It’s that time of year.

A thought provoking article in the Fire Engineering Training Community by my good friend and fellow blogger ChiefReason reminded me to re-post this piece I wrote several years ago titled: “Starting the New Year Right!”

Art’s blog titled “The Day the Passion Died” suggests that we’re all due for a fire service check-up to make sure that we’re physically, mentally, emotionally prepared for the challenges that lie ahead, and just as importantly, that our head - our attitude – is in the right place.

His writings remind us all to revisit our fire department and personal goals and direction every once in a while, and there’s no better time to do so than as we’re about to embark upon a brand new year full of new challenges and opportunities.

Art’s sharp, and sometimes biting insight challenges us to achieve balance between our “two families” — the one at home and the one at the firehouse — and to “clean the litterbox“ as ncessary. That’s no small feat if you’re the least bit passionate about either.

Whenever I think of balancing my life’s ledger, I’m reminded of Commandment #7 of my “Top Ten Commandments for Recruitment and Retention” (also a piece I wrote almost ten years ago).

#7.  Peace at Home = Peace at the Firehouse. Make sure you’re targeting the right audience with your recognition and incentives programs.

This commandment encourages us to always put our first family first — a concept that applies to us and to our fire department. Once our organizations realize that volunteers who are happy at home will be happier, more productive firefighters at the firehouse — we all win. However, to succeed at figuring out this difficult equation requires, as Art suggests in his advice to a commenter, that we include both families in the conversation.

As Christmas quickly approaches, I’m certainly thankful for my brother Art and the great folks we’ve come to know and enjoy in our close circle of friends in the FireEMS Blogs network. I’m also thankful for the many friends I have throughout our great fire service and I count my blessings every day that I get to do what I love.

But most of all, during this holiday season, I’m thankful for my first family first:

Laurie, Kathleen and Alex — Thank you for the sacrifices you make on my behalf in allowing me to serve.

Laurie — Happy 23rd Anniversary on December 26th. I love you more each day.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

And with that said, I’m leaving the fire academy and going home…

Stay safe. Train often.

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Tiger Schmittendorf

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