Friday, November 30, 2012

Protection Whenever Needed

By Rebekka Slate

Fire Chief Rick Lasky of Lewisville, Texas begins by welcoming students to their first day of the fire academy. Lasky is a graduate of Columbia Southern University. He has been in the fire service for over 30 years. Lasky began following his father’s footsteps as a firefighter at a young age. He always knew that this is what he wanted to do. Lasky was originally a fire chief in Idaho but was offered a position in Lewisville, Texas, which was closer to his family. Later on he established mentoring programs involving ‘Pride, Ownership, and Saving Our Own,’ for firefighters in training.

Fire Chief (ret.) Rick Lasky
In 1996 Lasky received the International Society of Fire Services of Instructor Innovator of the Year award. Once a person becomes a firefighter it is their duty to protect citizens their entire life, he maintains: “Unless you do something that violates our principles, you are one of us forever.” Lasky uses his experiences to train the next generation of firefighters.

In a video on, Lasky, who retired as fire chief in 2011, begins by discussing the three key elements of what it means to be an effective firefighter: pride, honor, and integrity. Integrity involves the person’s overall character. He describes it as how you act even when nobody is watching, to “treat people with respect and care for them like your own.”

The second element is honor, to honor your own profession as a firefighter as well as your company. It is also important to honor those who are being protected. “You’ve got to understand a person who takes all walks of life.” He uses the analogy of helping everyone from a homeless man getting his life back together to a millionaire’s daughter committing suicide.

Firefighters train to help people "with just about every problem"

The last element of the three is pride, doing the best that you can every single day. A firefighter should have pride in themselves as well as their company. Even when they are not physically at the job site they are still a firefighter looking out for those around you. A person must always be willing to learn even more than what they already know. Not everyone has what it takes to be a firefighter. Lasky explains, “Do whatever you can to help someone in need and it’s not always just for the emergency. The fire services are so much more than that. We are a full service. That means we help people with just about every problem that they have.”

A firefighter is a person that people trust, in the case of an emergency someone will hand over their child, no questions asked. Firefighters must have this trusting quality about them. Firefighters need to put their all into whatever it is that they are doing. Lasky explains, “We need people who are fired up about being firefighters.” They need to learn how to remove danger and make situations safer to begin with. Lasky illustrates how a firefighter is never finished training, every day they learn something new. Students train for all different types of scenarios that may occur. “We need people who truly understand what it takes to be a firefighter. This is not a part time, once in awhile thing. It is a every time, everyday, every minute thing.”

Lasky tells the students how there are certain aspects to be on the right track of being a firefighter. He explains how it is best to be the first in line to get involved. Be the person who always wants to help right away and not just stand on the sidelines observing. Another important detail is wearing the uniform in the correct manner. By wearing the protective clothing improperly a person is putting themselves and others in danger. It matters how seriously a firefighter handles his job. There is a focus on whether or not the student is studying to learn the correct information to remain safe. How well students perform at skill stations and practicals judges their abilities as firefighters as well. Lasky states how the most important thing to do is, “When you see a retired firefighter, I want you to show him or her the respect that they deserve.” Firefighters would not be where they are now if it was not for the past generation.

This opportunity may be one of the best career choices that could be made in life. Lasky firmly states that as a firefighter, “Your best day is someone else’s worst day.” Lasky has worked very hard to protect fellow firefighters by providing them with various programs to take part in. One specific program is “Saving Our Own.” This involves methods of avoiding harmful situations in the first place so that firefighters may be more protected due to knowledge that they learned. There were also investigations to find causes of fatalities in the line of duty, which helped to develop the program further. Lasky’s goal is to keep firefighters as safe as possible, including protecting one another. Fire Chief Rick Lasky concludes with an interesting thought, “When people need help they dial 911. We can’t turn around and dial 912.”

The video of Fire Chief Lasky may be viewed at:

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