This week, I once again head to Florida's beautiful west coast to the city of Ft. Myers, where I will be attending, for the third year, the 2019 edition of the Great Florida Fire School. The first year, the Volunteer Program Coordinator, Capt. Joe DeVito of the Ft. Myers Fire Protection District, invited me to attend, take some photos, videos, sound bites and even record a podcast. And that kept me quite busy.
However, it was only towards the end of our time there, that Joe told me the real reason he had invited me...he knew my fire service background and long-standing connection to it, even some 30 years, after I had had to give it up due to an injury, and had invited me to "part of the gang" again. Boy! Did he ever get that one right. Having been forced by the injury to give up fire suppression, I had been re-assigned to Fire Police and then, Fire Inspector. I accepted the changes and did my jobs well. Yet, I stilled missed the "good ol' days," when I was in the midst of the heat and mayhem.
We soon made a couple of moves, first to Florida, then New Jersey and finally, back to Florida once again in 1990. In those years, I kept up my trade journal subscriptions and my scanners tuned to the action. With the explosion of social media several years ago, I made a foray into several, to promote our company, Dalmatian Productions, and the pilot script for a fire-themed dramatic series (this was even before "Chicago Fire" or "9-1-1"). Capt. DeVito found me floundering on Twitter and became a mentor to guide me to more firefighters and vice-versa. A couple of years later, it was his idea for me to start a podcast. And here we are.
Last year though, Joe pitched me a curve ball. In June of 2018, he called and told me he wanted me to teach at the 2018 Great Florida Fire School. After I questioned his sanity in asking me, who had been out of active fire service for over 35 years, to be an instructor, I asked him what did he expect me to teach. "Something you're passionate about," was his answer. And he knew that that answer would be all I'd need.
When I started the podcast, its mission statement was for firefighter health, wellness and fitness for duty. It didn't take long for that statement to be lengthened to include the Cancer and Behavioral Health Initiatives. And that statement was the foundation for the presentation, "The Elephant in the Firehouse: When Ego Gets in the Way of Passion" or "Why do the rescuers fail to rescue themselves." And though I had but four students, teaching this class led me to receiving my Florida State Fire Instructor's certification.
This week, I will still be running around shooting photos, videos and catching sound bites. We'll be recording another episode of "Tactics on Tap," and I will be presenting again, with a few changes here and there. I'm looking forward to it.
And I'm looking forward to "hanging" with my brothers and sisters, too!
Stay Safe & Stay Well!
Steve Greene is the president of 5-Alarm Task Force Corp., a 501 (c) (3), non-profit company and the Creator/Host of the "5-Alarm Task Force" podcast.