To the (kind of) new guy

story – By Steve Moran
from Firemanship Journal 9

Special thanks to Capt Maldonado and FST Reichardt for sharing the following content.

I’m directing this letter to the two to the five-year crowd. I’m sure there is plenty of relevance to the more senior firefighters
around the firehouse but I hope I can reach those with no more than a couple of years on the job.
We are the often-overlooked crowd. Those who recently finished probation and because of that, the department is less concerned with our training now. We are not yet looking to or able to promote, and the next group of recruits “needs” the attention more than we do.
Many of us have allowed this lack of focus to become lackadaisical. We just finished spending a year busting our tails to keep our job don’t we deserve a break? I am here to tell you, no.
Now is the greatest time for action. The newer firefighters will follow your example as much or more than they will the senior man. You are closer to their age, oftentimes more relatable and probably more approachable. These newer members rely on you to set an example of how to do this job.
I am fortunate enough to work with my department’s ongoing recruit academies. I help teach VEIS and aggressive interior search techniques as well as our Firefighter Safety and Survival classes. I have three years on the job. I am certainly not a seasoned vet, and I do not claim to be an expert. But I have already realized how much these recruits look up to the people in my position for the reasons I explained above.
Your department’s recruits aren’t any different, they are looking for that person (you) to set the example. It is up to you whether you want these new folks emulating you and making a run for the recliner after they get off probation or whether you are going to be the spark that ignites the passion for our craft.
Get out and drill, even if it is in your own apparatus bay. In the station, drilling doesn’t even require to buy in from the whole crew. But I’d be surprised if they all sat around while you drill every shift. Eventually, your thirst for improvement will spread to others.
Change doesn’t need to be made on a department level or even a battalion level. Positive change starts with one individual.
Clean and maintain all of your tools and learn new ways to use them on the fireground. If your department has any old hose request a 100-foot section and practice different methods of shoulder load deployments. No smoke machine? No problem, put waxed paper in your mask and get down in your search position and practice low visibility movement.
All of these things can be done without taking your apparatus out of service or delaying your response. Never let the “we’re too busy” excuses float into your mind. Start doing this every morning after your basic apparatus checks. Your own training is your responsibility.
It is easy to blame the department for not making your continued training a priority. If you want to be angry about that then fine… but don’t sit in your recliner and bitch about it. Get out in the back 40 and make it happen.

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