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  1. #1
    Forum Member RescuHoppy7's Avatar
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    Default Need some advice from my "elders"

    Ok I'm some serious need of advice, I'm 19 and a fire lieutenant in my department and I'm seriously getting tired of getting absouletly no respect, at fire scenes I'll ask someone to do something and they'll grumble, walk away and ask someone else what they want them to do, the chief officers never ask me for any input or advice and I do more than training than any other officer and yet I'm looked over when it comes to asking someone for help. What do I do? I just wanna explode and scream.
    NYS FF1/AEMT-CC
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  2. #2
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    Hey hoppy, I'm sorry to hear that, I think any officer deserves some type of respect!
    On the other hand, I don't understand what a 19 year old is doing as an officer. How much experience can one have at 19, I'm only 21 and would never even imagine myself as an officer... not yet anyways. The youngest officer in my dept is 26, then the rest of the officers are in their middle 30s and up.
    No wait, one of the companies just recently put someone in the officer position that is my age. Unfortunately he only has like 2 years on the dept. IMHO he has no business in that position and I think the people that voted him in are fools. He does not get any respect from anyone in the dept either.
    I think the only way for you to get respect is with time and obviously experience.. but I'm sure some of the crusties on here could give A LOT better answer than mine.

  3. #3
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    Default I dont mean to be degrading

    Officer @ 19 i do not agree with. all the schooling in the world cannot take the place of life experiences.A 19 year old dosnt have the experience. in the fire service or life in general. i hope things improve for you But remember:
    RESPECT IS EARNED , NOT DEMANDED.
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  4. #4
    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    Hoppy....I will be the first to admit that 19 is mighty young to be an officer, but someone put you in that position (I hope) and if that person was the Chief why dont you just see him/her in the office and explain you are trying to do the job you have charge over but dont think that it is full circle and then go into your concerns about him/her with that person. As far as the troops go ..........you may not be "crusty" enough for some of them and you will have to work harder than most due to your age and perhaps lack of experience /time on the job. Also, you wanna blow up and explode, do it privately, NEVER in front of the members, or any shred of respcet you may have will certainly circle the potty...........good luck and I hope this helped.
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  5. #5
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Hey Mike................

    While I know nothing about your department, I got a hunch that you ended up with a job that no one else had a real desire to do. As an OLD person (62) I can tell you that there are people who just don't want to hear it from a younger person. My first stab at being an officer was a year as a lieutenant when I was 21, and quite frankly, I was happy when the year ended. Coming back to take another try at it, at 26, was a whole different ball game. I did much better at it then, and went on to become a paid officer the following year at the department that I worked for. There is a lot of hard work, training, experience, dedication, and yes, even a few tears, involved in becoming a good officer. The best one liner that comes to mind is "Rome wasn't built in a day", and that speaks volumes to what it takes to be an officer. I've read a lot of your posts, and you have a head on your shoulders, and a desire to do well. You can't choose your environment though, and you'll have to adapt. And you will. No question. You will do very well in the years ahead, if you take your time, watch your step, and never lose sight of your goal. Best Wishes, Stay Safe....
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  6. #6
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    Hi Hoppy,

    Hang in there bud... My son was made a lieutenant at 19 and went through much the same things you are going through. He is now 21 and things are getting better for him.

    My kid has an extremely good head on his shoulders for this type of work and proves it on every scene. I trust his decisions more than ones made by most of my more experienced personnel. While it is diffucult to substitute for experience, sometimes quick thinking combined with common sense and training win. Experience is only as good as the decisions you make because of it.

    I too believe that 19 is young for an officer position. I'm guessing your dept. is vollie and someone made you an officer because they saw a lot of potential in you. Part of being an officer is learning how to work together with your team.

    Good Luck.....

  7. #7
    Forum Member CaptOldTimer's Avatar
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    Exclamation

    Well I agree with the older guys in here. Being 19 and being a Lt. is pretty young. I am guessing that this is a volunteer department and you came on a little younger and may have been on for 5 years so so.

    I have been in the fire service for almost 42 years. I have seen a lot of young guys come up. I was 36 and had been on the job for 12 years when I got promoted to Lt.

    Most paid departments can not hire member under 18. So if this was the case and you were on a paid department, the earlist you could sit for a Lt's job would be 4 years after you passed probation. This would give you a miminum of 5 years on the job with the department. This is our policy. It doesn't matter if you were a paid firefighter with resume speed fire dept or another large dept. You have to be with our dept for the mininum.

