All Clear - A Firefighter Health & Wellness Podcast

The Accidental Firefighter - The Power Of Persistance

October 27, 2023 Travis McGaha / Eric Stephenson Season 1 Episode 15
The Accidental Firefighter - The Power Of Persistance
All Clear - A Firefighter Health & Wellness Podcast
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All Clear - A Firefighter Health & Wellness Podcast
The Accidental Firefighter - The Power Of Persistance
Oct 27, 2023 Season 1 Episode 15
Travis McGaha / Eric Stephenson

Have you ever wondered what it takes to climb the ranks of the fire service?  Travis a deputy fire marshal of new construction, sits down to spill the details of his fascinating journey to relevance and acceptance. From navigating the complex waters of an economic downturn to reinventing his professional path, Travis’ story of perseverance and unwavering optimism is sure to motivate.

In our in-depth conversation, Travis highlights the critical importance of relationship-building and a thorough understanding of the fire service culture. Drawing from his personal experience, he discusses how he found acceptance and earned his place in this demanding field. Plus, he sheds light on the role of continuous learning and mentorship in accelerating career advancement,

But that's not all - Travis also touches upon the significant, yet often overlooked, issue of cancer in the fire service. He opens up about his collaboration with cancer organizations and the resources available to reduce exposure. Travis’ commitment to initiating crucial conversations around this topic and his efforts to bring about positive changes  are slowly making a difference. Tune in for a conversation that's sure to motivate, educate, and leave you with a deep respect for the tireless individuals serving in our fire departments.

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Have you ever wondered what it takes to climb the ranks of the fire service?  Travis a deputy fire marshal of new construction, sits down to spill the details of his fascinating journey to relevance and acceptance. From navigating the complex waters of an economic downturn to reinventing his professional path, Travis’ story of perseverance and unwavering optimism is sure to motivate.

In our in-depth conversation, Travis highlights the critical importance of relationship-building and a thorough understanding of the fire service culture. Drawing from his personal experience, he discusses how he found acceptance and earned his place in this demanding field. Plus, he sheds light on the role of continuous learning and mentorship in accelerating career advancement,

But that's not all - Travis also touches upon the significant, yet often overlooked, issue of cancer in the fire service. He opens up about his collaboration with cancer organizations and the resources available to reduce exposure. Travis’ commitment to initiating crucial conversations around this topic and his efforts to bring about positive changes  are slowly making a difference. Tune in for a conversation that's sure to motivate, educate, and leave you with a deep respect for the tireless individuals serving in our fire departments.

Your one stop shop for graphic design, screen printing, embroidery and more.  Proud sponsor of the All Clear Podcast.

Use the code All Clear to get 10% off your first order.

studioprintshop.com

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

Speaker 1:

Today on All Clear the accidental firefighter how perseverance and attitude plays into our success in the fire service. You are listening to All Clear Firefighter Health and Wellness Podcast. I'm Travis Eric. How you doing my man?

Speaker 2:

I think we're doing okay. We've had some technical difficulties that are been a little frustrating, but on both ends. But I think we are. We are both here. It is a new day and that is a good thing.

Speaker 1:

And just for a little bit of behind the curtain. Eric's laptop decided to go belly up last week and we've been trying to get him converted to Mac. But it'll be okay, We'll get there. We'll get there. So, Eric, what you got going on.

Speaker 2:

Well, there's a lot going on, but today I'd like to just ask you some questions. Today, Do a little interview with you talking about your story, talk about some persistence. How can it be affected by our attitude? And if you're, okay with that.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely, my story is very boring. But if one thing I'm persistent I don't know if it's because I'm hardheaded or I'm just gifted with persistence, but it does go a long way into how I got to where I am now. So yeah, fire away. If you've got questions, I'll do my best to answer them.

Speaker 2:

Cool man. So first question you know, tell us what you're doing now with the Concord fire department. What is your job?

