Am I My Brothers Keeper?

I’ve been spending some time training the probie lately.  What a good time.  Where does that motivation go?  What should I teach him?  At what point does my “teaching” become “storytelling”? How long before he becomes the next whining lump on the couch?

My goal: Prevent him from becoming a couch creature, ever.

Here’s what I’m telling him;

  1. You are going to hear a lot of different things from different people.  Don’t argue, just agree with them and do it their way for that day.  You will find your own methods, you just aren’t allowed to right now.
  2. If someone doesn’t answer your questions adequately go to your officer or me.  I’ll have time for you; I’ll get you the best answer according to our SOP’s.
  3. Until you prove yourself and/or you are off probation your priorities are as follows; getting here early, checking your personal gear, checking/washing the truck, then house duties, finally you will be the last one to leave at the end of shift, sorry.
  4. When we do drills ask questions after the evolutions, not during.  Then ask for clarification if needed, get it done right during training.  Also during training is when we have time for mistakes and redo’s, not during incidents.
  5. Stay away from the coffee table until you know the first and last names of everyone there, and then sit there quietly until invited into discussion.
  6. Listen to the war stories, but try to find the truth in them.  Try to figure out what was done incorrectly to end up in that situation.  Ask you officer if you have questions, don’t ask the storyteller.
  7. I know you want to learn tech rescue, we’ll get there.  Learn the pump and medical protocols first.  We will get to the rest later.
  8. Make your own opinion about other people and other companies.  Worry about doing YOUR job correctly first.
  9. No naps, don’t park/wash your car in the firehouse, keep your butt in the radio room.

10. These guys are not going to be around when you are 80 years old sitting in a rest home.  Hopefully your family will.  Be Safe, always remember your family when you are at work.

11. Wear your equipment.  Let the “salty dogs” get caught with their pants down, they will have some excuse that makes it someone else’s fault that they weren’t ready, you have none.

12. Always have promotion in the back of your mind.  Find an officer to emulate.  Study, study, study there is a lot to this job and plenty of nationwide opportunities for knowledgeable and motivated personnel.

I’m not a mean guy and there are exceptions to everything, but I think if he follows this general outline he’ll be just fine.  Even if he does make some mistakes I think he’ll be better off then the probie on another group who asked the officer to move his car out of the firehouse so the probie could wash his own car.

Good luck all you new guys.  This is the greatest job.

Be Safe.

1 Comment

  • Glad to hear you’re doing your best to prevent the probie from becoming a recliner lizard and/or couch potato. Since first reading your thread a few days ago, I’ve wondered if other factors may influence the probie, such as if other station members are staying active around the station or bucking your system and remaining on the couch.

    Are the other shift folks helping with the message you’re attempting to instill in this impressionable probie? Are they staying off the couch and helping to set the example? If the shift is helping, how are you maintaining the momentum? If they’re not helping to set the example, what techniques are you using to motivate them?

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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

FE Talk: Humpday Hangout

Jim P.
The World is not on fire.
BRAVO. Very good observations. Thanks for writing this. Decisions/leadership based upon fear or lack of training is unacceptable. These things need to be said, to counteract the attitudes that are trying to influence future generations of firefighters.
2015-03-18 14:39:28
Ret. Capt.
The next big thing…or just another acronym?
I'm not sure how the Portsmouth, VA FD normally operates but that is an embarrassment. I am not understanding any part of why the hose team did not make entry while one other member broke out the window with an extension ladder to provide quick ventilation. From what is seen, and the conditions present, in…
2015-01-16 17:21:54
Met Fan
The next big thing…or just another acronym?
Actually it does not seem to raise the temperatures at the floor in most cases. Do you feel feel different after attack begins? Of course you do. Steam is produced when water hits the fire and you feel the humidity through your gear. This is going to happen regardless of whether the stream entered a…
2014-12-29 02:43:23
Ryan McGovern (Ladder Jack)
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Marques, As I have been following this debate for the past few weeks, and looking for the best way to respond, I could find no "correct" way to join the conversation without maybe coming off as narrow-minded. The response you have here says exactly what I believe is the best way to approach the SLICER/…
2014-12-03 00:41:24
The next big thing…or just another acronym?
Though hitting a fire from the outside lowers the temperature in the room, it raises it closer to the floor. I've been a firefighter for 14 years and work for an inner city department. You'd better be damn sure there are no victims in the structure anywhere near where those heated gasses are going to…
2014-11-24 17:54:49

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