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Thread: Dealing With Probationary Firefighter Jinx (busy firehouse turned slow)

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    Default Dealing With Probationary Firefighter Jinx (busy firehouse turned slow)

    Okay, I am not a superstitious person and I never believed in "jinx." But as a brand new firefighter, I have encountered a situation that seems to defy any other explanation. Two months ago I was hired as a probationary firefighter for a large midwest fire department (750 members) and assigned to one of the top 3 busiest firehouses in the city. This house always sees a good deal of fire and other emergencies, and I was told this would be a great place to get some experience early in my career.

    The problem is that ever since I started, my shift hasn't seen one good working fire in over two months! But most of the other firehouses in the adjoining battalions are running their behinds off. Besides that, the firehouse has been relatively slow overall. To add insult to injury, I recently took a personal day off to attend a wedding...and of course my shift caught a major working fire that day.

    Beginning to think there is a jinx involved. Have any of you (at larger and busy departments) ever encountered this before? Is this typical? Or am I just making a big deal out of nothing...


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    Big deal out of nothing. Your turn will come. It always does.

    PS Once your turn comes, take a look around at the devastation caused by the fire. Even if no one is hurt or killed, the owners/occupants will be some seriously miserable people. We should be careful when it comes to hoping to go to fires. It's not really about us.
    BoxAlarm187 likes this.

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    Thanks for the feedback. I understand your perspective about how fires and other emergencies impact real people. Trust me, I know first hand. My wish is not for someone's house to catch fire. Heck, a good percentage of the fires that occur in my city are in vacant/unoccupied structures anyway. It's just that I'm new and I want to work. I am assigned to a ladder company and I want to utilize my training before I forget the little bit I learned in academy (the whole "use it or lose it" concept). And again, I'm not wishing hardship on anyone. But hardships do happen and we're in the business of responding when they occur...I just want to be able to respond.

    Thanks for addressing my question though. And you're right, its not about us.

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    Jinxes are nonsense and that is that.

    Frankly, if you are afraid if you don't use it you will lose it at this stage in your career I would be talking to your officer about doing some additional drills. Or at the very least doing some additional training on your own to keep your skill level up.

    My attitude about going to calls was simply this...I never wished hardship on anyone, or prayed for a call, but if they were going to happen anyways I wanted my chance to be there to help.
    FDEngine likes this.
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    Be careful for what you wish for

    Seems in our dept rookie starts and fires go up

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    My attitude about going to calls was simply this...I never wished hardship on anyone, or prayed for a call, but if they were going to happen anyways I wanted my chance to be there to help.
    My thoughts exactly. Also, I want to be proficient at my job. And firefighting is no different than any other job in that proficiency comes with practice and repetition. I have been drilling and doing what I can to simulate fireground scenarios.

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    Since you have time in your hands start studying for Captain test

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    Quote Originally Posted by maverick80 View Post
    The problem is that ever since I started, my shift hasn't seen one good working fire in over two months!
    Quote Originally Posted by maverick80 View Post
    To add insult to injury, I recently took a personal day off to attend a wedding...and of course my shift caught a major working fire that day.
    Welcome to the fire service. Every one of us has thought (or experienced) the same thing in our careers.
    DFW



    "There's no such thing as a free lunch."

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    Quote Originally Posted by dfwfirefighter View Post
    Welcome to the fire service. Every one of us has thought (or experienced) the same thing in our careers.
    Yep - when I was first promoted to lieutenant back in '07, I took three personal days that year, and my engine ran a 2nd alarm fire (first due) on each one of those days. Some days you're the windshield, some days you're the bug...

    At my current assignment, we got three rookies (one to each shift) from the last recruit school. A's shifts rookie hasn't done anything but a car fire, while the other two have each had a couple of "real" fires. It's all in how the calls are received.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
    Yep - when I was first promoted to lieutenant back in '07, I took three personal days that year, and my engine ran a 2nd alarm fire (first due) on each one of those days. Some days you're the windshield, some days you're the bug...

