Making the decision to join your local fire department is an honorable one. You also probably understand that you will need to spend some time away from friends and family to get squared away. The upside of that is the fact that you will also make a lot of new friends that will also become like family. Being the new guy isn’t the easiest though. There’s a lot that’s required of you, and you’re going to be watched like a hawk. You’re not being micromanaged, but given the fact that you don’t have experience, people are going to watch what you do to make sure you don’t hurt yourself or anyone else around you. Here on Long Island we may not be paid, but we have to be just as professional and just as well trained as a paid department. Regardless of what anyone says, fire behaves the same way whether it’s here or in the city, so we have to be prepared for what comes our way. All that being said, here are some tips if you’re the new guy in the firehouse.
Things You Shouldn’t Do:
- Don’t be a “know it all”. Sure you might have some knowledge about certain things, but for the sake of keeping your superiors or instructors happy, just listen to what they have to say.
- Never wander off by yourself on the fireground. This will likely be told to you time and time again, but it is extremely important that you stay with another (experienced) firefighter, or crew.
- Avoid putting a target on your back. Don’t get involved with any shenanigans going on that could potentially get you in trouble. Most fire depts have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to probies getting caught up in nonsense.
- Don’t be late or miss drills and meetings. You’re expected to be involved with every event going on down at the firehouse until at the very least you’re off probation.
- Don’t drive like a maniac to every alarm that comes through. The best way to make sure emergencies are handled efficiently is getting there safely.
Things You Should Do:
- As stated above. Be at the firehouse for every event. This includes meetings, drills, calls, parades, work details, etc.
- Always clean up after yourself. Treat the firehouse as if it’s your house. Cleaning up after the senior members goes a long way as well.
- Always ask for help with training or fire related topics. Showing an interest in what you signed up for is a sure way to gain respect.
- Always ask somebody if they need help with something. Even if they tell you no, they’ll appreciate the gesture..
- Introduce yourself to people and have conversations with them. Especially the senior members. Ask them about their time in the fire service and get to know them. It will make you a better person and it will also build rapport with people.
These are just a few examples of what to expect and things you should and shouldn’t do. If you’re joining the department for the right reasons, you should have no problem getting through your first year. Even after you finish your probationary year, these are still good suggestions to abide by. Eventually you will look to become an officer or become part of a committee. When you show others that you have good values, an interest in training, an interest in learning, etc. It will put more confidence in your peers that you’re the right person for the job. The key is to learn as much as you can about firefighting and ask as many questions that you feel necessary. To anyone reading this that ju