When I look back to the day I received my first badge, there was nothing better in the world at that moment. I had just completed some of the most physically and mentally demanding training of my life and was able to call myself apart of the brotherhood. What happens to that desire and love? Like all things that are worth preserving, it takes work to maintain that feeling. For some departments the rising through the ranks is a renewal of those passions as each new badge or collar brass are pinned on but for many, the ceremony and tradition of the metal insignia being pinned is a faded thing of the past. Many high-profile fire service enthusiasts have written testaments and books pertaining to the need for pride and traditions however, at the end of the day many of those words go unheard.
With consideration that your happiness is not reliant on the management’s decision to implement a badge pinning ceremony, there are many things you can do to foster that “probationary firefighter feeling” again. I’m not suggesting looking through your old scrapbook or Facebook pictures to find that day but rather reflect back on where you were, how far you’ve come, and how many people you’ve touched over the years. Even the slowest department exists to help others. Examining your progression through the ranks and seeing how much you have grown as a person and firefighter will often be enough to remind you of that first moment you were considered a firefighter.
In addition to remembering the “warm and fuzzy” moments, looking back on how you were brought up through the fire service can remind us of things we really liked about certain leaders or particular things we told ourselves “when I get to that position I’ll never do….” I personally believe that there is something to learn from every single person. I don’t want to spend my entire, short existence on this world trying every possible idea when others have tried them and already found out results. The universal truth is that you do not have enough time or lives to be able to not learn from others. In order to move forward and be progressive, sometimes it is necessary to look back at those benchmarks of our lives to gain a new perspective and reignite that fire we felt the first time we put on that badge!