I’m not sure there’s anyone more focused on the importance of storytelling in the fire service than we are (especially as a means of training our replacements) — but “How stories make firefighting safer” by my good friend Chief Tom LaBelle is a great refresher and reinforcement of this concept.
Last night I was sitting in our living room reading a book while the TV was blaring a kids show and my three daughters were partaking in their usual evening game of “make a mess out of the house”. My oldest daughter (7) stopped and said, “Dad you’re a fast reader, your almost done with that book.” I went on to tell her that I am not the fastest reader in the world, but you get faster the more you read. It will soon be a challenge for her to read books faster and faster to keep up with Dad, I’m sure.
In a few years she will understand that by reading you also become better at comprehending, thinking analytically, being adaptive, and writing. For those that are wondering what book I was reading, it was Killing Kennedy by O’Reily and Dugard. Take a deep breath, whether you are a fan of Bill O’Reily or not, the historical data and significance of that fateful day in Dallas, Texas is something worth reading for every American. In addition, the book acknowledges President Kennedy’s 1000 + per minute reading ability. This isn’t the only book on my list to read on my 3 week break from taking college courses for my MPA degree that restarts on January 4.
Here’s the significance to the fire service…many fellow firefighters have asked me what to read, especially the younger or those who see a promotional opportunity in the near future. My usual advice includes:
You should read something about the fire service everyday. Whether it is scrolling through the blog posts, trade magazines, or related news events. Learn something new that you can adapt to how you perform your trade.
You should pick a fire related textbook and read a chapter a shift or once a week. Don’t place a timeline on yourself like a required class. Just read to improve your knowledge base.
The more you read, even as a member of a public service agency, the better you be at comprehending and writing. These are two often-criticized aspects of our service that lesson the perceived level of professionalism. Let’s change that one book at a time.