1. #1
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    So Cal
    Posts
    96

    Default Probie Myth Busters

    I've heard all the stories of the probie years but ultimately, what I gather is, every Firehouse is different.

    I am a new firefighter at a smaller department and my first days on the job were full probie style - first in, last to leave, always busy, kept quiet, mouth shut...and after a while my crew insisted I relax and hang out with them. It was almost like they were annoyed that I was in full "Probie mode". I went along with them, while still getting my work done. Now my crew and I get along great and joke around with each other all the time. Technically, I am still on probation but I feel like I've been there for years. I do well on my tests and get commendation from my superiors. It seems like I fit the description of a 2/20?!

    But now I'm afraid I will have this same mentality when I get to my goal department: a much larger and more traditional department. I'm assuming the advice of "Feel your crew out" does not apply at a large traditional dept such as the one BDLepore brought out.

    Don't get me wrong, when I do get onto my goal department, I will be in Full Probie Mode, but I have just heard/read about stories where your crew insists you hang out with them but then the Probie gets busted towards the end of the Probie year for being too lax.

    Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    California
    Posts
    90

    Default

    I'm in backgrounds for a large department and I haven't worked as I firefighter yet but this is something I've spent some time thinking about. My advice would be to be extra diligent about your responsibilities as a probationary firefighter. You don't want to alienate your crew by turning down every invitation they extend, but the LAST thing you want to do is get caught in a trap. The line would be pretty fine in this situation. I imagine that if the crew was as friendly as you fear, your captain might be the kind of person you could approach for advice about this kind of thing.

    I have a friend in this situation, actually. He just got hired by a smaller department with only two stations and I'm going through the process with an extremely large department. He's very personable and I don't know anyone who doesn't like him so his crew is very open and friendly with him. We were discussing the different experiences we were going to have as rookies and we sorta determined that I probably wouldn't be able to have quite the close-knit relationship with my crew that he has since FF's at larger departments see more probies, more often... and they don't stick around as long. I'll be sent to two or three different stations during my first year at this large department, so my name will probably just be "rookie" or "probie" just like the guy who was there a week before me (or you).

    That's my inexperienced 2˘!

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    1,047

    Default

    Your’s is a very interesting post. I agree that it is very important to get along with your crew and to do as they say. The problem I see with your situation is getting too comfortable. YOU ARE STILL ON PROBATION.

    I hear from people all the time who were getting along great with their crew until something changed. The joking went too far, they said something they shouldn’t have, some firefighter from another shift worked overtime on their crew and told his crew that you are too comfortable, the chief saw your interaction with the crew and felt you were too comfortable. Fill in the blanks. You can imagine the outcome.

    While it sounds like you may be doing fine, keep in mind that their jobs are secure,
    your’s is not. Be respectful and remember to not cross the line. Most importantly, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. It's OK to overperform. This will never hurt you.

    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com
    Paul Lepore
    Battalion Chief
    www.aspiringfirefighters.com

  4. #4
    Forum Member
    gunnyv's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    SE MI
    Posts
    1,429

    Default

    Like BCLepore said, all it takes is for a guy on OT from the OFU (Other Friendly Unit) to go back to his shift and tell them what a lazy ***** you are because you were sitting in a chair at 1700. Character assassination, especially of probies, is regularly practiced in the fire service. I know some guys who are great FFs and good people whose reputations haven't fully recovered, just because some big mouth called him lazy 10 years ago.

    Be careful, and another thought: just because you're off probation at 1 year doesn't automatically mean full acceptance. You are still the junior guy, you'll still get detailed out and be expected to do all the crappy housework, until another new guy comes along.

