Saturday, January 21, 2012

the nature of the job

I frequently am asked, "What exactly are you doing now?" For fifteen years my answer to that question was a fairly straight forward, "I'm a fire chief," except that I always had to add, "of a microscopic village in Northwestern Ontario . . . oh, and I'm also the training officer, the inspector, the investigator, the public relations officer, the janitor, the secretary, the maintenance man, Head of Security, Chief of Technical Support (ha ha), Head Mechanic (rolling on the floor in hilarious laughter now), The Guy Who is Supposed to Know Everything, and the Guy Responsible if Anything Goes Wrong at Anytime (not funny at all) . . ."

My job description is less complex now. I'm the Manager for the Pre Service Firefighter Program at Confederation College in Thunder Bay. I'm not an instructor (long, sad sigh), but I get to work with seven talented instructors on a daily basis. In short, my job is to coordinate the program and make sure the instructors have what they need to do their jobs, which is teaching 18 students in the Pre Serice Program.

I do get to hang out with the students sometimes, and I will get to instruct a little upon occasion. I'm not chained to my office (long, happy sigh), and I am surrounded by a wonderful team of support people that all have individual jobs like administration, tech support, and security . . . and who carefully guide me along in this new, strange world where I dont have to do everything. If I need 18 copies of a manual, I fill out a single piece of paper, deliver it the friendly folks at the print shop, and like magic, 18 collated, stapled, two-sided, three-holed copies appear. If my phone or computer doesnt work, I send an email or make a call, and a Harry Potter-style wizard appears to fix the problem. If I need advice, the secretaries down the hall are omniscient. And perhaps best of all, if I cant figure out what my job is, my bosss door is open, and he patiently helps me sort things out.

Does it sound like Im on top of the world yet? Maybe not, but Im getting there.

On another topic, two other Ontario firefighter bloggers have been active, even though I haven`t been. You can read Dispatches here, and Ontario Vol FF here.

Yesterday during an Emergency Patient Care evolution, my cell phone buzzed, and I knew from the number that it was a call out in Upsala. Car vs. train. The only thing worse than getting a page like that as a firefighter, is getting a page like that and knowing you cant go. I gave them time to respond, then phoned the Upsala Fire Department scribe. The driver was hurt, but not trapped. My crew was helping package and load him. I went back to the class where my students were diligently applying collars and strapping each other onto backboards under the supervision of paramedics in training. "Pay attention folks. This is where its at," I told them. You can read a brief news story here.

I still call them my crew, but in reality, they arent mine anymore. Upsala hired our former deputy chief, and as of today, Ken Kingston is taking full responsibility for . . . for . . . well, you saw the list, and you know he isnt simply the fire chief.

All the best in your new career, Ken!


  1. You never cease to amaze me with how well versed you are in everything you do. We look forward to you coming out and spending a bit of time with us Neebingites sometime this summer. BBQ at our house for sure. Bring everyone :) good luck in your new career sir! You will excel in everything you do, and pave the path for everyone that has known you. Your an inspiration to us all.


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