Lookouts! Communications! Escape Routes! Safety Zones! LCES!! Yeah Baby!!
Moving from "Followership To Leadership!"
I'm a crew-member on a well respected hotshot crew. Last year I got a promotion and became a "senior firefighter." That put me at an interesting cross-roads in my wild-land fire fighting career, moving from being, "just one of the guys," to a position that is a wee-bit more. I am not yet a boss but at the same time I am expected to lead by example. I have more responsibilities--more eyes scrutinizing me.
This year one of my responsibilities is to teach two classes during our "critical 40" refresher. "Critical 40" is the 40 hours that a hotshot crew uses to become fire ready, before they are able to go on a fire assignment. Actually, I just checked out the national IHC (Interagency Hotshot Crew) operations guide and found out it is called the, "critical 24." But my particular crew--and others I believe, do more then the mandatory 24 hours required and bump it up to 40 hours of training before becoming available for assignment and hitting the boards.
I am nervous and excited for the opportunity to teach. I have some ideas forming!
I do believe this is a photo of Paul Gleason, founder of LCES (I could be wrong!)
The sequester robbed me of an opportunity!
I was scheduled to take a class called M-410 this winter. M-410 is a wonderful class (I'm told). It is a class called, "Facilitative Instructor," basically a class on how to teach. How perfect is that? But the class was rescheduled, I had to change my airplane ticket from Southern Mexico to accommodate the change (cost me about $400), then a week before, the class was totally canceled do to the sequester! I decided to fly home for the week anyway as not to waste my ticket and that decision caused me to have long arguments with my girlfriend--I had a breakup because of the sequester! Don't let anyone tell you that the sequester doesn't hurt! (I have since repaired things with my wonderful senorita)
So I am untrained at training and now I am expected to teach. My inexperience is just part of the problem. The other obstacle that I face is the fact that my co-workers, the guys I am expected to teach, are all very experienced firefighters, most of whom are "returnees." So I have to teach something to a bunch of guys that have already learned or have already listened to the shpeel more then one time. I have to get information across to a bunch of know-it-alls. I need to have a fresh approach or I will be talking to a bunch of blank stares.
I have about a week and a half until I step in front of my peers to teach. This article is actually me brainstorming my approach to teaching these two courses. I hope you enjoy my thoughts!
I have not been totally honest!
I may have exaggerated my naivety a little--I have had some experience teaching. Last year I was a new permanent employee and I was giving the chance to co-teach these two classes, with my boss staring over my shoulder making sure all was covered. I thought I had the perfect angle. Before starting the power point presentation on the 10 standard fire orders and the 18 watch-out situations I gave a short speech.
I asked the group why is it important to become intimately familiar with these wildland fire guidelines, our safety mantra of sorts. I then shocked them with my crazy answer. Sex, I said! Learning the 10's and 18's will bring them a better more satisfying sex life! My reasoning was simple. being a safe firefighter, one who is able to have there head on a swivel, one that is able to take pause and say, "hey this violates the watch-out situation number six, I am not informed on my assignment and tactics," is a firefighter that has a passion for safety.
A firefighter that has a passion for safety is a firefighter that is noticed, a firefighter that is sure to climb to the top echelons of their organization. A firefighter who is safe moves up, a firefighter that moves up makes more money! A person with more money has a more satisfying sex life! Simple right?
How shallow can you get? But, actually, I was a bit off, trying to trick my co-workers into paying attention. There is an even more important, a more real reason to take safety seriously. Life! To stay alive uninjured is a better reason to take safety on the fireline seriously. To know, without doubt that you did and said everything possible to keep your brothers and sisters safe the onus of all that firefighters.
Here they are and they shout "Watch out!"
No bullshit this year!
To prepare for this class and to make up for my cancelled M410 class, I have been reading a Dale Carnegie book called "The Quick And Easy Way To Effective Speaking." He is the author of the famous book "How to Make Friends And Influence People." I love his earnest advice and his clear old fashioned examples of public speaking, also his clear, simple way of writing. I am going to look my class straight in the eyes, speak with an authoritative voice and start with quote I found in Carnegie's great book.
"In almost any subject, your passion for that subject will save you. If you care enough for a result, you will most certainly attain it. If you wish to be good, you will be good. If you wish to be rich, you will be rich. If you wish to be learned, you will be learned. Only then you must really wish these things and wish them with exclusiveness and not wish one hundred other incompatible things just as strongly." William James, professor of psychology at Harvard.
I think this quote is beautiful and certainly pertains to safety on the fireline. But how does one instill this earnest passion for safety? Certainly not by promising a better sex life.
I want to instill our core values....Pride, Safety, Teamwork.