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  • How to handle the first year in the house...

    As a newbie, when I do get my badge, I realize my place in the firehouse is basically the servant. I realize I will have to bust my *** to earn respect.

    I also realize I will probably be under a lot of verbal fire as well. I'm sure I'll be the butt end of jokes, etc.

    My question is...how to handle being the butt end of jokes. Do I just sit there and take it or do I try to make fun of the other person back?

  • #2
    I never understand why people ask this question, no offense. Only YOU can feel out your crew, and see what you can and can't do with them. I don't buy that "sit there and take it" nonsense, but thats my crew at my firehouse. Yours may be different. You may be unfortunate enough to have a ****ty crew, or you may have a great crew, who knows. Only you can answer this question dude.


    • #3
      Don't force anything. Just don't let them see you sweat. If they get in a good zinger, then laugh. Don't bristle. Eventually they'll move on to someone more sensitive. If you do fire back, then make sure it's good natured, subtle, and witty. Otherwise best to remain silent. A closed mouth collects no foot.


      • #4
        Originally posted by redbeard View Post
        My question is...how to handle being the butt end of jokes. Do I just sit there and take it or do I try to make fun of the other person back?
        thick skin and the ability to laugh at yourself is prerequisite. if you can't handle being the butt of the joke then maybe a firehouse is not for you. i say, just remember it might be a little worse when you are a rookie, but the jokes never stop. as a rookie i sit at the dinner table in the fire hall and listen to a driver or firefighter fire jokes at the captain. (not suggested until you have proven you are worth the air you take up) once your crew takes you in as one of them it gets a little better.

        i just completed my first year on the job, but i am still a rookie, and because on my department you are a swingman for your first few years.....you are a rookie for several years.

        a lot of people have that magic one year date in their head that all the jokes about them stop at one year. well if you believe this then you are just fooling yourself. they continue all the way through retirement.

        as stated earlier, get thick skin and the ability to laugh at yourself


        • #5
          lots of alcohol on ur days off...
          The Box. You opened it. We Came...

          "You'll take my life but I'll take your's too. You'll fire musket but I'll run you through. So when your waiting for the next attack, you'll better understand there's no turn back."


          • #6
            I would encourage you to keep your head down and your mouth shut. It is not your place to try to keep pace with them in verbal volleyball. YOU WILL CERTAINLY LOSE!

            Always remember that a smile goes a long way. Keep a good sense of humor and remember that they are playing with you. DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONAL.

            Here are some suggestions to help earn the respect of your new crew members:
            Rookie Life
            The probationary period is usually the first year of employment. Although 1 year is customary, the time may be as long as 18 months or as short as 6 months. The time spent in the academy may or may not count toward the probationary period. At the end of the probationary period the department has the option to pass or terminate the recruit firefighter.
            By the onset of the probationary period, the department has invested a lot of time, energy and money in the employee in the form of a medical exam, polygraph test, psychological exam and thorough background check. They have also provided the employee with training, either on-the-job or in the form of a formal fire academy. During the course of the probationary period, each recruit is expected to complete a series of written and practical exams. The written exams are based on reading volumes of the department’s policies and procedures, as well as the operational manuals. The practical exams are based on the fundamentals he or she learned in the academy, combined with real life experience gained while working as recruit firefighter.
            While the department has invested a lot of time and money in each recruit, this in no way means there is a guarantee of success. At the end of the probationary period, the department will determine if the recruit is worthy of being promoted to full-time permanent status. Although the vast majority of recruits do make the final step, it is not unheard of to be terminated on the last day of probation.
            The best analogy for the probationary period is that of the department loaning you a temporary badge. At the end of the specified time frame your captains (with input from the crew) will decide if you get to keep it. If you have proven yourself “worthy” and have gotten along with your crew, the decision is easy. If not, the decision may not go in your favor.

            The following was written by an anonymous rookie firefighter who recently completed a fire academy at a large, extremely traditional fire department in Southern California.

            My typical day as a rookie firefighter starts off at 4:30 a.m., waking before the sun comes up. I rehearse my drill for the day prior to leaving for work.

            5:10 a.m. I arrive at the station and open the gate.

            5:15 a.m. I enter the station and put up the first pot of coffee. I proceed to the bathroom and change into my fire department uniform. I return to the kitchen and make the second pot of coffee. I continue to the apparatus floor to get my turnouts in order on the engine or truck. I progress to the captain’s office where I check the journal to see yesterday’s activities as well as check the roster to see who I will be working with for the day. Lastly, I check the “new material” for any pertinent information pertaining to the department or today’s activities.

