A West Virginia fire chief operates a hoseline at a daytime building fire where staffing issues require senior and rookie firefighters to work together.
Photo credit: Ryan Pennington
Good morning from the Jumpseat! On this chilly fall morning I wanted to take a moment to ask you a question: what does "Senior Firefighter" mean to you?
In our business, we gain respect as we spend time on our departments and many members take advantage of this situation. When was the last time that you have seen a 10-plus-year member of your department hitting their knees to perform a skill with the new batch of probies? I vote not very often.
Being the senior firefighter in your department should mean that you are proficient in your skill set. Should we show respect for their seniority? Yes. Can we go to them with questions and expect a real world answer? Yes. Should they continue to train and use their experience to set the tone for the department's skills? Yes!
It is funny to me how, when it's time to train, the senior firefighters are sitting around the water cooler telling stories about their experiences, while the less senior folks are training. Then the fire hits and the senior firefighter is the one who has problems pulling the crosslay or catching a fire hydrant. Our skills our perishable, meaning if you do not use it, you lose it!
Is this a blanket statement that every senior member is not training with their crews? No, some are in the mix for every drill and training evolution. I believe these folks get the most respect from the firefighters because they talk the talk while walking the walk. We should all strive to have full participation from everyone in the department when it is time to train.
In closing, I would like to send a huge thank you out to the senior members of our fire departments worldwide and offer a challenge to them to pay it forward. Pay your experience forward to the next generation and show them each day that seniority comes with a price; the price is a burden to pass the knowledge on. Grab the least senior member of your department, put your gear on and show them you have what it takes to get the job done!
Thanks for the visit to the Jumpseat!
Bunker up, Buckle in, and remember that we all start in the Jumpseat!
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