I would like to ask everyone to do me a favor. Take a few minutes to yourself, and ask a few questions. “Why am I a firefighter?” “Do I really like what I do?” “Am I trying to do something about the problems or causing more?”
Too often we see the people who have the attitude that they know everything and don’t want to listen to what a senior member of their crew has to say. You know who I’m talking about. The 18-year-old kid that just got out of the academy and thinks they know everything. You know the one who has “seen it all.” Give me a break! I understand that the academy gives you a lot of information and trains you the book way of doing things. The books teach some good things to get you started, but my personal opinion is that time on the job can teach you more than any book will ever hope to. The “Probes,” “Rookies,” New Guy’s,” or whatever else they may be called in your department, should come in from day one, and only give an opinion when one is asked of them. Now I am not saying turn them into the whipping boy but they should show respect to the members that have been there. The ones who have been there have earned the right to have input.
When you, as a senior member, receive a “rookie,” take a few seconds and pull them off to the side and give them a little, let’s call it a “pep talk.” Just let them know that as one of the more senior guys on the shift, you will help them in any way possible as long as they ask. From going over the truck or trucks, to helping them out with chores. Also, don’t be too closed minded. Just because they are new to your department, they may have previous time at another department. Now that doesn’t mean they should just come in and start trying to change things but listen to them every now and then. Who knows, you may be able to learn something new from them. Now I know what you may be saying, but the rookie is “supposed” to do all the chores for a while and not have input. While I agree with having the rookie give some of the more senior members a break for a little while, we also want to make them feel like we are giving them a chance and not just writing them off from the beginning. We are a family.
Consider this. You have a little sister or daughter and you are meeting her new boyfriend for the first time. Sure we want to protect her but we also have to give him a chance to screw up. Sure put the fear of God into him so he knows that if he does happen to screw up there are going to be consequences.