1. #1
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    Default A "vet" becoming a "rookie" again...

    I haven't seen something like this posted..
    So, looks like I am transfering to a new department..pending some final interviews and such. (500 miles away from my current..)
    Being I have 15 years on the job, I am far from being an actual rookie. I won't have to go through the new departments "schooling", but I will be a new guy in the station. On that, since I won't have any books to study, what should I do with my down time? I know the typical "learn the apparatus", streets, etc....

    Just looking for a little advice/guidance...

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    Try to fit in and have a open mind and a closed mouth
    Slop sink, Flags and pump 150
    Getting there is half the fun

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    Quote Originally Posted by Resq1scnd2none View Post
    I haven't seen something like this posted..
    So, looks like I am transfering to a new department..pending some final interviews and such. (500 miles away from my current..)
    Being I have 15 years on the job, I am far from being an actual rookie. I won't have to go through the new departments "schooling", but I will be a new guy in the station. On that, since I won't have any books to study, what should I do with my down time? I know the typical "learn the apparatus", streets, etc....

    Just looking for a little advice/guidance...

    Pretty easy actually.

    Remember what you did as a probie 15 years ago?

    Do it again.

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    I'm sure you already know this but I believe that it bears repeating. DO NOT compare departments. The "my old dept. used to do it like this or we never did it like that" is a huge turn off to the guys you are trying to fit in with. Now that that is out of the way, other than the rigs and streets and "tactical" stuff, study up the department's policy and procedures, SOP's, and general orders.

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    Several posters have said it before me, but I will echo what they are saying. The new department does not care how long you were a firefighter before you started with them. They expect you to assume the role of a rookie firefighter. Anything less and they will be very disappointed in you.

    Think back to what has made a successful probationary firefighter on your CURRENT department. Here is something to help you in your travels.

    Best of luck to you.
    The following is an excerpt from my book, “Smoke Your Firefighter Interview.” Although it may be a review for those who have already read the book, I felt it important enough to include here.

    The First Day

    The following article is being reprinted with the permission of the author, Captain David Shetland of the Long Beach Fire Department.

    The fire service is going through unprecedented turnover due to the Baby Boom generation retiring. Hiring is at an all-time high.
    The downside is, we are losing an entire generation of experienced firefighters. Most had military experience; as a result, their work ethic, motivation, and esprit d’corps served as an excellent example for rookies.
    With these personnel gone, firefighters with only three or four years experience may be thrust into the unfamiliar position of being the most experienced person on the job – the “Bull Firefighter.” As such, he or she must serve as a role model to new hires.
    This information is based on years of instruction that was given to me several years ago by my senior firefighter. I have shared it dozens of times with other firefighters, and it has served them well. Now I will pass it on to you.
    I’ll always remember what the drill instructor told me on the last day of academy: “You only have one chance to make a first impression.” Since then, I’ve done a lot of thinking about ways to make a positive first impression – hopefully, one that will last your entire career.
    After receiving your initial assignment, you should probably visit the fire station before your first shift. This offers several advantages over showing up the morning of your first day of work. Among them:
    • Locating the fire station ahead of time ensures you won’t get there late on your first day because you got lost.
    • It’s advantageous to become familiar with the firehouse in advance. Where do you park? Is there a gate and, if so, will you need a key? Will you be issued a station key? Where should you put your turnouts, and what time should you arrive?
    • You can talk with the other rookie(s) to learn the morning routine and find out what duties need to be completed before line-up. For example, what time is the flag raised? When is the paper brought in and coffee started? Find out any other special information that may pertain to that particular station, and ask for a tour.
    • Don’t forget the importance of becoming familiar with the apparatus on which you will be riding. You are going to be a vital part of that apparatus and its crew. Know it; live it; learn it.
    When you show up on this reconnaissance mission, be sure to bring ice cream or another treat with you. This will go a long way with the crew.
    When your actual first day of work arrives, it is a good idea to show up in uniform (and carrying donuts). Be nice and early.
    The absolute first priority is to find out which apparatus you will be riding on and where. Once you have learned this information, relieve the person in that seat and check over the apparatus thoroughly.
    My suggestion is, once you have put your turnouts on the rig, immediately check your breathing apparatus and all its functions. If someone should ask you the pressure in the bottle, you should know it!
    Now go through the rest of the rig with the same resolve. Your life, as well as the other members of your crew and the citizens you are sworn to protect, depends on this equipment.
    Here is something else to consider: If your fire station has multiple rigs, you should know them all. At a moment’s notice, you just might be temporarily assigned to another piece of apparatus.
    Once you have completed these tasks, make sure to get right to your daily duties. Finish them expeditiously.
    When the captain calls line-up, be the first one in the kitchen. While you’re waiting for the other members to arrive, straighten up the kitchen and start serving coffee. Be the last one seated, and provide service throughout the line-up.
    It just doesn’t look good for you to stand around while a senior member of the crew serves coffee. We’ve all had our “day in the sun,” and now it’s your turn.
    Once line-up is done, start working on the weekly duty. Don’t wait for someone to tell you what to do.
    If at any time a run comes in, make sure you are the first one on the rig. Write down the address and the nature of the call.
    It’s not uncommon for other crewmembers to say, “Where are we going, and what is it for?” This is especially true if the department doesn’t have MDT’s. The point is, if they ask and you have the information, it’s Brownie Points for you.
    When you have completed your daily and weekly duties, what is next? This is a good time to ask other crewmembers if they need assistance with anything. If they don’t, it’s time to go through the rigs again and again.
    What kind of impression will you make if a piece of equipment is requested and you don’t know where it is? You know the answer to that! I can’t stress enough the importance of not only knowing where everything is, but what it is and how to use it.
    As a rookie, you’re under the microscope. In other words, you’re going to be scrutinized throughout your probation.
    The following are some general guidelines for not only making a good first impression, but also creating a reputation you can be proud of your entire career:
    • Introduce yourself to everyone. Don’t wait to be asked who you are.
    • Don’t be afraid of mistakes! If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not learning.
    • Never give up your tools. If someone asks to borrow them, inform the person that as soon as you have completed your initial task you will be happy to assist him or her.
    • Always answer the phone.
    • Show initiative – do things without being told.
    • Do one extra task per day for your station or apparatus.
    • Be seen but not heard.
    • If you’re not sure if you should be in full PPE, err on the side of caution and fully suit up.
    • Be the last one to bed and the first to rise.
    • Prepare completely for drills. Remember, the rest of the crew has heard the drill numerous times. Do everything possible to give them some new information they may not have heard before.
    • Always give 110%. You want others to tell you to slow down, not speed up.
    • Remember, if they want your opinion, they will give it to you!
    A career in the fire service is a privilege - so no complaining about being interrupted during dinner or after you go to sleep. When you are given what you feel is a tough or crummy assignment, remember that you don’t “have” to do it, you “get” to do it. Never forget that!
    Being a rookie is not an easy task. The fire service is filled with old traditions and quirky nuances, but if you start with these simple guidelines, you’re sure to create outstanding habits and make a terrific first impression. Believe it or not, you’ll probably look back on your probation as the greatest time of your life!
    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com
    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com

