While enjoying the evening in the Daytona Speedway 500 Club for the Ten-8 Fire Equipment/Pierce hospitality party last week I had a nice visit with a group of young firefighters from the panhandle and Jackson County, Florida. A couple of these young men asked me if there was one thing this old retired Chief could tell them to help them in their career what would it be? That was easy – “Never stop learning! The day you stop trying to learn at least one thing about your job is the day your career comes to an end.” Every shift, every day you need to grab onto at least one new idea or thought that can make you a smarter, wiser, better able and ready firefighter or fire officer.
I was lucky to be sitting at that table with Brett Pollock and his family. He is the Deputy Chief of West Manatee Fire Rescue who started as a volunteer in high school through college, and we hired him fresh out of Florida State. He is an example of what I was talking with these young firefighters… you can NEVER stop learning. Brett has been wise enough to continue to grow, learn and develop. He’s earned the Executive Fire Officer (EFO) certification through the National Fire Academy, and the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) designation. That is impressive – but it didn’t come without a commitment to learning, training, and continual research and study.
Whether a firefighter, physician, mechanic, housewife, preacher, or teacher, we need to pick up at least one new bit of information every day that can make us better at what we do, whether is is vocational or avocational, professional or personal. When we stop learning that is when we STOP. Keep it going!!