Finally got a job at Victoria, TX FD. Any tips for a beginner? I have a few months volunteering experience but it was at a small vol. dept. with low call volume. I honestly thought I botched the interview by rambling a bit and asking them to repeat 2 questions after the aforementioned rambling.. but I got it! Advice on how not to screw up my probationary period would be most appreciated.
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Thread: Just got hired
06-04-2009, 02:20 PM #1
- Join Date
- Jun 2009
Just got hired
06-04-2009, 07:40 PM #2
You company officer will assign you where to ride, when to do this and that. They will give you what to study and learn. Make no mistake, its fun but you have to pass the proby period. They can let you go without any resourse if you fail the proby's test or found to be not a good employee.
06-04-2009, 09:12 PM #3
- Join Date
- Aug 2002
- San Francisco Bay Area
Congrats on your success. It's tough enough getting a job. It can be tougher keeping it.
What you do when you first start out will set your reputation and follow you throughout your career. If you don't start out on the right foot, they will show you the door. The crew already knows more about you before you show up than you think.
You're a snotty nose rookie. Keep your mouth shut. Be cordial, friendly and humble. You have no time or opinion until you earn it. You can't force it. That will come with a lot of calls and a few fires.
Cel phones and pagers are causing problems for rookies. This will not get you off on the right foot. Big clue here. Leave the electronic leashes off and in your vehicle along with your piercings until a time where all your duties are complete. No matter what you might think and how friendly everyone seems to be, you are being watched! It could hurt you big time.
If you have an emergency situation, ask your officer if you can carry your phone because you are expecting an emergency call.
Call your new captain before your first shift and ask if he wants you to bring anything in. Bring a peace offering of donuts and desert your first day. Home made is best. Arrive early and ask the off going firefighter what you should know at that station. Your new captain should meet with you to outline his expectations. If not, ask him.
Unless you're told differently, put up and don't forget to take down the flag. If the phone or the doorbell rings, make sure you're the first one running to answer it. There will be certain duties on each day of the week. Tuesday could be laundry day, Saturday yards. Keep track. Stay busy around the station. Always be in a clean proper uniform. Always be ready to get on the rig and respond.
Check out the gear on the rig each morning. Make sure the 02 gage and the reserve bottle shows enough to handle a long EMS call.
Firefighters usually have "Their" place to sit at the table and in front of the TV. Don't hog the newspaper. The off going shift has the first crack at the newspaper. You probably have probation tests. Don't park yourself in front of the T.V., you have a test coming up. Stay busy. Know matter what the atmosphere is, you're being watched.
"Just because you're paranoid . . . doesn't mean there not after you."
Though you might be a good cook, don't volunteer to cook until asked or rotated in. Make sure your meals are on time. The old adage "Keep them waiting long enough and they will eat anything" doesn't apply here. Be the last one to serve your plate. Don't load up your plate the first time around. Wait to go for seconds.
Always have your hands in the sink doing the dishes after a meal. Be moving out with the garbage and mopping the kitchen floor after each meal.
Learn how to help the officer doing response reports.
Don't tell jokes until you're accepted.
Don't play "Your" music on the radio. Don't be a stupid generation Y'er and always ask why when told to do something. Help others' with their assignments when you finish yours.
Ask how you're doing. Volunteer for assignments. Keep track of these to present at your evaluations.
Don't start pulling hose and other equipment at a scene until the captain tells you.
Always get off the rig before it backs up. Stand to the rear side to guide the rig. Never turn your back on the backing up rig.
It's not uncommon to move to one or more stations during your probation. At your new station, don't act like you already have time. Unfortunately, you have to start all over again as the new rookie.
You will have an elated feeling rolling out on your first calls. There is nothing like it. It could last your whole career. Enjoy and saver it. You earned it.
You're the last of Americas Heroes.
I miss it.
. . . Nothing counts ‘til you have the badge. Nothing!______________________________ _______________
"Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"
Fire "Captain Bob"
06-05-2009, 08:41 AM #4
Be seen and not heard.