  5. #5
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Winter Garden, Fl.
    Posts
    12

    Default

    I am a probie too. My experience has been very similar. When I first got hired I studied kept my mouth shut and did what I was told. We have 3 and 9 month tests. After the 3 month test you can start working overtime and float from station to station. I got to know everyone on our A shift. Each station was a little different and I had to "feel out" each one. That was an experience.
    Anway, during the first three months my training leutenant would have to order me to relax, put down my books and hang out. (he did it in a fun way)
    After that test everyone lightened up a bit and were a little nicer.
    Now that I passed the 9 month test it seems like the probie label is slowly coming off. It's nice. Can't wait till it is official, 2 months to go.
    I think the fact that we have added around 40 firefighters in the past two years and are bringing on 14 more makes a big difference. The 1 and 2 year firefighters don't seem to give the probies a hard time since they still remember being one and don't want to treat the probies like some of them were treated. I think the attitude towards the probie is changing a little bit, at least in my department it is. Seems like the guys who really shouldn't be there weed themselves out by acting like idiots and being all cocky. They always seem to get razzed and picked on but I think they bring it on themselves and then they are gone anyway. The guys that take it seriously and show they want to learn don't have much of a problem. Anyway, I was lucky to get my goal department on the first shot and will probably finish my career with it if possible. My probie year has been tough but I have loved every minute of it reguardless.

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber
    FFJToe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    21

    Default

    I start with a new department on Monday. All the hard work, testing (several departments) and staying the course has paid off. I have this opportunity to do what I love to do for a career. I fully understand how fortunate I am to have this opportunity.

    With that in mind, I am aware (so I think) of the things I need to do and the way I need to act to make the most of my career. i.e. "Full Probie Mode" But I have some questions:

    1. What is usually considered proper behavior for new probie in training sessions? My personality is to ask many questions until I feel I have full grasp on a subject. How much is too much?

    2. I have heard probies getting the slap because they did to much work and acted to good. Essentially, making the others on shift look lazy. Is this actually possible if done with the correct attitude?

    3. If you could go back in time and leave yourself a paragraph, what would it say?

    Help is appreciated. Thanks for the great resource all of your collective experience is!
    Last edited by FFJToe; 08-13-2008 at 06:29 PM.
    TinCup

    "The nobility of the occupation thrills us and stimulates us to deeds of daring, even of supreme sacrifice." -Chief Edward F. Croker

  7. #7
    Permanently Removed
    CALFFBOU's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    CA
    Posts
    6,520

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by emmex510 View Post
    Technically, I am still on probation but I feel like I've been there for years.?
    For me, that was the trigger/yellow flag. I would closely re-evaluate that thought and fine tune so you dont have a problem in the future.

  8. #8
    MembersZone Subscriber
    ffbam24's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    1,482

    Default

    Remember too, that the "Probie" label may be off officially. However, you may still be the junior guy around until someone else comes into the house after you. Of course, then it is your responsibility to help this new probie out and get them adjusted as best you can to firehouse protocol, etiquette and life.

    I'll re-iterate: Don't get too comfortable. Especially while you are still on probation.

  9. #9
    MembersZone Subscriber
    rpferry's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Orlando,Fl
    Posts
    400

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by firefuss View Post
    Thats because 1 and 2 year firefighters are still probies. When your the senior man at your house, then you wont be a probie anymore. heh.

    By the way, if you work for Winter Park FD, (assuming so cause its in your address) tell Ryan Fischer over at 62 that Fussell said he was a fat*****!
    Hey Fuss,
    This guy's in Winter Garden not Winter Park. I see you never did learn how to read once you left APK
    Greater love has no man than to lay his life down for a friend.

  10. #10
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Winter Garden, Fl.
    Posts
    12

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by rpferry View Post
    Hey Fuss,
    This guy's in Winter Garden not Winter Park. I see you never did learn how to read once you left APK
    LOL yeah, I live in Winter Garden. Actually work for Lake Co. Fire

  11. #11
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    So Cal
    Posts
    96

    Default

    Well it's been a couple of more months and things are working out great. I have taken the advice of not crossing the line of being "too comfortable" but also not crossed the other side of that line of being "too aggressive" as well.

