Letters of shame

Not too long ago I was informed that I had a crew that was “deficient” in a subject matter. I was taken by surprise with this. But then again I wasn’t. That might make sense to you if you know me, or it might not.

Anyways…over the years I have honed in on the skill of finding out all sides of a story before popping off at the mouth.

Note I said “honed in”….not “mastered”. Ha! I’ve lost my shit and been wrong. I’ve eaten several “I apologize” in my time. I’ve probably apologized more for crap I didn’t do than anything else. But that’s the game. (That’s another blog for after retirement…when I can unleash. Hahaha!)

So I’m told how they don’t know basic information. How not knowing this information could get people killed. A couple of examples were given that made it sound like the “defiency” in this one crew could have killed us all…. although the crew had no part in the decision making of either example. I did.

I read it, and stored it for a later day. Why? When you engage in your employees, you get to know them, and you pay attention to how they act in certain situations, you can usually grasp whether accusations are true, somewhat true/somewhat false, or false. I already had a sense of what was true and what was false.

When dealing with complaints, be sure and take in all factors for BOTH the accused and the accuser….who, what, where, when, how, why. In this case I did just that. And I then felt the need to roll my eyes. (Saying that will probably get me a write up….or I’ll have to apologize. Hahaha! You know as well as I do that people will read this and twist it.)

I finally got around to speaking with my crew. It was a basic training session to go over stuff that we rarely deal with. My guys were rusty. They admit that. That’s a truth.

Another truth while I mentioned it… They were no where near as rusty as their boss’s boss…aka ME. Hell, when I read what they had been asked I couldn’t have rattle the answers off either. And don’t even ask me what I thought the piece of equipment they were referring to was used for…..

The issue boiled down to this…..when he was asked a question he couldn’t remember right off the bat. Didn’t rattle anything off fast enough. Didn’t have information memorized that we get from a resource we carry all the time….a reference book.

So what happens next? The instructor immediately acts like an asshole about it…in front of everyone. Well, when you pop off like an asshole, chances are the person you are belittling in front of other people will immediately shut you out.

Whether they pop back off at you, they decide to walk off, they get upset, they report your behavior, or they just shut down and don’t talk anymore, they are shutting you and your “instruction”, your “knowledge”, your “authority” out.

And that’s what happened.

Approach is everything. Lack of tact and too much ego aren’t skills I ever remember hearing about being effective. Especially not in this day and age.

You just look like an egotistical asshole. And once that happens, it is hard to get your credibility back. I speak from experience. I’ve been that asshole.

Contrast

The contrast from one event to another is very interesting in the first responder world. I feel it has a huge part to do with acute stress that first responders build. This is just one example of the 1000’s I’ve had. It was the latest. I would love to hear others from any first responders.

Last shift I worked was the final night of a major festival in our city that occurs in the district I am responsible for. The last night of this festival includes a huge fireworks display.

I have some freedom in the position I have so I met my family at a location near the festival to watch the fireworks. I stopped for ice cream for my children on the way. I made it about 10 minutes with them before a vehicle accident with entrapment came across the radio. Being the closest Battalion Chief, I responded to assist.

The only patient was the passenger in a large truck. His wife was driving and their young son was in the back seat. They were hit head on by an alleged drunk driver. Another car had been following the swerving vehicle for a few miles. From what I was told, he was calling the police to report him. Then BAM…during his efforts to protect, the vehicle hits a family head on. Imagine what he felt seeing that.

The victim was very critical and unresponsive. He was what we call a “load and go” due to his condition. He was loaded into an ambulance and rushed to the hospital.

While he was being loaded into the ambulance, his wife and son we’re watching. His mother had been contacted and came to the scene. When she saw him she immediately went into shock and became another patient.

When the incident was taken care of I left and drove right straight to where my family was. My husband and 2 children. We got to listen to some great music and watch an incredible fireworks display together.

In a matter of 30 minutes, I went from a scene of broken and twisted metal, a broken body, and a broken life to ice cream, music, and fireworks.

The contrast.

Men and Microwaves

I’m pretty sure that among the majority of men there are standard procedures for certain things.

One of those things are microwaves.

