Passion, High Expectations? Don't be Sorry!



I recently read an article shared to me by my brother Clay McGee. The article was titled “A Return to the Craft: An {Uncomfortable} Conversation about Caring Too Much”, written by Frederick L. Kauser, PhD. I highly encourage you to read it. The article was in the IAFC Spring 2021 magazine. The article discussed how there seems to be a shift happening in the fire service. That shift is referring to more and more members of the fire service are starting to see the profession as more of a “craft”. The article discusses how members who believe this are often the ones within their organizations who have a “target” on their back for caring too much and having high expectations and or are seen as “troublemakers” or “confrontational”. The author offers some guidance for administration in dealing with these members.


So, after reading this article and thinking about it a few things came to my mind regarding this topic. I support and commend Mr. Kauser for his insight and discussion in his article. For those of you that have passion and high expectations I wanted to say you are not alone. If you take a look around there are many other brother and sister FF’s who share the same passion and high expectations for the mastery of our craft. Unfortunately, we are the minority and are spread out across our great country. Make yourself uncomfortable and attend a training conference and develop relationships with like-minded brothers and sisters.

Oftentimes your expectation is higher than your organization’s is. Don’t ever apologize for that. It is OK to have a higher standard and have passion for the craft. Many times the culture of an organization is what determines the expectation of its members. How an organization promotes and hires all come into play here. Organizations and or administration tend to do what is “easy” and not what is “best” for all involved, which includes those we are sworn to protect. Why? Because doing what is “best” or “right” usually is what takes work to accomplish. Lets’ face it, humans are programmed to do what is “easy” to conserve energy and do the bare minimum to get by for survival purposes. If the culture of an organization has mediocre expectations many times the vast majority of the members of that organization are going to have mediocre expectations. Due to the majority having mediocre expectations those are the members that have a louder voice that administration listens to due to there being more of them than the ones who have high expectations and or passion for the craft. It is just easier to listen to them than it is to listen to the high achievers. Hearing what the high achievers expect in regards to performance will cause more work for the administration because they will have to persuade all the mediocre achievers of a new or different direction.


So, what are we referring to? Higher expectations can be having a minimum mask up/turn out time, seat assignments or your rig, higher daily training standards, communications, accountability and not just checking the box for required items. If your organization does not have a standard or an expectation to some of those things mentioned but, you have them at the crew or company level, then by you simply having an expectation you have exceeded the standard of your organization. An example of checking the box is “well we had a fire and re-loaded the hose on the truck like we are supposed too” but they simply put the hose back on the truck where it goes and one may not even be able to re-deploy the hose if need be because they “checked the box”. Small details matter in our craft and can impact lives. Then when you bring it to their attention they get all butt hurt and now you're “confrontational, have a bad attitude, aggressive or question everything”. When really all you are asking is for them to do their job in a professional manner.

Nick Saban says it best “Passion always looks like aggression to the unmotivated”. I encourage you to get outside of the bubble of your own organization. If you are not careful you will become a product of your own environment. If that is a mediocre environment then there is a very good chance you will fall into that trap because that is what is easy. Don’t be afraid to make yourself uncomfortable and do the work to develop a passion for the craft and have high expectations. Most importantly don’t ever apologize for having higher expectations than your organization, administration or officer. Those we are sworn to protect deserve it. Keep pushing!!


-Captain Kevin McCart

FLT Staff Member and Instructor

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