Thread: Just Hired

  1. #1
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Nov 2004

    Talking Just Hired

    Hey everyone

    I have just been accepted into the Baltimore City Fire Departments Academy as a Firefighter/Paramedic apprentice. It's been a dream of mine to work in the fire service, and finally realizing that dream is amazing. I do have a question...what is the academy like? Im just curious what other departments put their guys through.


  2. #2
    Forum Member
    DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Somewhere between genius and insanity!


    The Academy is what you make of it. Sit back, listen, learn and it will be a great experience. Take the "been there, done that" or "why is this relevant " attitude... it will be a long 11 or so weeks!

    Remember...the learning process does not stop there.
    ‎"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

  3. #3
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    CALFFBOU's Avatar
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    Sep 2002

    Default Fire Academy...

    I cant say I know anything about the Baltimore academy.
    It seems the rules and environment is the same from
    coast to coast.

    I have post the below list a few times in here and it
    seems to do the trick. I would recommend printing it
    out and studying it a few times.



    The following guidelines will help you be a successful recruit on the Torrance Fire Department. Many of you have various levels of experience and training which will be valuable to the Torrance Fire Department in the near future. But as a recruit (new employee), your probationary period will be much more pleasant if you can demonstrate patience in displaying your talents and skill until you’ve learned what we want you to know.


    1. Do ask questions if you do not understand.
    2. Do take every opportunity to help to help one another develop into a team.
    3. The “Double Time Trot” is accepted mode of transportation from one place to another while outdoors.
    4. Tardiness or unexpected absenteeism will not be tolerated in the fire service, period. Better to be a hour early than a minute late.
    5. Arriving for duty unprepared will demonstrate the qualities necessary for a new career elsewhere.
    6. A lack of aggressiveness in manipulative work will shorten your basic training period significantly.
    7. Disregard for safety will get you canned.
    8. Standing with your hands in your pockets will raise questions about your respect for authority and your level of attention.
    9. Profanity and/or spitting on the ground will get you a job with someone else.
    10. If it doesn’t move, clean it. If it does move, address it as “Sir”.
    11. Don’t attempt to socialize with regular members of the department during the basic training period.
    12. Show respect for all co-workers at all times.
    13. Hustle, shine and always look good.

  4. #4
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Nov 2004



    You are right, those are probably the univeral requirements across the nation. I know those make up most of the rules around here.

  5. #5
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    San Francisco Bay Area

    Default Fire Academy

    Adding on what great information CALFFBOU has presented here:

    The purpose of this information is to keep you from repeating the errors others have made keeping them from gaining a badge.

    Just because you passed the physical agility doesn’t mean you are ready for the fire academy. Whether you agree or not, the physical agility has been watered down to be politically correct. Departments know this. So, the training division is going to put you through the wringer to make sure you can do the job before you go on line.
    Showing up at the academy is not the time to start getting ready. You need to be in shape and hit the ground running. I often get calls from candidates asking what do I do now? They have been let go from the academy. It’s tough enough getting a job. Keeping it can be a challenge. If you are let go by one department, it is going to be difficult if not impossible to get another department to take a chance on you.

    “The worst mistake is to have the best ladder at the wrong wall.” Donald Rumsfeld Secretary of Defense, USA

    It’s not just the physical part. You have to pass every segment of the academy including the final test to demonstrate you can function in the field. It’s not uncommon to have a group of candidates let go in the final two weeks of the academy because they can’t master ladder throws, repel or operate the equipment. More than one candidate has been let go because they couldn’t start the chain saw, operate the jaws or struggled on the drill ground in the final test.

    As CaptainGonzo pointed out nothing will **** of the training staff more than you telling them a better way to do something. How you did it in your FF1 academy, reserve or other department. The only task you need to focus on is how they do it in this department. Training divisions are their own kingdoms. This is not a democracy! You have no time or opinion.

    It is devastating to be let go, especially if you have already been through a college fire academy. You have been dropped as your classmates are getting dressed up in their class A uniforms (about the only time they will ever wear it, except for funerals) heading for their badge ceremony.

    It starts with instructors from the academy taking you aside and pointing out the problems you are having. If you don’t improve, they will meet you again with other members of the training staff and document the meeting. The writing is on the wall if things don’t improve. Candidates that get to this point start to panic. This can affect their other skills. Things they already know and have mastered become difficult. Instead of dropping back and taking a different mindset, they start to panic and withdraw. Too many candidates in this situation would rather go below and fall on their sword before they will ask for help. This is the time to ask for help, extra training, and check in with those who have gone before them. I usually get the call after they have taken the option to resign instead of being fired. My first question is why didn’t you call me earlier? Well, I didn’t think it was that bad.

    Here are some of the incidents where candidates were let go:

    A candidate shows up at an academy overweight even though he knows they will run 3 miles a day, he can’t. Result. They run him into the ground the first week.

    Another candidate is given an order to get a Philips screwdriver from the toolbox. After several minutes at the toolbox, he admits he doesn’t know what a Philips screwdriver is. Hard to believe. Oh, I forgot, they have dropped the mechanical aptitude from the written and added in psych questions. Result: Lack of mechanical ability cost this candidate a badge.

