Ben Franklin: Founding Father, Firefighter, and… EMS Educator?

Ben Franklin has long been associated with the founding of the American fire service.

What many people do not realize is that his interest in building and protect strong communities has left us with many lessons to inspire and guide fire, rescue, and EMS leaders in the twenty-first century. His wisdom is as applicable to emergency responders today as it was to is hard-working readers of the eighteenth century.

While it is unlikely that Franklin ever taught bloodborne pathogen lessons, he often gave advice that you might hear in any modern training classroom, “Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes or habitation.” He also noted that, “In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria.”

Franklin said of aspiring leaders, “He that cannot obey cannot command.” and that the road to leadership can be long and difficult, but worth the effort, “Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out.”

A proponent of what now may be known as servant leadership, Franklin recommended that leaders understand, “To be humble to superiors his duty, to equals courtesy, to inferiors nobleness.”


About romduck

Rom Duckworth is a dedicated emergency responder and award-winning educator with more than twenty five years of experience working in career and volunteer fire departments, public and private emergency services and hospital based healthcare systems. Currently a career Fire Captain / Paramedic and EMS Coordinator Rom is a frequent speaker at national conferences and a regular contributor to research, magazines, and textbooks on topics of field operations, leadership, and education in emergency services. Contact Rom via