The Generational Gap

Here we go. My thoughts on Baby Boomers vs generation X vs millennials and, why I believe we in the fire service are making a issue that shouldn’t be a issue.

Baby Boomers. The people that were raised knowing if you wanted something you’d have to work for it. Stuff wasn’t just handed to you. Stuff wasn’t available. You had to learn how to fix things that were broken. Make due with what was available and survive the best you could.

Generation X The group that learned that hard work made the difference. That helping others was worth the effort. Volunteering was a honorable thing to do. Yet this time period the government started there push on. You has a young person having rights. You can be whatever you want to be when you grow up. Your parents don’t have a right to spank you.
So generation X started becoming a tad bit more out spoken. I tad bit selfish. A bit rebellious. Vowing not to be like our parents and being so hard on our children.

Millennials a group that has bought into just about every lie and bullshit line the government has told them. They believe that the world owes them something. Nobody is suppose to tell them how to do things. They should be able to take a class pass it and go straight to the top.

Know we are starting to deal with the post-millennials. These are the people that think because they showed up they need a trophy. Little disrespectful, lazy no get up and go and think everything is about them and only them.

So that is the short version of each group. Without getting into a long history lesson.

I myself am a generation Xer. Born in the city of Syracuse NY in 1970. Was taught to respect my elders, my country and that hard work never killed anyone. To help people when ever I could even though we didn’t have much ourselves. My father was a Navy veteran. He also rode with the motorcycle group the Outlaw’s in Florida. My father also was Italian. And grow up going to Catholic Schools. So you probably can figure out he was hard on us. My mother was Native American and Irish. So she may have had a little temper.

So here’s the reality of all this. We have nobody to blame for the younger generation being lazy, disrespectful and selfish then us. We allowed it. We sat back bitching about how the schools and government were ruining our children and did nothing about it. We excepted it by not voicing our opinions. We didn’t call our elected officials. We didn’t take a stand for what we believed in. So let’s stop sitting around bitching and complaining about it and except the fact that ultimately we are to blame. Us meaning the baby boomers and generation Xers.

Do we have a hard time recruiting the millennials and post millennials? Yes! Do they come in with a different expectation then Xers? Yes they do! Does this mean we just throw up our hands and say the hell with it? You better not! Do these two last group’s really give us that much of a challenge in the fire service; That we write 1000s of articles about them?
I think not. I think we are playing into political correctness and we need to stop. We need to stop putting everyone’s feelings in front of what is right and values and traditions of the fire service.

Here’s were it gets ugly.

How dare we sit and pass judgement on each other. How dare we disrespect each other. How dare we talk shit about each other. How dare we judge our own by weither they are old or balding or look like a smurf pissed in their hair. Or by there skin color or by their gender. Or there sexual preference. Whether they proclaim to be a christian or not.

We has Firemen and Women should not be passing judgement on any person. Weither they belong to the fire service or not. We should hold ourselves to a much higher standard then the rest of the world. We should respect everyone as a human being that may have something to offer us. If we would just start by respecting one another we would end most of the plan stupid ass bullshit that we face in the fire service.

Just because we respect one another doesn’t mean we have to agree with what one does. But what others do in their own homes is none of our business. As long as it isn’t illegal or hurting our departments reputation. The sooner we in the fire service start respecting one another the better. The sooner or commissioners or city officials start respecting the members of the fire department the better off we will be. The sooner we realize political correctness has no place in the fire service the better off we will be.

Now to sum this all up. You Chief officers and line officers. If we are to quit pussy footing around and tell everyone up front what is expected of them and then follow through, and hold people accountable. We wouldn’t be having these write ups about all the different generations. Quit making excuses and step up and lead!
You senior guy’s. Stop the bullshit of thinking your the best and you don’t owe anyone anything. I have 18 years in the fire service. Im a pretty good firefighter. But I’m not a great firefighter. We don’t see enough fires to be great. We owe the younger generation our knowledge. We owe the younger generation respect for being willing to join our ranks.
You younger generation of folks. Remember this if you don’t remember anything thing else. Nobody owes you anything. Show the senior guy’s the respect that they deserve. Shut up listen and learn. Don’t be in a big hurry to jump into a line officer position. Do your time. Learn the functions of the department, all the different roles and operations.

When we get younger people to join let them know right up front what is expected of them. We are not here to babysit them. We don’t have time or resources to deal with petty bullshit. We have standards that we expect to be followed and if they can’t handle them not to bother joining.

Even though we are in a time of the fire service changing this is the reason I believe we have no reason to be making a huge deal out of the different generations. The fires we fight our more dangerous then ever. They burn hotter and faster than ever. The chemicals and gases that come off from these fires are deadlier than ever. Therefore we shouldn’t be worrying about and trying to accommodate to everyone’s whim. We are here to protect life’s and property. It is our responsibility to make sure every one of our people are trained to be the best and to be able to do this job safely. It’s our responsibility to make sure when we all respond to a emergency that we all come home.

So why are we worried about the different generations? The fire doesn’t care about our age, gender, race. So why do we?

So let’s start off with respecting each other. Quit the bullshit that one generation is better than the other. Then let’s work on letting everyone on our departments know what’s expected of them and start holding them accountable. I believe that these two things alone should be enough to get rid of this different generation problem that we think we have.

So now the question is how far off base am I with all this?

Derek Sinesi

Derek Sinesi is a captain with the DeRuyter Fire Department in New York. He has been studying recruiting and retention techniques for over 10 years.

Posted in Fan Submission, Firefighter Recruiting & Retention, Firefighting, Leadership, Opinion, Staffing.