    Even though this candidate had been through two academies, he starts having trouble with ladder throws. He has done this successfully 100’s of times. But, now he starts doing a mind screw on himself. It gets worse. He is counseled. Then again. Result: Booted from the academy. The good news is we worked with this candidate, regrouped, he got in better shape, worked out a reasonable explanation, accepting the blame, why it happened and would never happen again. He was picked up by another agency and is wearing a badge.

    Another recruit knew he had to lose weight for the academy. He did not reach his goal. His weight caught up with him trying to hump hose up the tower with a SCBA. Result: Got his marching orders because he didn’t have the wind to complete this tough academy. Good news again. Regrouped, lost the weight and convinced a department with an easier academy he would be an asset.

    Trying to come back and rejoin this candidate’s academy too early after a drill tower accident only made the injury worse. When the recruit could not keep up and refused to accept the opportunity to go through the next academy was let go. Another one of those, why didn’t you call me first beauties. Even a lawsuit did not regain a chance at a badge.

    A candidate did call me when he was having problems repelling off the tower. He would get upside down just before the net. A little mind drill exercise corrected the problem.

    You can find more on testing secrets in the Career Article section from the Jobs drop down menu just above this posting.

    It's one thing to get an opportunity to gain a badge, it's another trying to keep it.

    "Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

    Fire "Captain Bob" Author, Becoming A Firefighter


  6. #6
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    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    San Francisco Bay Area

    Default Bad Call

    I got a call yesterday that I wanted to share with all of you looking to be a firefighter. It was one of those calls that are not fun, but I get them from time to time. Someone got let go during probation. Usually it isn’t a person I talked to in the past, but they call Capt Bob and myself out of desperation.

    This call was typical of the calls I get. They most always start off with “I don’t know what happened, everything was going great, and then they fired me”. As I ask questions and dig into it, I find that these guys do know what happened, and in almost all cases it comes down to attitude.

    When I get the call from people I have coached, saying they got the job, I could not be happier for them. But after I congratulate them, I make a point of telling them, “you do not have that job yet until you are done with the academy and off of probation, you could be let go for anything.” We will usually work with a person that is a little slow with the academics and mechanical things. But if we see any kind of attitude problem, you will find yourself out the door before you know it.

    The problem is that we are a para-military organization. Most people in our society are not familiar with how things work in that kind of setting. Let me spell it out for those of you who do not know. We are the “para”; you are in the “military”. While we do not yell at you like a Marine Corps drill instructor, we expect you to behave like you are a Marine Corps boot.

    Some of the things I have heard that have gotten people in trouble in an academy where: Asking to make a phone call to check on car repairs, having a cell phone ring during a class, falling asleep in class, suggesting they change the plan for the day because it is nicer to run in the morning and so hot in the afternoon, having a friend show up to see what is happening, the recruits going as a group for beer after class in department shirts, and not helping struggling class mates when the opportunity arises.

    If you are in an academy, or on probation, and somebody comes to you with criticism here is how you are to handle it. You stand at parade rest, legs slightly apart and hands behind your back. You keep you ears open and your mouth closed. If they do not ask you for an explanation, do not give them an excuse, you will sound defensive and you will make that person upset. It is sufficient to say, “I am sorry, it will never happen again. Thank you for taking the time to point that out to me.” Think of all criticism as being constructive. It may not always be delivered to you in a nice manner, but that is life.

    In every one of the cases I have heard of, they all have one thing in common. At some point, during training or probation, that person was identified as a problem, sometimes of no fault of his or her own. But once you are on the radar, the microscope comes out, and they are watching you. It is a huge up hill battle to even stay in the game at this point. The term I have heard from almost all of them is, “… and after that happened, it seemed like I could not do anything right”.

    The training academy and probation are a stressful time. It is also a time that most of us look back upon with fond memories. Make the most of the chance, if you get it, because you probably will not get a second one. Keep your attitude a positive one, and solicit constructive criticism when you can. Keep ahead of the game. Be the first to start cleaning up, and then ask if there is anything else you can do. Call people sir and mam, kiss every *** you see, and know you are not in, until you are in. But once you are in, you are in for life, and that is pretty special.

    Good Luck, Captain Rob

  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber
    bolivas203's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Brighton, CO USA


    "Keep your ears open twice as much as your mouth." I forget where this originated from.

    Those are great words of wisdom from CALFFBOU too!!

    BTW Congratulations!!
    Stay alert and be safe.

  8. #8
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    MD & NJ


    I wouldn't worry about what other dept's do in thier academy. Balto. City will do what it wants to do. I hope that you have been working out, including cardio. You also better like riding the medic too, thier will be lots of that. So take your EMT-I class very seriously and study hard. Good luck.
    When Life Is On The Line. We Are Never Off Duty.

  9. #9
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jun 2002


    In addition to the other suggestions, I offer this one.


    As one who has taught many academies, nothing is more frustrating than to see an otherwise good candidate fail the state exam. Some on this forum will argue that a book never put out a fire. They are right. Unfortunately, you may never get the opportunity to put out a fire if you don't hit the books. Ask questions. Form study groups with your fellow recruits. Meet with the instructor one-on-one. Do whatever it takes. Its all worth it in the end.

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