Blog by Will Anderson
Platoon Chief with the Euclid Fire Department in Ohio

There are many things that make the fire service a great profession. Tradition, pride, culture, a family atmosphere, they all contribute to make our profession great. In fact, some believe it’s the most prestigious profession in the world.

So what exactly makes our profession so admirable and respected? What makes one department more successful than another? I believe these answers rest in our values and the values of the department.

Most would agree the family atmosphere of the fire service is what makes it so special. By spending nearly one-third of our lives with each other, we develop a cohesiveness that is virtually foreign to most other occupations. Merriam-Webster defines family values as values of a traditional or conservative kind which are held to promote the sound functioning of the family and to strengthen the fabric of society. This definition fits perfectly into what the fire service is all about: tradition, family, and public service.

So which values make this happen? That’s a question that could elicit 10 different answers from 10 different people. I know my Core Four that I try to live by at all times, both professionally and personally. They include the following:

Fidelity: Simply put, being faithful. As firefighters, as parents, and as spouses we have a duty and obligation to be faithful to our families, to our department, to the job, and to our communities.

Integrity: The word stems from the Latin adjective integer (whole, complete). To me, it means doing the right thing. I’ve learned what is popular, may not be right; and what is right, may not be popular. That’s the true test for all of us. The fire service will always need people of the highest integrity since were entrusted to care for people and their possessions.

Respect: In today’s fire service, many of us work with, and serve people of different cultures, races, and ethnicities. Above all, treating each other with respect and dignity, while being non-judgmental, helps us achieve our duty of honorable and dedicated service to the community. We also need a strong degree of self-respect. If we don’t respect ourselves, it’s unlikely we will be respected. Maintaining physical fitness and being a student of the job are critical to being a productive, trusted co-worker. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Don’t be the weakest link in your crew’s chain.

Excellence: By adhering to the first three values in this article, the fourth will occur naturally. It would be nice if there were such thing as a perfect fire department. Unfortunately, there isn’t. Despite this, we can still strive for perfection. While striving, well eventually reach excellence and excellence in this profession means our members go home safe at the end of their shift, and more importantly, at the end of their career.

These four values will strengthen ourselves and our members, but ultimately our departments and communities. Each of us is responsible for our own success. It’s up to us to make the job better than it was when we started. A wise firefighter once told me this job owes us nothing, but if we devote ourselves to it, it will give us everything.

Be smart, and thanks for reading!

About the Author
Will Anderson is a platoon chief with the Euclid Fire Department in Ohio. He’s in his 18th year in the fire service and is certified as a State of Ohio Firefighter 2, Fire Instructor, and Paramedic. He recently completed his Fire Officer 1, 2, and 3 training in addition to his Blue Card certification. Follow him on Twitter @c2anderson.