We've waited for this for what seems like a lifetime.
There have been study sessions with other guys from his fire and med classes, there have been suggestions and feedback sessions with officers. We spent all of yesterday (that was not spent at mass or watching the Packer Game) practicing and timing his BQ (Background Qualifications) session.
We discussed how tying his leadership in the educational world, as well as being an educator on its own merit was a SIGNIFICANT piece to discuss. We talked about he went from being a voice of a school to a Cub with no voice at the dinner table, and the impact that had. We painted a picture of how he learned to be a better firefighter, by being a Med and how he learned so many more styles of leadership based on that view, that was nearly the outside looking in. He opted to use my teaching method for his presentation - telling a story. Starting with his boyhood trips to the firehouse with his dad to do truck inspections, moving on to becoming a teacher and ending with his evil wife, who dragged him to the city - kicking and screaming - where you could only be a professional FF. We discussed the significance of Peer Support and tending to the needs of the WHOLE firefighter and how you cannot treat our exceptionally young Cubs, the same way as you always have. Their brains have not fully developed. There needs to be a transition from hazing and busting your chops to mentoring and instruction.
And we had to make that all fit into 13 minutes. They will be given 15 minutes, but 2 need to be reserved for Q/A by the interview team.
I know he is meeting with some of the guys today, I know he is meeting with an officer while the girls are in practice and I know we will hit the one more time run-throughs tonight when they get home. I feel like the study sessions are the same as they were in the academy, med school...perhaps it is just forever cyclical.
I am proud of all that he has accomplished. This whole story was one of risk - leaving an established career in education at 34, with a wife and 4 little kids is INSANE, but not as uncommon as I would have thought.
He is not the grizzled "fireman's firefighter" that you so often see portrayed when discussing this world. Maybe he is the future. Maybe his education degree (although not recognized for pay stipend each year) truly is invaluable to this department.
We need to make sure our firefighters are well trained, know their stuff, trust each other and all that jazz. But we also need to make sure that our leaders address the whole picture of their firefighters. The stresses that they have experienced on a daily basis, would wear many of us out - if not drive us out of the profession. They have seen losses and experienced saves that create such a pendulum of emotions, someone should be passing out Dramamine. They are berated in the media when lives are lost - because they did not get their in time. They are chastised for eating together. They are fearful of looking too much like cops in the dark alleys. And they are away from their families far more than they would like to be.
All of these emotions and scenarios create a whole picture, which is not always public and not always pretty. But, it needs to be addressed.
I am confident that my FireMan will become that amazing officer.
Far cry my a post I would have had 5 years ago, when I was still trying to survive this insane world.
Send your luck, juju and prayers our way. His orals are tomorrow.
Be safe. Send some your firefighter's way today.