Speaker 1:

Well, professionally, I am deputy fire marshal of new construction that's a fancy way of saying that. I work on the unsexy side of firefighting right now. I review plans, do fire inspections, but at the same time I am also an investigator and we investigate fires. So I mean it's a widespread, but I work as an investigator, plan reviewer, you know, handling a lot of communications with other departments, just trying to keep trying to keep a fast growing city moving ahead. So it's a little different, but that's what I do professionally. Well, that's pretty cool.

Speaker 2:

Has this been something you've always wanted to do?

Speaker 1:

No, I didn't know. I wanted to do it. I didn't figure that out until you know, if you tell me, when I was in high school, they always had the counselors going around hey, what are you going to do? Are you going to college? What are you doing? And I never went to college.

Speaker 1:

I had a totally different plan, but my plan kind of fell apart somewhere about two or three years after graduation not in a bad way, but everything that I thought would work out for me wound up not, and I wound up volunteering, working as a minister full time for about nine years, which I've learned a lot doing that. But at the same time, you know, I've worked a lot of different things. I've been my own business owner for a while, so I did a lot of things like that and I wound up getting a contract at social services here in our county working as an interpreter, and through that I had the chance to meet some really cool people at the city of Concord which I did not know. The ones I was talking with also were directly linked to the emergency communications department. Over time, people that I met early in my career, before I was even in the fire service, wound up being people that I'm working with and have been instrumental in helping me be successful.

Speaker 2:

Now, if that makes any sense, oh yeah, so kind of a broad spectrum of a background, yeah, and a weird path getting into the field that you're in right now. So what was your motivation to get into your profession that you're currently doing it?

Speaker 1:

was survival. I know that sounds really weird, but if you're an old guy like me and I'm not calling you old Eric, but I know you remember it too I'm older than you.

Speaker 1:

Well yeah, that's true. But back in 0708, back when the economy took a turn and basically everything flushed out, I was working in planning and zoning. Our director came by and said you have to justify your existence. If you can't justify why you're here, you may not have a job. So at that time I was working as a permit technician in the planning and zoning department and I had made friends with the fire marshals department. They were right across the hall and I got to know a couple of those guys and they were really awesome and I had some interest in what they were doing.

Speaker 1:

And whenever things got really bad economically, as it did across the country, I had to reinvent myself and I found I had an interest, a passion and an ability to be able to understand the codes and how the fire service works. And I sat down with Chief Mark Brown, who was fire marshal at the time, dear friend of mine and he kind of helped me figure out a career path, for what I had to do to be able to make the jump from basically planning and zoning into the world of fire. And bear in mind I had never ridden a truck, didn't know anything, no, rookie school, no, nothing. And he's like, okay, here's the deal, you're going to work part-time, you're going to have to do your training, you're going to have to do your. You know, get your EMT, get your firefighter one and two hazmat.

Speaker 1:

And when I looked at this long list of certifications that I had to have to be minimally qualified to come in, even into the fire marshals office, it was very daunting and I had to get really creative really quick. And bear in mind I was 30, well, 30-ish years old and I was old and decrepit at that point, not in great physical shape, and yeah, that's where my journey began and it was that's where the persistence had to kick in and I did a lot of stuff. Oh, and my wife was pregnant too. I forgot to mention that I was having a child at the same time. So a lot of stuff really stacked up really fast. But the guys in the fire prevention division helped me realize what I needed to do and they motivated me to keep going.

Speaker 2:

That's awesome. Yeah, that's a lot of stuff on the plate right there to bring in and it can look very intimidating. You know you need this, you need this, you need this, you need this. Like you were saying, you know survival. You know what have I got to do to support my family. You know put food on the table. You know things like that picking a career, a new career field, and having that ambition and that drive and that motivation to keep you going, especially with something that you know. Like you said, you really didn't. You chose this profession out of pure survival, as where a lot of people in the fire service that are riding the rigs and stuff, it's been a passion for a long time, that it's something they've always wanted to do and now they finally have the opportunity to do it. How did the people around you support you to keep you motivated, keep that positive attitude that, yes, I can achieve these goals. That seem very overwhelming for me right now.

