Radio — Making Lemonade from a Lemon
In the spirit of “Buz Words”
By Dawn DeWitt
As I approach my one-year anniversary at Radio—and hopefully my release date—I would like to address those people who are next on the list to be reassigned. I would also like to make some attempt to dispel the idea that it’s a job to weasel out of by any means, by any excuse, and without regard for your more senior SFFD brothers and sisters who are reassigned in your stead.

I am the first to admit I came to Radio as unhappy and as disgruntled as anyone did. And while I still don’t enjoy getting up four days a week to head off to the Com. Center, I am going to admit something rather shocking: some good has actually come out of being there. I would even go so far as to say many of us have learned quite a lot.

Believe it or not, all who are destined to serve at Radio will learn something. Radio will expose you to the kinds of things it might take years to learn in the field, things you may never even encounter out there. And you’ll learn it first hand, not just hear about it or read about it in some long-winded, out-dated manual.

To begin with, you will learn how to speak effectively on the radio. You will learn what apparatus are due at practically every type of call. You’ll learn your divisions and your battalions and your City. You will learn procedure. And you will learn how to coordinate it all.

At Radio, you will get to see the Department and learn your job from a different angle. You will see a bigger picture, and you will acquire a better appreciation and a greater understanding of who’s doing what out there, and why.

You will play some role in practically every type of incident. When the Department is in manual mode, has a greater alarm, strikes a mutual aide box, declares a red alert, whatever, you’ll know what to expect and what that means for you and your company when you’re back out in the field.

You will be exposed to, become involved in, and monitor more incidents at Radio than you might in your whole field career. From where you sit, you’ll listen to every major incident unfold, and you’ll have the opportunity to compare and assess whether it went poorly or well. Hopefully, you will learn the difference.

Who cares, you may say. You still don’t want to go to Radio. I know. It’s not the field. It’s not fighting fires. It’s not nine 24’s a month. It’s not exciting or exhilarating. Quite frankly, the day-to-day of it isn’t particularly interesting. But it’s not a worthless experience. I’m actually kind of glad I was made to go. What I’ve learned does apply to the field, and it’s really broadened my understanding of what we do in this job.

I think those of us who serve at Radio have the potential and opportunity to come away from it better firefighters. So the next time you’re called down for Radio training or even if you’re just detailed down for the day, take your lumps and go gracefully. Take from it what it has to offer and learn what you can while you’re there. It’s not forever. And maybe you’ll even get something out of it. I know I did.

(As an aside, I’d like to give praise to just about everyone at Radio, but especially to the members of Team 63 for their excellent teamwork and for helping me understand that one’s attitude makes all the difference. You make that place bearable and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to work with each of you. “GOIN’ OUT!”)


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