Firefighting is rife with hard and fast rules. And even though, at any given episode unpredictability can fast become the norm, these rules remain in place – guiding stars, if you will. Wisdom of our fathers and all that.
But the really cool thing I’ve discovered about the rules is that they cross over. Into motherhood, into friendships, into other careers. In fact, with very little manipulation, the golden rules of firefighting can become the golden rules of life.
I think it looks something like this:
1.) Prevention. Smoke alarms, CO2 detectors, an escape plan.
Mothers, can we apply this to our children? Feed the dog before you do your homework, so he isn’t tempted to eat your math paper. Tidy your bedroom daily so that it never arrives at Tornado Alley status. As for teenagers and prevention . . . well, you know the drill.
2.) “Two In and Two Out” is a perfect life lesson. In the fire service, it applies to the way we enter a burning building – which is to say, never alone and never without back-up on the outside. It’s hot in there, you can get hurt.
Don’t enter life alone, either. Be social able, make friends. Because it’s lonely out there, and you can get hurt. Hug and hold hands and love each other – we all need somebody, and that is as it should be.
3.) Bring all you’ve got. If the worst happens and the fire is up and running and bigger than anything you’ve ever seen, throw everything at it. All the water, all the manpower and all the equipment. Be strong and be smart and keep working. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. Every department near and far. They want to come, they’re dying to lend a hand.
So it is in life. In the midst of complete catastrophe, you can’t curl up and die. Stand up and throw everything you’ve got at the problem. All of your brains, your skills, your time and talent. And it’s okay - it’s good in fact - to ask for help. Call friends and cousins, coworkers, Mom and Father Barron. We’re all here to help each other.
4.) Remember accountability. When you go into that fire, you’re not only responsible for you, but also for your brother. Be safe, be responsible. Remember that you are valued and very much needed, and always loved.
5.) Oh, and don’t forget your bunker gear. No sense scraping your knees if you happen to stumble. That Superman costume, real or imagined, can be a total life saver.
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