The Rookie Attitude
As a rookie, our most important job is to earn the respect and trust of our brothers and sisters in the fire service. Too often, departments get fresh recruits with very little life experience and no idea what they are truly getting into by joining the Fire Service. Here are some general rules of thumb and mindset to follow as you start your journey in the best job in the world.
Know your place. Realize coming in that you have to prove yourself. As you go through your time as a rookie, the rest of the members in the department will be watching you like a hawk to find out if you have what it takes to be a valuable member of the team. Going in thinking you know better than someone else will get you nowhere. If you are a valuable member, the fire service will do wonderful things for you, as will the brothers and sisters that make it up. Recognize and acknowledge the time and experience that others have put into the service. Respect the other members of the fire service and do everything you can to earn their respect in return.
Be eager to learn. One of the most important things you can do as a rookie is to go in with an open mind, open ears and a closed mouth. Speak less and listen more. If you’re talking, you’re not learning. Go out of your way to learn every aspect you can. The more knowledge you gain, the more valuable you will be as a team member. The older experienced members are a fountain of knowledge and most will be eager to teach you the ways! Basic Fire Academy can only teach you so much, it’s the knowledge of the veteran members that will help you fine tune your skills.
Do any job, nothing is beneath you. From loading hose to cleaning the toilets, every job plays a part in running a successful and efficient firehouse. Do any job asked of you and do it with a smile on your face. When I was a kid, it was an honor to clean the toilets of my heroes. As corny as that sounds, that’s exactly the attitude you need to have in these daily tasks. Every job done right reflects on your pride as a firefighter and in your firehouse. Never think you are too good for anything.
Go above and beyond. Go out of your way to do the best you can in everything you do. Do more than is asked of you. If you see something that needs to be done, don’t wait to be told to do it. If you see the trash needs to be emptied, take the two minutes and get it done. If they see you can do these simple things without being told, they will be more likely to trust you with bigger and more important tasks on a fire scene.
Bond with the members of your department. Join in on the extra curricular activities and group events. This is more than a job and these are more than just your co-workers. Bonding with the members of your department creates a relationship and trust that is paramount in our line of work.
Maintain a strong sense of honor. Among the many moral values you should hold true to, I feel honor is the most important. Holding yourself to this standard ensures that you will make good decisions. Holding true to your word helps build that foundation of trust with each other. Respecting your fellow fire service members, and the job will help keep things in perspective for you as a rookie.
Listen to and value criticism. All the positivity in the world will not better you as a fire fighter the way criticism will. We learn more from our mistakes than we do our triumphs. When someone tells you how you made a mistake, rather than get angry and butt-hurt, use it as an opportunity to learn. The majority of the time, your brothers and sisters aren’t criticizing you to be mean, they are doing it to help you become better.
With these basic rules kept in mind, you will quickly become a valued part of your fire service team and the brotherhood as a whole. Firefighting is a humble and honorable job and it takes humble and honorable people to keep the fire service at it’s best. Going into it from the start with the right attitude is key. When in doubt, ask someone. We all play an important role in making the fire service what it is… even the rookies.
What do you think makes up the perfect recruit? Leave a comment and let us know!
Co-Written by Joshua Vanopynen
This article should be posted in every fire department in the country. So many rookies fresh out of academy, don’t know the meaning of brotherhood and respect. Is sad, but it’s true.
Be seen, not heard
Couldn’t have said it better myself!
The newer probies (aka. Millennials) are inquisitive and challenging and often times seem to talk when they should listen. They want to blend in ..as we all did.. and want to learn but in a way that may seem cocky..and that makes them a challenge to us old timers.
For me, being consistent of expectations, not to take it personally when they do challenge, and throw some “old school” in when needed has helped me, and more importantly these newer generation firefighters, fit in and make them part of the family that is the fire service.