            5:35 a.m. I put up the American flag and gather the newspaper and return to the kitchen and spread it out, section by section, on the table. I then empty the dishwasher.

            6:15 a.m. My crewmembers begin to arrive as the off-going crew begins to wake up. I make it a point to say “good morning” to each and every member. If I haven’t met someone, I make it a point to introduce myself and not wait to be asked who I am.

            6:25 a.m. I find the other rookie so we can practice throwing every single ladder as well as practice donning our self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) for time. Periodically, between ladders and SCBA practice, I will return to the kitchen to make more coffee.

            7:15 a.m. I practice my daily drill with one of the senior firefighters. He or she will help me make sure my drill is prepared and ready for the rest of the crew.

            7:45 a.m. I proceed to the kitchen to prepare for the shift’s official line-up and make more coffee. I also clean up the mess made by the senior firefighters while making breakfast.

            8:00 a.m. I line up in the kitchen with all of the members of my shift. We go over the itinerary for the day and discuss any new material and departmental happenings.

            8:30 a.m. I begin the housework details. I always make it a point to be the first one cleaning the bathrooms with my scrubber and bleach/Comet mixture. I have learned that instead of flushing the toilet once clean, leave the soapy water in the bowl. This shows your crewmembers that the toilet has been cleaned.

            9:30 a.m. My crewmembers begin their physical fitness routine. The other rookie and I are busy throwing ladders, doing our daily/weekly maintenance checks and practicing our daily drill.

            10:30 a.m. We are en route to the store to shop for lunch and dinner. While at the market I will throw ladders, give on-the-spot drills on equipment, walking on roofs or doing something practical.

            11:30 a.m. I help the cook and set the table for lunch.

            12:00 p.m. Lunchtime! I am always the last to gather my plate unless otherwise ordered. I usually take the smallest portion to make sure there is enough for everyone. Even though I am usually the last to sit down, I am always the first one to get up and get into the dishes. I eat so quickly that most of the time I don’t even taste the food. I jump into the dishes until the cook calls for a “game” to decide who will officially be stuck in the dishes. This usually entails some type of dice or card game. I intentionally lose because it would not be correct to have the rookie at the table while the captain is in the suds.

            1 p.m. I will help the engineer or other senior firefighter with projects that need to be completed around the station or apparatus.

            2 p.m. I will give my drill in front of the 12 members of my crew. I have presented it at least three times before, but now the pressure is on. As you can imagine, each one of the firefighters has a tremendous amount of knowledge about the subject that I could never have learned in a book. It can be a bloodbath if I am not prepared. I find that if I take the time to do my research, I usually can come out of it alive. If not, it can be very difficult.

            3 p.m. I pull out the tool that I have been assigned for my drill on the following shift, and begin reacquainting myself with it. I research the tool in the technical journals and begin to gather my notes. When I get home, I will research on the internet for more information.

            4:30 p.m. I clean the kitchen from the afternoon’s snacking. I help the cook prepare for the dinner meal.

            5:30 p.m. I take down the flag and double check that the gate for the parking lot is locked to maintain security for the firefighters’ private vehicles.

            6 p.m. Same routine as lunch. I am the last to sit down and the first to be in the suds.

            7 p.m. I help the engineers wash and chamois down the apparatus.

            8 p.m. I will pull out another tool and begin to learn it. I will pull a ladder off the engine or truck and throw it, read the policies and procedures, or prepare for my drill next shift.

            10 p.m. I do a final cleanup around the station, picking up any residual trash, doing the dishes again, and doing a final inventory of the engine or truck.

            1:30a.m. I finally go to sleep when the last member of my crew has gone to bed.

            5:30 a.m. I wake up before the rest of my crew, put on my uniform and make coffee. I open the gate, get the newspaper and make sure the kitchen is clean.

            8:00 a.m. I change out of my uniform and leave the station after the last member of my crew leaves.

            This is just a rough baseline of what to expect as a rookie firefighter. It is important to note that this does not include running emergency responses and all of the on-the-spot questions that barrage you during the course of the day.
            Paul Lepore
            Battalion Chief
            Paul Lepore
            Battalion Chief


            • #7


              The fire service is a para-military organization that requires teamwork, discipline, the ability to make decisions and work under pressure. If you do not like the idea of working under authority or have trouble with self discipline and living with rules and living with rules and regulations which restrict your personal freedom, for the sake of public safety, you are in the wrong place!

