Be Safe Out There January 30 2017, 5 Comments

One of the great benefits Hook & Irons has afforded me has been the chance to travel and meet firefighters from all over the country.  I've enjoyed tremendous hospitality and unrivaled brotherhood.  I've met firefighters that work on farms all day and volunteer on their days off to firefighters that work multiple fires a day. I've learned that one is not necessarily a better firefighter than the other.  I've expanded my view and gained a new appreciation for my own department.  I've discussed methods, problems and tactics with firefighters from all over the world. There are some differences, but largely we share more similarities than anything else.

What has been most striking though, is the universal parting phrase of firefighters everywhere I go.

"Be safe out there."

It doesn't matter where you go.

"Be safe out there."

The phrase accompanies the handshake, from California to New York and everywhere in between.

I've thought about the phrase for some time now and wondered why it's so pervasive. Shouldn't it go without saying, 'be safe.' Isn't it the most obvious thing?  Hey Tom, "Eat some food today.  And while you're at it, drink some water too."  It seems so anyway.

But it's not.

We are reminded daily by LODD's, a barrage of youtube videos, and the actions of our own members that a lapse of vigilance, a pause in awareness, the temptation of short cuts and laziness can have dire consequences.  

"Be safe out there," is a quiet, friendly reminder to stay vigilant--to keep your eyes open and not let your guard down.

"Be safe out there," is an acknowledgement of the unknowable danger that lies in wait--a danger that takes good men and women even when they have done everything to the best of their ability.

"Be safe out there," is the hope that your awareness will protect you.  

"Be safe out there," is the only way we, who can not be with you in your time of trial, hope that the words resonate with you in your time of need.


Heroism and heroic acts subvert safety for the benefit of others particularly those who cannot help themselves.  Can you be brave or act in a heroic way without some risk? The answer most certainly is, 'no.'  Can you take a risk without setting aside your own safety, even in the most moderate degree? The answer again is, 'no.' Firefighters, police officers and members of the military understand and accept this fact.  Ultimately we are guided by our training, our experience and our team when making a decision to act. Those decisions make heroes, cowards or fools out of us all.  

I know that there is nothing I can do for you or you can do for me when we are called to act at that decisive moment--the moment where your training and your experience will guide your decisions.  All we can say as your friend, your peer and your brother is, "Be safe out there."