14 Tips: Start Off on the Right Foot as a New Firefighter - Part II

This article will provide you with the remaining seven tips to get you off on the right foot when you get hired as a firefighter.


This article will continue from where we left of last month. The last article provided the first seven tips to start you off on the right foot when you get hired as a firefighter. This article will provide you with the remaining seven tips to get you off on the right foot when you get hired as a firefighter.

8. When an alarm comes in, be the first one on the rig.
Be careful with this concept, it got me in trouble when I first started in the fire service. I tried so hard to be the first one on the rig (the ambulance) that I was so "worked up" and "amped up" that I had tunnel vision and put myself at risk of injuring myself or someone else on the way to the rig. There is no need to run to the rig (understand that every fire department is different in regards to this idea), a brisk walk can usually suffice. Being the first person on the rig ensures you will have your appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) on and buckled in your seatbelt when the driver and officer look to see if everyone is present and accounted for.

9. Offer your help to anyone to do anything. One person works, all work.
I remember being on probation and having one of our volunteer firefighters riding along with us. I was doing the dishes and he was watching TV with the entire crew. Now I didn't have so much of a problem with that as I did with his comments afterwards. He started complaining how he wasn't getting hired and gave all of these excuses to why he should be hired. One of the senior firefighters told that volunteer firefighter that he needed to get off of his rear and start working with the probationary firefighter (me) because I obviously knew what it took to get hired and that it wasn't helping his cause sitting in the chair while I was working hard. The person had been a volunteer for over five years and had apparently gotten very comfortable with the crewmembers. Here is a situation where it was not going in his favor. He was so comfortable that he lost that drive and motivation and thought he was one of the crewmembers when in fact, he was still trying to prove to them that he wanted to be one of them. Coincidentally, eight years later, he is still trying get hired full time as a firefighter.

Also, when you see others at the firehouse that are doing work, and you have already completed your assigned duties, ask them if you can assist them with what they have to do. You're not there to do all of their work for them, but you are there to show that you are willing to be a team player when it came to getting things done around the fire station.

10. Respect seniority and rank.
Whether you agree or disagree with this is not the point. The point is that seniority is still regarded very highly in the fire service. In most departments, seniority determines vacation picks, station bids, as well as other important factors. Even if a person has one year of seniority on you, they are still senior to you. Embrace it and deal with it. You will have many senior firefighters (senior to you at least) giving you advice and their opinion. You don't have to always agree with what they say, but you should always thank them for their advice and show them the respect of their seniority and experience. Remember, it is easy to think that many of the "older firefighters" don't know as much as the younger firefighters do (because sometimes many of the younger firefighters are more educated and more skilled in certain topics such as computers and technology), but remember that in relation to the fire service, they have probably forgotten more than you have learned up to this point.

As for rank, remember that saying "rank has its privileges?" Well, don't forget that. One way it has its privilege is that while I don't necessarily have to agree with my boss on everything he asks me to do, I do have to respect him and follow those orders (assuming it is safe and legal to do so). On a structure fire last month, a firefighter I was supervising didn't agree with what the Incident Commander had ordered us to do. While there can always be a better way to do something (assuming you are open-minded individual), there is a time and place for everything.

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