When someone successfully completes probation, their attitude and behavior should not drastically change, now that they are off probation. At least we hope it doesn't. The last thing any fire department wants to do is see someone do a complete change and not be the person they were advertising themselves to be.
As the last to go to bed, here are some suggestions you can be doing in the evening, prior to going to bed:
- Study, study, study. If you run out of things to study and learn, you're not looking at the big picture or trying hard enough.
- Ensure all the unnecessary lights are turned off (make sure you leave any appropriate night lights on).
- Ensure all unnecessary appliances and electronic devices (television, radio, stove, etc.) are turned off.
- Ensure the station is secured; doors are locked, windows closed.
- Ensure the flag has been taken down (should have been done at sundown or a time deemed appropriate by the department) and that it has been properly folded and stored (not draped over the couch or table).
- Ensure the apparatus are all clean and wiped down (a tradition in some departments).
- Ensure your work/study area is cleaned up and ready for the next crew.
- Ensure the kitchen is clean and the dishwasher has been set on time delay or the dishes have already been cleaned and put away.
- Most importantly, before you go to sleep, make sure you have touched base with your officer and have asked them "is there anything else I need to take care of or can help out with, before going to sleep?"
As the first person to rise in the morning, here are some suggestions to keep you busy and start out the day for the off going and on coming crews:
- Make coffee. Key point: realize different shifts may like different flavors or brands of coffee. Don't assume anything; on your first day, ask the crew what type(s) of coffee they like, do they even drink coffee, how many people like to drink coffee (so you don't make too much or too little), and if there are any special requests. Do this for your shift and the oncoming shifts.
- Bring in the newspaper. Your job is not to read it (you can read it on your off time), and place it on the kitchen table or gathering point.
- Ensure the dishwasher is empty, and the kitchen is clean and presentable.
- Ensure the apparatus are all wiped down, that the windows are cleaned, that the tires are shiny, that the rims/aluminum is shiny, and that any tools/equipment used the previous day is clean, functioning and presentable in ready to use condition.
- Put up the flags, unless it is raining.
- Police the station to ensure that anything you or your crew might have taken out has been put back. Items can include books, manuals, tools, equipment, cleaning supplies, etc.
- Get ready to make contact with your relief and pass on any relevant information relating to what equipment you might have used the previous day, what types of responses you went on, and any other pertinent information you can think of providing them, that is relevant and not going to put them to sleep.
- Most importantly, before you leave to go off duty, make sure you touch base with your officer and ask them "is there anything else I need to do before I go off duty?" Besides making sure you have done everything expected of you, it also shows initiative and that you care.
Being a probationary firefighter is not easy; it is hard work and what one department requires of its probationary firefighters may significantly vary from what another department requires or expects. Realize customs, traditions, and expectations can change not only from department to department, but within each department and within each station and/or company officer.
It is up to you to learn from the others that have walked in the shoes before you as probationary firefighters, as well as the senior firefighters and your officer. Be a sponge, and learn how things should go, as opposed to having to wait for others to tell you what to do or what needs to be done. If you're waiting for that to happen, you're too late; you've missed the boat and you are going to get a bad reputation.