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Dumb Things Firefighters Say

Updated: May 26, 2023

You’ve heard them all. Maybe you’ve even said some of these things. I’m talking about fire service staples like, “Don’t worry kid, this is just a routine fire,” – “All you have to do it put the wet stuff on the red stuff,” – “Stay in until you can’t stay in anymore,” – “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it,” – “Keep your mouth shut probie,” – “Books don’t put fires out. Why are you wasting your time reading that?”

I was speaking to a group of sales professionals about leadership when one sales manager put his head in his hands and said, “I just realized what a lousy trainer I’ve been.” His comment took me back because he was the top trainer in the room. He went on to say, “Every time a new sales rep would ask me what they should do I replied with ‘make your numbers’. That was the dumbest thing I could have said.”

Most of the others in the room were confused. His answer to the new sales reps question was not an unusual one. They all said it before, but the man was right. The fact is new sales people are well aware that they have a quote and their compensation is tied to that quote. They don’t need some to state the obvious. Making their number is probably the only thing on their mind since the moment they took the job. What they were asking was, “What ACTIONS should I take in order to reach my quota?”

Now imagine the new firefighter who is sitting at the table with a bunch of experiences firefighters, you being one of them, and the advice people are giving him or her is, “All you have to do it put the wet stuff on the red stuff.” The young firefighter is well aware of the fact that water puts fire out, but giving such poor advice will do nothing other than weaken your team. You have a brand new, clean slate to work with. Don’t dummy this person down with overused, and often incorrect, one-liners. Spend time with them. Educate them. Train them. Make sure they learn the right way and the wrong way. The person you give advice to today may be the one you have to rely on to save your life tomorrow.

Thanks for reading,

Stay Safe and STEP UP! * Frank

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