A good friend of mine use to work at old Fire Station 26, which was located at Washington Blvd. X Arlington Ave. This station was built in 1911, and was originally designed to house horses, but never did. Although it never housed horses, it was built with pole hole covers that were in place to keep the flies from getting’ into the crew’s sleepin’ quarters. Interestingly, after many years went by, diesel fumes became the bigger pest.
Eventually, old FS 26 was closed and new FS 26 was built down the street at Western Ave. at the 10 Freeway. New FS 26 opened in December of 1970 and my friend was included in a group of firemen that were the first to occupy it. He worked there for a number of years and would promote to Engineer and eventually to Captain II.
Fast forward a few years, and this friend of mine got a chance to work back at 26’s on a SOD day. This particular shift had a new rookie assigned so he took the Task Force out for a mornin’ drill. After observin’ the crew workin’ with the rookie, he noticed the trainin’ had turned into more of a ridicule and belittlement exercise aimed at the rookie. Although he didn’t like what he saw, he said nothin’.
After returnin’ to the station and eatin’ lunch, the crew eventually ended up in the rear yard, where they were cacklin’ like a flock of roosters. About this time the TFC joined in on the conversation with the crew.
Durin’ the conversation the subject of the drill was brought up. This TFC mentioned that when he returned in the mornin’ to his regular assignment he was goin’ to remove from his Personal Record Book the mention of ever havin’ bein’ assigned to FS 26. Naturally, this rocked the crew back on their heels and they asked the TFC why he’d do somethin’ like that. The TFC answered that he was so embarrassed by their behavior toward the rookie the day before he rather not be associated with FS 26. Naturally, he got into more detail about their behavior and explained that a positive trainin’ experience was more likely to produce better results.
Later that evenin’ the entire crew came to the Captain and apologized for their behavior. They agreed with what was told to them and said they would put his advice into practice.
I mention this because LEADERSHIP trainin’ seems to be a hit and miss subject on the Department. A number of years ago one of the Department chief’s decided that watchin’ a movie was the answer to developin’ leaders, so we were herded into FHMTC to watch TWELVE O’CLOCK HIGH, made in 1949. I’m still scratchin’ my head about that one. There’s also been several articles in the Grapevine about LEADERSHIP and after readin’ these articles I end up wishin’ I had an NFPA handbook to read.
I think 26’s crew learned more about leadership that day than they ever learned from readin’ about it. Of course, it always helps when you have the right messenger.
Thanks to Bill Finn for passin’ along this story.