Speaker 1:

Well, at the time I was kind of living in two worlds. I was still working in planning part-time and I was working for the fire department as an inspector part-time. And that was really hard because the planning world didn't understand what I was trying to do. They thought, oh, you're just going to take in classes. Well, no, it's not just taking classes, it's nights and weekends and picking up classes through the community college system and things like that. But what really helped me was at the time Chief Brown, who's retired. Now he's with Roe and Cabarrus Community College, works for Michael Cavanus, who we talked to a while back, yeah, and Chief Adam Ryerson, who is the fire marshal now. They both said, okay, we'll figure this out. And they helped me understand that it can be overwhelming, but let's get a plan together. And the plan was basically too pronged and my passion for the job developed very quickly. And that's one thing that's important to know If you don't have passion for this line of work, you will not do it, whether it be on the truck or investigation, whatever the case is, if you don't have passion, you won't stick with it.

Speaker 1:

And I identified that there was an academic component, which was the associate degree program, and then there was also the certification component, which is firefighter one and two, the hazmat, the different things like that. Yeah, so so what I had to do was is you know, I'd never went to college and I had a supervisor one time tell me that I was worthless without, not in the fire service, but I was basically worthless without a degree which, how? How'd that make you feel? That was pretty crushing, that was pretty crushing. Now, bear in mind I'm married and you know I've had a. I've always been able to care for myself and it's not. I've never wanted for anything, I've never been a rich, rich man.

Speaker 1:

But the minute that was told to me, literally within what I guess would have been the community college quarter at the time, I was enrolled in the fire program at Coastal Carolina Community College. Shout out to Ed Duffield, out there, great guy, and right down the road from my house, that's it. And there were literally only, I think, three programs at the time that offered it remotely, which is what I had to do. I couldn't quit my job to go to class. So I started doing the classes and I would call Chief Brown. It's like, all right, explain to me what flash over is explained, and I know that seems very simplistic. And now you know what? 1513, 1415 years later, I got it. I understand every bit of that now, but when I came into it it's like, what the heck am I getting into? Yeah, but after, after I started building the stuff with the academic side and then by me participating through the rookie schools at Concord and the county and through the community college system, as I started piecing everything together over a couple of years the picture became complete and then I understood what I needed to do professionally.

Speaker 1:

But at the same time I'm learning how to do fire inspections, what it means to have a job that has family connections as opposed to something that's not having family connections. You know the fire service, the guys I work with in fire prevention. I spend as much time with them sometimes as I do my own, my own family. And coming from any other sector of the world, I assume because I've never been in the military, I've never been a police officer. I'm sure they have a very similar thing. But when you come into the world of first responders you're starting to see a different culture and I had to learn to fit into that culture when I wasn't necessarily accepted immediately. And it's still a challenge.

Speaker 1:

After this day, I still have to. I feel like I have to prove myself that, yeah, no, I know I don't need to know how to vent a roof, but I need to be able to, you know, hold my own as far as in conversations, understand what everyone goes through. And I'm still learning that process. But you know, it's something that's ongoing. I'll never forget I was at, I was at our main station one day and this was years ago and I was in the bathroom, I was washing my hands and there was this old captain in there combing his hair. He said yeah, who are you? Why are you here? You know, after this question, now I've come to be great friends with him. He's retired now, but you know, it was one of those things where that it kind of hit me at that moment I'm going to have to let people know who I am, and so I've. I still try to do that Now that I've been here long enough.