I can’t remember one time in my 20+ years in the fire service that I didn’t have to reset a microwave before I could use it.

3 seconds left…..

It’s time to get real with my out-of-shape ass, UPDATE…

So this is happening. Lord help me. The Sunny Indoor Cycle Bike. With Amazon Prime it will be here in 2 days.

I’ll let you know if I even survive even putting it together. Ha!

Update…It’s here!! I am still amazed by Amazon Prime every time I use it. A cycling bike shipped in 2 days??? You better believe it! And a HUGE shout out to UPS and USPS for busting their butts getting stuff to the doorstep!

I thought for sure it would be a cuss-fest trying to put it together. But as you can see, #1 my awesome husband tackled it and #2 it came pretty much put together. What you see above is how it came. It only took him about 30 minutes.

I have always been hesitant to buy one of these. I figured it would #1 cost an arm and a leg and #2 the bike would turn into a clothing rack.

But I was super happy with the price. Amazon has financing as well if you want smaller payments. I use Amazon so much that I had a ton of “rewards” AKA dollars to use towards it.

A while back I gave up going to an awesome place… CrossFit Hixson. www.crossfithixson.com I wasn’t able to make it to the scheduled WODs due to our funky life schedule. I truly miss it because of the people and the awesome lessons I learned about myself, my body, and my body image.

Because of our schedule I bought myself a barbell and some weights to use at the house. Another Amazon Prime, got it all in 2 days purchase!

As much as I love dynamic exercise and lifting, I desperately needed to add cardio. Well, anyone who knows me knows that my left ankle has always been a hot mess. And then a week ago I turned my right ankle for the first time. Anyone with ankle issues knows that it’s over for that ankle too. Ha!

And anyone who knows me well knows I only run from cops and bears, because, running is stupid. Hence the spin bike.

So now I’ve got to add my mental health portion…

Somehow I’ve gotten to this place where I’m ready to get back to my old self. The one that took care of her physical self. The one that took time to enjoy her hobbies. The one who found joy in so many things.

That person was gone for a long time thanks to one homegrown terrorist asshole. Or at least that was the tipping point.

So if you think you can’t or you will never be ready, give yourself a break. But at the same time, get up every day, eat something, take a shower, and put one foot in front of the other. Eventually those footsteps won’t be so damn heavy.

And if you even need a neutral ear, I’m here. Sometime a stranger can listen better than anyone. I have a Master’s degree in Counseling, so I understand confidentiality 100%. I’m not license but I can still listen. And that may be all you need to get steppin’. Just send me a message through my email, fieryandflawed@gmail.com.

Thanks for stopping by!

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D@#n mulch bags

Mulching can be a total bitch. Especially if you have a ton of bags. This is common knowledge.

So when I decided to mulch the entire area of my garden, I knew I would be cussing quite a bit. This is because I despise carrying and shaking the big ass bag.

I always end up with a big pile, then a trail, then another pile, then sprinkles of mulch, and then I have to try and get the rest out of the bottom of the bag.

So I tried something and mulching went so much easier. Now I don’t dread the 12 other bags I have waiting on me.

I’m sure master gardeners and landscapers have plenty of hacks and easier ways to lay mulch. But I’m neither of those.

So this is for those who piddle with gardening, have little to no expertise, and hate laying mulch.

Lay the bag flat. Cut across the top of the bag in the middle.

Make sure and cut the sides too.

Simply put your hands under the bag where you cut it, and lift straight up.

Then just the bottom of the bag.

BOOM! Now you have 2 smaller bags. Easier to move. Easier to spread. Less cursing.

Happy gardening.

Thanks for stopping by!

Mosquitoes

I posted this blog last year and feel that it is one that should be shared every time it gets warm and the flying assholes emerge.

Mosquitoes love me. Especially the pterodactyl kind. Every summer for the past several years has been miserable. I even said “forget it” to gardening, something I love, thanks to those blood suckers.

I’m serious people. The mosquitoes in our yard are like….carry-your-kid-off huge, Pterodactyls…..

#jurassicworld

Around March of this year I decided that I should finally follow my mother’s advice (it’s only taken about 42 years). She’s always said to take B vitamins every day for stress and jaw-clenching… something I was experiencing.

