Hello dear firebuffs!
So we just wrapped up Fire Rescue East 2013 just down the street from us in Daytona Beach, Florida! Thank you to all the good folks who came out to say hello, tell us their stories and picked up a new FDCam to work with. Without you guys we couldn’t nor would we want to exist. Personally my favorite little moment was when I got a chance to meet Cpt. Willie Wines of IronFiremen.com . It was good to meet someone that Ive been following online, to get some tips from someone who is already entrenched into the Fire Service Industry and simply just to shake hands with the real person and see that famous stache!
All of this of course wraps up the last part of the series “Are you Playing or Working with it?” Like Cpt. Wines I met a lot of fire service Officers, Lieutenants through District Chiefs. And to be honest I was greeted and spoken to with mixed reviews. Now, Ive been told my last post was a bit “grouchy” (if you thought so too I beg your forgiveness. It was not my intention.) It’s just tough to talk about lawyers without digging in your heels & preparing to fight, I think that set the tone to the post. So, as you could imagine the rank structure was split in two, Backstep Firefighters through right seat Lieutenants and Captains greeted me & the FDCam staff with toothy grins that shortly followed with their latest working fire and how their friends either got great video OR how they wished they had a camera on board so they themselves could have “gotten the shot”. AND as the pendulum swings the other way administrative Captains through (and especially) Chiefs picked up our FDCams looked over our shoulders & told us how in some form or fashion they would not be purchasing or allowing their members to use FDCams. Now I have to admit, I expected this response, but every time I felt my shoulders drop in disappointment. I had prepared some statistics, stories and field reviews for these Chiefs. And only once was I able to engage in discussion…
So I see these two big burly men strolling down the isle heading toward the booth, they stop & check out the video we had playing on the TV. The larger of the two, with the salt & pepper handle bar moustache picked up our little camera and then said “…looks like a good way to get in trouble…”, he then looked at me and waited for my response. Which in short was both a personal outlook on my tool that I have mounted on my lid, the useful feedback we have received from other departments that have bought bulk orders AND how an FDCam when used responsibly can ward off the lawyers as well as protect administrators & supervisors. I hadnt even got to the part where I mentions roudtable discussions to fine tune efficient companies tactics or to use as setting a realistic foundation to rookie firefighters, when the big man stopped me short but quickly putting the FDCam on the table and offering his final judgement “…Well, my guys wont be wearing these any time soon…” Not, particualarly rude but you could tell the big man was use to having the final say.
It was the only time during the weekend when I didnt feel upbeat. And it wasnt by his demenor or sharp tone, (I have small kids…Im tougher than that) it was because I felt bad for the past generation of established fire officers and the near future of the fire service. Walking away from me wasnt a crusty ol’ fireman who didnt want to play with the new toy. What was leaving was an entire department that was missing out on an enhanced training tool, a positive PR campaign in a poor and sluggish economy where firefighter salaries & benefits have huge targets on them, and lastly a chance for another department to understand & embrace the fact that social media (Facebook, YouTube & Twitter) is here to stay! You can create a departmental evironment where firefighters say “hey, it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission” or you can make a plan, define guidelines and have reasonable SOP’s that allow administrative control without infringing on personal rights. A happy department with good morale is one less likely to cause trouble for its administration, out of respect for it, NOT because of fear of being punishment. (but thats for another post…maybe my next one!).
So where does that leave us? Well, obviously with more work to do, more hands to shake & more conversations to start. The best ones will be more like the training Chief we met who coordinated tri-county training burns. He told me about how just one controlled burn lasts for months now that he can re-visit it with all the guys who couldnt or didnt make burn day. Also the PIO who told us about how his department is using the “chain of command” structure to filter all pictures and video to him for review and media release. These are cutting edge ideas being put into action. This is the direction we here at FDCam want to help departments move. Social media is like that big boulder in the Indiana Jones movie, we are going to have to manage it or get rolled over by it!
Oh and speaking of rollover, FDCams founder & my partner Lt. Pace made a real good worker yesterday and had a few cams rolling to stay tuned for that and the next installment of the HelmetCamFirefighter blog! Heres a teaser photo:
Thanks for tuning in and if you guys want to keep the discussion going or talk about how you can implement a social media SOP, feel free to reach out to us here or email us at support@FDCam.com