              As a member of the Torrance Fire Department, you are expected to obey orders, exhibit exceptional personal hygiene, conform to department rules and regulations, respect the chain of command, work well with your peers, have integrity and perform repetitious mental tasks with excellence. At the same time, you should demonstrate the ability to think on your feet, use good independent judgment, be aggressive and display common sense concerning safety for yourself and others.

              We will expect and settle for nothing less than 100% from you at all times…


              1. Be aggressive at all times, first to details, last to leave.
              2. If it is dirty, clean it. If it empty- fill it.
              3. If it rings, answer it before anyone else does.
              4. Do not be late to anything.
              5. T.V. will not be watched without permission of the Company Officer.
              6. Use initiative to address work that you see needs completion.
              7. Keep busy! Look for something to do. If you can not find a job, Study.
              8. When an alarm comes in, be the first one on the rig.
              9. Offer your help to anyone doing anything. One person works, we all work.
              10. Respect authority.
              11. Know your job and duties and know them well.
              12. Keep a low profile. Keep your opinions to yourself.
              13. Assist in and around the kitchen, even if you’re not assigned there.
              14. Remember…The reputation you establish now will follow you forever.


              • #8
                Wow, lots of great info here!


                • #9
                  I'm in the middle of my year, and I'm loving it. It all depends on your shift. Always be on top of your game and never give them a reason to get on you about something not getting done. I'm the butt end of jokes most of the time, and honestly, I love it. I could make fun of myself all day long. If you don't have thick skin, the FD is certainly not for you.


                  • #10
                    I too am in the middle of my 1st year. I was lucky enough to be sent to one of the better stations in the dept, with what some say the toughest crews to get along with. Do not take anything personal, do all your assignments, be aggressive and everything else will take care of itself. Letting the guys at your station know that the jokes dont bother you is good. Show them you get offended and you can just forget about it, because from that point, IT'S ON.Be one of the guys, just dont be one of the guys. If you know what I mean. Anyway, Good Luck to all fellow Probies. Stay safe and have a good shift.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by redbeard View Post
                      As a newbie, when I do get my badge, I realize my place in the firehouse is basically the servant. I realize I will have to bust my *** to earn respect.

                      I also realize I will probably be under a lot of verbal fire as well. I'm sure I'll be the butt end of jokes, etc.

                      My question is...how to handle being the butt end of jokes. Do I just sit there and take it or do I try to make fun of the other person back?
                      I wouldnt say the "servant", theres a limit to everything. Dont let them take advantage of you. But yeah youll definetly get some jokes at your expense. The biggest make or break thing for a new guy is being arrogant or cocky, at least from what Ive noticed. Laziness doesnt help either. If your sitting around and a 15 year guy is taking out the trash, somethings wrong.


                      • #12
                        As long as you show up with a list of foods you dont like to eat and names you dont like to be called you should be all good.


                        • #13
                          Keep your head down, eyes and ears open and mouth shut you should be ok. Other than that bring in some goodies on your first day, it always helps

                          Semper Fi


                          • #14
                            Day 366

                            There has been alot of great info given on this topic. I recently got off probation myself.. it's only been a couple of years now.. and I still try to start each day like it's my first. I just wanted to add a couple of ideas...
                            1. It is okay to feel and stay a little distant from the crew around the station when it comes to the social things. I had a great working relationship with my crew but tended to not quickly jump in when non-fire related conversation was happening. As the year goes on and you work more with your crew it can be hard to not interject into the conversation but, now this worked for me and its only a suggestion, it shows you still know your place as a newer member. I have had more than several senior crew members tell me they appreciated my quiet work ethic and focus on the job.
                            2. As the title of my reply.. I think that day 366 is the most important day there is. It can be way more important than any day that happened during the first year. Everyone there in your station or department has just been waiting to see who the real person is. That's the one who comes out after the game is over. I am sure it has been said a million times here but everyone is really waiting to see if you turn into a 2/20. Personally I didn't just walk in the first day off probation in my t-shirt and plop down in a recliner. Shoot, I still jump and run for the phone. Work is only for 24 hours, maybe 96 is some places but how hard is it to keep up busting your butt each day you work. I have to say that I still take that edge of not wanting to be overly comfortable with everyone each time I work a new station or with a different shift. It's way easier to be told to lighten up then get labeled a 2/20 early on.
                            So keep up the hard work, kill them with your kindness and smile, and keep the drive.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by croninsd View Post
                              Keep your head down, eyes and ears open and mouth shut you should be ok. Other than that bring in some goodies on your first day, it always helps

                              Semper Fi
                              I don't get this.

                              Keep your head down? That is horrible body language and makes you look like a p*ssy in my opinion.


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