I noticed a difference in the jaw-clenching immediately. Stress is an overwhelming thing if you don’t get it under control. Everyone has different ways of doing that. I added the Stress B Complex to my stress-reducing methods and am thankful I did. Little did I know it had an extra benefit.

That benefit: Being less attractive to mosquitoes. I continued taking Stress B-Complex once a day. When May rolled around and it was gorgeous outside I decided to take a chance and do some yard work. I thought for sure I wouldn’t last 10 minutes.

I spent hours outside and never got a single mosquito bite. None. Zero. I knew those suckers were there. I saw them…. remember, ours are pterodactyl size. They even landed on me!

In the back of my mind I was curious how it was possible I wasn’t getting bitten but at the same time didn’t put much thought into it as long as they weren’t biting the life out of me.

Then one day, scrolling through Facebook, I saw an article about vitamin B-1 and how it deters mosquitoes. You know how you read a gazillion ‘cure’, ‘DIY’, ‘the answer to all your problems’, posts that are garbage? Well this one wasn’t. I had tested out the theory before I even knew about it.

So…. B-Complex is now a daily thing. For me and my kids. I get the kids some multi-vitamin gummies with B vitamin in them. They seem to work so far.

Warning though…..B-Vitamins stink. Like, don’t carry them in your purse even in the bottle because your child might tell you your purse smells like a butt. They should also be taken close to meal or snack time. If not you may get a little burpy.

Here are some links to the products I buy off of Amazon.com. Easy Peasy!

For me:

Nature Made Stress B Complex with Zinc Tablets, 75 Count

For the kids:

Sundown Naturals Kids Star Wars Complete Multivitamin, 60

Cheapest mosquito preventative EVER!!

One more product I will throw in here for pets:

If you are looking for a GREAT flea and tick collar for your dog or cat check out what we use, Seresto, in the link below. 8 months of protection!!

I love the convenience of Amazon, especially Amazon Prime! It is worth not having to go into a stinky pet store.

Seresto Collar Dog Large 70 cm by Seresto

What a weekend



It’s not over. This weekend that is. The weekend that has thrown all sorts of curve balls at me starting on Thursday. I’m hesitant to post this because there is one day of the weekend left… my attitude could change. Haha!

My husband got to miss all of the really good stuff because he was on duty. Lucky-ass. So I was tested again and again and had no one to pawn it off on. I’m not quite sure how single parents do it.

I could sit here and tell you all the bullshit that happened. But to be honest it’s just miniscule stuff that all happened at once. Overload on the mild side, in the scheme of things.

As I sit here typing I am thinking of all the positive things that have come along with these trials. Things and moments that are just between my kids and I. Or between my husband and I. The private moments that only we can truly feel.

So here is something that I thought of and decided to put in words. Something to post somewhere I look every day to remind myself.

It’s any easy concept. Just not always easy to do.

I don’t go to a church anymore. But I do try and instill belief and faith in our kids. And one of the main things I reiterate is to just hand it over to God. He’s got it anyways. We just have to religuish what we think is in our control.

I’m not too far off

Everytime I post about leadership, I wonder if I sound like a complete idiot. Sharing how I feel I try to manage things isn’t easy. What if I’ve got it totally wrong? When if the people I work with really just hate my guts? I will just sound like a fool.

 I know I’m not a perfect leader and I don’t meet all the best qualities like I should. But I don’t think any of us do.

One thing I know for certain is that the only way to become better at ANYTHING you do, is to first be open to the fact that there may be a better way.

As I scroll through Google and read leadership articles I begin to realize that my style isn’t so bad. I also read things that stand out to me…things I need to improve on…things I need to try. Self awareness is the key to doing just that. 

The following article from Fire Rescue Magazine lays out some key characteristics for successful leadership. Do you possess any of these? 

http://www.firerescuemagazine.com/articles/print/volume-4/issue-5/command-leadership/key-characteristics-of-successful-leaders.html

Teamwork 

While I was skimming through Pinterest I saw this quote posted by hhtp://hyplyrikz.com and it immediately jumped out at me. 

Looking back over my years as a middle manager I feel like this quote encompasses the route I tried to take when I made this rank. It hasn’t been easy, but I feel like my team and I have accomplished and continue to “tweak” coming together, keeping together, and working together.