Speaker 1:

I've got to know a lot of people through investigations and classes and working with them and things like that. And, and you know, now people actually do come and ask questions and, hey, what are they building over here? What does the fire code say about so and so? So you know, over time the support from the guys immediately there in fire prevention helped me stay motivated to go the course. And you know, even I have friends that were in the Marine Corps as drill sergeants that came and yelled at me to get me in physical shape so that I could pass our jar pad and different things like that. So a lot went into that but it was because of the support of, you know, the leadership in fire prevention and also even our chiefs you know Chief Holloway, chief Allen and even Jake Williams, now our chief. They are all very supportive of our progress and and on a personal level I felt that. So you have to stay motivated but you also have to have a plan and you have to stay plugged in.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely, man. You, you brushed on the, we brushed across the um not having a degree and we, when we talked to Michael Kavanis, we talked about higher education and we talked about continuing education, certification, stuff like that. I think that needs to be a separate podcast that we do by itself, talking about higher education, where it fits into the, the career plan, the career ladder advancement and stuff like that. So I could talk on that for a very long time. So I'm I'm glad that you mentioned it. I wrote a note down that we need to. We need to revisit that at some point, I believe. But you also mentioned the, the fitting in you know where, where you fit in and how you make yourself be able to, to maybe feel accepted around the firehouse with your profession, that you don't ride a fire truck You've never ridden a fire truck and do I really belong with these guys? Yes, you do. Your, your job is vital, you know, not just to the community safety, but for for our safety as well and being able to build that bond of.

Speaker 2:

You mentioned the guys asking questions about hey, you know, what are they building over there? What, what is this place going to be? Whatever else, that's a perfect in. You know where we can build those relationships and we can build those bonds of hey guys. I just got some plans, you know, that came across my desk and this is going to be in your first. Do you want to? You want to go take a look at these plans with me? You want to go do a walkthrough of the building? You know whatever else? Or if you're out doing fire inspections and you notice something that might be vitally important to the guys that are responding to that particular occupancy of hey.

Speaker 2:

This is what I saw today. You and I have had some sidebar discussions before About that. Those very topics of you know feeling accepted, feeling you know that you fit in around the firehouses and stuff. And I saw it firsthand. Our group was invited up there to to assist you guys after after that incident and we're very thankful for that opportunity and I know we had had that conversation beforehand and I saw that night that those guys really appreciate what you do. They consider you part of the fire family. Even though you you're not on the suppression side, not on the operational side of things, you do have an integral part and they do value and appreciate you as as not just what you do as a profession, but you as a, as an individual.

Speaker 1:

Well, you know, and what you're talking about, that was one of the the hot, the one of the strongest feelings I've ever had in my career that my brothers in the fire service were rallying around me because I that was. That was a rough experience for me personally and I'm sure we'll talk about that at some point later on. But you know, going up into that and and going back to what you were saying, there's a program that we have here in Concord. It's journey through administration. So basically, whenever anyone's getting ready to promote to captain, or they are a captain, they have to spend time with Lizzie, they have to spend time with logistics, fire prevention, you know they, they spend time with the different, I guess, the non suppression side of the house to understand what we do.

Speaker 1:

And I I have the privilege of, you know, doing the the plan review side with a lot of captains and some of them were like huh, what, what, what do you do? And then you're like come on, let's go out in the field. And I remember I took we have a production facility here in Concord and you know I've been working with that project since it started and I took one of the captains over there. It was in their first due area and I said let's go through. Have you ever been here?

Speaker 2:

No.

Speaker 1:

And we went through and when they saw the magnitude of what was happening literally a quarter mile from their station, they're like, oh, wow, yeah. And and then they're like this is here. I was like, yeah, let, let let's go talk to, let's go talk to the plant manager. And you know we went and got a chance to to really kind of see behind the scenes how it worked. And and as soon as they saw that they're like, you see this stuff, yeah, no, this is what I see every day. And and they've called me multiple times I've had lots of captains after they've gone into field with with me and my staff over in you know, new construction. They're like, okay, I need to know about this. What can you tell me about this project, that project, and it's really, you know there's been a big link over with that, but it's just earning trust, right, that's, that's the whole thing. If you don't trust me, then you know you're not going to listen to what I say and I take my reputation very seriously in the fire service. I want people to trust me, and that's anybody.