If you are an hour early (EVERY DAY) you are on time. If you are on time, you are late.
Bring bagels or something else for everyone (including the offgoing shift) for breakfast your first morning. Bring ice cream for your own shift for dinner that night.
When you have figured out the system for bringing in meals to your shift (who what when) and who cooks them, make sure you volunteer to start bringing in meals and cooking them if you do not have a designated cook. If you can not cook, but are required to, you must have a hot girlfriend come in and cook for everyone (she must, at a minimum be dressed in a skimpy miniskirt.)
If your hands are not wet from doing dishes, or dirty from cleaning tools, the rig, and the firehouse, you are doing something wrong.
Stay OUT of the recreation/TV room, period. DO NOT ENTER unless specifically invited by a senior man.
When you are not cooking or cleaning or on a run, your nose belongs in your proby manuals.
At the successful conclusion of your probation (usually one year) and you make it, a steak and lobster dinner (courtesy of you!) for your crew is in order. Also invite the Battalion Chief, the Deputy, and the Fire Chief if you are a small department."Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."
06-05-2009, 02:08 PM #5
- Join Date
- Jun 2009
Thanks Jonnee, CaptBob and FWDBuff for your extremely helpful advice. I wasn't nervous before but now I'm getting a little rattled I won't actually start a shift the first day. The first month is with a training officer 7am-4pm which I thought was kind of odd. Were any of your departments like this? Thankfully my probationary period is only 6 months. Once again thanks for the advice. Keep my mouth shut, clean everything twice and say yes sir to everything(within reason of course).
06-06-2009, 09:24 AM #6
- Join Date
- Jan 2009
- Central NC
Don't mention you prior experience. When the training officer shows you something listen and take it in. Even if you already know how to do something, keep you mouth shut. It is very easy to make a bad name for yourself by talking too much and that will stick with you forever. Don't underestimate your reputation. Firefighters at other stations will be wanting to know how the probie is doing. Remember, just because your probation period is up in 6 months doesn't mean you are no longer a probie. Often guys will refer to you a probie until the next probie is assigned to your station. I've worked with guys that have been called probie or rookie for over a year after they were assigned to a shift or station.
Be EARLY for your shift, stay busy, don't question orders, and put up the cell phone. Some of the senior firefighers will be hard on you. If this bothers you and you let it show it will only get worse. When I first got on shift we were not allowed to eat in the kitchen with rest of the crew. We had to cook the meals and clean the kitchen, but we had to eat out on the tailboards of the truck. This sucked, but it was tradition and it only lasted for a few shifts, unless you complained. Complaining made it worse.
06-06-2009, 11:15 AM #7
Bring a peace offering of donuts and desert your first dayChief Dwayne LeBlanc
- Join Date
- Jul 2001
- Not the end of the earth but I can see it from here...
Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
"I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
— C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"
06-06-2009, 11:37 AM #8"Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."
06-06-2009, 01:12 PM #9
- Join Date
- Jun 2009
06-06-2009, 01:14 PM #10
- Join Date
- Jun 2009
06-08-2009, 09:22 AM #11
- Join Date
- Jan 2009
- Central NC
That was with my former department, not my current one. My previous department had a lot of B.S. things they did to probies. That was something that I never agreed with. I've heard that things have changed a lot since they got a new chief. I believe HR got involved and the words "discrimination" and "harassment" were being used to describe the treatment.
06-09-2009, 09:11 AM #12
06-09-2009, 11:14 AM #13
They will ALWAYS MESS WITH THE NEW GUY'S/GAL'S. The degree is what they need to watch. It's tradition and will never stop.Respectfully,
Lifetime Member CSFA
IAFF Alumni Member
06-09-2009, 12:06 PM #14
From the City of Torrance, California FD-
TORRANCE FIRE DEPARTMENT
RECRUIT (NEW) FIREFIGHTER GUILDLINES
The fire service is a para-military organization that requires teamwork, discipline, the ability to make decisions and work under pressure. If you do not like the idea of working under authority or have trouble with self discipline and living with rules and living with rules and regulations which restrict your personal freedom, for the sake of public safety, you are in the wrong place!
