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Thread: What Traits do you Value in a Probie or FF?

  1. #1
    Forum Member Bushwhacker's Avatar
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    Default What Traits do you Value in a Probie or FF?

    Well Ladies and Gentleman After dragging my feet for the last 5 years I can Now Say That I am a Full Time, Union, Probie Fire Fighter. I Finally found a Job that will allow me to keep my seasonal position on the Wildland Side of the world, but keep me around the rest of the time. I am So Jacked Words Cant describe it, From my sight its the perfect job, but any how back to the question.

    What traits do you value in a probie, and do you wanna share any advice for me starting out?

    Thanks Guys, I appreciate the input. Hopefully a Wildland Guy Can figure this "structured life" with out too much trouble.
    Courage, Being Scared to Death and Saddling Up anyways.


  2. #2
    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    Get in to work early, be the first up and working and the last to sit down.

    Learn the rig you are assigned to. What all the tools are, how they operate, and especially how to maintain them. Once you have your rig down pat, learn all the rest of them in your house.

    Listen more than you talk, but don't be afraid to ask questions.

    Learn the job...this process never ends.
    JayDudley likes this.
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
    Millions of people living as foes
    Maybe it's not too late
    To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

  3. #3
    Forum Member conrad427's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Get in to work early, be the first up and working and the last to sit down.

    Learn the rig you are assigned to. What all the tools are, how they operate, and especially how to maintain them. Once you have your rig down pat, learn all the rest of them in your house.

    Listen more than you talk, but don't be afraid to ask questions.

    Learn the job...this process never ends.
    Uhhh.... Yep. Do like Fyred says and you will do fine. I have never met him but it sounds like he knows. Even for an old retired guy.

    Anyway, congratulations! I have a nasty farming habit that prevents me from full time firefighting, so yeah, I am more than a little jealous!
    As a Northern Rockies guy my self I have to feel bad for the others that don't live here. Hard to find better wildland work than out here!
    The fire service is about service to our fellow man.
    There is a trust that must not be broken and we are the keepers of that trust.
    Captain Dave LeBlanc

  4. #4
    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by conrad427 View Post
    Uhhh.... Yep. Do like Fyred says and you will do fine. I have never met him but it sounds like he knows. Even for an old retired guy.
    It's funny, when I started at the career FD I retired from I was 39 years old. Hardly a kid by any means, and I came from another casreer FD where I had 7 years in already. Yet during my first year there I did as I advised above. That frst year builds a big chunk of your reputation and do you want to be known as a slug or a hard charger? You may never live down being known as a slug.

    The last thing you want to say unsolicited in that first year is "Well, my old department didn't do it this way." You may get an unpleasant response like "Well, maybe you should go back there."
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
    Millions of people living as foes
    Maybe it's not too late
    To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

  5. #5
    Forum Member conrad427's Avatar
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    More good advice. I believe this is a good place to ask questions like the original poster's. When the senior guys stop yelling at us new guys there is usually good stuff to be found. I have no family history of firefighting so I never got to ask my Dad or uncle how I should interact with the members of the firehouse. Mostly trial and error for me and reading some of the rants on this site.

    I have found it difficult to incorporate into the VFD what I have learned from working for the state fire outfit. Every VFD seems to fight wildland fire differently than the next, but once you fight fire for the state or the feds it is hard to do things the "other way".
    It can be difficult to stay quiet but I have found it best to just keep working and do your best to be part of the team. Once I had started to prove myself as a reasonably good hand I began to offer suggestions as to what training might be helpful. I had a good relationship with the state training people from training I had attended outside the department and had been asked to help teach some classes. I let my actions speak and it has paid off for me.
    FF14 likes this.
    The fire service is about service to our fellow man.
    There is a trust that must not be broken and we are the keepers of that trust.
    Captain Dave LeBlanc

  6. #6
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    Some good advice to start above, some more things to consider:

    *Even if you know how to do something, focus on the way the senior FF or Lt. is instructing you and then do it, rather than say, "I got this and then do it wrong or differently". While there are hundreds of ways to do things, typically if you cut of the guy trying to show you, he'll find fault with your way and be far less likely to want to help you with other things.

