I want to start this by giving you the best advise you can carry with you into the fire service; set your standards high and be disciplined enough to keep them there. Follow that and everything that follows will fall into place. So with that said, after my probationary year here is a list of things that I made sure always happened and took the initiative to do. I hope my trial and error will help make you a better firefighter.
- Always show up early!!!
- Always have coffee ready for your crew and the outbound crew in the morning.
- Always show up in clean and pressed uniform ready for duty and/or uniform inspection.
- Make sure your boots are polished well above standard. This will need to be addressed on your off days.
How to polish your duty boot
- Prior to the pass-on report tackle simple tasks such as restocking and icing your Engine/ Truck water cooler(s).
- When you check your Engine/ Truck (s) after the pass-on report go over it with a fine toothed comb. You can never be too meticulous.
- Be proactive with your duties, do not be the rookie that has to be told to do everything. If you see a mess clean it, if you see a tool that needs to be serviced...service it. There are always things to be done that can help your crew out and trust me these things do not go unnoticed.
- A clean Engine/ Truck is a happy one. Keep your apparatus spotless.
- Know your apparatus like the back of your hand. Every single detail you can lock into your mind, do it. Things such as front and rear axle weight, pump capacity, pump type, gallons carried, tire size and pressures, where tools are located. Even things such as scratches and dents should be known. Take pictures and study them. Your truck is yours for the 24 hours you are on duty...take pride in it! When the public sees that you are knowledgeable about your equipment heads will turn.
- Ask for a copy of your departments SOP's. Read them, then re-read them and repeat. Taking ownership in your department starts with knowing what is expected of you.
- The quest for knowledge and training never ends. TV does not exist in your 24 hour shift, kicking back does not exist in your 24 hour shift, texting and personal phone calls do not exist on your 24 hour shift (unless you want to tell you wife goodnight) and personal time does not exist in your 24 hour shift. Seeing a pattern here?
- Talk with you crew and find out which bed is yours. Do not make the mistake of taking a bed without asking.
- A properly detailed rack is something that will let your crew know that you mean business and understand the meaning of discipline. Every single duty day detail your rack no matter how early or late.
How to detail your rack
- Be the last to bed and the first to rise.
- Always remember that you have the privilege of carrying the title of Firefighter. With it come a level of responsibility and expectation in the public’s eye and you have to live up to that on duty and off duty.
- You, as the rookie, have a great opportunity to set a new standard. Take advantage of that and no matter how tired or exhausted you may get keep your nose to the grindstone. Your probationary year is one that will set the tone of the rest of your career; if you're lazy...guess what, everyone is going to see you as a lazy turd. Do not get that title!
All of these tid bits of advice are just the tip of the iceberg. Every Fire Department is different in how they operate but the above are a great starting point for any new probationary firefighter. Remember, you're a Firefighter! Many great and honorable men have carried the title, respect it and carry it with pride every day. Cheers and have a great probationary year!