    At my current assignment, we got three rookies (one to each shift) from the last recruit school. A's shifts rookie hasn't done anything but a car fire, while the other two have each had a couple of "real" fires. It's all in how the calls are received.
    From your observation, has the disparity in the volume and types of calls between the rookies at your assignment had a noticeable impact on their professional development or skill level?

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    Let's talk fire trucks! BoxAlarm187's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maverick80 View Post
    From your observation, has the disparity in the volume and types of calls between the rookies at your assignment had a noticeable impact on their professional development or skill level?
    None at all.

    As the station captain, I get a chance to work with all three shifts on a rotating basis, so I get to observe the progress of all members of all shifts. We're in a very busy station that has historically weeded out those who can't make it - and the ones left (especially the supervisors) are very task-oriented, motivated individuals. They make sure that the other members of the shift are always training and being prepared for that next fire or emergency.

    I have no doubt that when that particular rookie gets his first "real" fire, he'll be MORE than adequately prepared for it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fire49 View Post
    Be careful for what you wish for

    Seems in our dept rookie starts and fires go up
    Yep, that sort of thing reminds me of the NYFD rookie that they were doing a documentary on. Things were REALLY slow, then he got his first fire, 9/11.....

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    White cloud syndrome is cyclical, it will go away then return. You're taking the heat for the slump because you're the FNG. Just think of how much you're saving in fire loss dollars.
    Trkco1 and conrad427 like this.
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    Pardon my ignorance, but what exactly do you mean by "white cloud syndrome"?

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    This seems to happen with me at my volunteer department. When im home watching tv no tones but when im at work we get toned for working house fires, car fires etc. I always say "some luck i have" but at times i take a step back and say who is the one that is an unfortunate situation now? It is that of the person who has major damage to their house but as many stated we don't wish that to happen to anyone's house or car or any of their belongings my logic is just that if it is going to happen i just hope im around for it. Some friendly advice from senior guys at my department is not to worry there will always be more and that is true. Not to worry, there will be more.

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    When I was working on upgrading my EMT to ALS, I was doing ride time with a local commercial ambulance company (as did most of the students in the class). I'm sure my crew enjoyed their "days off," because while other student ride-alongs were getting lots of hands on, we just kinda hung out. We did get a couple of "decent calls," but not as many as would have been nice for the experience.

    Of course, this falls into the same category as hoping for a fire - somebody has to be having a bad day, and we really don't want to wish that on anyone.

    Part and parcel with such phenomenon is the "they come in threes" thing.

    During one of my stints as chief here, I followed a chief who had had no structure fires in our district over the two years he was in office. I had three in just a few months after I took over. Made me wonder if someone might try to tie the increase in fires with my taking office together.... (And no, I didn't have anything to do with them beyond putting them out...)
    Last edited by tree68; 10-01-2013 at 11:52 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by snowball View Post
    White cloud syndrome is cyclical, it will go away then return. You're taking the heat for the slump because you're the FNG. Just think of how much you're saving in fire loss dollars.
    Quote Originally Posted by maverick80 View Post
    Pardon my ignorance, but what exactly do you mean by "white cloud syndrome"?
    Skip the White Cloud reference.... You should be more concerned what FNG is.
    FTM-PTB-EGH-RFB-KTF

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    Its kind of weird the way it works sometimes. I am not a superstitious person, but some of my co-workers are. One time when I was the FNG, we were working on some of the engines when I mused half to myself that we sure had been slow for a while. (60-120 straight fire calls a year, no ems.) We ran three calls in about seven hours, stopping just long enough to fuel the engines. Being a large FNG no one grabbed my shirt collar or anything but I saw that some of the guys were upset with me. I was happier than a pig in poop to be running but I got the talk from the Chief about how it is good to be running for a FNG to get experience, but someone had to have a really bad day for that to happen. The message stuck with me. Be grateful for the experience but never loose respect for the fact that someone has just had a huge loss, maybe even one that cant be replaced.
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