All Clear - A Firefighter Health & Wellness Podcast

Bonus Episode: We Have To Get Over Ourselves - The Guys From Twisted Fire

October 13, 2023 Travis McGaha / Eric Stephenson Season 1 Episode 5
Bonus Episode: We Have To Get Over Ourselves - The Guys From Twisted Fire
All Clear - A Firefighter Health & Wellness Podcast
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All Clear - A Firefighter Health & Wellness Podcast
Bonus Episode: We Have To Get Over Ourselves - The Guys From Twisted Fire
Oct 13, 2023 Season 1 Episode 5
Travis McGaha / Eric Stephenson

Ever thought about the biggest hurdles in the fire service today? What if we told you, it all boils down to one word - Ego. In this riveting discourse, we join forces with the passionate folks from Twisted Fire to unpack how ego manifests itself in the fire service, from resistance to change to prioritizing personal sentiments over collective progress. Brace yourself for a deep dive into the egoic mindset that can stagger unity and advancement in an environment where both are crucial.

But we're not stopping there. We take this conversation a notch higher as we ponder on how ego could be at the heart of mental health woes and substance abuse within the fire service. We reflect on the possibility of a hazardous culture that subtly encourages emotional suppression, leading to harmful coping strategies. From championing emotional openness to promoting affection among colleagues, we're opening up a whole new perspective on the culture of the fire service and the drastic need for transformation. Tune in for a candid, eye-opening discussion and join us in advocating for this essential shift.

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Thanks for listening to All Clear!

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Show Notes Transcript

Ever thought about the biggest hurdles in the fire service today? What if we told you, it all boils down to one word - Ego. In this riveting discourse, we join forces with the passionate folks from Twisted Fire to unpack how ego manifests itself in the fire service, from resistance to change to prioritizing personal sentiments over collective progress. Brace yourself for a deep dive into the egoic mindset that can stagger unity and advancement in an environment where both are crucial.

But we're not stopping there. We take this conversation a notch higher as we ponder on how ego could be at the heart of mental health woes and substance abuse within the fire service. We reflect on the possibility of a hazardous culture that subtly encourages emotional suppression, leading to harmful coping strategies. From championing emotional openness to promoting affection among colleagues, we're opening up a whole new perspective on the culture of the fire service and the drastic need for transformation. Tune in for a candid, eye-opening discussion and join us in advocating for this essential shift.

Support the Show.

Thanks for listening to All Clear!

You can contact us with questions, suggestions or just to say hi at our website
allclearpodcast.com


Also Visit Our Sponsors - Studio Print Shop at
studioprintshop.com

Travis:

Sometimes our best conversations happen after we stop recording. Well, we hit the record button one more time. This time, the question is what are some of the biggest challenges facing the fire service now? And listen to some of the answers that the guys from Twisted Fire have. So, guys, what is the biggest challenges that we see in the fire service now? What do you think we're facing right now? That's going to be the end of us if we don't jump on it.

Joe:

So the three of us discussed it and it comes down to one word for us, and that word is ego, from the bottom to the top.

Travis:

Ego. Can you explain that?

Thomas:

So if you look at what everybody complains about whether it be administration, whether it be fire companies not doing certain things, certain ways, you know, if you look at the big picture and everything, the biggest hurdle that is harder for everybody to overcome is their own personal ego, right?

Thomas:

So if they I don't know how to put it, but like, let's say, they've tried the a minute man load right, and for some reason they failed at it, where everybody is excelling and this one company out there says, well, we're just going to run straight flat load because that's what we're good at. Well, are you really good at it? Or is it just something you're comfortable with and you didn't let your ego get get away, get aside for you to actually learn how to stretch properly with a minute man? Or you know, also, people complain about the administration. Well, depending on what they were taught when they were coming up and their true feelings about a certain something, are they actually listening to the opinions of others to progress, or are they holding everybody back because they can't put their feelings aside and actually truly listen and make a competent decision?

Jared:

Something like that, and I mean just continuing on the thought, I think, looking at it, from firemen receiving, you know, directives or so on from admin that maybe seem unreasonable or so on, questioning the intent behind it. Right, well, what would? Why can't I use my own PPE for this outside training? Is it truly the insurance or the truly the coverage and you're worried about my safety? Or is it you see me excelling my career and you're trying to not have me challenge you with questions of hey, can we change this hose load? Or hey, can we do this differently? Because I learned this, you know, is it the ego of the admin trying to you know, I don't know keep things a certain way because that's the way we've always done them? So I think ego, like we're we've all talked about, wraps it all up pretty nicely.

Joe:

And if I talk about admin I'll take it the other way, just to have the whole picture, the ego from the bottom. So maybe admin put out a policy we don't agree with and we have to look at the big picture and not get upset over XYZ that if that's the only gripe they have, personally I'll say when I hear a lot is like traffic vests, that's a big thing and but if that's the only major gripe we have is that you have to wear a traffic vest anytime you're off the truck, is that really that big of a deal? Like put the traffic vest on and be quiet and do your job like it's not aging anything, just do it. If that's what keeps them off of your shoulder and they let you do pretty much anything else you want. Drop your ego, humble yourself, put the vest on and promote in your career if you don't want it and make that change later in your career. But ultimately, remember your roots and where you came from, like okay, you signed up to be a fireman.

Joe:

You didn't sign up to be a fire chief.

Travis:

Mm-hmm. So. So this brings up an interesting question, and this is one that I that I have frequently. I'm an old fart. The problems that we see with ego is that generational, or is that something that Kind of everybody gets a touch of it once they get in the service?

Joe:

I think Saying that it's generational, I don't know. I think that puts a bad Twist on it because it singles out different groups. I think we have to make a change and get aggressive in our job. Like I said, this job will kill you. We know that.