Speaker 1:

If you're trying to get into this career, you got to earn trust. You got to. You know you you've got to ask questions. Don't be afraid to. Don't be afraid to let people know that you don't know everything or, heck, let them know you don't know anything. Hey, chief, what's a flash over? Right, that's? That's a very simple question.

Speaker 1:

But years ago I didn't know, and it's okay to not know something, and you know. A lot of times, and I've seen this when I was doing my training, it was weird because I had some understanding, but I was going into, you know some of the you know the basic classes, like you know building construction, where I haven't had I had an advanced understanding of building construction and other people in the class who were rookies with the county did not, but they tried to act like they know everything. And if you don't know it, you don't know it. It's okay to ask questions and that's something that a lot of people don't. They want to walk in. Hey, I know how to do this, I'm the man. Well, at some point you're not the man.

Speaker 1:

You have to learn how to be the man, and that's, that's the whole thing you know. Build your reputation, and part of the way you do that is by showing your your weakness and your failure at times of understanding stuff, because we all have to learn how to do what we do.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you know that vulnerability of you know it is showing vulnerability to admit that you don't know the answer to something or you know you don't necessarily know a specific process of how it's going to work and if you're not being honest with other people you're not going to be able to build that that trust, that confidence in people. People are not going to put that trust in you. So the vulnerability aspect of it yeah, absolutely hey, I don't necessarily know. One thing really popped into my head when you were mentioning the, the facility that you brought that captain to, that he had no idea that was happening in his, in his first two area.

Speaker 2:

A lot of people might think what your job is is is easy. It's not as hard as what we do on the, on the fire trucks or whatever else, and we're not going to try to compare apples to apples or apples to oranges on who is better or whatever else. But what you do makes our job easier. You know we, we we think about. You know, just like you know standpipes, sprinklers, where FDC connections are, where hydrant locations are going to be. You know, I'm sure you have a, you have a say in plan reviews and things like that on this is what we need and you make sure that that's happening. And when we go to a fire we just expect that stuff to be there. We don't see the behind the scenes before that fire happens or before that building was even built. To make sure that we are set up for success when we roll up in that buildings on fire.

Speaker 1:

Well, part part of what I do and this is one of the things I preach, and this was taught to me earlier on. When I look at a set of plans, whenever I do an inspection, my number one concern isn't public safety I know that sounds really weird it's the safety of firefighters, the safety of the ones that are going to be responding. My job is to give as many options as I can. Where can you put the truck? Where can I pull lines from? How close are the hydrants?

Speaker 1:

The code dictates a lot of that, but I also have to take into consideration our capabilities and what is the safest approach to my knowledge? You know, for, for the guys going in, and you know absolutely, public safety is very important, but at the same time, if I'm not protecting the guys on our on the suppression side that go in, I'm not doing my job. And that is the most important thing. And and once you help people understand hey, I'm, I'm, I'm trying to help you have all the options you can when you have to go fight that fire, which would never happens, you know, hopefully, hopefully, you'll have another, another tactic you can use that you weren't planning before. Right.

Speaker 2:

That's pretty cool man. Yeah, Behind the scenes stuff that you do, A lot of people don't. They don't understand it. I saw that firsthand.

Speaker 1:

you know it'll be something that I'll learn from. You know how to deal with the stress that comes out of that. Or you know I've had a fatality fires before too that I've dealt with, and you know you. You learn to carry this with you, but you have to learn to not let it consume you, and that's one of the things that nobody's ever prepared for when they come into this profession. And you know it's one thing when you're doing planning and you're issuing permits for you know Pergolas and somebody's backyard that that's one thing. But when you start dealing with lives, worrying about the lives of those you work with, trying to make sure your decisions impact them in a positive way, it's a whole different thing. And when you see people that they're worst constantly and you have to deal with that, it's a lot to carry Absolutely. And and you know if, if I can give any advice to anybody that's maybe listening to this podcast and thinking about coming into the fire service even if your dad was a firefighter, or your brother or your sister, whatever the case is, and you've had it in your family that that's awesome. But when you come into this and you go to rookie school or you start any type of learning with the fire department.

