I just returned from paradise.
Every year my family and I make it a point to visit Hawaii, the land of aloha. The word aloha has many meanings, most of us are familiar with the common usage of hello/goodbye but the literal translation is alo=presence, ha=breath. In the ancient days native Hawaiins would great each other by actually standing face to face and exchanging literal breaths. It is from this intimate expression of compassion, welcome, and love that the word aloha is derived.
The more I thought about the warmth and compassion we were shown as guests of these beautiful islands, the more I thought about how lucky I am to be a firefighter. Every firefighter has a special and unique connection to every other firefighter no matter where they are stationed. We commit the ultimate act of compassion by putting our life on the line to protect our fellow neighbors. We are the breath of life when we rescue or fellow citizens or sometimes our fellow firefighters from the dangers of heat and smoke. Firefighting embraces both the literal and figurative spirit of Aloha.
On this trip, as all trips, I made it a point to visit the local fire stations to show them the Foxfire line of illuminating products. I always make it a point to talk about Foxfire’s illumination technology that increase visibility, help with accountability of tools and personnel and reduce disorientation. This trip was no different. I spent part of one day visiting with the fine men of the Honolulu Fire Department discussing how these products can help with interior operations. I had a great discussion with one of the crews about the latest developments in firefighter safety and how our illuminating technology was on the cutting edge.
I also had a opportunity to visit with some of our nations bravest and courageous sailors in the US Navy stationed at Pearl Harbor. We discussed ways in which our product can help them better operate in the absence of light. Even though their job is different than that of a firefighter we all face the same challenges when we work in the dark.
The next part of my Hawaiian trip was off to the beautiful island of Kauai. This island is nothing short of paradise. I visited with one of the engine companies near our hotel and they were also very interested in our products, especially our illuminating t-shirts.
They directed me back to one of the the main stations 25 miles away. I’m used to traveling from station to station to meet with the key decision makers at various departments but this trip was quite special. Never before have I looked out my car window and seen such majestic waterfalls, vistas, and tropical mountains on my typical goose chase from station to station.
As I was walking in to the station, the assistant chief was virtually walking out. He gave me a few minutes to share why our products are so valuable to helping firefighters overcome the three biggest risks we encounter, visibility, accountability (of tools and personnel) and orientation. He sated that he was heading off to see the chief and I was welcome to “tag along”
The next thing I know, I’m standing in front of the chief and it turns out that he grew up a few short miles from my house and went to one of my rival high schools. Here I am in the middle of the Pacific ocean and I run in to someone that lived in my neck of the woods. It just goes to show you that we are all part of one large firefighting brotherhood no matter if you are in a major city, rural america, or a tropical island in the middle of the Pacific ocean, we are all connected !