1. #1
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    Default Age vs. Experience

    I apologize if this isn't the proper section to put this under, I couldn't figure out where else to put it.

    In another thread, a forum member asked if he is too old to consider getting on a fire department. My advice was to go for it and that both my departments have hired guys older than him. I also pointed out that he should not let age get in the way when being a probie, and when younger guys have more experience.

    Which brings me to my point.......

    It sometimes bothers me when older guys on the job feel that they know whats best to do in a situation strictly because of their age.

    I am one of the youngest firefighters on my full time department, yet I am in the middle of the pack when it comes to seniority. I was fortunate enough to know what profession I wanted to go into when I was very young, I took all of the right courses, and I got hired quite a bit younger than the average age of a new hire.

    Some of the guys on the job have 15 years on me age-wise but 7 years less on the job.

    Also, on my call department, although there are quite a few younger members than me, the majority of the members are older. Most of the non-officer membership (not all, but most) have less years on the job than I do as well.

    I have come across...numerous times.....instances when an older, but much newer firefighter thinks that I have no right to offer insight into an issue, or if I say something is being done wrong it's like I'm an a-hole. I try to let if slide off my shoulders, but sometimes I can't take it.

    Any thoughts on this?

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    T-NUT,

    One thing I think you will eventualy learn is that the older a person gets the more they can make outrageous statements and get away with it. To the younger firefighter this concept may seem like a slap in the face, but it is not ... it is a right of passage for us old farts which you too will have to one day endure.
    That said, I have to commend you for the attitude you have adopted in ignoring most of this kind of bull crap. In a lot of volunteer or combo departments it is the way to survive with your sanity.
    After more than 30 years doing this, I find that the older I get the more I have to relearn and rethink much of the experience I have accumulated over that time.
    Everytime the department hands down a new set of training standards most of the old guys start to grumble and gripe. I look at it as the oppertunity to refresh alot of the old material that was lost when my brain cells began to die, and the chance to learn what has changed and how best to do things now.
    Last edited by Driver76; 07-29-2006 at 01:45 PM.

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    Smile

    I don't think it matters how old you are...young or old. I don't know how many times I have had a gung ho, new hire, fresh out of fire school with no experience try and tell me how things work. I know exactly what you mean, it used to drive me to the point of insanity. Yeah, the best thing you can do is ingnore it. I don't mind if someone has more experience or more knowledge and is willing to offer some insight or a better way to perform a task. If they are doing it just to be arrogant, be smart and get the best of them...verbally, I do. I found that's a quick and easy way to get them to shut their pie hole.

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    TRAININGNUT

    I know how you feel I started out very early on a vol dept and was treated the same way you are.I attended as much training/classes as possible and I absorbed alot of it into my little mind that I have.I have always been told to be quiet your just a dumb young kid and you don't know anything that really pi##@^ me off and that just made me want to learn more.Needless to say I'm a fulltime ff and still one of the fd's I started out on. And to go with Driver76 comments I do see where he comes, from I've been around the fire service a pretty long time now, and the changes that I've seen since I started and to the present date are very interesting. Change in the fire service are hard to except, and if your use to doing things a certain way for years and years then one day your told to do it differently it's hard to accept,so I see where they come from. I will say do to the way I was treated in my younger years I'm very open minded and adapt to change very well.So don't let this get you down and you'll be ok!BE SAFE

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    Quote Originally Posted by dday05
    TRAININGNUT

    I know how you feel I started out very early on a vol dept and was treated the same way you are.I attended as much training/classes as possible and I absorbed alot of it into my little mind that I have.I have always been told to be quiet your just a dumb young kid and you don't know anything that really pi##@^ me off and that just made me want to learn more.Needless to say I'm a fulltime ff and still one of the fd's I started out on. And to go with Driver76 comments I do see where he comes, from I've been around the fire service a pretty long time now, and the changes that I've seen since I started and to the present date are very interesting. Change in the fire service are hard to except, and if your use to doing things a certain way for years and years then one day your told to do it differently it's hard to accept,so I see where they come from. I will say do to the way I was treated in my younger years I'm very open minded and adapt to change very well.So don't let this get you down and you'll be ok!BE SAFE
    I appreciate your comments, but I think there may be some confusion.....

    First, it isn't about a "change in the fire service" issue. The FF's who are much older than me are BRAND NEW to the fire service....they wouldn't know what the old ways were anyways.

    Let me reiterate my point.....I am talking about 2 people:

    Person A - young with a good deal of experience
    Person B - considerably older and brand new to the job

    My young firefighting career started on a full time dept and just recently I've joined a volunteer dept as well (a bit backwards from the norm).

    So, my concern is NOT with FF's with more experience than myself....my concern is with brand new FF's, who have little or no fireground experience being under the illusion that they know "whats best" on a fire scene simply because of their age.

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    T-NUT,

    My comments were not about veteran FFs who are unwilling to listen to new ideas or a change in the way of doing things (although I used those types as an example), as much as to those old farts who think that old age makes them some sort of "all knowing" department sage, regardless of how long they have been a member. You know, 2-20s (two years on the job with 20 years experience) really the worse kind, thinking that their years of life experience outside the fire service suddenly translates to them being experts on everything.