Here some things I found to be helpful when I became a supervisor of a large team  made up of smaller teams that work together in life and death situations. Teams that work, live, eat, and sleep together.

-Take the “we work together” approach. I despise saying my co-workers work under me or for me. I know all to well what it is like to feel insufficient simply because I was a lower rank. So when I took this supervisor position I decided to observe more at first than go in blazing with my shiny extra bugle on display saying “I’m the damn boss!!”

They already know I’m the boss. 

I was fortunate to take a position in a familiar area. I actually became a supervisor of men who had supervised me at one point. Talk about ackward! (That could make a whole separate blog!)

But that ackward was an advantage. I knew how they operated. I knew their triggers. I was ahead of the game coming together with them.

The ones I hadn’t worked with I observed. I let them do their thing. See how they operate. See how they handle their people. See how they handle chaos.

How long did I observe? Long enough to figure out what changes we needed to make for all of us to come together as a cehosive group. That time line could be different in other circumstances.

-Understand different management styles. Understand different methods of conflict resolution. Know when to use ANY of them. 

Policies, procedures, and laws aside, everyone has a different style of management. Your way might not be the right way in certain circumstances. Hell, it might just flat out suck for those you supervisor. Meanwhile your walking around like a cock. 🐓

Do you need to be an expert in all styles? No. You just have to be open to the FACT that there are other styles and that they might just work better than yours.

-Ask what they need in a supervisor. Most of my officers said they just wanted to be able to do their job and not be micromanaged. I completely get that because I don’t want to be micromanaged either. Especially after 20 years at the job.

It’s not hard to let people do their job if you have the mind set that you aren’t the “all knowing”. It’s not hard if you don’t have an ego the size and force of a freight train.

You don’t need to remind them or scold them on EVERY little thing. If all the little things become consistent problems then let them have it. But until then, have some confidence in your people.
-Have over all goals and make them clear to your team.

My goal: We all go home physically and mentally in tact. Instead of using dumb luck, let’s work safer and more efficiently. We need to share the work load.

I cut out some things that were breaking up our numbers and our crew integrity. I simply reiterated that operating safely and efficiently was my main focus. The more working hands, the better. And I kept it as consistent as possible. 
Some people who wanted to operate at the bare minimum just because that’s how it had always been done. But once they saw consistency and they saw the burden lifted off even their own shoulders, they understood and accepted it.

-Be a guide and a sounding board.

 When a crew is having issues amongst itself it is important to listen and guide the officer. Not immediately step in and take over unless it’s a safety issue. 

Don’t take power away from your officers. And don’t step in and do everything for them. Help them figure it out. Be open minded to how they may deal with something or someone. 

Who knows…They may be better at it than you. And you could learn something. 

-Last but not least, keep your mouth shut. Don’t go running your mouth about what someone asked or told you. Don’t share the issues with everyone else. That is the FASTEST way to destroy crew and team intergrity and make you look like nothing but an asshole.

Be aware that when you are constantly talking about things you don’t need to behind people’s backs, they eventually find out. And then all the trust and respect goes out the window.

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Thanks for taking time to read my post. Like and share for me if any of it made sense to you. Ha!

Fire Service question: Fog nozzle or Smoothbore 

There have been a recent changes to how things are done that effect a department and city. I am curious to other opinions from firefighters and Operations level officers who work and make decisions on aerial apparatus deployment in a variety of incidents.

So here are my questions:

-Do you think an aerial truck should have a fog nozzle attached for immediate deployment? Or do you think an aerial truck should have a smoothbore nozzle on it? 

-Do you feel it should be standard across an entire department? Or do you feel it should be dependent on primary district needs?

I would like to say that I don’t believe there is a right or wrong answer that will cover ever incident. We work in an unpredictable profession. I do, however feel that one of these choices is better than another. 

With that being said, I’m not here to debate or argue. I don’t even plan to reveal which  I personally think is better. I simply want some feedback on how departments across the country do things. This is just out of my personal interest.

Thanks for stopping by and thank you for any feedback.

And most importantly…Stay safe, brothers and sisters.