The unintentional maintenance of mediocrity has been the focal point of the fire service for the last several years. Many of us have worked diligently to move the fire service forward under the guise of safety and health initiatives. While we struggle to move respectfully from one line of duty death to the next, we have failed to acknowledge the embarrassing truth. The truth is that we have, as an industry, remained chained to a style of training that fosters flat work performance—we focus on new tactics without reconsidering training models or overall strategic approaches to fire. These tactics are accepted as a gospel and evangelized with vigor. They spread nationwide without enough regard to strategic relevance or the training models they should fit into. Indeed, too often fire departments do not have an overall training model into which these new tactics can fit properly.
Marty Mayes is a 25 year veteran of the fire service, with experience in police, EMS, and private security. He has long had a passion for training.
I didn’t start The Fire Asylum. It grew out of my own fire. Many years ago, my personal life was affected by events in my professional life that were shaped by a fire within me, which was built in frustration, apathy, pain, and loss. I wanted to change what my fire represented in me by changing what it represented in the fire service. Everything from losing dear friends in the line of duty to the tedium of the day-in and day-out work, to the triumph of saving another human’s life became the source of the fuel in my life. It was time to do things that were redeeming.
But—What if saving someone’s life is not enough? When is saving someone's life not enough?
I had become a better person when the need arose, but that wasn’t enough. I had to extend goodness, to become a better man all the time, throughout every part of my life, not just in moments of intensity. I wanted to change my professional abilities, not just improve them. More than that, I wanted to change the kind of man I was. When I began helping others become better firefighters, I found I was able to make changes in myself. The Fire Asylum grew into a training company that is based on the idea that becoming a better firefighter involves becoming a better person.
So The Fire Asylum started because I needed to change what the fire service meant in my life, and along the way, that has turned into a way to help change what my life meant to the fire service.
I started to put this idea into practice: When you want to achieve greatness, stop asking permission.