Talkin' 'bout my generation

By Brian Ward

AP Photo/Michael Manning
Graduates at The Massachusetts Firefighting Academy applaud their fellow firefighters.

Pushing themselves

But putting all of this together, after looking at the various generations and backgrounds of people in the fire service, Generation Y is certainly not killing the firefighters. But on the flipside, we're not getting smarter either —it's the same mistakes over and over from generation to generation. We still have people refusing to sign the Seat Belt Pledge.

Way to connect
However, what is clear to me is that we have to find a way to connect the veterans to the rookies. We have to close that gap. Rookies need to be in everyone's back pocket, sucking in as much knowledge as they can handle.

The veterans in turn need to remember that the performance of their crew is based on their leadership. They need to share their knowledge. I was lucky in my early years having company officers taking an interest in my career and what I wanted to do with it. I was pushed to be great at what I did; sub par wasn't an option and that fact was made clear.

With that I made my mistakes, but you learn from them and you move on — you grow up! Not everyone is going to have the luxury of having a great company officer, as some of them are just there to collect a paycheck. That's when people from my generation have got to learn to step up and step out on their own.

For people entering the service, keep in mind that some people will tell you getting an education is worthless, that if you do extra work you're just brown nosing, etc. But, believe me it's worth sticking to your guns because it will make a difference in the end. Ultimately, if one thing that you pass on in the future saves an injury or a death then it's all worth it — and that's the responsibility of all generations. 

Brian Ward is a Training Officer in the Career Development Division for the Gwinnett County Fire Department and the Vice-Chairman of the Metro Atlanta Training Officers. Brian currently serves as a State of Georgia Advocate for Everyone Goes Home and Courage to be Safe Trainer. He holds an Associates Degree of Fire Science and is pursuing his Bachelors with the University of Cincinnati. He is also the Founder of and organizer of Gwinnett County Leadership and Safety Conference. Brian can be contacted at

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