Promotion in the fire service is a very competitive process, so before you even begin your firefighter promotional exam prep, you need to find your why, your purpose. Knowing why you want to be promoted in the fire service is the key to actually getting promoted.
The Importance of Having Purpose
It may seem like a silly task to figure out your reason for wanting to promote in the fire service before doing so, but it can be extremely beneficial. For starters, if you are promoting because you are passionate about fire fighting and want to learn and help the people in your community you are much more likely to want to study and devote the necessary time and energy to passing your firefighter promotional exam and the other components of the promotion process. If you are only doing it for the paycheck you are much less likely to stay motivated to learn the necessary material to pass your firefighter promotional exam.
Furthermore, once you get promoted your purpose will guide you as a leader and help you make the best decisions for your station and community. Having a purpose allows you to keep going even when you feel like giving up because you have a reason for doing the job, you aren’t just doing it for the sake of it. Your sense of purpose in the ranks acts as a motivational tool to keep you committed to doing the best job you can and not giving up when the job gets tough. Having a purpose and goals will also give you the courage you need to take risks, such as going after a promotion in the fire service. Without a why, you will be unmotivated, and lack the necessary courage to go forth and move up the ranks of the fire service.
How to Find Your Purpose
Now that you know why having a purpose is so important, let’s figure out how to find your purpose or your why.
What makes you happy?
Start by asking yourself what makes you happy in life, not just on the job. Is it the adrenaline rush of running into a fire, or pulling an injured civilian out of a car and getting them to safety? Is it the feeling you get after knowing your presence on the scene of an incident saved someone's life? Is it the paycheck that enables you to live a certain lifestyle?
There is no one answer or even a right answer to this question, but it is important to know what brings you happiness in order to find your sense of purpose in the fire service. If leading others and making positive change makes you happy, sign up for your firefighter promotional exam. If it is the rush of adrenaline you feel running into burning buildings and getting raises you may want to reconsider, the higher up you go the more paperwork and more commitment will be expected of you.
What are my strengths?
Now ask yourself what are your strengths? Is it your ability to get yourself and your crew to the scene of a fire in record breaking time, or your pump operating skills?
Think about your strengths on and off of the job. Know what is to be expected of you as you move up the ladder in the fire service and identify how your strengths fit into each job description. If your strengths are not leadership, public speaking, and sitting in board meetings, promotion may not be right for you.
At the end of the day am I proud of myself?
This is the biggest question you need to ask yourself as you begin the promotion process in the fire service. When you look back on your career as a firefighter and company officer, are you proud of what you did? Are you happy with the time you spent in the fire station and in the community?
Think about yourself years from now sitting thinking about the life you led. If you don’t think you will be proud of what you gave to the fire service, and remember it just as a job you did then it is time to ask yourself why you are doing this job. If you look back and can say wow, I am proud of what I accomplished and the impact I made because of the dedication I had to the fire service, promotion may be the right move for you. Having a purpose is what you need to motivate you to excel at your career in the fire service and move up the ranks.
There is no right or wrong way to determine your purpose in the fire service, but is it crucial that you have one. Not only will it make your job easier and more impactful, it will make getting promoted that much easier if you show you have a true passion for what it is you are doing.