“The New Guy” part 1

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.

1 Comment

  • scfireman says:

    I took some time to reflect on your questions you posed. Why am I a firefighter? Because being a firefighter is the world’s greatest job. Do I really like what I do? Yes, I love being a firefighter and believe that if you love your job it makes it a lot easier to get up and go to work in the morning. As far as problems go, I find myself trying to be a problem solver more than a creator but we all cause problems occasionally.
    You mention that OJT will overcome books any day. While I agree that OJT is very important to a firefighter’s development, the “book” time in the academy builds a strong foundation for the firefighter to build upon once on the job. There are many lessons that have been learned the hard way (injuries, LODD) and repeated over and over again due to a lack of education and communication. I believe it is important to obtain a solid mixture of “book” training and OJT, followed by learning how and when to apply what you have learned. With the decrease in fire calls in today’s fire service we can no longer count on OJT for our main source of firefighter training.
    When it comes to rookies I believe the best advice to give a new member of a department is to keep your ears open and your mouth shut. My reason for that advice is not to keep them quiet, but rather to allow them to be able to take in as much information about the department as possible. At the same time the senior guys should be mentoring them by taking them under their wing and teaching them the ways of the department. By mentoring the new firefighter and allowing them to be one of the team helps set them up for future success much better than letting them do all the bitch work and self study ever will.
    Succession planning is something that many departments fail at; if we do not start building our guys from day one we are only failing ourselves in the future.

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Marques Bush

Firefighter Basics launched in February 2009 after Founder/Editor Marques Bush was looking for a way to express himself and share his experiences with brother and sister firefighters. Shortly after founding the site Marques spoke with several trusted friends and ask them to come on board and contribute also. Firefighter Basics is a dedicated group of firefighters who strive everyday to practice what they preach about Training, Safety, and Tradition.  We can be reached at firefighterbasics@gmail.com
Comments
Hollie Broughton
Is This the Dumbing Down of the Fire Service?
I was left feeling a little offended here. Trying to have an open mind, but also trying to figure out why you have to knock Pump operators so badly. Full time, I see your point. But I volunteer. And am a Pump operator/ Firefighter. I was graced with only 48 hours of training and 4…
2014-07-08 19:16:19
Jack Crais
Blanket Rules Vs Training
I enjoyed the ideas espoused in the article, but doesn't the acronym "K.I.S.S." mean "Keep it simple, stupid" or, for those who worry about hurting someone's feelings, "Keep it sweet and simple"?
2014-06-27 18:59:01
dennis
Is This the Dumbing Down of the Fire Service?
it was just a matter of time until this became evident in the fire serice. Unfortunately the dumbing down as you call it, could be a direct result of the nation's professional fire service being forced to hire candidates that have lower grades on their employment exams due to racial and ethnic quotas being enforced.
2014-06-25 17:46:09
Johnny
Is This the Dumbing Down of the Fire Service?
When I was a probie, we had pre-determined pressures, and we knew the friction loss for our hoses, but our Captain ran us through hydraulics classes. While we might not use those formulas, I'm still convinced the understanding is indispensable if one wants to be a great chauffeur.
2014-06-24 05:04:43
Ray McCormack
Is This the Dumbing Down of the Fire Service?
This is defenity part of it. When we are too busy to drill that's one thing but when we don't even get a chance to learn the options that is another issue. Complaints of lazy firefighters will only increase when technology can be blamed and used as the scapegoat for not knowing your job.
2014-06-24 01:24:00

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