    Don't argue with these types of people ... it would probably be a waste of time. Just give them time ... their lack of knowledge and FF experience will eventually catch up to them. There is nothing more humiliating than someone making themself look like a weenie.
    Last edited by Driver76; 08-06-2006 at 09:33 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TrainingNut
    my concern is with brand new FF's, who have little or no fireground experience being under the illusion that they know "whats best" on a fire scene simply because of their age.
    One thing you've apparently too young to even comprehend is that the most important factor for safe and efficient operations on a fireground (or anywhere else) is mature judgement, which DOESN'T come from training, and which MIGHT come from job experience, but which generally comes only with sufficient LIFE EXPERIENCE (i.e. age).

    While this doesn't hold true absolutely, since I've known many younger people with far more judgement than some old timers, it's true enough to be universally recognized throughout all cultures.

    Judging by your foolish and ignorance-based answer to the "Which Knot Would You Use" thread, I would doubt that you have anywhere near as much experience, knowledge, or (particularly) judgement as you seem to think you do.

    While arrogance is unhelpful, whether it comes from the old or the young, you might do well to show your elders a little respect and see if there is something important you might learn from them.

    - Robert
    aVERT - a Vertical Emergency Response Training
    To Avert Disaster in the Vertical Environment

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    You have missed the point my friend.

    And there is no need to get nasty....even "younger" me knows that.

    Thank you for your advice though, all input is appreciated.

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    Default Age vs Experience

    I have been in my line of work for 39 years. I try to help the new guys as much as I can. We swap ideas and talk about the problems we run into. I have always told them your never to old to learn. The only dumb question is one you did not ask. If you are not sure about something ask. If I give one of them a job and they are not sure how to do it and screw up.Inever get mad if they tell me first they are not sure about it. I do get mad if they tell me they can do it and I find out they have no clue what they are doing. Never put them in danger but mistakes are made. I tell them learn from your mistakes and go on. Iam 57 and tell them all if they have a better way to do something we will try it. They learn from me and I learn from them. The day you know it all is the day you need to quit,because have become a danger to everyone.

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    You know, Billy, like you I'm 57, with 39 years in next month. Seems like only yesterday ...
    I have found that the young wackers will see us as old farts and not pay any attention to what we are trying to teach them. But the young ones who really have what to takes to be more then "water squirters" usually see our experience as an asset and turn to us when they are up against it.
    Our chief is a 20 year career man, who is a good administrator and an excellent command officer. He has approached me at many an incident and asked me my opinion on parts of the operation.
    He knows that I don't know it all ... but he has trust in my judgement and the judgement of other older men under his command.

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    Default AGE vs Experience

    Driver76. I know what you mean. I remember standing in line at boot camp in 1968. Looking at my new ID card thinking four years is sure a long time. I do not mind working for a younger boss as long as he will admit he does not know everything. The ones that will make it are the ones that will listen to us old farts. Have had four know it all bosses they are gone and I am still on the job. As I have posted Iam not a FF but I do work around stations on the backup gensets. Have had my share of pranks pulled on me and some very good meals at some stations. I work at one station that will load up as soon as I pull in. Because they know a call is coming in. Strange but it happens every time I show up. Stay Safe.

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    Default Advice

    I can relate with you, my experience with the fire service went fast too, I strongly believe that it is up to you where you want to go in the fire service.. I started at a young age also and focused on making myself better getting the classes I needed and making as much training as possible.. I was one of the youngest fire chief's to get promoted in this area, I was 23 years old when I was promoted to Deputy Fire Chief.. You want to talk about older guys trying to give me the bussiness wow did they, but what I have learned is listen to them and guide them alot of these guys have alot of experiences maybe not all the classes they need but most have been there and done that. I have gained my respect from alot of them, they see that yes I am young but have alot of experience as well and am quailied for the position.. Most of these guys are upset because the fire service is moving so fast now that they dont have alot of the classes that are required now, therefore they are trying to hold on as much as they can... Stay safe and keep your head up

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    one thing I think you are missing is "applied knowledege" --- if an older person can relate his life experence knowlege to the job being taught, he will usually master the job at a faster rate than a younger person who is not only learning the job, but still building a foundation of "life experence"
    Once you have learned how to work, learning the job is the easy part.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TrainingNut View Post
    my concern is with brand new FF's, who have little or no fireground experience being under the illusion that they know "whats best" on a fire scene simply because of their age.
    This is a matter of leadership. If the leaders of the department allow this to continue, therein lies the real problem.

    There will _always_ be know-it-alls in every occupation, especially the fire service, young and old. It is more frustrating for the young person that actually knows _the_right_way_ than it is for the older person that *thinks* they know the right way.

    From my personal experience, I have had to deal with things such as this all my life. In the early stages, I was frustrated and tended to show my displeasure with a fervor.

    Later on, when I learned better and still not yet in a leadership role, if there wasn't a threat of injury or death.... in other words, something simple like the "old-fart" saying "...you should swirl the wax sponge, not move it back and forth like that." I simply did it the way the wax bottle told me to do it and allowed the resulting shiny finish prove my point ;-)

    After I was thrown into a leadership position, I began a regimen of "self-education" and did things the right way and not solely based on "how we did it years ago". After many years of doing things the right way and listening to the younger people with fresh ideas... I *think* I have a handle on it.

    /john

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