Tips All Rookie Firefighters Should Know
As a probie, if you know you have a lot to learn and a lot to offer at the firehouse, you are on the right track. You are going to be an integral part of the team of firefighters you work with, but along the way, you have a lot to learn as well. Here are just a few of those things to get you started:
- Check your gear every time. Take care of your gear with all the recommended preventative maintenance and cleaning, and then wear it. Every single time.
- Respect the job. There is a long and proud history in this profession, and as a newcomer, you may have a fresh perspective that can be valuable, but you also have a lot to learn. Be respectful to all those who built the profession into what it is, and instead of criticizing or attacking what you do not understand, take the time to ask questions and learn.
- Respect other firefighters. Whether they are probies like you or have been in the job for years, they deserve the same respect you do for showing up every day and making the sacrifices necessary to do the job. You don’t have to like everyone you work with, but you do have to be respectful of everyone in the house.
- Stay ready and step up. You are the probie, and you are the one who is going to have to do the work to get oriented on the job. Be prepared to show up for your shifts early and stay late. Offer to cover when others need help. Do your job to the best of your ability, every time. There is no room for complacency in this career.
- Make connections. Talk to the off-going crew to find out what happened on their shift and what you need to do to get things straight. Attend firehouse morale events, and bring your family to connect with other firefighters’ spouses and kids. Join firefighter groups and attend their events. Get to know people in the house and in other houses nearby.
- Keep training. You may feel that you learned everything you need to know at fire academy, but you didn’t. You may feel that after six months or a year, you have learned all you need to know out in the field, but you haven’t. Keep taking trainings and retrain on things that don’t come up often as well as the things you think you have down pat. You’ll be surprised how much you may have forgotten. Learn about new equipment. Memorize safety and maintenance procedures, and put all of them into practice.
- Leave the job at the firehouse. No matter how tough the call, do your best to turn your attention to your people at home as soon as you leave the firehouse. There will be plenty of time to get back into firefighter mode on the commute back to the firehouse for your next shift, but in the meantime, get some sleep, decompress, and spend time with your family.