RELATIONSHIPSFirehouseWhat’s Your View?

What’s Your View?

By: Chief John Conyn

What’s your view look like? In the fire service, every person has a job or function to perform. You first learned these skills in recruit school, and then built them on the station floor. We hope that the payback comes at the emergency scene. 

So, I ask again, what’s your view? Imagine you are the new guy or gal – what do you see? Do you feel empowered to speak up, and are there people you can ask questions to without fear of ridicule or firehouse justice swinging your way? Have you joined a firehouse ready to help you in your journey to become the best firefighter you can be? Does the senior firefighter give you the LOOK in one moment and then in the next smiles and says “Here, try it this way,” setting a feeling of relief inside you because now you’ve learned how to improve your technique? Do you see all hands washing the rig instead of just you as the new recruit wondering what did I get myself into? Even in your hometown, did your driver share a street you didn’t even know?

And now you are belted, buckled, feeling like a jet pilot, and staring backwards at whoever made your rig as you head to your first fire. What else do you see? What is your view? Each member has their buckles or zippers up, hoods on, air pack ready, knowing the odd or even side of the next street, which rig door to come out of, which cross lay to pull. Did you get one more glance from the senior firefighter giving that “We got this” look?  

For most new recruits, this is the view they are after, and one they can build upon. But is it reality or a view of long ago and a fairytale? Each and every one of us has the ability to create the view others see when they walk into the firehouse.  We have the power to share a view that’s for growth and encouragement.

So, what’s your view?

If you’re still reading this, then you care about the view in your firehouse. Remember, you were once new too. Make sure you are setting a good view for those just walking into the firehouse. Be the one to step up rather than those that want to drive the gossip bus. Establish a mentor program for the new people to get acquainted with the firehouse and ask questions so they can learn and grow.   

The view you provide daily and at choice moments reflects who you are as a person, family member, and a firefighter in the station. 

How many of us were perfect out of the gate? If your answer is “I was,” then I say hello my firefighter brothers and sisters, I see your smile.

Today I ask you, what’s your view? There can always be a lot of talk, but let’s equal it out a bit. Let’s talk and show and tell over the rig. Take a tool and show the newer folks one more way to not only use it but how it can be used at other incidents. Teach the recruits the odd or even number of your streets, districts, or response areas, then explain why we should know that.

My ask would be what will YOU do with your view and how will you be seen? Bring your best daily. 

John Conyn is fire chief of the Spencer (IA) Fire Department and member of the National Volunteer Fire Council (

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