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The Olympic spirit in firefighting

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The Olympic spirit in firefighting

Those who end up fortunate enough to wear the badge rarely got there by dumb luck or by being passive

By Tony Vitalie

I’ve heard some people equate landing a job in the fire service to winning the lottery. I could not disagree more. I equate landing a fire service job to winning an Olympic medal.

Winning the lottery merely requires that you buy a ticket and rely on random chance to be selected. Winning a medal requires a lifetime of dedication and perseverance as well as natural ability.

As I watch the Olympics and marvel at the athletes and their amazing abilities, I also see some similarities within my own profession. Those who end up fortunate enough to wear the badge rarely got there by dumb luck or by being passive.

Like all Olympians, most firefighters started off with a natural desire to perform the job — that passion is what fueled their dedication. When combined with the natural attributes, a solid work ethic and competitive spirit they often find success. Like the medal winners, the successful firefighter candidates are usually those that worked harder, worked longer, sacrificed more and did not give up until they achieved their goals.

Most firefighters and Olympians share this ability to push themselves harder. They possess a drive and focus that is above average. They have the ability to lay it all on the line. They thrive on competition and are relentless in their pursuits. For firefighters, this spirit is not only necessary to land the job, it is often an essential trait when performing the job.

This similarity between Olympic athletes and firefighters is probably why you find so many fire service professionals who were stand-out athletes in high school, college and beyond. Competiveness and a desire to excel is a necessary component to getting and performing the job. The same commitment and competitive spirit must be applied to those pursuing a career in the fire service in order to find success.

For the Olympian, there is without a doubt a natural ability and physicality necessary to excel at most events. Not every man can be a power-lifter. Not every woman can be an Olympic gymnast.

There are also certain natural abilities required to be a good firefighter, and there is a certain amount of physicality required for the job as well. Though not nearly as specific as an Olympian, it is without question that not everyone is born with the physical, emotional and mental strength that is required to compete in the fire service world, and perform well at all aspects of the job.

So as you reflect on the recent Olympics and find yourself inspired to go buy some new running shoes, make it your goal to watch the Summer Olympics in 2016 from a television in a career fire station. If you dedicate the next four years to pursuing your dream you can achieve it.

It is true that there are not a lot of jobs out there in the fire service, but there are a lot more jobs than there are spots on the Olympic podium. Prepare yourself like an Olympian: hold yourself to the highest standard, make the sacrifices you need to make, and you can win something even more valuable than an Olympic medal.

You will win a lifetime career that is just as rewarding as standing on the podium everyday you work.


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