Speaker 1:

The two things you need to take care of number one, your body. Make sure you're physically fit, because you can't make that up whenever you get into that position. You need to be healthy, you need to be fit before you start training. And number two is your mind. You have to take care of your mind. You have to make sure that it's sharp, because if your brain don't work, your body ain't gonna work. You're not gonna be able to learn about standpipes and you know it all kind of falls.

Speaker 1:

Apart from there and everything you put together, you can make up learning stuff. You can. You can study to learn. You can't study to make your body stronger and you cannot study to make your mental health stronger.

Speaker 1:

Those are two things. You have to be confident in yourself and confident in your physical abilities. When you come into this and you know, at the point I am in my career now, many years later, the physical part has become less of an issue for me, because I don't ride the truck, I don't have to vent roofs, I don't have to. I mean, I know how to do it, but I don't have to do it Right. But but I still have to continue learning and training, and I'm still figuring out the mental health aspect of it too, as I think we all are, and you know that that if there's a takeaway from all of this, is the fact you have to prep your body, you have to prep your mind to be able to do this, and there's a lot, a lot to that, but that's the biggest takeaway that I can give anybody and we harp on that continuously.

Speaker 2:

You know that's one reason why we started this podcast, you know, to bring that awareness, to let people know that it's okay to not be okay and hopefully open some eyes to some people that have been in the in the service for a while that this is real, you can't try to hide it, you can't try to bury it. The numbers are astronomical and you cannot dispute that. And for the new guys coming in, the job is not all rainbows and unicorns and it kind of pains me to say it, but it is. It is not the old school fire department that I was brought in to 30 something years ago. Things do change. You got to take care of yourself, body and mind, and we will. We will beat that horse until I've I've got nothing left in me, because it definitely hits very close to home for me.

Speaker 1:

And you know I'm kind of insulted. You haven't asked about the cancer alliance up to this point either.

Speaker 2:

I was just getting ready to to turn a corner here. Okay, make sure, and you know, the first responder peer support network is partnered up with the North Carolina Firefighter Cancer Alliance. This was your brainchild idea of getting this podcast put together. You know, through our partnership, of what we've done between our two organizations and I would be remiss if I didn't ask the question about the Cancer Alliance, where it came from and how that helps you identify in the fire department.

Speaker 1:

Well, you know, I've been before the fire service. I'd worked with Livestrong and several other organizations that were cancer based organizations. And as I came into the fire service and I started learning, cancer was not cool, you know, basically nobody talked about it. It was one of those things that you would read an article about, but you know the chiefs and captains and leadership at the time they had no time to talk about that and I realized that a conversation needed to be had and I enjoy researching and learning. That's, I guess, the nerdy side of me and I started seeing that this is something that was coming, that had to be dealt with, and that there are resources around us.

Speaker 1:

How do you clean gear? How do you reduce exposures? But the thing was nobody was putting it together, or at least nobody here locally in North Carolina at the time. They were. We had people in our department. They were very good at knowing how to decon gear. There were guys that were very good at knowing how to protect yourself when you're in there. From a respiratory standpoint, it was just a matter of putting everything together at the same time. That's all it came down to.

Speaker 2:

That's pretty awesome. How do you? You mentioned that you worked with other cancer organizations Was that something that was just an interest to you? Or is that something that you had a personal connection through a family member, you know, going through cancer or a cancer scare somewhere in your life that had you interested in working with these other organizations? Or was it just out of the kindness of your heart that wanting to help people?