    Another interesting thing has happened. I recently was offered a job at my dream dept. While I am overly excited about this, I can't help but feel bad for leaving my current dept. hanging. I haven't told them yet and I don't know if I should tell them now or wait until before the academy starts in 2 months. I feel if I tell them now, the next 2 months will be pretty awkward especially with my superiors.

    What do you guys think?

  12. #12
    Forum Member
    BKDRAFT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Bay Area, California
    Posts
    1,146

    Default

    I have been in your position. I would let them know now. It might be awkward around some but it is the right thing to do. Don't feel bad about leaving either. You have to do what's best for you and your future. Remember no department likes to be a stepping stone.

  13. #13
    MembersZone Subscriber
    MattyS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    home of the 12th man
    Posts
    158

    Default

    I wouldn't say s#!t until my Dept.'s mandatory notification period...ESPECIALLY if you're still on probation! You might spend the next few mo.'s in the unemployment line or the local LaborReady until your new academy..
    The good thing about this job is that we have done so much, with so little, for so long that we can do everything with nothing...... which is what is wrong with this job.
    KTF | DTRT

  14. #14
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Toms River, New Jersey
    Posts
    1

    Default Ah Probie Days

    Let me first say, welcome to the brotherhood. I am a 9 year firefighter/medic up in NJ. YOur probie days are tuff but they are the most important, now is the time to soak up all the info you can from them there senior fellars lol. My department, like alot of the career departments in the northeast, is full of a bunch of hard-***'. It is common believe up here that there is no such thing as a rookie w/ an opinion or a voice box. However 99% of these guys would just as soon take you aside to teach you something. The most important thing to do in your junior years is to shut up, work your *** off, and soak up every bit of knowledge you can. I dont mean be that hand job that comes in and doesnt talk but remember privelage to be lazy comes with time. So relax with the boys but also be the first one to mop the floors at the end of the shift. Stay safe brother.

    Gary
    FF/Medic
    Squad 61

  15. #15

    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1

    Default

    I just joined my local dept a few months ago, I have wildfire certs from college... In my 3 months, I've only gone on one call (theres no pagers left). Its frustrating bc the fire academy doesnt start next class for a few more months and theres nothing I can do bc everyone else knows what to do so it tends to get done.

  16. #16
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    So Cal
    Posts
    96

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by lonegirl View Post
    I just joined my local dept a few months ago, I have wildfire certs from college... In my 3 months, I've only gone on one call (theres no pagers left). Its frustrating bc the fire academy doesnt start next class for a few more months and theres nothing I can do bc everyone else knows what to do so it tends to get done.
    I don't understand your post. Are you at a vol. or paid dept? If you've been there for three months, shouldn't you know the daily routine and house details? If you still don't know what to do...ask!

  17. #17
    MembersZone Subscriber
    ffbam24's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    1,482

    Default

    I'm going to venture a guess and say volunteer since all the pagers are gone and most volunteer departments that I know of call in their volunteers via a paging system.
    Ergo, not having a pager prevents one from coming in for calls/runs and learning what the routines and details are.

    lonegirl for god's sake; spell out "because". This isn't a text message.

  18. #18
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    30

    Default

    i have been "off" probation from a large west coast department for about 6 months now. we had written,practical and EMS based tests every 4 months. which i never had a problem with. i had a great crew who brought be under their wing. i never sat down to watch tv and always "played the game", my crew gave me a hard tome and told me to sit down and relax. one in a while i did but most of the time they understood why i didnt. but even now while floating around to different stations i still have the probie mindset. i try and do the dirty jobs at the station, first one to the dishes, keep up on training, although it does feel good to relax in the recliners after dinner), this may be because i am still one of the newest but i feel that i still need to "earn it". its a busy department and i go one 6 to who know how many calls a day, i've only been on one ripping fire. my rookie opinion is to keep that probie mindset for as long as possible. i feel that it gives the seasoned guys/girls the respect they deserve. but in the end it really depends on the crew.

