Back to Rob's Corner
Rob's Captain Badge
You have known him through his postings as firefighter Rob (f/frob). As of
today, that changed.
You canít imagine the thrill when his mother Harriet (the bride of 39 years)
handed me the phone and said Captain Smith wants to talk to you. A proud son
telling his dad he got the call he has been promoted to Captain for Contra Costa
County Fire. Proud? Elated? Emotional? Yep! The Champaign corks are
popping. Badge ceremony to follow. I'm trying to fit into my old horse blanket
uniform and shinning up the boots, brass and badge.
Itís kind of like being knighted. We hereby bestow upon you the badge of
Captain . . .
Dan Poynter, a long time friend wrote: Congratulations. Now you can address
each other the same way.
Reply: Although he is a Robert Smith Jr., actually he goes by Rob Smith AKA as
firefighter Rob. Now it will be Captain Rob, son of Captain Bob.
This was his rookie badge pinning (Photos of Captain
Then many years and responses later comes :
A drum roll please:
Baaaaah daaaaaaaaah BUM! Cue the band! Pomp and Circumstance!
Ooooooooooooboyoboyoboy! Congratulations! Tom
Here is a story from the new Captain Rob:
Well, itís just starting to sink in. Iím a captain. Four the last four and a
half years I have been actively studying ,testing ,worrying, gossiping,
hoping, and praying, and here it is. Iíve driven my family crazy, studied
while we were on at least 5 different vacations, and not been there mentally
when I was physically. I donít know what to do with my self. My wife, Nancy,
said I looked like I grew 5Ē, but I told here that was just the weight
lifting off of my shoulders.
So, after someone gets promoted, they start to wonder, when will my first
fire come in. How long will they have that monkey on their back. For me it
was 2 hours 34 minute. We got a call for a structure fire, geared up and
responded. It was 103 degrees in the shade, as we turned the corner, we saw
smoke and flames through the roof of a 1.6 million dollar mansion on the
hill. Can you say pucker factor ? It ended up going to greater than two
alarms. Boy was I tired, but as one guy put it, it looked like I needed to
walk around with a spray bottle to keep my gums wet, because I couldnít stop
smiling. I was the captain.
Captain Bob pins his son Captain Rob's Badge.
OK, We're proud. Note Captain Bob's Dalmatian Dog tie. Not
Captain Bob and wife Harriet with their Captain Son Rob.
From Tom Dominguez
Congratulations on your promotion to the officer ranks. Remember that you did
not get to this point alone but that you alone will carry the responsibility and
you will find out just how heavy the weight of those bugles, at times, can be.
Always remain humble for there are many who worked just as hard, if not harder
than you to be captains and are not. There but for the grace of God go I.
Donít ever be afraid to ask for help.
Remember that you are the leader of the team. Right wrong or indifferent, LEAD!
Each member of the team has something to contribute to the group efforts. Teach
them what you know. Donít be stingy or withhold information.
As a firefighter, YOUR responsibility was to make it home safely after every
shift. YOUR duty was to the citizens of the community.
Now, as a captain, YOUR responsibility is to your crew to make sure they make it
home safely to their families at the end of the shift. While you still have the
same duty to the citizens of the community, you now have a duty to the family of
your crewmembers as well. When you forget this is when you will start having
Train hard and fight fire aggressively so that everyone goes home at the end of
Take the calculated risks but be unmerciful with safety violations. (seat belts,
SCBAís, FULL PPE, gloves and no standing up while the engine is in motion.) Be a
hard ass on safety so that everyone goes home a the end of the shift.
Build teamwork, Esprit-de-corps and train your crew to be leaders for one day
they may promote just as you did. Donít withhold information and donít be stingy
with your guidance or time to your crew.
You must be a democratic leader and a dictator as well. As soon as you lean when
and how to do this, your job will be easier.
Trust in your crew. You will be amazed to discover what they really can do when
you turn a problem or job over over to them. Tell them what you want them to do,
give the tools, supplies and materials and get the heck out of the way!
Enjoy the moment for it is gone all too soon.
There is always more to learn. When you think you know it all, you are
dangerous. When you stop learning, you are truly finished.
Make it so those around you will remember you as a good, caring, compassionate
and kind man first and then a man who was a good fire captain who took care of
his crew in everyway. ďYeah, he was a hard ass on safety but we all made it home
after every shift and we had a good time.Ē
Be a captain who is trusted and respected and inspired his crew to greatness in
Be that captain who after retirement has his former crew and co-workers go out
of their way to cross the street to greet you with a handshake and a smile and a
heartfelt ďHow the hell are ya Capt?Ē and not ďThere goes that son-of-a-b*tch
that I used to work for.Ē
Look for the goodness and the meaning of what you do for that is where you will
find your rewards and satisfaction.
Pass on what you know and what you have learned.
Blessing to you Captain Rob Smith ^10
MGB Tom Dominguez (Former Captain)
Back to Rob's Corner