The other day I was having a discussion with the guys. Afterward, it reminded me of something I have heard before. There is an excerpt I remembered from the video Brotherhood: Life in the FDNY. I want to share that with you real quick and then go into the story.
“It’s the glorious part of the job, cleaning the sink. Somebody’s got to do it. There’s no sense in complaining about anything, because you know, you see something that has to be done, you can’t complain about it, just do it. Do it yourself. Just clean the sinks up or mopping the floors or whatever, there’s a lot of pride and you do it because you love being here.”
– Brotherhood: Life in the FDNY
That’s a great message and it resonated with me. It was a similar message that I delivered the other day. I’ve had a variety of different people come into my firehouse over the past couple months. The swaps were some guys came to the busy house and let the guys go study for a promotional exam at a slower house. Which is awesome. I’ve noticed complaints though from the new people to the company. I kept hearing the same thing and it was comments made over how the kitchen was left for us in the morning.
Awhile back I adopted a change in the mindset of when I came into the firehouse. I get the good and the bad. You left some leftover t-bone steaks in the fridge, those are mine now. Something’s broken or dirty, well now it’s our job to either clean it or fix it.
So back to the complaints about the kitchen. I explained that this issue doesn’t need to be solved by the captains. This should be solved at the Firefighter level. Figure out what’s the deal. Maybe it was just an accident or a simple oversight.
I told him, “Listen, if this is really bothering you, next time you come in, make sure your gear’s on the rig, go get a mop bucket and mop the floor.”
If the off going crew is in the kitchen, they’re going to see you setting the right example.
If it really bothers you, just clean it. Don’t complain about it.
He responded, “Yeah, it’s not a bad idea with it.”
I explained that I used a similar tactic when I was a floating officer and also when I was an acting officer. If there was something that had to get done I would just go start doing it. The crew would eventually join me.
There was one firehouse in particular. I’m pretty sure they would sit at the kitchen table all day if you let them. When I would fill in there on bay day, I would walk out to the bay and start pulling the rigs out. The next thing you know, everyone came out and started helping.
It’s really hard to resist doing some work when you see someone else working. Most people are going to join in and just start and guess what? You just set the right example and you led them in the right direction.”
If you got something out of this then share it out with somebody else.
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