“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

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Comments
Sandy Lasa
Words Matter
This whole so called new phenomenon from NIST as been around for years. The Fire Service has gone insane over this. The only new info that has come out and been verified is that fires DO burn hotter now than before. Everything else has stayed the same. It comes down to training and mastering your…
2015-09-04 13:21:30
Dave LeBlanc
Words Matter
Great write up and thanks for sharing. Challenging the stays quo should not result in accusations of dinosaurism. The conversation needs to continue, especially with all the contrary information out there.
2015-09-04 11:27:33
Jim Moss
Freelancing
Very good post. I think that this subject all comes down to one's own department culture, and even individual crews and company officers. Also, what are the individual firefighters' level of knowledge, skills, Abilities, and experience at the company level? If they are greater, then greater latitude and freedom is allowed to each firefighter to…
2015-08-29 17:06:02
Alan Newton
Freelancing
Early in my firefighting career I was taught any decision you make is better than no decision. I had a 20 year career in the USAF with that motto and never had a problem.
2015-08-27 23:46:06
Rob
Aggressive Destruction
Yes yes yes yes!
2015-08-25 00:27:31

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