Speaker 1:

I did it because I saw a need. You know, there there are a lot of great cancer organizations out there, but a lot of the time we have to look at what the need is versus what's available. And North Carolina had a need and we started focusing on our own here in North Carolina, utilizing the resources that are here. And you know, one day, sitting at midwinter chief's conference, I was sitting at the bar eating lunch with another firefighter that was at Greensboro at the time. It's like, why don't we just do something here in North Carolina? And out of that conversation and meeting a lot of really cool people and very supportive people and very smart people, we've been able to get to where we are now. You know we have been recognized nationally for our decontamination program, the Concord Decon model that was put together by guys here in Concord, and all we had to do was just say, hey, have you talked to someone so about how to do this? And the next thing, you know, it all starts falling into place and it's not that any one person has a lot of knowledge, is just putting the pieces together to make it happen. And North Carolina needed to do that. And now I know we've got some changes that have come down the road from a leadership perspective, you know, on the state level as to how our cancer programs are going to be managed and things like that.

Speaker 1:

But at the end of the day, we are the state of North Carolina as looked at as a leader in cancer prevention in the fire service, and I think a lot of that comes through work that you know the wonderful guys I work with the cancer alliance have done. You know folks at NC State University and their textile labs and there's so many people that you know now that we're talking to each other. Great things are happening. Software is happening that you can track your health and wellness. You know screenings are happening. I mean there's a ton of things that have come out of just having conversations with people and we just recognize the need to have a conversation. It wasn't about you know any one person knowing something special, it was just hey, you know, have you talked to? Have you talked to Josh about how to do that? No, I haven't. Okay, well, talk to him about what you're doing. And next thing, you know they have great ideas coming.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you know that power of connection, you know, and it's the ripple effect, you know, just having one conversation with somebody and then somebody takes that and passes it off to somebody else and next thing you know, you might be at a fire scene or you might be teaching a class somewhere and you bring up the Concorde decon model and it's like, oh, yeah, we utilize that. Yeah, or you know, oh, I'd like to know more about it. And then they start, they start utilizing it and you know it's going to be that ripple effect and you know, the snowball, you know, start off small, gets bigger. You know that power of connection and networking is an amazing thing, kind of how you and I got started with everything.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, if you hadn't moderated the class that I was teaching on leadership, and had I not had COVID and you had not, you know right, moderated the class while I did it remotely we never would have had conversations about mental health and the, the role that they play, you know, in recovery and leadership and things like that.

Speaker 2:

And now got a podcast. Yeah, look where we are now. We are partnered up between the two organizations. We're helping you guys there at Concord. You know you've got me in touch with Brad and we're doing good things there. Matt Sellers, you know the whole shebang and now we're we've got a podcast.

Speaker 1:

And, by the way, if anybody that I've mentioned your name at Concord is listening to this podcast, let me know, because I always walk by my chief and I'm like, hey, I mentioned your name on the podcast. What were you talking about? Huh, you have to listen to find out.

Speaker 2:

You'll have to listen to find out.

Speaker 1:

But yeah, I mean and I'm having fun and, like I said, I've been blessed to have a wonderful family that has been supportive through this process. My son has grown basically the 12 years of his life. I've been in the fire service to him and, yes, I still have people that tell me you're not a firefighter. I struggle with that identity sometimes, not having come from the truck, but I promise you I have the best interest of every firefighter in the state of North Carolina in my mind when we make decisions. You know, whether it be design related, professionally, or even at the cancer reliance or podcasts, whatever it's to move the ball forward. That's all that comes down to.

Speaker 2:

It's that motivation, you know, and I think that's how we'll end things. Today is talking a little bit about that motivation. You know, having that strong support system of people that believe in what you're doing. They're going to support you in doing that, not not give you any bad advice or say, oh man, you need to go choose a different career field. People that are going to stand there beside you not necessarily behind you or in front of you, but right there beside you and walk through this journey with you, no matter what it is, and having that mindset of I want to keep going and I want to keep going and I want to keep going for the right reasons, and it's not necessarily for you, but it's for the other people you know you mentioned, you know, one of your top priorities, when you look over plan reviews and things like that, is the firefighters. You know that's a huge motivation that you know that you're, you have the chance.

Speaker 2:

We had a sign that hung above our door in the fire station bay leading from downstairs to the upstairs, and it said every call is a chance to change somebody's life. Yeah, and that's a little motivation. Every single day you walk in, you look at that sign and say, hey, even though I might not be having the best day, guess what? I'm doing the right thing. I'm doing it for the right reason. You know first responders, peer support network on our social media site.

