page will consist of one or two articles written by fire service personnel
who do or do not normally get an opportunity to be published in a national fire
There is no limit as to the topic of these
articles but they must be related to the fire service. A participant does
not necessarily have to have great writing skills. The web site coordinator
will edit these articles. We encourage you to send a submission to
NOTE: Please put "Web Site
Article" in the e-mail subject line.
the Author - Chief Jonathan Riffe has a Bachelors Degree in Fire Science
and has attended UMUC and the National Fire Academy where he has obtained
several certificates in Fire Science. He is a certified Emergency Medical
Technician and is also certified in Confined Space Entry and Rescue and
Hazardous Materials Incident Command. Chief Riffe is a Hazardous Materials
Technician, an instructor III, and a Fire Officer IV. He is an instructor
for the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute. He has instructed at FDIC and at
Firehouse Expo on the subjects of Firefighter Safety and "May Day" training.
For the past
eleven years, he has been a writer for the Maryland Fire Dispatch newspaper.
Chief Riffe has also had articles published in Fire Engineering, Firehouse
He played an
instrumental part in the original foundation of the Calvert County Hazardous
Materials Response Team, helping to develop Standard Operating
Guidelines/Procedures for this newly developed team.
Chief Riffe has
been a member of the Huntingtown VFD since 1996, and the Chief of Department
since 2007. He has also been a DC firelighter since 2004.
In 2009, Chief
Riffe was elected co-chair of the Calvert County Fire & Rescue Chiefs
To Soul Search
"The vision of the Huntingtown VFD is to become
the finest fire and EMS service organization possible by utilizing and
developing our members to their fullest potential, maximizing our use of the
resources available to us, and being responsive to the growth and changing
needs of our community."
What does this mean to you? To me it means that us, the members of the
department have to be fully capable, honest, trustworthy, caring, loving,
and dedicated to the citizens. But it goes beyond that. How we treat the
citizens we protect doesn't begin there. We strive on our image to the
public. We etch into the members minds that when they are in public they
must watch how they behave and how they speak because our images what the
children and adults expect when we respond at 3 am for their dying
grandmother, when we respond to their house on fire or when we are
extricating their child from a wrecked vehicle.
But I want to go further into this. We, as firefighters and EMT's shouldn't
act like this only in public because of our image. It should be natural.
Don't get me wrong; I'm one to speak on this matter. But how do you want
people to remember you as a person? Seriously think about yourself as an
individual. How do others perceive you?
Some of you may have heard a story similar to this. Try and clear your head
and focus with me and really open your mind..........................
In your mind's eye, see yourself going to the funeral of a loved one.
Picture yourself driving to the funeral parlor or chapel, parking the car
and getting out. As you walk inside the building, you notice the flowers,
the soft organ music. You see the faces of friends and family you pass along
the way. You feel the shared sorrow of losing, the joy of having known, that
radiates from the hearts of the people there.
As you walk down to the front of the room and look inside the casket, you
suddenly come face to face with yourself. This is your funeral, three years
from today. All these people, if any are even there, have come to honor you,
to express feelings of love and appreciation for your life.
As you take a seat and wait for the services to begin, you look at the
program in your hand. There are to be four speakers. The first is from your
family, immediate and also extended-children, brothers, sisters, nephews,
nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. The second speaker is one
of your friends, someone who can give a sense of what you were as a person.
The third speaker is from your work or profession. And the fourth is from
your church or fire department where you've been involved in service.
Now think deeply. What would you like each of these speakers to say about
and your life? What kind of husband, wife, father, or mother would you like
their words to reflect? What kind of son or daughter or cousin? What kind of
friend? What kind of working associate?
What character would you like them to have seen in you? What contributions,
what achievements would you want them to remember? Look carefully at the
people around you. What difference would you like to have made in their
If you participated in this visualization experience, you touched for a
moment some of your deep, fundamental values. Each part of your life-today's
behavior, tomorrow's behavior, next week's behavior, next month's
behavior-can be examined in the context of the whole, of what really matters
most to you. Start with a clear understanding of your destination and the
right direction to turn. If the ladder is not leaning against the right
wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.
So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep,
even when they are doing things they think are important. This is because
they are chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is
to devote yourself to loving others, devoting yourself to your community
around you and devoting yourself to creating something that gives you
purpose and meaning.
As firefighters and EMT's, remember that some of the good that you do will
be recognized, but even good work that is recognized will often be
forgotten. What is important is who you are as a person. What matters is how
you live as a person.
Firefighters and EMT are unique individuals. We've seen many lives taken
from unfortunate tragedies, violence that has gotten out of control, and
held too many small children in our arms that will never laugh again.
Because of this, we are not ordinary. We do jobs most people would never
dare to do. For these reasons, all of you need to be commended.
The bible reads, "When you go through the sea, I am with you. When you go
through rivers, they will not sweep you away. When you walk through fire,
you will not be burned, and the flames will not harm you."
If you carefully consider what you wanted to be said of you in the funeral
experience, you will find your definition of success. It may be very
different from the definition you thought you had in mind. Thank you.
In closing, I've been trying to do some soul searching for myself recently
and how to be a better person. I need to apologize too many in this room;
something I'm not good at; particularly when there are over 250 people in
attendance. This past year had been rather difficult for me on a personal
level. I hadn't been the person that many of you were used to. I separated
myself from people and shut many out of my life. A few months ago though, I
realized something needed to change. I needed to surround myself with people
who I think have made a positive impact on my life and my true friends.
Friends that loved me. I needed to find out who I was as a person and what
life meant to me. Life is strange and I've learned a lot and have more to
learn. I want to thank everyone that dealt with my attitudes and issues. I
want to thank all of you for listening to me when I needed it most. Many of
you know who you are; many of you I have thanked personally. One thing is
certain though; life is short. I know what I want all of you to think of me
or say about me at my funeral; hopefully years down the road. Thanks for
listening and lending me your ears.