Joe:

The ego thing comes because I mean we are paramilitary. We like to say, but I call BS Is, I'll go back to the brotherhood part, we'll help somebody move. You say you need help moving will show up as a whole as a fire service. But if I'm having a bad day or you can tell my mantra, my attitude is off.

Joe:

People aren't walking up to each other and saying, hey, are you doing all right? Or saying, hey, man, I love you because of our egos, because we're these big, burly people supposed to be firefighters and be tough and rough, that we can't have emotions. If we stop doing that and we do like we all say I love you each other, we check on each other like that's something we have to change. It starts with that. If we start making each other happy, all A lot of that stuff will go away on its own. Just from being kind, instead of saying I've been here for 20 years, you're gonna listen to me like, yeah, there needs to be some point of you need to go clean the toilets but on the other, side?

Joe:

Why can't the senior guy be the one that puts the arm around the new guy and says hey.

Joe:

Let's go out here and I want you to teach me something, because the way you're doing it now is different than the way I want. That's the egos we need to change, and if we start doing that as all of us have, you know, almost two decades on the job or more that's gonna make a change for the next group that are coming in. But we're also seeing older adults start their careers in their 30s, which is that's why I say it's not generational, because not everyone started at 1819 anymore. We're starting at different ages, and I'm a grown man. You're not gonna talk to me that way, like we'll have to talk about this a different way somewhere else.

Joe:

But we can handle this situation Using positivity Instead of trying to beat each other up. We're not advancing by beating each other up.

Travis:

Very true, and do you think that leads? Do you think these issues with ego might also drive? While we see such an issue with mental health, while we have, while we see so much Coming down from things like alcohol abuse and things like that, do you think that might be driven by the ego issue as well?

Jared:

potentially I Do. I think that it contributes significantly Because I think we buy into that same messaging, you know, not just as a whole but as as an individual. You know, trying to live up to that Are these things don't actually bother me or whatever. You know the role you're supposed to fill, right. So trying to somewhat silence those emotions, or at least in the moment, to where it's less noticeable, I think is a huge contributor to the mental health issue or alcohol abuse, or fill in the void of any of the crutches that Move forward.

Travis:

Our just wanting to see which all thoughts were about the biggest problems we're facing, and I think we're all. I think a lot of people are on the same page If we don't get the egos and check could be a problem, but I got a question to you oh.

Joe:

I didn't do it, you. I like asking a lot of people this. And this isn't single to a single gender, whatever. It's just common because of our, the male gender. And I like to ask a lot of people this, just to get their answer when was the last time you told a grown man that wasn't a family member, typically someone you work with? I love you.

Travis:

Hadn't been that long ago.

Joe:

Alright. What about the masses? How often do you think it happens in the firehouse?

Travis:

Probably less often than we would like.

Joe:

So if you were having a bad day and someone, someone you respected, said it to you, do you think it would increase your mood?

Travis:

I don't know, I really don't know how to answer that. I know that recently I personally have started to understand more the importance of reinforcing you know our connections with those we work with. You know we had a we've had a couple really bad calls around. You know that I've been involved with. I know that Eric, my co-host, who's not here tonight y'all just saw what he had to deal with. You know a lot of this. You know we don't process it and, like you say, telling another man I love you is kind of weird when you think about it by modern terms. But at the end of the day, the people we work with they, in a certain sense, are almost like family and how we have to deal with them. So I mean, yeah, it's important that people know that you are there to help them when they hit that bad spot.

Joe:

I take that back to the brotherhood. We say every day that we would die for the guy on the side of the truck with us if we had to, but we don't have the guts to ask that person that they're doing alright or tell them I love them. But we would tell a family member of the same gender I love you, without thinking twice. And we spend as much or more time with the people in the firehouse. Why are we not doing this?

Thomas:

And we have to start an ego.

Joe:

Ego that's exactly why it comes back to you. It wraps all the way around, all wraps back to egos and we have to drop it.

Jared:

Like I love these guys and all of our guys.

Joe:

We make it a point that we say it out loud to each other, we call each other, we check in each other on each other and we have to do that as a whole. We have to be the ones the youngest guy in the firehouse can walk up to the most senior guy and say, hey, man, are you okay, is everything good? And have that serious conversation and it might change that person's life and we don't even know it just by stopping and saying, are you okay? And we have to start doing that as a whole. We have to be leaders in this and start leading the forefront of it and start loving one another like we claim to be. I think the brotherhood is fake as a whole and that's gonna hurt a lot of feelings.

Travis:

You know, there's a class that I teach the North Carolina Firefighter Cancer Alliance. In fact, we'll be teaching it at the executive officer school later this month. It deals with leadership and difficult conversations. How do you have the conversations? I'm not okay. I don't feel. You know something's wrong. You know, hey, I've got a bad diagnosis. Whatever that is, how do we as leaders address that? How do we do it effectively? How do we put aside our preconceptions and do it in an effective way? And you know, I agree wholeheartedly with what you guys are saying If we're not humble, then we will be humiliated, as my mother has taught me many years ago. All right, well, cool your input on what types of challenges we're finding. So we'll put this up with a bonus. So that's material worth talking about. And again, guys, thank you. Thank you.

Travis:

You have been listening to Paul Clear. All Clear is presented by the North Carolina Firefighter Cancer Alliance and the first responders peer support network. This program is hosted and produced by Travis McGeach and Eric Stevenson. Visit our website, allclearpodcastcom, where you can contact us and leave feedback. If you like what you hear, please share this podcast with someone. The opinions of guests do not necessarily represent the views of the podcast. This podcast is recorded with Descript and with technology that is provided by Cortec Computers. We'll see you soon and, as always, light your fire within.