Big Fires Start Small
There comes a time in a person’s life when they know that everything is about to change.
Me, I was the person who drank 20 leagues beyond prudence. When the time comes, we have probably known it for years – we’re on a one-way path to alcoholism or addiction. We feel it, live it, disguise it, and wish it away.
Being a firefighter, I had that extra resistance to change. Most of the firefighters I know bask in a time warp of our own making, loving our traditions, and clinging to the way things used to be. It is a strange way of life, but has worked well since the beginning of the fire service. Hundreds of years of tradition unimpeded by progress goes the old wisdom, and we laugh at our unwillingness to let old habits die. When change creeps into the fire station it can be incremental, subtle, and a little frightening.
People like me, genetically predisposed to the disease of alcoholism, do not have the luxury of waiting for this type of soft landing.
The bell is tolling, and it will not stop until we respond.
For people like me, the time to make the change is now.
Getting honest is the first hurdle. Facing the fact that we are killing ourselves slowly, and losing out on a lot of what life has to offer is painful. Living a life of denial is worse. White knuckle attempts at sobriety are the typical answers to the calling in our minds telling us to man up against the drink:
Just don’t drink. It’s simple. Quit being a coward. Nobody is putting the bottle in your mouth and making you drink. I will not drink.
Until I do.
I say, screw failure. Once I finally admitted that the drink was winning my personal war, I called up reinforcements, people and programs that exist for the sole purpose of shoring up our defenses, and beating the enemy once and for all. It can be hard for a firefighter to ask for help, to admit he or she may not be able to handle the addiction alone and may have to depend on others.
That’s when we need to go easy on ourselves, and remember the importance of teamwork. We know that a solitary firefighter stands little chance of putting out a house fire and rescuing the occupants. When we have somebody getting the roof, another doing vertical ventilation, more throwing ground ladders, others doing search and rescue, another manning the pump, then we have the luxury of stretching the line into the inferno, calling for a charged line and opening the gate to finish the job.
So, let’s get on with it, shall we, and get this sobriety thing done.
Time is ticking, and we know far too well that small fires lead to big ones. It takes a team to put those fires out before all is lost.