    All our officers, beginning with Lt.'s get an officers course. Thisnincludes but not limited to NFPA Fire Instructor 1, All the supervision courses that the National Fire Academy has for officers, plus any that the city and dept offers. It takes our new Lt's about 3 months or longer to get all this education.

    The other members that you superivise may resent you for being a young shave tail. We have had a few young guys make Lt. right out of the box when thay just had less than 6 years and they had a hard time trying to fit in with some older guys.

    I had a young Lieutenant in Vietman, when I was in the Marines that was 22 years old. I was all of 18. Yes he was young but the Marines made sure he was trained to do his job and the mem respected him. Of course we had to or else. The fire service isn't like the military service. This guy retired as a General Officer a few years back!

    You have to earn respect to get respect. Be fair but firm. Don't horse play and know what you are saying when you say it.

    Enroll in your local college in fire science courses and try to get all the National Fire Academy courses you can get.

    Keep up your good work and study hard.


    Take care.

  8. #8
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    I'm part of a volunteer dept. and i'd have to say we have a very young membership, partly because 10 guys live there full time, and partly because most of our members move on the paid depts. because we get really great training. I have a 65 year old lt, a 21 year old lt, a 23 year old lt, 23 year old capt, and they all do an amazing job. you can learn as much from the younger guys and the older ones, everyone has soemthing new to show you, and a different way of doing things. As far as respect goes, show them the respect they deserve, and you should get yours, but you have to earn it. Remember, you're not there to hang out, these are guys that have to trust you with their lives. Keep training, make some bonds with these guys, and you'll do fine. and don't forget there's a lot you can learn from them too, let them teach you.
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  9. #9
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    Default You are not alone

    I am a 21 year old lieutenant. I have been actively fighting fires since I was 18. I have been on almost every fire scene the department has had since I was 10. I learned alot from just watching everything operate and listening to stories.

    Everyone always snickers when I tell them i am a lietenant. The next question out of their mouths is "how old are you?" That should make no difference as long as they get the job done. I never ask a chief how old they are. I understand that experience very helpful. But I also believe current training is important. Almost every weekend I am in class learning something new.

    I took me a long time to gain the respect from the older members. Not only am I the youngest guy on the department but also an officer. Trust me it does get better. I like the post by Weruj1 about not losing your temper in front of the guys. There has been many times I have just wanted to toss the whole thing in. But remember someone put you in there. The majority of the members and the township placed me in there. Its getting alot better now so good luck in the future and remember it gets better.

  10. #10
    MembersZone Subscriber ChiefReason's Avatar
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    RescuHoppy7:
    This is a subject near and dear to my heart. There have been many threads here on this very issue.
    And by the tone of your post, you make the argument for those who believe that 19 is too young for an officer, because what your post says to me is that you are IMPATIENT.
    But really; what you are asking for, only Time can give you. To be an officer at 19, you are going to have to work harder than anyone else. You are going to have to be better than anyone else. You will have to be perfect, because if you aren't, they will tell you that you are too young and inexperienced. You will have to be more resilient than everyone else, because some of them are going to take their shots at you. They will tell you that you didn't deserve to be an officer. They will tell you that they have kids older than you and that their kids don't tell them what to do. They will tell you that you were a fool for taking on such a role of responsibility at such a young age. They will set their little stumbling blocks, hoping that you trip. No one will give you a hand getting up. You will have to be nails tough. You will have to tell yourself that you love what you do, even though some of them will hate you for it. You will have to excel in your leadership skills even if they don't want to follow. You will have to use subtlety and diplomacy until your experience kicks in. If you can't push them, then pull them. You will show them strength not in how much you can lift, but how much you can lift an entire department to a higher level of preparedness and you will do it with your strength of character. You won't quit because they win and the fire district loses. You don't want it to be easy, because then you would be lazy. Use what you have now to motivate you. Think of what could happen if you don't continue your dream. Because, even when I was going through alot of what you are now, I couldn't bring myself to that point where I would turn everything in and walk away.
    No; the rewards are worth all the crap you'll take, because it isn't always going to be like that. Others will realize that they want to be more like you and when that happens, you have earned their respect.
    You have mine. See you at the meeting.
    CR
    Last edited by ChiefReason; 02-25-2004 at 07:53 PM.
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  11. #11
    Forum Member RescuHoppy7's Avatar
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    Thanks to everyone who responded, I printed out your responses and have them on my desk as a reminder of what the rewards will be for sticking it out.
    NYS FF1/AEMT-CC
    IAEP Local 152
    "You stopped being in charge when I showed up"

  12. #12
    MembersZone Subscriber mcaldwell's Avatar
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    Default

    Wow, I certainly can't top the advice that CR just gave you kid.