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    Some good points...but another question.

    How to handle "veterans" on said department that are 20 years younger and have less experience than myself? I'll be 41 and have a "few" more years on the job than some of the 21 year old kids I'll be working with.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Resq1scnd2none View Post
    Some good points...but another question.

    How to handle "veterans" on said department that are 20 years younger and have less experience than myself? I'll be 41 and have a "few" more years on the job than some of the 21 year old kids I'll be working with.
    Treat them like senior guys that have been on the job longer than you.

    They have.

    You're choosing to start over, so you have to accept that you're the probie, the toilet scrubber, the coffee maker, etc, etc. The "kids" as you put it are senior to you, and veterans of that Dept. Suck it up and do the probie thing, or stay where you are.

    No offense, but I'm kind of surprised that as a 15 year guy you're even asking questions like this.

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    Wife has been offered a "dream job"....and I was luckily was able to test and transfer. And we have had "new old guys" come to my "old" department and we make sure to tell the "new old timers" to respect the knowledge and background of the new guys.

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    I was in the same position as you earlier this year, I had 12 years experience and was hired on with Little Rock FD. You have 2 ears and one mouth. Remember that. The best part about your experience is when you get your first big fire, actions will far surpass any words or stories you might have told. The guys you are going to work with will play many pranks on you just to see how you handle them. If they did not like you, they would not associate with you. LEARN YOUR DISTRICT. I have been on company for two months and they are wanting me to learn how to drive the engine but will never let you unless you have a good idea of where you are going. Take a case of cake mix and plenty of icing and keep in your locker. Whenever you have a 1st fire, first medical....first anything, you will probably be making a cake.

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    We get plenty of guys who have been in the business for a while prior to getting on. The good ones sit quietly and volunteer for everything, until drill you would have no idea that they have experience. Once at the drill tower it is obvious that they know what end of the hose the nozzle goes on. Once you build your credibility then you'll be able to deal with the 3/30s. Learn the district, SOP's and rigs if the guys with a few years on start on you, learn more than them about their own department and the real senior guys will shut them down.
    Basically show them you want to be there.

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    Personally I have dealt with this from the other side. I was hired at 21 and have been working 10 years. Recently had a guy with about 15 years experience hire on, he was the "rookie" firefighter and I was his Engineer. I can tell you that I felt as awkward as he did. He turned out to be very cool, did the typical "rookie" jobs without complaint and had a great attitude. After a few shifts I started to split the jobs with him and treat him as an equal. I would say go in with a great work hard attitude and check any animosity towards the younger "veterans" at the door and you may be suprised. They might feel as strange as you do about the situation. But if you act like a know it all jerk, it will be easy for them to treat you poorly.

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    I'm still a few years new at this job. There are guys that have come in after me either with or without more experience, but with more age and maturity than I have. I respect that just as much as firefighting experience.

    If the less experienced guys at your new department are smart, they'll recognize your experience. They'll look to you at least as an equal, maybe as their superior in certain situations if they know that you're more knowledgeable in certain subject matter. If we got a rookie with 10 years on a technical rescue team at another department, if he's shown himself to be professional, calm, and knowledgeable, I would have no problems following his lead in a rescue situation.

    It will be awkward for the other side of the coin. Don't make it harder by comparing departments, as others have said.

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    I recently switched departments and had similar questions. I just had to feel my way. Admittedly it's different in a volunteer system and I moved to a neighboring department so people knew me.

    As mentioned several times above, avoid comparing departments, especially at first. Once you have been there for a while you may find that their ways actually work better for them. Once you earn their respect, you may be able to suggest ways to improve their operations.

    Someone mentioned how to handle the 21 and 22 year olds that are now "senior" to you. This was a little difficult for me to figure out as well, especially since senior members can take the seat of a junior member if there are more people than seats on the rig. One of my first incidents really threw me for a loop. The officer, a LT, kept looking at me to see if he was doing things right. He was, but it was a different experience for me.

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