    *If you don't know something, come clean, ask for guidance and learn it. Don't try and BS your way through something even something truly basic. (I'd never used a mop on my first day and had to be shown)

    *If you're asked something and the answer is not readily known or made clear, research the topic and bring it up later, showing you care enough about doing it right to not blow it off. Just don't come back with: "This is how it is done", ensure you always come across as the student.

    * Stay out of hot topic debates. There are generally two distinct sides, and taking one side over the other without knowing everything and the history could come back to bite you later. Few people are 100% right 100% of the time.

    *Respect the uniform regardless of what others look like. Look sharp and be professional, you've not earned the right to put out less than 100% at anything yet.

    * When you have free time, study the job, not your FB page the TV or Youtube videos.

    * Don't trust anyone with your darkest secrets. When you start you don't know everyone that well. You'll soon learn that telling someone you trust something allows them to tell those they trust, often times the lists are not the same.

    * Don't take things personally. Taking crap is part of the probie's job, how well you let things roll off your back is constantly being evaluated, there will be a time when you'll have the opportunity to have a retort, just not yet. If you let us see what ****es you off, you'll get more of the same tenfold.

    Make sure the guys/gals around you know you're a student that's willing to learn and eager for the lesson.
    Last edited by RFDACM02; 09-17-2013 at 10:13 AM. Reason: keyboard caused misspelled words
    conrad427 and FF14 like this.

  7. #7
    Forum Member conrad427's Avatar
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    I think the above is especially good advice for someone coming out of the wildland world to the structure side. A structure department brings a whole new set of challenges to over come, whether it is on the operations side to interacting with other firefighters. On the wildland side we all see the same training material put together by the NWCG. Pretty much only one way to skin a cat. Not so on the structure side. Doing things the way the dept. wants it done is essential to becoming part of the team.
    The fire service is about service to our fellow man.
    There is a trust that must not be broken and we are the keepers of that trust.
    Captain Dave LeBlanc

  8. #8
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    Being able to choose the best cakes and ice cream flavors to bring to the station.

    Seriously, I think the most important thing is that they show that they want to be there, and that this is something that is very important to them. I want them to show me that they are serious about performing the job.
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    Train to fight the fires you fight.

  9. #9
    Forum Member yjbrody's Avatar
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    Lotta good advice so far so I'll avoid repeating what others have already said.

    1) Seek out those that tell it like it is. In my experience being the new guy, people were afraid of giving me an honest critic because they didn't know me well and we've had some guys that went running to the chief when they got butt hurt. But if you can find a guy or guys that give you real feedback, as hard as it may be to swallow at times, you should continue to seek them out and not avoid them. These are the people that will push you to be better.

    2) Don't run to the chief if you get butt hurt.

    I know this isn't all departments, but just something that helped me. Good luck!
    Nothing is as unimpressive as someone who is unwilling to learn.

  10. #10
    Forum Member FWDbuff's Avatar
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    1. Early is on time. On time is late. And late is unforgivable.

    2. Eyes open, mouth SHUT unless to ask intelligent questions or where the brooms/mops/scrub brushes/buckets/cleaning solvents are located.

    3. Leave your laptop, Gameboy, Atari 2600, Xbox or whatever at HOME.

    4. Be the last to sit down to dinner, the first up (and INTO THE SINK) from dinner.

    5. Volunteer FIRST for EVERYTHING.

    6. Attend ALL company/house/Battalion/whatever picnics, dinners, dances, fishing trips, etc etc etc. Shows you want to be a part of the team.

    7. Learn the rig, and the location of each and every tool inside of each and every compartment.

    8. You should never, EVER be watching TV during your first year- always be studying your proby manuals, SOP's, Department Guidelines, studying the rig, studying the other rigs, cleaning the house, the kitchen, the watch desk, the offices, the apparatus floor, painting tools, cleaning compartments, etc etc etc etc. The ONLY time you should be watching TV is on a holiday and after you are invited to do so by the senior guys.

    9. There is a Unified Chain of Command. Learn it. Abide by it. Never violate it. When in doubt, ask your senior man.

    10. What happens on your shift and in your house stays on your shift and in your house.

    11. Volunteer to cook occasionally unless if one of the guys does it regularly. If you have a regular cook, volunteer to cook if he's on vacation or on a sick day. Volunteer to make or bring in desert on a regular basis. If you cannot cook, LEARN TO COOK. If you cannot learn to cook, you better have a hot girlfriend or wife- because you need to have her come in and cook when its your turn. Pay for your meals on time every time, don't become known as the mooching proby.

