Pennington: If it Will Be, It is Up to Me

One thing about the fire service is the fact that nothing is given. From the first day you walk into the fire station the work begins. To become a firefighter you must put forth the effort to pass the test, learn the skills and make your way into the culture of the firehouse. This is not an easy task at all. 

Learning that when you arrive you are the new person is sometimes hard for many folks who come from a background where they are “in charge” or have made their way up the corporate ladder. An example would be a successful business person that chooses to sign up at the local volunteer station to help serve their community as a firefighter. Entering the fire service with years of leadership experience, this person may have a hard time being the person on the bottom of the food chain. But the fact is that we all start in the same position, no matter what the circumstances are. This was the basis for the “Views from the Jumpseat” existence.

How you handle this challenge speaks volumes for your character as you assimilate into the fire station and continue to learn our trade. When you are the new firefighter, you should work harder than everyone, clean more than everyone and go above and beyond what is being asked.

Wait a minute...shouldn’t we all be using this strategy throughout our careers in the fire station? I say yes! The problem is that we start getting comfortable and feeling that we have earned the right to pull back on the reigns and this leads to letting our guards down. This can also lead to us letting our crews down. The facts are that jobs must be down, things have to be cleaned, and if we choose to not pull our weight that weight falls on the shoulders of our fellow firefighters. 

So how does the pecking order flow in your firehouse? Are the new firefighters expected to pull more weight? Yes. Are fire chiefs allowed to do less manual labor because their administrative duties take many hours to complete? Yes. So, how does the workload get distributed evenly in your firehouse? 

We work together! That’s right; we are part of a team. If you are a day one probationary, you have a spot to earn. If you are a 20-year officer, you have a spot to earn. You see, in the fire service, we all should be working for the next goal. Promotion, new training classes, or to make our department better and improve the service we provide. Taking the mentality of “we have something to prove” will prove to be the best way of keeping you as a strong member of your firehouse team. Strive to be the rock that everyone leans of when the lifting gets tough!

We all want to be a “good” firefighter. We should all strive to be a good team member and take the position we currently are in and work our butts off to make sure that our team and our weight is carried on proud shoulders that say, I’m ready to serve! 

Thanks for the visit to the jumpseat!