All Operations Engineers Should Have Firefighting Training

Recently I had a fantastic conversation with Erich Hohermuth, a networking engineer with an unusual hobby: he’s a professional firefighting instructor (teaching firefighters across the country how to do their job).

Volunteer fire departments are pretty popular in Central European countries, and so he’s not the only one on his team with that skillset. The (not so unexpected) side effect: these people are the best ones when it comes to fighting IT disasters.

His explanation made perfect sense: when you’re a firefighter, you’re trained to follow pretty strict procedures (but also improvise when needed), make very quick life-saving decisions, and focus on saving the parts that are still worth saving.

The same set of skills is ideal when you’re facing a network down problem – most people focus on fixing the broken part of the network (some of them throwing random solutions at the problem, hoping one of them will magically stick), when they should have focused on isolating the damaged parts, keeping the operational parts of the network stable, put out the problem, and finally restore the lost service.

So, when are you going to get some real firefighting training?

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