As a member of the Torrance Fire Department, you are expected to obey orders, exhibit exceptional personal hygiene, conform to department rules and regulations, respect the chain of command, work well with your peers, have integrity and perform repetitious mental tasks with excellence. At the same time, you should demonstrate the ability to think on your feet, use good independent judgment, be aggressive and display common sense concerning safety for yourself and others.
We will expect and settle for nothing less than 100% from you at all times…
1. Be aggressive at all times, first to details, last to leave.
2. If it is dirty, clean it. If it empty- fill it.
3. If it rings, answer it before anyone else does.
4. Do not be late to anything.
5. T.V. will not be watched without permission of the Company Officer.
6. Use initiative to address work that you see needs completion.
7. Keep busy! Look for something to do. If you can not find a job, Study.
8. When an alarm comes in, be the first one on the rig.
9. Offer your help to anyone doing anything. One person works, we all work.
10. Respect authority.
11. Know your job and duties and know them well.
12. Keep a low profile. Keep your opinions to yourself.
13. Assist in and around the kitchen, even if you’re not assigned there.
14. Remember…The reputation you establish now will follow you forever.
06-09-2009, 12:07 PM #15
Unkown source, possibly from the Long Beach, CA FD-
1. Always have at least one pen on you at all times. You can't go wrong getting on of the pens and clipping it to your t-shirt collar. You'll need a pen for writing down information on calls and for taking notes. Nothing more embarrassing than having to ask someone to borrow a pen.
2. Always have a watch with a second hand and one that glows in the dark. Besides needing it for taking vital signs once you're on the line, it is not a nice-to-have, but a need-to-have. You'll never know when you will need it, but if you don't have one, it is pretty embarrassing having to tell the person asking you to time something or what time is it, "I don't have a watch." Go to Costco (or a similar store) and buy a heavy duty, waterproof watch. I still have the same one that I bought in my academy 10 years ago, it works great.
3. Be nice to EVERY ONE you meet, whether they are in uniform or not. You never know who they might be and its just the right thing to do.
4. Start learning the names and positions/assignments of all of the chiefs, all of the officers and all of the firefighters that work in your new department. Why? Because it is the right thing to do and because you'll need to know them at some point anyway, why not start now? The sooner you start, the easier it will be, especially in larger departments. If you get hired by say LAFD, with over 3,000 members, good luck. Do the best you can. Also start learning the names of the administrative personnel (secretaries, etc.) that you come in contact with during training, the hiring process, etc. They will assist you at some point in your career; start learning who they are, what they do, and how they can help you.
7. A good way to do number 6 above is to get a hold of a fire department yearbook (if that department has produced one) or some other document with pictures on it.
8. If you meet someone new for the first time (and there will be a lot of first times - you'll feel like an Alzheimer's patient for a while), take the time to extend your hand, shake their hand, and say something to the effect of "hello, my name is John Smith, I am one of the new probationary firefighters (or whatever your dept. calls you), I am pleased to meet you." Hopefully they will provide their name, if they don't, try to tactfully ask that question and then throw in something to the effect of "where do you work and what is your assignment." Some people might call that kissing butt, I think it is just common courtesy. Realize every department is different and this may not be accepted practice in some departments.
9. Realize that you will not have much (if any) available sick or vacation time. That said; try to keep the hobbies to a minimum that might injure you (skiing, motorcycling, snowboarding, etc.). If you don't have the time to use as sick leave, there is no requirement they have to keep your job. Wait the 12 to 18 months for probation to finish if you do something that has a high risk of injury.
Also, try not to plan any big trips. You won't have much vacation and some departments don't even allow trades or minimize trades for probes. In some departments, it is frowned upon for probes to take trades. Know your departments culture.
