretty funny in it’s own way. As you’ll hear, I was unsure how to react to his unnecessary kindness. All I could do was smile and say thank you. Hope you enjoy the story, love the meaning of our holiday season and accept whatever gift you’re given with grace and a smile. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you.