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|February 2, 2004
Fire service: Learn from Groundhog Day
By Chief Ronald Richards
It's February 2..... It's the day that see if Phil the Groundhog will see his shadow. Tradition says if the groundhog sees his shadow, then there will be six more weeks of winter.
In the US, the “official” groundhog is kept in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Every February 2, amid a highly publicized celebration early in the morning, “Punxsutawney Phil” as the groundhog is called, is pulled from his den by his keepers, who are dressed in tuxedos. Phil then whispers his weather prediction into the ear of his keeper, who then announces it to the anxiously awaiting crowd. If he doesn't see his shadow, he remains outside and starts his year, because he knows that spring has arrived early. Phil's keepers secretly decide upon the "forecast" in advance of the groundhog's arousal.
Groundhog Day: The Movie
Our Groundhog Day
Many of you visit Withthecommand.com
several times a day. Let's be honest. You come back time and time again
to see who is burning what down, which company has wrecked a fire truck
or which fire department is involved in a scandal. Having a hand in what
is on the site, like the Don Henley tune "Dirty Laundry",
the sarcastic song about news reporters who thrive on the bad news, I have
to be honest. I tell it the way it is, some good news, but usually more
often bad news. After all, on a daily basis there is a lot of "bad stuff"
happening out there.
A fire administrator faces a dilemma. He has limited amount of money but yet the demand to provide the same level of services a community has grown to expect still exists. What are his options? He can close a company. He can take away staffing from a few slower stations to keep all companies in service. Maybe he should take other actions that don't effect the delivery of services, like get make cuts in fire prevention or reduce public fire safety education programs. This chief is facing difficult decisions. Whatever decision he makes, he will upset someone. Hopefully, he's chief because he is the most qualified and best informed individual to make those difficult decisions.
The union will try to make it's point. After all, it has a responsibility to it's membership. Paint a picture of gloom and doom of what will happen if staffing is cut or a station or two has to close. Like the Groundhog Day movie, you know what will happen next. There will be a fire and someone will get hurt.... maybe civilians, maybe some firefighters. There will be extensive media coverage, that the fire service will bring on itself. Short staffed, stations closed. We told you that would happen!
How do we get out of it?
Like Connor's improvement of himself and concern for other people that he finds the solution to his unenviable situation. Maybe the fire service should take charge of it's Groundhog Day. We are all on the same team. Rank and file and administration, career and volunteer, let's convert all the negative effort we use to beat up on each other to come up with solutions that will let us rise above Groundhog Day.