No one stays a probie forever. Take the first steps towards becoming more invested in the fire service beyond your initial training.(Lloyd Mitchell photo)
By Steve Jason
Welcome to the fire service, now what? Once we join the fire service no matter if we are volunteer or career there is a lot thrown at us, from the “how to’s” the “do this, do that” and the “this is your place now” around the fire house. Soon you will find yourself going to the fire academy for weeks for basic training maybe even EMT training also. Once this has settled down a little then what? What do you do next to keep yourself into the job?
There is a big difference between being “On the Job” and “Into the Job”. Many firefighters join or get hired and once they go through basic training that’s it for them. Are these our ‘go to’ type members? Most likely not as these are the “on the job” ones. We need more of the “into the job” type of people to maintain our departments the way they have been for years. The fire service is fighting an uphill battle, from the numbers of members declining to budget cuts etc. We need people to carry on and fight for what we have and what we do.
So how do we get there, what do we do? We need to start with you; yes YOU are the key factor. You need to evaluate yourself and ask what you’re willing to do. You need to decide if you are going to be that ‘go to’ person on the fireground, at 2:30 a.m. when flames are blowing out windows and there are people trapped. You need to ask yourself when the heat is on, are you going to be the one doing it, or the one standing outside? Once you know this is for you, we can now take it a step further. What’s next you ask? Training, Training, Training.
The fires we fight or the rescues we make are not possible without us training first. The fire academy teaches us the basics in Firefighter I, but you are being taught from the text book. They lay out all the basic information you need to know to fight a fire, do a search, or deal with a hazardous condition. We are teaching our new recruits that “you are the number one priority”. Well I disagree with that; I say we are not the number one but that the people we serve should be. When we took that oath to serve and protect we said we are putting ourselves on the line to save people. So, number one is that little girl trapped by fire in her bedroom by fire, she is the one we need to be looking out for and going in to save.
Since we are only being taught the basics in basic fire school, we need to strive for more. We need to take classes for our entire fire service career, from Firefighter II and III to more advanced classes. There are plenty of classes out there for the taking but it’s up to you to go get it. The moment we feel we don’t need to take classes or learn new things it’s time to get out. Capt. Brown of the FDNY said it best “ you can do everything on this job perfect and still get killed” so why wouldn’t you want to go out and get as much information as possible.
The term “Combat Ready” and being a “student of the game” are things we need to instill into our new firefighters. Getting them on board at the start of their careers will make it a lot easier to get our members “into the job”. Combat ready is a mindset and like I stated earlier you need to look hard at yourself. Once you do that mindset of being combat ready is the way to keep you going on the right path. Being a student of the game means you keep up on the newest trends, different ways to do the job, and changes that affect us. The world is always changing around us and we need to keep up with it and learn how to change with it. From building construction, to new vehicle technology we need to know how these changes will force us to change the way we do things. The is so much information out there today on social media that it can get overwhelming, but if you use it for what it’s worth and put your hands on it you’ll see what works and what doesn’t.
There are training opportunities offered through the academies, through private companies and through local F.O.O.L.S. chapters. Don’t limit yourself on only the training your department provides but look on social media or check the catalog for the fire academy. Finding something that your department specializes in or something that interests you is a good start. If you run a heavy rescue then consider some vehicle rescue classes. If you run on a truck company there are some great truck classes offered at the local academies and training companies. The lists are endless of training that you can find; the biggest and best place to get some awesome training is FDIC in Indy. Check it out and sign up, you need to be there.
Capt. Steve Jason
23 years in the fire service
Level II Pro-Board Instructor
FDIC Hot Instructor
USAR member/Special Ops officer
Training officer for the Revolutionary FOOLS