Updated: Dec 30, 2020
This year marks 13 years for me in the fire service
It been a fun transition from Paid-On-Call, to Part -Time then to Full Time Firefighter/EMT. When I joined my fire department in high school I had no idea "we" got paid to do this job. see where I grew up in (Rockford, IL) I lived down the street from a busy Engine Company and always wanted to ride on the truck.
Well my life changed in 1999 when my mother passed away from cancer. I moved away from my hometown to live with family to finish my schooling . In high school I joined a local fire explorer post and was there for 4 year until I was old enough to apply for my current department in 2007 to be a POC firefighter. After my 6 month academy and completing my probation period I was now a part-time FF. I remember during my probation period, getting a check from the FD, not know I got paid for volunteering my time.
Lets fast forward a bit... Now being full-time employee I ride on the same trucks , but its a whole different world. working for a combination FD is a challenge at times. Working as jump companies (Medic/Truck), My current Shift I am the " Senor Man" at my station. It depends on my crew, but I am either the driver or acting officer of the truck.
I am proud to be looked up to a senor man... Being a state certified instructor, Everyday is a learning experience.. Teaching a skill is the best way to master a skill.. And on that note.. You have to master a basic skill till it becomes advanced. The young kids just out of high school are not afraid to ask me for advise. We have all heard the phrase " There is not a dumb question" but.. If the same question has been asked six times and was unable to master a skill, That is a problem. I have no problem teaching / mentoring the new guy, but just showing up and not willing to learn is unacceptable. Everyone learns different, I understand that. But not communicating with the crew/officers... That's a problem..
We all have "bad days" but don't let it show in the streets.. When you show weakness/stress, it affects your crew...Don't be THAT guy. Its ok to bust each others balls... Talk about it.. Pull your senor-man / officer aside and talk-it-out.
So lets get back to the "Acting" part of this blog post...
You get paid to do the same job as everyone else on the payroll, The question is how well do you want to do it? Doing the "minimum" is unacceptable..
The late Chief John Eversole of the Chicago Fire Department summed it up best when he said... “Nobody calls the fire department and says, ‘Send me two dumb-ass firemen in a pick-up truck.’ In three minutes, they want five brain-surgeon decathlon champions to come out and solve all their problems.”
This quote could not be truer today, not only because the world has changed from just a decade ago, but also because the fire service has become a truly all-hazards agency that must be able to provide effective customer service..
Prep yourself for the position...
Lets face it, Your fire department isn't going to beg you to become a senor-man / company officer...Its all about want you wanna accomplish in your career.
There is 5 stages of your fire service career...
(1) Probation.. This applies for everyone , but especially you. (Early is on time & On time is late, and well late is unacceptable. Just because you have the uniform doesn't make you a firefighter.
Introduce yourself, don't be offended when you are not remembered- you're not memorable yet. You might be on the payroll, But your not in the brotherhood until the brothers say you are. you have to prove yourself to the crew. How bad do want this job? Prove your weight, Show your strengths.
(2) Fireman- Congratulations, you might have a few years on the job... You probably think you are great...Well your not. Everyday you should master the basics until you can't get it wrong. Everyday you need to to the right thing.. Its called "Integrity"
(3) The Senor-Man- This is the person you need to follow/ask advice from. Listen to the war stories at the kitchen table, on the front bumper of the truck with your cup of coffee. He will teach you ALOT.. Everything is a lesson, Its up to you weather you want to learn from it. 25 years from now you will be disappointed by the things you didn't do and not the one you did” (-Mark Twain)
Listen the senor man, If he is being hard on you, he wants to better you in this profession.
(4) Company Officer- Personally , I have not reached this rank yet, but I respect my officers that I work with, sometimes they come to me for advise. But at the end of the day, We all want to accomplish the same goal.. .
Together we serve our city
REMEMBER...Where you came from, The oath you swore to.. The person you said you be...
(5) Retirement- Well enjoy yourself... I plan to visit the firehouse once in a while , be active as long as I can, But enjoy yourself. I have talked to a few retired men, they all tell me the same thing.
"look out for each-other." (PTB-FTM) Be your brothers keeper. "Always stay true in the darkness, and humble in the spotlight" But most importantly... "Leave the job better then you found it"
Thanks for listening...
"Sure I am this day we are masters of our fate, that the task which has been set before us is not above our strength; that its pangs and toils are not beyond our endurance. As long as we have faith in our own cause and an unconquerable will to win, victory will not be denied us.”
(Winston S. Churchill)