    12. Always volunteer for details to another firehouse.

    13. Always volunteer for overtime.

    14. Always volunteer to cover a senior guy for a few hours on xmas morning if you are already working xmas eve.

    15. Always cook dinner for everyone on your one-year anniversary or whenever you obtain non-probation status. And not hot dogs and beans, either. You cook surf and turf, or filet mignon.....Invite the Battalion Chief and the Deputy Chief and any other senior staff who may be on the operational level staffing when you are. You buy. Yes, you. It's tradition.

    16. Stay off your cell phone, this includes texting. She can wait.

    17. If you don't have something in your hands such as a dirty dish and a sponge, or a hand tool and a paint brush, or a dust brush, or a dust pan and brush, or a mop and bucket, or a proby manual, a mapbook of your local, an SOP manual for your department, or a spatula.......You are probably screwing off. A remote control should never, EVER be in your hands your first year.

    18. Pay your house tax or your house dues on time every time.

    GOOD LUCK KID.
    Last edited by FWDbuff; 09-17-2013 at 03:14 PM.
    JayDudley, yjbrody and FF14 like this.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

  11. #11
    Forum Member snowball's Avatar
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    I value the willingness to learn something and not forget it, in a probie. I value a positive attitude and a kind demeanor. I don't subscribe to berating and breaking a candidate down during drill school and the probationary term that follows. I didn't like it when it was being done to me, who am i to perpetuate it. Some see it as character building, but you should first be a good judge of character before you rearrange it in someone else. It's hard to respect a guy in the field that just a year ago was calling you names and trying to get you to fail out of drill school. Play the game, be a step and fetch it, study for your monthly, bi monthly, quarterly or yearly exams and by all means, have fun. This is the easiest job on the planet. You may p.m. me if you need any revenge pranks.
    conrad427 and FF14 like this.
    IAFF

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    1. Early is on time. On time is late. And late is unforgivable.

    2. Eyes open, mouth SHUT unless to ask intelligent questions or where the brooms/mops/scrub brushes/buckets/cleaning solvents are located.

    3. Leave your laptop, Gameboy, Atari 2600, Xbox or whatever at HOME.

    4. Be the last to sit down to dinner, the first up (and INTO THE SINK) from dinner.

    5. Volunteer FIRST for EVERYTHING.

    6. Attend ALL company/house/Battalion/whatever picnics, dinners, dances, fishing trips, etc etc etc. Shows you want to be a part of the team.

    7. Learn the rig, and the location of each and every tool inside of each and every compartment.

    8. You should never, EVER be watching TV during your first year- always be studying your proby manuals, SOP's, Department Guidelines, studying the rig, studying the other rigs, cleaning the house, the kitchen, the watch desk, the offices, the apparatus floor, painting tools, cleaning compartments, etc etc etc etc. The ONLY time you should be watching TV is on a holiday and after you are invited to do so by the senior guys.

    9. There is a Unified Chain of Command. Learn it. Abide by it. Never violate it. When in doubt, ask your senior man.

    10. What happens on your shift and in your house stays on your shift and in your house.

    11. Volunteer to cook occasionally unless if one of the guys does it regularly. If you have a regular cook, volunteer to cook if he's on vacation or on a sick day. Volunteer to make or bring in desert on a regular basis. If you cannot cook, LEARN TO COOK. If you cannot learn to cook, you better have a hot girlfriend or wife- because you need to have her come in and cook when its your turn. Pay for your meals on time every time, don't become known as the mooching proby.

    12. Always volunteer for details to another firehouse.

    13. Always volunteer for overtime.

    14. Always volunteer to cover a senior guy for a few hours on xmas morning if you are already working xmas eve.

    15. Always cook dinner for everyone on your one-year anniversary or whenever you obtain non-probation status. And not hot dogs and beans, either. You cook surf and turf, or filet mignon.....Invite the Battalion Chief and the Deputy Chief and any other senior staff who may be on the operational level staffing when you are. You buy. Yes, you. It's tradition.