Speaker 2:

You know, every Monday I do a motivational Monday. You just give that little boost of confidence to somebody that you know. Maybe that's what they need that day. They need that little kick of hope or inspiration to keep them motivated and on the right track and on our job. That's extremely important. You know, I use an old saying that I heard a long time ago you can never train too much for a job that can potentially kill you If there's no other motivation that you need to know that you better be able to, you better be good at what you do in this profession. That's it, you know, because the reality is it could be your life, it could be your partner's life, it could be somebody else's life If we're not staying motivated and we're not staying up on today's topics training, physical fitness, mental health and we've got to have that motivation to keep on going every single day. Yep.

Speaker 1:

And I and I had this thing I talk about. Sometimes when I talk about education, I have a program that I give and I talk about. You know what are the consequences of failure to learn for a firefighter? You can make the situation worse, you can lose your life, you can hurt someone else. You don't want any of those things to happen, so you have to be motivated to keep moving forward. I don't know any firefighter that does it for the money. It's for other reasons, typically personal reasons. So, yeah, you are very right in that and yeah, I appreciate you taking time to talk to me today. But can I ask you a question? Sure, I was here, smile, you ready for the question? Why did? Why did the monkey fall out of the tree?

Speaker 2:

Oh my, God, there it is. You knew it was coming. Why did the monkey fall out of the tree? It was dead, oh my.

Speaker 1:

God, you can thank Brad for that one.

Speaker 2:

I am supposed to talk to Brad today, so I will give him a virtual smack in the back of the head through the phone, and if you guys don't know who that one is, horrible.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, if you guys don't know who Brad honey is, he is one of the most awesome humans on the planet and we're going to have him on here one day. And, brad, if you're listening to this podcast, yes, I mentioned your name. You'll have to figure out why, but anyway. So one other piece of business I wanted to bring up about the podcast real quick. You know we always talk about rate us. You know, if you like what you hear, you know, give us five stars.

Speaker 1:

Well, I've got a new challenge for our listeners. If you like what you're hearing, tell somebody to listen to it. Absolutely Tell. Share this with other firefighters. Heck, if you're not even a firefighter and you're thinking about it, we can, we can help you. The other challenge that I'm putting out you know our our episodes tend to be about 30 to 45 minutes every two weeks. Why not, with your company, sit down and listen to a podcast during? You know, don't watch Judge Judy one afternoon that you're on duty and listen to a podcast. You know, listen to it on the tailboard. Use it for training. You know there's some good stuff in here not necessarily for me and Eric all the time, but we have a lot of smart people that that are coming and have come, and I encourage you to use this as a as a training tool as well.

Speaker 2:

So anyway, I appreciate all, all of the people that are listening and trying to promote us. Please, if you haven't already, check us out on on Facebook all clear podcast and all clear podcastcom.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, got that and we've. We make the, we make the posts of one, new episodes or dropping and things like that we have. We have some followers that are that are sharing those links when we put them up. So please help us continue with our mission of of bringing the, the awareness of of health and wellness, to our firefighters out there Absolutely, and and another unexpected venue is LinkedIn.

Speaker 1:

You can find me on LinkedIn at Travis McGaha If you look us up. We always post about when we got a new episode dropping, so if you're one of our LinkedIn connected folks, thank you. Please share our posts. Let people know enough about self promotion.

Speaker 2:

Eric we'll talk soon. Travis I, I appreciated it. It was a good conversation today, no worries, and I'll look forward to our our next session, brother.

Speaker 1:

Oh, no worries, All right, until next time. Like your fire within, you have been listening to all clear. All clear is presented by the North Carolina firefighter, cancer reliance and the first responders peer support network. This program is hosted and produced by Travis McGaha and.

Speaker 1:

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 these script and with technology that is provided by Cortec computers. We'll see you soon and, as always, like your fire within.

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