  19. #19
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    32

    Default

    i think this is a very interesting question. i've worked as a FF overseas for the last few years and have recently returned back to the States. since coming back all i ever hear is people saying probies get treated basically with no respect? Now, i'm all for tradition and i know and believe that its VERY important to not only respect your other FF's who have been on the job for sometime, but also to you have to prove that you deserve to be there and that you are going to have to "earn" respect. and i know that this is fundenmentally done by keeping your head down working hard and letting your hard work show what sort of person you are. what sorta concerns me and i may be looking into this, but its fairly obvious in anything you do in life. if your new to an area/or job to take it easy, show your hard work by your actions and not your mouth and "feel out" your place and how to interact with everyone. you don't go into your new area/job acting like you "own" it and running your mouth...but everyone says you shouldn't become too "comfortable" as your "only" a probie? this to me sorta sounds unconstructive, as everyone works better together if everyone works well as a team and gets along. yes, you might be "only" a probie, but you've had to work just as hard as anyone else to get to that position (if not harder nowadays) but making a probie feel like he's worthless is not going to promote his best work or make him feel part of the team...

    my experience overseas as being a "probie" was really positive. i went to work the first few months and worked my guts out. i would be doing everything that the "probie" here in the States does, first in, last to leave, cleaning, making sure the trucks were all good to go, studying, etc but this "probie" feeling was never projected on the new guys. basically if you should up to work and were lazy, you were labelled that...LAZY. but if you should up to work and showed you deserved to be there by working hard, everyone accepted you as part of the team and were invited to relax with the rest of them, in fact, they would insist...and as you settled in, everything you had learned came more natural and you functioned as a team better because you had confidence...

    just my thoughts. when i start work with my new dept over here i realize that i need to play by the rules and i'm happy to do that as i love this work and i know it will all be worth it in the end. just thought i'd pass on my expereience of working overseas...

  20. #20
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    The 201, NJ
    Posts
    1

    Default

    I've only been around my firehouse for a few months and only on call for a couple weeks. I'm in a very small volunteer department, but every one immediately invited me into "the group" and welcomed me. Yeah I get the teases "oh look probie actually did something!!" but the officers told me, it's all in fun, they just want to see how I react. We're all just big kids. Never let them get to you, they obviously don't want you to fail. Like they said above though do what you're told and a little extra duty won't hurt either. Little things can go a long way, like for example I just washed the dishes after we had a BBQ without being asked (and I didn't go around telling every one, I just did it) and that got me some points with all of them. I guess all this babble means just show you're ready and willing to do whats needed, even if it's just simple helping out around the station, and never think you know everything because we don't yet. Of course I'm just a probie too.

  21. #21
    Forum Member
    FGVFD459's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Fort Gay, West Virginia
    Posts
    4

    Talking

    probie mode, huh? i am a probie of a volunteer department right now, and hope that one day to move to new york or baltimore, and be on a traditional department. i love fire fighting, and i would do anything to be able to be on paid and my job be what i love the best. fire fighting has become my life. haha. well, my life as a firefighter has just begun, i wouldnt count fire explorer as being a firefighter, cuz there is so much different from being the real thing. i dont know though. i love the game, and it is soon to be my job, keep my fingers crossed.
    fort gay firefighter 459
    kyra davis
    FFDavis459 FortGayVFD

  22. #22
    Forum Member
    Phaedrus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    NW Florida
    Posts
    35

    Default

    Great thread, lots of good info!

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. A fact or a myth for fire rescue personnel?
    By escapeconsult in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 30
    Last Post: 09-03-2003, 02:01 AM
  2. TRADITION BUSTERS
    By Jake295885 in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 05-24-2001, 11:24 AM
  3. Has anyone heard of "Fuel Busters"?
    By FF244 in forum Hazardous Materials General Forum
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 05-04-2000, 02:31 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Log in

Click here to log in or register