As usual, I'm brutally honest with you. When I started writing this blog I wanted to voice my frustrations to the masses, and that selfish, little, egotistical, and prideful part of my psyche thrived on looking at the number of pageviews that the site got. Sure, I'm not all about numbers or flaunting them, but a small part of me wanted to see thousands of people visiting and responding to my words. Fast-forward to now and honestly , I could give a crap less. I reached a benchmark goal a long time ago and since then, the number of people visiting this site has not seemed important. Not that the fact that you are reading isn't valued, just that it's more than numbers for me. If nobody ever read anything I wrote, I'd be just as happy as if 2000 read it daily. Whatever, popularity is not what I'm looking for, because I've found something better.
Brian Brush called it "The Network". (Sorry dude, I'm not a huge name dropper but you need the credit for this!) We had a long conversation one afternoon and he basically took words from my thoughts and spoke them to me, so let's put it into context. There are hundreds of fire service websites and blogs at the tip of your fingers. All you have to do is Google the words "Fire Blog" and you get 1.7 billion results. There are some good ones, some bad ones, and some great ones, rank this one where ever you please. Before I started writing, I lived in a bubble. Sure I'd met firemen from all around the nation in my travels, but meeting a guy who's firehouse you are visiting and swapping a patch tells you nothing about him. Talking to someone at length or reading a post they put their heart and soul into will give you a pretty good assessment of a person's character and what type of fireman they are, maybe not so much in skill or ability, but in mindset. When I started writing, I found myself in a world of people I never knew were out there. Folks like me, with ambitious views, twisted senses of humor, and a mutual longing for the fire service to continually improve.
Before long, I discovered this core group of people outside of my little part of the world that are just like me. I found a collection of folks that I could bounce an idea off of or guys that I could ask a question without worrying about ridicule. Hell, I even found people willing to proofread course assignments for me. Weekly, I make several phone calls, exchange text messages, or e-mail people who I would never have met without this site. Believe me, the conversations are outstanding and I'm still up for taking over a fledgling fire department in a bankrupt run down city in the Midwest and staffing it with only people from "The Network." I only pick the midwest because it's centrally located, so don't get your panties in a wad, but seriously, I'm riding the irons position on the truck! This network of people has helped me exponentially, and I cannot express my thanks. Even if there are only 30 of us reading each other's stuff, who gives a rip?
What have they helped with, you ask? Not the site, if that's what you are referring to, I don't need any more help with this foolishness. If I have a need for information all it takes is a few phone calls and e-mails. Before long I'm overwhelmed with info from around the country. For example, I'm looking for SOG's from departments that send 2 truck companies to a working fire. This info will hopefully be used to make a change at work for us, we'll see.. I put that out 2 weeks ago and I've gotten info from all corners of this nation. We made a change in saw blades recently. Part of that process was greatly assisted be a member of Brotherhood Instructors (I can't name drop twice in one post. Sorry buddy, I'll get you next time) A lot of the time I don't call anyone in this network but for one reason, to glean some motivation, to voice a frustration, or to simply talk with someone I feel has the same mindset I do.
There have been multiple people in the past few months that have e-mailed me about various things. Please feel free to do so, I whole heartedly welcome it. I know how I felt when I first sent an e-mail to one of the big dogs in this network. I never expected to hear anything back from him. Now not a day goes by that I don't talk to him or get an e-mail from him. (I definitely can't name drop 3 times...) What I learned was this, and you should too: Most guys with a site are not arrogant elitists. They are firemen just like you and me, and more often than not they are overly helpful with anything you ask of them. Everything except for their daughter's phone number! Thanks for reading y'all!