1. #1
    Junior Member

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    Nov 2002
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    Forsyth, IL 62535
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    Default New Firefighter Training

    We have just taken on a new firefighter that we are having a few problems with. This person has been on for three months and is just finishing the Firefighter II class that our department runs new recruits through. This person is in his mid-thirties and has never been involved in firefighting before. Our problem is this person thinks he already knows everything there is to know about firefighting. This becomes a problem somewhat on scenes, but is normally taken care of by the IC. There is more of a problem in training where I, the training officer, will find this person explaining a subject to another firefighter at the same time I am trying to teach it. I have told him to listen to me when we are training, but it just doesn't seem to work. He even puts off the vibe that he knows more than anyone on the dept. Any suggestions on how to deal with this? Thanks for your help

  2. #2
    Forum Member

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    Jul 2001
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    These types of people can be very difficult to deal with. It is very much like diffusing a bomb. If you approach to hard things get worse. I have always found that if I, either as an instructor or as a peer, take the person aside on a coffee break or over lunch and try to calmly explain the dynamics of the firehall and the classroom. Let him/her know that they are a valuable resource(unless of course they are full of s@#t). During classroom discussions or hands on activities, try to get this person involved as much as possible. You are not trying to embarrass him, you are just giving him a temporary platform to show his stuff. With some people this will simply shut them down as they will be the type to create quiet rebellions in the corner but are not confident enough to bring it into the open. For the ones who are confident, being put up in front of the class to present or help present a topic may give him a better appreciation for your role as the instructor or senior firefighter. If all else fails take him out back and beat the hell out of him.

  3. #3
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    This is an area to be quite cautious... Like teaching a child, they must be instructed without being demeaned, but that must also be weighed against the potential for disaster if a 'hotshot' like that decides that he knows better than anyone when on a fireground. This creates the potential for him to do something to endanger himself, and then you're endangered trying to save him. Do you have some kind of a 'buddy' system for new recruits on the fireground, so that at the most dangerous times there is someone (besides IC) to control him?

    As simple as it sounds, my first step would be to set him down in an informal setting (like over a cup of coffee) and make sure that he understands that the most important thing on the fireground is teamwork, and that the number one priority is NOT saving the structure, but making sure that everyone there gets home safely. He's probably been wanting to be in the fire service since he was 5 years old, and he's finally realized his dream. The potential can be there for a good firefighter, but he needs to realize that he can't be Superman, and that you can't learn if you don't listen.
    Volunteer/Paid on Call/Full time - we're all professionals. Be careful and stay safe.

  4. #4
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    USA
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    I am presuming you are a vollie dept. If so, here are my thoughts.

    Call him into your office. Make him sit on the little metal chair while you look over at him from behind the desk. Take your time, pretend to read his personel file while he waits for you.

    then when he gets good and anxious, ask him to shut the door and have a seat.

    Go through his training record, identify his strengths first, and then point out his weaknesses.

    Explain that if he ever interrups class or a training session again you will be left with no choice but to send him home after he is given an 1 3/4 enima.

    Take no crap from a proby, tell him he has not earned the right to speak the way he does, act the way he does, and that his behavior is going to hurt his own development in the department as the other ff are going to resent his attitude. Tell him he has time to change that perception, but that he is going down the wrong path.

    Explain that as an officer it is your job to give him this speech and that he better listen because it is only given once.

    Then, explain his limitations on scene and the dangers of thinking that he knows everything. Give him a war story about the guy who knew everything and got someone ELSE hurt.

    Don't coddle the man, treat him like one, tell him to knock it off and start acting like a team member.

    finish with a plan on how he is to improve, and offer to talk to him again on more training.

    Give him a list of classes he needs to take in all kinds of areas. Then send him out to those classes. When he goes to those classes, he just might discover he does not know it all. You are no longer an expert to him as you are not 5 miles out of town. So send him away. When he starts hearing those other instructors say the same things you are saying....the light bulb should go off.

    It does not hurt to call the other instructors and tell them that a message needs to be sent .....

    Just some thoughts.

    If you are paid, forget everything I just said, because I don't know how those guys would handle it.

    good luck.
    If you can keep your head about you, while those around you are losing theirs, then you will be a man my son.

    Rudyard Kipling.

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