To the “rookies” that may be reading this, to you, I say welcome to your new family. You are in for an interesting time. Fun, sorrow, good times and bad. As soon as you find out what shift you are going to, go in the shift before you start and “break the ice” and visit with the crew for a while. This way the first day won’t be as awkward as it could be. As the new guy, you need to be the last one to sit down with your plate and the first one up from the table. You need to be the first one to pick up the broom and mop and the last one to sit down when it’s all done. Get to the station at least 15 minutes early. The very first day, don’t wait for someone to tell you what to do. Go to the officer and introduce yourself. This can go a long way to show you are eager to learn. On the other side of that, don’t be too big of a pain in his side. When they introduce you to the rest of the shift at roll call and find out what rig you will be on, go to the engineer/ chauffeur and ask what he would like you to do. Depending on your department, after you find out what seat you are riding in, check your gear and SCBA to make sure they work. After that, there may be chores to be done. Even when the other member of your crew go in to the day room and turn on the TV or sit around and talk, stay in the bay. You don’t know where everything is on the truck yet. Go around the truck and look at every piece of equipment. Know where every last item is that you may be asked to get. Take a note pad with you and make a list of everything. When your fellow crew members are knocking off for the night, pull out your note book and go over what you put down. For what it is worth, if you have doubt about something, ASK! Never be afraid to ask a question about anything. It will only make you look bad later on if you pretend to know something and end up having to prove it in front of your crew.
Bide your time as the new guy. Do what is asked and whatever you do, give the senior members of your station the respect they deserve. Don’t give them grief about, “Why am I doing this again,” or “Why aren’t you doing anything.” The quickest way to get on your shift mates bad side, is to give them attitude about anything they ask of you.
Now I am not saying be a little submissive bitch and let them throw you around like a rag doll and act as if you have no spine. There is a time and place for everything. Do not blow up in front of everyone but go to the person you are having a conflict with, of course after you take a few minutes and calm down, and ask them what the deal is. Who knows, they may have once had a bad rookie and now does not like rookies. This is common and they do not mean it personally towards you. You just have to make sure you show him that you are not the “other guy” that gave them a problem before and that you are willing to do what is asked of you and you are not going to complain about it.
As the “rookie” from day one you need to just take everything in. Be a sponge. Soak up as much information as you can. And like a sponge, if it starts getting dry, turn on the faucet, i.e. ask more questions, and soak up some more. Some crews are more receptive to rookies than others. Now keep in mind they are still going to mess with you but hey, that’s part of being the “NEW GUY!” Just hang in there and go with the flow. They will ride your butt and not let up. By hanging in there and showing them you are willing to do the tasks they ask you to, you will show them that you are dedicated to being a part of their crew. You can make or break your career in the first few shifts.