#22 – Trusting Your Gut

The actual bluff where the accident took place

During our lives we’ll have many instances when we have the opportunity to listen to the little voice we hear coming from the back of our mind. We often want to make decisions based on clear facts. You know… Just the facts mam nothing but the facts. But in reality our decision making is a combination of facts, emoti0ns and some things in-between the two. The “things” in-between are inputs that your brain is receiving but your consciousness might not be recognizing them yet. I’ve had many experiences at work and at home where (after I made the decision) I realized I had been making a decision based in part on intuition.

This story is about a serious accident that nearly killed a young woman and how listening to the little voice in my head may have led to her being rescued.

#21 – Leadership is Like Finding Water in the Desert

This week’s story is interesting just on it’s surface, but there’s a whole lot more to it. The story really deals with how we deal with a supervisor. These interactions can be critical to our future profession. Over my working life I’ve often been asked how I gained my wildland fire qualifications so quickly. My flippant answer was because I found water in the desert. This story explains why I said that. But the bigger picture is how I dealt with my supervisors and provided leadership “UP”. We often think about providing leadership down in an organization. But leading up is important but can be difficult to figure out how to do. I’m not suggesting I know all the answers but I can share this example of how I dealt with a few opportunities early in my career.

If you have experiences you’d like to share leave a comment. We need to learn from everyone around us. Thanks for listening everyone.

Episode 21, Leadership is Like Finding Water in the Desert – BobbieOnFire.com

#20 – Lost in the Pines!!!!

Back when technology wasn’t exactly at our fingertips in the fire engine or command truck, we used old fashioned maps to find our way to emergencies. Having a hard copy map in your hand was always comforting but there is lots of room for human error. And if you’ve listened to more than one of these stories you already know I’m very human. Now in most modern fire apparatus, there is a computer screen with all the relevant information necessary to quickly and efficiently find the emergency scene.

This is a short and I hope funny story about something that happened to me almost 30 years ago. As you’ll hear when I tell the story, it could have been a tragic story but it wasn’t. I was to blame in this story and no one else. But as with many stories, the line between funny and tragic is very thin. If you live in a community and the Fire Department or emergency first responders are asking for funding for some new technology, I hope you give it a good luck and support their request. I hope listening to this story helps you with that decision.

Towards the end of the story you’ll notice a few blank seconds in the recording. Sorry for my lack of recording expertise. I’ll work on fixing those types of blips as I keep improving. And as always, if you enjoy listening to these stories, please share the website with your friends. Thanks everyone and see you next week.

Lost in the Pines, Episode 20 – BobbieOnFire.com

#19 – Celebrating Thanksgiving When You’re a Firefighter

A photo from the Seattle FD and their Thanksgiving dinner

Last week’s story was a bit more heavy than what I had originally intended for this site. So today I’m posting a story about what it’s like to be working on the holidays. Lots of folks have to work the holidays so I’m not trying to make this another “hero” story. If you’ve listened to my other stories you know that’s not my intention. But after 40 years of experiencing things like… being on a wildland fire and watching families across the lake from the fire having their weekend camping trip playing in the water; or missing my son’s first day of kindergarten because I was at the Yellowstone fires in ’88; or numerous holidays where I tried to incorporate my family and those of my co-workers into the fire station dinner the best we could.

This story relates a few of those outstanding memories from the years of having to work on the big holidays. Even though I’ve always enjoyed my work and have been happy to be of service, I have to admit to a certain melancholy when working on a holiday. For me, the best thing that could happen if you’re working the holiday is to be busy. Members of the public might not understand why a firefighter would want to be busy at work but you really want firefighters who are enthusiastic about going to work. And having a slow shift on a holiday when you’re separated from family was the worst for me. I hope this story gives you some insight to what’s going on behind those fire station doors on the holiday. Thanks for listening folks and I’d appreciate you “liking” and “sharing” to spread the word of this little site.

Episode 19 – Thanksgiving, BobbieOnFire.com

#18 – Post Traumatic Stress

Last night I was having a drink and dinner with some friends of mine. We’re all 64+ year old women either retired, or getting close to retirement. Neither of my friends who I was enjoying the evening with are firefighters but they do enjoy the stories that you all listen to here. I don’t know how we got on the subject of the lasting impacts of being a firefighter but I probably mentioned something about how some of my co-workers and I share some internal “wounds” from things that we’ve experienced on the job. One of my friends was surprised to hear that firefighters might suffer from post traumatic stress (or PTSD). She thought it was something only soldiers have to deal with. I assured her that it wasn’t that uncommon amongst the ranks of firefighters and police. I described a story of how I became aware of how some of these emotional impacts surface in our lives. As we spoke she realized that she too had some lingering stress from the untimely passing of her daughter. Of course she does. We probably all do since none of us live in a bubble. This is a short story describing how my eyes were opened to my own scabbed over wounds. Please listen, like and share. It helps get the word out on this website. Thanks all and take care of yourselves, love ones and friends.

Episode 18, BobbieOnFire.com – PTSD

#17 – Fire Bitch "We've never had to work for a bitch before and we're not going to start now!"

Over the years I’ve had some challenges to my leadership at fires. This story relates 3 separate instances one summer that have had a long term impact on me. I believe people are mostly good and mean to do well. But when folks are stressed and firefighters are often stressed at a fire, they may respond differently to an authority figure than they might do otherwise. It’s true that some men might not like taking orders from a female fire chief. You might think this wasn’t common but it surely was. Add to this dynamic that after 25 years of firefighting I just had no patience for putting up with any macho BS. Looking back on this time period I felt like a “quick draw” gunfighter. If someone was disrespectful or insubordinate I pulled my six shooter and kicked them off the fire. Strong women in positions of authority are often called a bitch. It’s not surprising and it’s not new. But the majority of guys who thought I was a bitch eventually come around to being a respected co-worker once we’ve worked together longer. Most of the knuckle dragging firefighters eventually come around.

See how I reacted to these challenges. In hindsight I could have done some things a bit better but it makes for a great story. Enjoy the story. Share and tell your friends. Thanks.

“Working for a bitch” Episode 17, BobbieOnFire.com

#16 – Flying Bodies

When we see a multiple fire engines, police cars and ambulances at the scene of a minor accident, it’s easy to criticize. Since we don’t know what’s going on, we assume all those resources are unnecessary. The problem is we really don’t know and they don’t either until their arrive on scene to see what they have to deal with. This story is about my witnessing a terrible auto accident miles from the nearest emergency services and only having myself to manage 4 patients until help arrived nearly an hour later. I hope after listening to this story you’ll consider taking a CPR or first aid class. We all need to be prepared in case you also witness “flying bodies”. And the next time you see multiple fire engines, police cars and ambulances in front of someone’s home, assume good intent on behalf of those first responders. Hope you enjoy the story.

Flying bodies, Episode 16, BobbieOnFire.com