to all old and new firefighters , i am writing a paper on the views of different peole who have been on or still dealing with the probation period in their department , please send me any of your comments or experiences good and bad.
With today's society, the long stretch of the "real" probies treatment has been dulled down a lot. With lawsuits a dime a dozen, the rate and severity of being a probly has been dropped considerably. When I was a Probie (at the age of 14 back in the day) I was basically the firehouse slave. (I use the word slave myself, the folks in that former fire department used a much nastier racial word for it) I was expected to not only know the equipment and where it was, but to read minds and fetch it before it was called for, be able to troubleshoot it, fill it, repair it, change battaries/sensors, clean it while all the rest of the members went back to their own normal lives. This included packing hose after a building fire at 3am while everyone else went back home to bed.
Did it make me a better person? I think it did. Before you think I am crazy, read on... It made me better because it showed me that new members deserve much better than that. It is hard enough to obtain new members, nevermind belittle them, and enslave them in jobs the members don't want to do themselves, and as a result I wouldn't do ANY of the things that were done to me. I take new members, and younger members under my wing. I show them the equipment, and try to make them feel as though they belong. If we preach that firefighting is about family, why should we fight, or deny access to the family to those who are new to the job? Who makes us better than anyone else? Given time, training, ability, and a few good calls alongside me and my fellow firefighters, I would have all the confidence in the world in any new member.
"Probie, go take out the trash... probie, go make my bed... probie, go do the dishes...". While we no longer tape people to backboards and hang them upside down, tie 'em in a harness and hang 'em from the flagpole, or a million other things which these days will get you a lawsuit and jail time, there's still a fair amount of hazing. It's a weeding out process of sorts in my opinion; if you can't handle being told to grab one of the senior firefighters a soda, you probably can't handle the job. Fire departments are paramilitary organizations, and being told what to do is a fact of life you need to get used to, even if you don't like what you're being told. I would sometimes hate getting woken up to mop floors so the incoming crew didn't have to, and several other things, but it taught me to obey orders and in retrospect wasn't really all that bad.