Taking a moment to recognise “astonishing” resilience in the service

It’s not often that life throws us a bone. It’s usually the other way around, and we spend days, weeks, or even a whole lifetime striving for accomplishment. But what interests me more than enjoying that bone is the journey we endure to find it.

The last 18 months writing for FIRE have been quite a journey. As a freelance writer who specialises in health, fitness and wellbeing, how is it that I feel like I’ve found a home within the fire sector? My answer is this: so many of the stories I have researched and uncovered, stories of self-discovery, personal resilience and strength of human spirit, have inspired me to evaluate my own values and desire for personal growth.

I like to keep active and have conquered some personal fitness goals over the years, but the people I have met and interviewed within these pages demonstrate another level of accomplishment and are representative of an astonishing Fire and Rescue Service that our country should be proud of. If I had to choose a theme that has inspired me the most, it would be resilience. It is a quality that I have heard spoken of and seen demonstrated repeatedly and, in turn, I am learning to become aware of my own levels of resilience.

In a conversation with Dr Randall Bell for our November 2021 issue, he said: “Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” Overcoming extreme challenges such as running 250km across the Sahara Desert (December 2021) and running or cycling the length of Great Britain (November 2020 and October 2021), all to raise money for The Fire Fighters Charity, are worthy of being meaningful. As is skiing 1,130km from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole. The all-female crew of the Antarctic Fire Angels told me for our June 2021 issue: “We aim to eradicate gender stereotype that can stop young women from entering male dominated industries.” Also in our June 2021 issue, Chair of the FBU Black and Ethnic Minority Members network, Tariq Khan, on standing up for the inclusion of a more diverse workforce, expressed the following: “When we have people willing to put themselves out there to make a difference, to stand up against discrimination, regardless of whether it affects them personally, that’s when we improve as a society.” And yet another example of extreme resilience is strength drawn from experience, as expressed by CFO Sabrina Cohen-Hatton in our May 2021 issue: “I wanted to help people who were having the worst experience of their lives, because I had experienced that myself.”

These are only a few examples of the hard work and determination of our Fire Service personnel, stories that I have had the pleasure of telling within these pages. The most valuable lesson I have learned from these stories is to develop an awareness of what is meaningful. We live a life of moments: dwelling on moments from our past and worrying about moments in our future. But the most important and life-affirming moments are the ones we are living right now. Being present and aware of each unfolding moment, whenever possible, brings clarity and reality to what is truly important and meaningful. So if you will permit me to offer some advice it would be this: take a moment right now and reflect on what is meaningful to you today, then act on it.