Don't Clog Up Your Toolbox


"At the end of the day it's just another tool in the toolbox" how many times have you heard that statement? It's often used as a default remark when a new tool or tactics worthiness is discussed, and it can't be decided one way or another, so it's simply suggested "add it to the toolbox." Our fire service toolbox while large needs to be filled with professional tools not dollar store seconds. 

This famous tag line is often born out of a sense of frustration or a misguided sense of inclusion. While some tools belong in the toolbox many do not. As appraisers of our craft we must make informed decisions, not just add things because it's easy and the thought of excluding something would haunt us. Your evaluation skills are being judged along with the item in question. 

Does it work better then what we have already? How many would carry a rabbit tool and a hydra ram? One opens further and rarely slips out but it's almost twice as heavy as its newer cousin. I would have both because I know there are exceptional circumstances where I want that original tool, not because of some homage to old school. 

Many may just keep adding because they fear being questioned about their choices, so it's easier just to add it and forget it. Should we add one and subtract one every time? Maybe. So, when you add or discard you must also be thoughtful and realize consensus can often be an echo chamber, don't forget to give the voice of decent their platform too.

This toolbox is getting bigger because many just choose to dump more and more things into it. The problem for the fire service is that we need to get better at ratcheting down on what works, versus what may have worked once (as in years ago or a single test). A giant tool box can hold many ideas and it's often fun to read about one off's making the box but when we bless every idea worthy of inclusion, isn't that like giving out participation trophies?

Chief Edward F. Croker FDNY gave out the first participation trophy when he declared. "When a man becomes a fireman his greatest act of bravery has been accomplished". So, take the compliment but easy on the toolbox. We must be guardians of our craft and with that comes respect for tools and tactics that have history. We must also develop informed interest regarding new tools and tactics. Be careful with collecting unproven one off's especially those that come with a "proof" video.

You must have a discerning eye as to what would work for you and what should be put to rest. Packaging of miracle cures either from commercial efforts or from brotherly endeavors need to be intellectually vetted not just dropped in the box. Otherwise we end up with a junk toolbox instead of a professional toolbox. The choices are always yours and so are the consequences, choose wisely.

Keep Fire in Your Life