10. Learn as much as you can about your new department. Besides learning the names and ranks of personnel, learn about the history and about every possible thing you can. This information can be found out primarily just by showing interest and talking with the firefighters you work with. Most will love to talk about the history with you. Other good sources include department history books, yearbooks, the internet, a fire dept. museum (if they have one), each fire station itself, etc.
It seems to me that many probes don't seem to care about the history (or at least they don't seem aggressive in learning about the history) of a dept. these days. History is there for a reason - we can learn from history and it also helps you talk with and understand people since history is contained every day in our conversations in some form or fashion.
11. If it is appropriate in your dept., try to attend EVERY department function. These can include: Holiday parties, union meetings, barbeques, recognition dinners, retirement dinners, etc. This is a great way to meet more of the personnel you have not yet met, to meet some of the retirees, to learn more about how the department operates, and to just be more involved to your department.
12. When appropriate, get involved. Many departments don't allow (or like) probes to get involved on committees, etc., but that doesn't mean you can't start learning about the different committees so you can start planting the seeds for when you get off probation. We are all looking for our members to get involved in some form or fashion.
13. Always have a full set of spare street clothes in your car, as well as numerous pieces of dept. clothing. When I got hired, I purchased 10 t-shirts and 2 to 3 each of sweat shirts, sweat pants, sweat shorts, etc. You're going to get stinky and dirty, and you'll want a clean change of clothes since you might not be able to launder your clothes every night after the academy.
14. While you're driving to the academy each day, and going to lunch with your classmates (assuming your dept. allows that), don't drive with your blinders on. Start learning the streets, the target hazards, etc. What a great way to start learning your way around town. On that note, try to spend your money (food, gas, snacks, etc.) in the dept.'s jurisdiction. Besides having the money go back to the city (that you'll indirectly benefit from in the long run), you'll get to learn the areas. This will come in handy.
15. On the same lines of number 14, buy a street map of your new dept.'s jurisdictional boundaries. Mark each fire station on the map and include the assigned apparatus. What a great way to learn where each fire station is and what units are assigned to each station. This will be a necessity. The last thing you want to do is get your station assignment and say "can you tell me how to get there?" That doesn't make you look to good.
Also, take the time to highlight each main target hazard (schools, hospitals, shopping centers, large companies, major transit centers, city buildings, etc.). Besides having to respond to them on calls, you'll probably be tested on them as well.
Additionally, highlight the primary streets so you can start memorizing them. Then do the secondary streets, etc.
Keep this map with you at all times and then with you when you work at the stations to study.
16. Learn the address of each station (if you're hired by LAFD, good luck). This will teach you basic address schemes (such as odd numbers are on the north and east side of the street and even numbers are on the south and the west side of the street) of the city and will start you learning your streets (which most departments require and test you on). Once you learn the street name, learn the cross street as well. And then which way the numbers progress on the street.
Remember that it is tough to learn everything all at once. However, if you start small, at the time you get hired, and then think of it as "building blocks," you'll be surprised at how much you will learn and retain.
17. Always have spare money with you in case you forget your wallet. Try to keep a bunch of coins in your car, and also some small bills (in case you forget your wallet and need food, bridge toll, etc.). Go a step further and put some coins and money in a water tight container and carry it on your turnouts. This will be good once you get on line and are coming back from a 5 am run and you have just had your first trash fire and the captain tells you, "oh, your first trash fire? Perfect, you can buy us donuts." Instead of saying "can I borrow some money, my wallet is at the station?" You can say, no problem, I have money in my turnouts.
18. If you have extra uniforms, keep at least one shirt/pants in your vehicle in a secure space. Chances are you'll get the one you're wearing dirty at some point and need a clean set. Don't keep them visible because some thief would love to get their hands on it....
19. Always have a toiletries kit in your vehicle. I remember one probie asking me (when he was working at the station), "Cap, can I borrow your deodorant since I forgot mine?" I prefer the roll on deodorant and what do you think my answer was? NO!!! That's almost as bad as asking to borrow a toothbrush or towels.
