What Are You Going To Do?

By: Chris Brennan Christopher Brennan
It’s funny how things that would be seemingly unimportant all strike you with a different gravity if you have been emotionally primed for them. Yesterday I read a great blogpost titled “The Battle” by Taj Meyers. It was eloquent, thoughtful, and inspiring. Then this morning when I got off shift I was driving home listening to Mike and Mike on ESPN Radio. The discussion was about player injuries and to what extend coaches should allow players to decide if they can return to the game. The revelation that Tony Romo continued to play on Sunday with cracked ribs (and an resulting punctured lung) brought the conversation on. In typical Mike and Mike fashion, Greeny made a comment that players are insane. His supporting fact was that players who are hurt and try to convince coaches (or even outright believe themselves) that they can be in the game must be “insane” if they will ignore their own bodies, and risk long term injury. Golic fired back that if he had been told on the sidelines that his lung was punctured his first thought would be, “I have two.”

I tweeted the show my thought: “A weak person doesn’t willingly put himself in harms way. Those with a Warrior mindset put their responsibility to others first.” (@ChrisFSW for those who want to follow)

That got me thinking about the real distilled essence of everything we do here at Fire Service Warrior. It is about making sure the people who are protecting my neighbors (on the local and the global level) have the mental fortitude to push through pain, fear, and everything else to succeed on the fire ground.

If you are in this trade for what it can do for you (pay, prestige {good luck with that these days}, time off) then you are part of the problem that is dragging at the heels of the American Fire Service. This is not about 40 hours a week, a steady check, and a better than even chance that you will be home in time to watch the news and knock back a scotch. This trade is about THEM. It is about being the sheepdog that Lt. Col. Dave Grossman talks about and sticking your hand up in the air to say, “Pick ME! I will put myself in harms way for you.”

How many people ridiculed Jay Cutler (Bears QB) for not getting back in the NFC Championship game last season? Dozens of Pro-players and members of the media called him weak. The neglected to remember this was the same guy who was sacked more times than any other quarterback in the 2010-11 season. He was finally hurt to the point he couldn’t play and still people expected more of him. Was anyone going to die because he didn’t get back in there? No. Were the Bears going to make less money because he didn’t get back in there? No. Now, here is a moment for self-reflection… how many people that would cry the Culter was failing his responsibility would also sit at the firehouse kitchen table and say, “Our first mission is for everyone to go home?” My opinion is anyone who would is a hypocrite.

A good friend of mine said to me last week (when I was in the middle of a really terrible headspace), “We are men. We can step up and shoulder the burden for our families because that is what has to happen or we can break down and no one has a leader to follow. What are you going to do?”

So, here is where I wrap this rambling mess together. What are you going to do? Are you going to walk the walk or are your going to talk? Are you going to be ready for the Battle that Taj wrote about and for that moment when one of “THEM” need you? How are you going to get there? Are you in the Gym, are you studying, are you preparing yourself? No one else will do it for you. No municipal agency, association, or union will ever demand that you push yourself to YOUR limits of excellence. Only you can do that.

This isn’t a game, it isn’t a sport; it is a trade that requires selfless sacrifice and a willingness to put your responsibility to others ahead of you. So, what are you going to do?


  1. There is a silent schism occurring in the fire service. Not a single person in this fire service is looking forward to, or even welcoming their death, be it due to fire ground operations or otherwise. At the same time, I’d do anything I can to prevent the loss of any of my brothers, be it my department or not. The lines in the sand are drawn between the two parties and only one will undoubtedly win. One side is taking the easy way out and preaching inactivity in the name of safety. Pulling your men out (if you’re even sending them in) prematurely, drowning them in safety regulations, and dressing them up in highly reflective vest, bracelets, and socks isn’t going to save us and it damn sure won’t save our citizens. To many of this crowd are attempting to fight fires from behind a desk, on paper and through red tape. It’s far too easy to hand out vest, scale back your procedures, and neuter your men and proclaim you’ve made it safer for everyone. The truth rears it’s ugly head when houses burn down and people die. The hypocrisy is even more glaring when you realize that an overwhelming majority of our LODD’s aren’t even taking place during “aggressive fire tactics”.

    On the other hand, you have brothers trying to prove an old concept. If I’m smart enough, fit enough, and competent enough, maximum safety will be achieved. Taking the warrior mentality out of our firefighters is a loss for both the fire service and the communities we’ve sworn to protect. There are some who do it for glory, some who do it for a check, and then there are others who do it because we want to. The “fighter” in fire fighter doesn’t turn off at 7am at the end of the shift. Don’t spend 2/3’s of your 3 day schedule regressing. Do everything you can to prove the office drones wrong and show them proactive safety measures are what will save us, such as a focus on physical and mental health.

    The very meaning of safety: the state of being “safe” (from French sauf), the condition of being protected against physical, social, spiritual, financial, political, emotional, occupational, psychological, educational or other types or consequences of failure, damage, error, accidents, harm or any other event which could be considered non-desirable. This is what we do! We are called upon to fix problems, not sit around and agree with the homeowner on the level of danger. We MUST be experts in our field, professionals in our duty, and the elite of those capable of performing our duties.

    The schism is slowly taking place and the more of us talking and sharing ideas just makes us more powerful. Thank you to Chris, Brian, and PJ for giving many of us a hub to center our way of life and mentality. Thank you to anyone whose read my garbled writings and shared ideas and motivation with me. Thank you to everyone whose used twitter, text, and email (even phone calls, thanks Brian) to both inspire and motivate me to become more than “just good enough”. One side is ran by fear, and the other is ran by honor. Guess who’ll come out on top.

    -Firefighter Taj Meyers.

  2. Well… I guess thats two beers I’ll be needing to buy… One for Chris and one for Taj. Thanks to both for a little brotherly slap on the butt “go get ‘em kid” write up and commentary. The “Safeties” vs. the “Aggressives” is really starting to get on my nerves. Seriously. If you want to have an effect on LODDs then ban smoking, speeding and sitting on your fat asses! The other 25 (or less) firefighter deaths each year I’ll take without question. It will be painful and just flat out SUCK to lose those 25 good guys… but THAT IS THE JOB. Over a million firefighters going to half a million fires each year and your freaking out because some of them get killed going into fires? What the hell do you think this job is? We are not selling candy and gum balls! We get called to show up in 4 minutes, no matter what or where, to immediately put OURSELVES in harms way to save life and protect property. If you cant do that smartly, aggressively and as safely as relatively possible… then you should not be a firefighter. Period.

  3. Chris,Taj and Gary-

    Thanks guy! To use Taj line, you keep “us” and myself dialed into this way of life and mentality.

    MPO-Chuck Olson

  4. Taj and Chris,

    Thanks for being a voice in the ever-changing fire service. We have truly gotten away from what SERVICE is really about. All of this….YOU are more important than the other stuff is getting ridiculous. Our training and education should be what keeps us safe…not fear! Applying this mentality outside of the “10 days and a paycheck” could save someone else’s life!

    Keep up the good work brothers!


  1. […] blogs for extra motivation and inspiration on this post: Jason Jefferies’ Working the Job, Chris Brennan’s Fire Service Warrior, and Taj Meyers’ QueenCityBurns. Read those posts.) Share:EmailPrintMoreDiggLike this:LikeBe […]

  2. […] a blog, resources, support and a network that seems to grow daily. Just this week here at FSW Chris, who has been in the blog game for a few years and writing for decades found inspiration from Taj […]

  3. […] “What Are Going To Do?” […]

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