By Battalion Chief Grant Welling
Firefighters who are committed to being a true part of the fire service team and standing up for those in need will live the quiet and often overlooked lives of true heroes.
Firefighters who choose to seek the limelight or be the center of attention fail to support what is at the very core of the fire service: a nucleus built of, around and upon teamwork. Those who choose the path of self-aggrandizement will ultimately learn this profession weighs heavily on them and, at the end of the day, will grind them down.
Visualize the following:
Standing up is the simple act of noticing an all-but-empty refrigerator in the home of an elderly woman who has fallen down the stairs and broken her hip and who, upon returning home from the hospital, finds her refrigerator stocked with food and a simple note saying, "It’s our pleasure to be of service to you."
Standing up is the simple act of delivering quality care to the homeless children, women and men who live on the streets of your very community.
Standing up is the simple act of observing and addressing the bruised arms and legs of a child who has been battered and hides the marks out of shame.
Standing up is the simple act of making time to address the needs of people whom many in society would have you reject but whom you are sworn to serve and protect.
Standing up is the simple act of giving the benefit of the doubt to your fellow firefighters, company and chief officers in the absence of information.
Standing up is the simple act of being accountable for your thoughts, your words and your deeds.
President John F. Kennedy said, "I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we too will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit."
And so to all who wear the badge this day, I challenge each and every one of you to stand up, to be an important part of those who contribute to the fire service and to the human spirit.
This speech was written and delivered by Battalion Chief Grant Welling at a badge-pinning ceremony.