20. Last, but not least (at least for now), if you are issued a probie binder to get things signed off in, make copies of it on a regular basis. One of our probes lost (actually his car was broken into and they took the book and some turnouts) his book a couple of years ago - the one that had almost 18 months of probie sign-offs completed. He did not have a copy in a secure location. He was dancing around for a while and quite nervous until he was told it was ok. This could have easily gone against him.
06-09-2009, 03:32 PM #16
- Join Date
- Mar 2008
Congrats man... good job. It must be an amazing feeling getting the phone call to start the new "FULL" time job. Hopefully someday it will happen for me as well.
Now to the nuts and bolts... take it from the other posts and from me as well. I am a 10 year part-timer, and am still the rookie at my small FD... It is true... always be atleast 30 min early and have your gear ready to be placed on the truck you are assigned. Be ready to make a switch and know the job for the seat you are filling. Make sure your bottle is ready and your mask is in the go mode... yes if the truck is dirty wash it without being told to do so... help the off going shift with that and let them know that breakfast is on the table. If noone has gotten the paper yet bring it in and make coffee for the guys.
All the other stuff was covered and it is all very good info... I will take some info and will be using it to my advantage as well.
Again Shane Congrats.... Best of luck and stay safe.
06-09-2009, 03:59 PM #17
- Join Date
- Jan 2007
always be the first one from your shift to come in, if you have early risers on the opposite shift, get in before they get up. Have the coffee made and paper in before they get up.
When you get relieved, stick around and pour coffee for the on-coming shift until your shift leaves.
06-09-2009, 05:00 PM #18
- Join Date
- Jun 2009
@Callfbou - Thank you so much for all the advice. I already have a map of the city and have been studying streets and marking the stations and schools etc.
@Doug7899 - Thanks for the congrats, it is an AMAZING feeling. Now to get through the probie period Also thank you for the advice. It will happen for you someday. Best of luck to you.
@nameless - Thanks for the advice also, good stuff.
All of you helping me out makes me even more proud to be a firefighter. You guys are all an outstanding group of individuals.
06-09-2009, 05:20 PM #19
- Join Date
- Jun 2004
I am a big proponent of always having a pen a watch and what ever else your dept says you should be carrying. Wiping out a pen on a run when no one else has one makes you look good, having a watch with a back light feature or glow in the dark is huge. We do work at night and its not always great conditions.
Something I was taught that has turned out to be huge is to keep a riding list of who is working in the shifts around you. If you are working days keep a list of who is on that day, and who is coming in at night. Every one likes to know who is their relief and by having it you will look squared away.
Next piece of advice is to always admit a mistake, learn from it and try not to do it again. Your not going to know anything so the guys will expect you to mess up, don't try and make excuses just own up to it and move on. On that same topic you may be doing something at the firehouse lets say updating the riding roster or what ever (which is your job) and you forget to put down the next pot of coffee (which is your job) and the guys will yell or ride you for not doing it. DO NOT I REPEAT DO NOT give an excuse even if the excuse is a chore you were supposed to be doing. Just say sorry or I'll get it next time. Unless you are a complete *** they know you have other chores and are probably doing them but they break your balls just to see your character and how you will respond. Someone who always says I was doing "this or that" is going to get it worse and looked down upon. Smile and move on.
Always listen twice as much as you speak. Let your actions speak for you not your mouth. This does not mean you go about the firehouse dumb!!
If you want to learn something about a tool, you don't know step up and ask. It is a shame if you don't know what is on your rig and how to use it. That is the biggest let down or embarrassment a company can have. Know your rig know your tools and know how to use them. If you don't its no ones fault but your own and when the time comes for you to use it and you dont know how you put people and your company at risk. Don't be that guy!
Good luck and stay safe"Far better it is to dare mighty things than to take rank with the poor timid spirits, who know neither victory nor defeat." FDR
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