    16. Stay off your cell phone, this includes texting. She can wait.

    17. If you don't have something in your hands such as a dirty dish and a sponge, or a hand tool and a paint brush, or a dust brush, or a dust pan and brush, or a mop and bucket, or a proby manual, a mapbook of your local, an SOP manual for your department, or a spatula.......You are probably screwing off. A remote control should never, EVER be in your hands your first year.


    18. Pay your house tax or your house dues on time every time.

    GOOD LUCK KID.
    Sorry to quote such a long post, but you hit it on the head.

    It's quite rare that a rookie can tick all those boxes but even if he came somewhere close, I'd be proud to call him my rookie. Equally important to this rookie is the crew that teaches him these things when he's fresh out the academy.

  13. #13
    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by snowball View Post
    I don't subscribe to berating and breaking a candidate down during drill school and the probationary term that follows. I didn't like it when it was being done to me, who am i to perpetuate it. Some see it as character building, but you should first be a good judge of character before you rearrange it in someone else. It's hard to respect a guy in the field that just a year ago was calling you names and trying to get you to fail out of drill school.
    I agree with you and I have disagreed with that approach at my former career FD. We aren't the Marines, and we don't need to break our recruits down to drones that mindlessly follow orders because of fear of reprisal. I don't believe that fear, threats, and loud use of profanity, are proper motivating or instructional styles for firefighters. I will admit that in the past, when I was angry Don, I used those methods myself. But I have found that people react much better to encouragement, and help, than being beaten down for mistakes. I do believe that every once in a while some motivational speaking may be needed if people repeatedly make the same mistakes.
    FF14 likes this.
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
    Millions of people living as foes
    Maybe it's not too late
    To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

  14. #14
    Forum Member Squad1LT's Avatar
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    Two things i look for in a probie is can i trust him and is he able to perform under pressure. The first part you can prove by doing your house duties to the best of your abilities. Make those toilets sparkle. If you half a** the little things then you will not be proving you are trustworthy when it will matter in more serious matters. And lastly find out what are your officer's expectations are and meet them. Every evaluating officer isn't the same. You need to make sure that you fulfill the expectations of your current officer who is evaluating and training you.

  15. #15
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    2) Don't run to the chief if you get butt hurt.
    To add to what YBrody posted... don't run to the union president hoping he will intervene if you get yelled at and/or reprimanded. Put on the big boy pants and man up.
    Last edited by DeputyChiefGonzo; 09-20-2013 at 02:43 PM.
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    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  16. #16
    Forum Member CaptOldTimer's Avatar
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    I posted this almost a year ago in the Probationary section

    It is still good even a year later.


    See this link for it.


    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/t125335/ (25 Tips for Probationary Firefighters)
    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

    Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

  17. #17
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    I'll just add, look at your departments culture.

    There are departments where they don't care who you are and what experience you bring. You know nothing and bring nothing of value to the department but an empty mind to be filled and a strong back to lug stuff around.

    On the other extreme there are departments that are used to bringing on experienced firefighters. They may be quick to pull from your past experiences for ideas and will expect you to step up and add to the conversation... to a point.

    Some have a set probationary period after which time you are basically a full fledged member of the department equal to most, others will treat you as the probie until they get the next batch even if you have been there for 10 years.

    It is important to figure this out and fit in. Once you overstep your bounds it is often hard to get back in, so always tread lightly.

    If you are offered the opportunity to add your input, be tactful, offer it as an idea, not "The idea".


    Personally the two things I really like to see in a new firefighter is a brain and a good work ethic. I hate having to follow someone around to fix the tasks they were assigned or to find work for them. If you don't know how to do something, ask. If someone takes the time to show you, pay attention. If the senior guys are working, you better be working too.
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  18. #18
    Forum Member Trkco1's Avatar
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    1) Show up early.
    2) Shut up and listen.
    3) Learn the job.
    4) Do Work!! Not just at a job but also around the house.
    5) Train and retain.
    6) When at work, leave home at home.
    7) When at home, Leave work at work.
    8) Stay away from Mutts.
    9) Enjoy the job.


    Good Luck and welcome to the brotherhood!!
    FTM-PTB-EGH-RFB-KTF

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    heard this is a great book to read:


    http://rookiethebook.com/

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