My good friend Fire Critic recently posted a quote from a text he is reading about Professionalism in the Fire Service.


A new window will open, you’ll read it, then come back. You know the drill.

I really hope this quote was out of context because it is the farthest thing from a definition of Professionalism I have read in a long time.  Professionalism starts far before and goes far beyond conduct on the fireground and in no means is it the best or only way to prove our worth to the community.  If that was the case I would be working for one of the premiere professional services in the world.

I was originally not commenting on the subject and just letting it go, but I wondered how many younger members may read that and run with it.  Rhett is not a silent or small voice in the modern Fire Service and such a quote unchallenged will only reinforce the rampant un-Professionalism I see permeating our ranks.

Not long ago it was an offense to be out of quarters without cover on.  That means wearing a hat for you younger folk.  Now there are departments wearing shorts.  SHORTS!  I’ll admit, I tried it once during a hot summer in the southwest and I felt like a teenager, not a Professional.  Others go out wearing T-shirts, some of those ratty, holes, lettering fading or, worse yet, a shirt from another agency.  Ever seen an FDNY or CFD shirt somewhere that wasn’t NY or Chicago?

Professionalism starts with the way you carry yourself, your appearance and the way you interact with those whom you encounter.  This is all before the bells even ring.

I could start listing off all the things that I think go into being a Professional, but since the quote from Rhett is a simple statement, I offer the following:

“Professionalism is carrying out your responsibilities to the best of your ability, be they the most mundane or the most exciting, the simple or the complex, the recognized or, most importantly, the unnoticed.”

I quote Rodney Dangerfield, “You wanna know what class is? It’s when you’re alone and you fart and you say ‘Excuse me.'”

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