I was approached recently by a new fire academy graduate on how to be young and successful in the fire service. This made me really take a step back and think. I closed my eyes and flashed back.
There I was, 20 years old, motivated and ready, as I started my first day of the academy at my dream department. We were all wearing suits and ties looking sharp for our first day, so new that we weren’t even issued uniforms. I remember that day vividly. 40 new faces inside the training tower excited for our new journey as city firemen. We had no clue of the brotherhood and adventure we were about to embark on.
Fast forward some long days and short weeks later; It was my first day at the firehouse. I remember meeting all the guys and in that first year we trained, we drilled, we went over equipment, we went over streets. I remember becoming part of a family. It was luck, love and a little bit of hard work.
My advice to a recruit? Be prideful yet humble, be knowledgeable yet competent. We owe it to ourselves to know our job inside and out. To never stay stagnant. To really push ourselves outside of our comfort zones; learning your SOGs, putting tactics and skills to use on the fire-ground. Most of all doing our job.
Don’t get caught up in the haters. You are going to be watched. Judged on your knowledge and ability.
We owe it to ourselves and our citizens to be competent at what we do. Don’t become the 20-year recliner warrior, don’t become the “I have seniority on you” guy. Don’t become the guy with 20 first year experiences. Go above and beyond. Take pride in your job, make yourself a sponge, pick up on the good stuff. Learn what the bad stuff is and how you can learn from it. Learn your apparatus.
Make things happen both on the job and off. It doesn’t just end at fireground competencies. It also includes being a part of the family too. Make yourself a part of the team. Get to know your crew, expand your horizons to this great American fire service we have. Get to know people from other departments, debate, make new friends and enjoy the company. Respect the job and the people that have come before you.
It all boils down to attitude, pride and just having an absolute affection for this job. Leave this job better than you found it. Immerse yourself in this culture. Being a firefighter isn’t a job. It’s a lifestyle.
And lastly have fun and enjoy this incredible life we live.
Stay Humble. Stay Motivated. Love the Job.
St. Louis Missouri