Firefighters don’t fight fire / by Brooks Watson

For all the blood, sweat and tears we shed, firefighters don’t fight fires. Or better said, Fire doesn’t fight us. It doesn’t care either way. It’s job is to consume. Fire has a beginning, a middle, and an end. If we didn’t show up at all, most fires would go out anyway, eventually.

The recent “Ice Fire” in Chicago is a perfect example of what happens when firefighters “size-up” the problem and get really Zen. That fire was born to eat until it was full. To go into that building would have only injured us, not the fire. In firefighting, we call that extinguishing the fire by “removing the fuel”. The real job was to make sure it didn’t spread. Lots of time, energy and water was expended at that fire, it took incredible effort by many, but it wasn’t a fight.

So too are many of the smaller fires you and I face in life. They don’t have an agenda against us and they don’t seek us. Maybe intellectually we know this, but we’re so used to fighting when we’re threatened, we make more of our fires than is necessary.

In the past, I’ve agonized over issues in my life, hell bent on figuring out a solution to a problem that may not have existed in reality, yet. I’ve exhausted myself with worry or anger, only to have the problem eventually get resolved. 

We react when all that’s required is a response. The next time you’re putting out fires in your life, ask yourself, “Am I the only one in this battle?”. If you are, back out of the fire and ask yourself, “Do I need to be fighting this one?” If so, reframe the problem, so that a solution only requires effort, not an axe. You’ll do less damage. 

This blog is about the way firefighters live and thrive in their world, and how you can apply those lessons to your daily emergencies. It’s been collecting in my head and this seemed to be the best way to clear the mind. Thanks for reading.