Lessons learnt from a day spent with the New York Fire Department

Being able to spend a day in the field undertaking training with the FDNY on Randall’s Island, New York, is a rare experience. One that will always be respected and treasured. A huge shout out to a team leader Art and the generosity and kindness he showed throughout the day. 

The team were patient, kind and supportive throughout the day and showed a connection and respect for one another that is rarely seen. 

Each exercise; from climbing five flights of stairs in full kit and panicking, through to putting out a car fire and going into a smoke-filled apartment to find “babies”, the business lessons were numerous. 

So, what did hands on training with the FDNY teach me that I can use in my business life?

  • Be clear on your purpose
  • Focus on what you need to do and don’t be distracted; this means you can still look out for your buddy
  • Don’t lose your flow; once this happens it gets hard to get it back
  • Don’t panic, when you panic you are done; this means do not be spooked by what others are doing around you. When the other teams completed the smoke-filled apartment exercise before my team I did not ask “how did it go?” Not because I was not interested, but their responses would have made me doubt my ability to complete the exercise. Each of us has different realities. 
  • Work in partnership with people; many people help achieve the outcome
  • Have quiet confidence; but do not get too far ahead of yourself
  • Have a go and do not regret doing something; sometimes the opportunity won’t come again – i.e. this day.
  • Be proactive
  • Don’t talk yourself into a situation
  • Have tactics and an idea of how you can and may respond in a certain situation
  • Smarter tactics always get a better outcome; think and don’t rush just to get through an uncomfortable situation. The outcome is never good. 
  • Make a conscious decision to stop, compose and re-set; there will always be times when you need to self-reflect and re-engineer your approach. For me, it was loosening my helmet and mask a little bit, so I did not get overly claustrophobic – just slightly!
  • Own the need to pause; highly important when facing challenging situations
  • Be kind and patient
  • Avoid the need to rush, no matter how uncomfortable you are feeling; like the feeling of wearing a whole kit and mask crawling into a smoke-filled apartment. There is always a process to follow
  • Be willing to change perspectives about who you are and what you are capable of; trust those around you and trust yourself
Kiikstart Director & Founder Ali Uren with FDNY Team Leader Art