    That is a perfect example of experience talking. Heed those words and you'll do fine.
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

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  13. #13
    Forum Member fftrainer's Avatar
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    Default

    Mike --

    Just deal with it, it gets better. I had similar problems when I became Lt. at 28 (let alone 19) Part of my problem came from the bitterness stemming from the 'sore loser' who didn't get the job, but that's a whole nother issue.

    There were times in my first year that guys would ask each other what should we do next (despite that fact that I was standing right there witht them) I took Chief Reason's advice regarding pulling vs. pushing your guys and it worked. When it was 95 degrees in july, i was in full gear running command at an interstate mva. When i was draggin ***** after a long call at 03:30, i was back at the station on top of an engine racking clean hose and putting equipment back in service. Believe it or not, it looks like it worked! When the captain's position opened, I was moved up in rank un-opposed and now at 30, guys actually turn to me "Hey Cap, whadda you need, where do you want us?"

    They will come around, just don't let your frustration be visible. If your guys are anything like mine, once they find a nick in the armor, they beat on it until they wear you out.

    Good luck and stay safe!

  14. #14
    Forum Member tripperff's Avatar
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    Default

    I have to echo what most have said. Even with your experience as an explorer I think 19 is still a little too young to be in a position of authority over personnel who are older and more experienced than you. I'll admit I'd have a tough time taking orders from someone with that much less experience than I have. I do however believe that if you were placed in that position you do deserve some respect. Anyone who ignores your orders completely and asks someone else needs to be reminded of the chain of command and the place they chose to be in it. If they think they can do the job better then they should have run for the spot. I would suggest you discuss the situation with the chief and ask him or someone between you and him in the chain to monitor the situation so they become aware of the breakdown. I'm sure somewhere on the application to join the Fire Dept. you have to agree to answer to the orders of the elected officers, I know ours does.
    Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.

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  15. #15
    Senior Member hotboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: I dont mean to be degrading

    Originally posted by NCMEDIC749
    Officer @ 19 i do not agree with. all the schooling in the world cannot take the place of life experiences.A 19 year old dosnt have the experience. in the fire service or life in general. i hope things improve for you But remember:
    RESPECT IS EARNED , NOT DEMANDED.
    Not trying to blow sunshine up my butt, But whoever is the best man for the job deserves it. Youth in command is really a good way to keep older guys on their feet. I have been in the fire service over 20 yrs. When I first became a line officer at 19 I had problems with the majority of the senior members. No one wants a younger person who they felt was still wet behind the ears, giving them command. They could not respect my position because I was a young buck,with certifications appointed by the Chief and his line officers. When I was managing a fire scene I got more respect from mutual aid companies and my juniors than from my own senior members. I was nominated for Fire Chief at the age of 24, I declines the position due to the internal segregation(it was everywhere). We had a big problems with the older guys vs the younger. The older guys had their clique we had ours. We made them aware that we are the future of this company so they have to get use to it.A year later I talked one of my high school classmates (who joined a couple of months after me) into running for Chief, I nominated him he won the election. See training is imparative. We made it a point to stay in fire school, every time a course came up at least 7 of us were attending. So we had 7 in one class maybe 5 in another and a few in another, we kept Delaware County Community College non credit fire courses and Delco Emergency Service training center full of our firefighters. When the older guys seen that we were for real some of them start attending classes. We use to lie to them and tell them that this class we just complete is about become a state mandated course. We got some of them on our side the others gradually fell off.In the long run they still despised us because of our youthfulness. Those guys could not of told you what a fire tetrahedron was(I think thats spelled right) Now we are here 20 yrs later. I can say this, us younger guys we were about change for the betterment of the company. The older they were just satisfied. The Chief told us younger ones that the only way we can make a change is fire school, go to as much training as you can, and take over the department. We did. There is no more internal segregation about youth verses seniority, We are all on the same page. When I joined we had about 20 active sr members with 16 juniors, All except for the ones who got married and move away are still here. We have 60 active members 80% of that are active firefighters. Iam now 36 I have been Lt,Capt,2nd Asst Chief,1st Asst Chief,Safety Officer,Deputy Chief,And nominated for District Fire Marshal. The Chief of my company is 34 and he was a Junior under my supervision. We(young bucks)took over the company. And we make it a point to keep these younger guys involved. We tell them either you wanna be here or you dont,If they wanna be here,we want them here if not we show them the door. They now have a lot to work that was not given to us. Bottom line is stay on the right trac get your schooling, the older guys will see that you are with the program. Just be a leader. He'll come around.
    Last edited by hotboy; 03-01-2004 at 05:13 AM.
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