We have five new recruits for our annual banquet in January. I'm having trouble developing a "friendly" plan to welcome the reservists to our volunteer dept. If anyone has any suggestions how we can initiate these guys without hazing or hurting them, I would greatly appreciate it.

Please do assume that I am ecouraging maltreatment of anyone at anytime. Just some playful jokes amongst friends.



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Share some embarrassing stories which the seasoned members have experienced through the years and let them know there will be times when embarrassing moments happen naturally - and like brothers they will rag on you when that happens - but like brothers they will ALWAYS have their back AND are ALWAYS available to talk to and not only will you assign them a mentor, but you encourage them to naturally gravitate towards people that they wish to mentor them AND instruct your seasoned members to take them under their wings and LEAD THEM INTO A LONG SAFE CAREER !!!

stories - like sharing how some got their nicknames or how some learned some hard lessons

I agree STRONLY with those that said - TREAT THEM WELL - that is your future chief and officers - if you play your cards right - you have a whole crew of new leaders for 10 years down the line - so set up a plan for succession planning and make them awesome FFs.

p.s. A top reason FFs leave in the first year is embarrassment !!! AND they take their friends with them!!!
I seam to have lost my explinations of exactly what I meant. Barry, Pranks is exactly what I meant. Nothing to offend anyone. Those terms were used very light heartedly.
I didn't realize the wording would be viewed so sinically. I put them in quotations trying to accent humor not cruelty.
I am simply looking for fresh Ideas, not to out do the others, just fresh.
WTF is wrong w/ hazing or hurting? Some people take all the fun outta stuff! How about putting one of those fart pillows (Whoopie Cushions) on thier chairs & camo them so they wont see it. They sell them in the toy section at Walgreen's. Yes, I cruise the toy section at every store I go to. Its because I'm a 47 y/o kid (as evidenced by my new prof-pic)!
- dano
If anyone has any suggestions how we can "torment" these guys without hazing or hurting them, just a lot of embarresment, I would greatly appreciate it.

Really? So tell me why I would want to work for you again? This does not sound life the kind of place I would want to spend any of my time. How about focusing on proving both didactic and manipulative training? That alone is daunting and will provide the desired effect without tormenting, hazing or embarrassing anyone. Treating people how you want to be treated is the priority in my mind. I like to live by the saying, "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice...".

Your post reflects an attitude or department culture that condones hassling new recruit firefighters or as you labelled them, "rookies". That alone, this old school sense of hazing and attitude does nothing in my opinion to better an individual or make them feel a part of the team.

I don't want to go all touchy-feely here but seriously Buz, the tone of your post makes me concerned about your departments culture and attitude toward new firefighters and I really don't think it is a healthy one for anyone involved. The good news is that you have the power to change all of that. I challenge you to do so.

Mike Schlags, I have added a couple of comments due to people trying way to hard to read into this as if something is being done that I didn't enjoy when I experienced it as a rookie.
We start by become friends. We volunteer our time and efforts equally together. We, as "seniors", on this department are not above being on the receiving end of a good joke also.
At what ppoint in your career(i'm assuming you are paid on call) did you stop enjoying your job and the brisk sense of humor required to wake up tommorrow and pull another patient from a burning building or a smashed vehicle.
Like I said before, there will not be anything done that they will not enjoy and laugh about without having any "hurt feelings"

I did not mean to bust your chops to the point where you had to go defensive regarding how we, as firefighters, regardless of paid, on-call, volunteer, or whatever do to relieve the stress and have fun on the job. The focus on your post was not about folks who have whiskers already... it was about rookies. There is a difference and that was my point.

In my world, which is not fun sometimes and filled with potential legal sinkholes, doing anything that comes close to a practical joke on someone could and often times result in disciplinary actions to the supervisor and firefighters involved. All fire department supervisors and management were warned years ago to stop this type of activity and mindset. While your culture may permit this behavior and activity, although being in the spirit of fun, it could bite you in the ass if the wrong person gets offended. If you are in a small town, where everyone knows everyone else, then I doubt this would ever be an issue because of the social pressures living in a small community.

If your department culture supports anything that comes close to comments, actions or things that a reasonable person would find offensive, then trust me, your world could turn upside down. I don't like these rules, I just had to follow them. Welcome to affirmative action, human resources and a new generation of firefighters. The rules have changed unless you live in Mayberry, USA, which I hope you do.


Mike Schlags
Vern, by far the best experience I have had is at the Christmas party. The Chiefs of the dept call up all the Probies and say "In the tradition of the (Insert Dept Name), we want to hear Christmas Carols and all the Probies sing! No music, just singing. When I did this, I met everyone from life members to active guys that just aren't around a lot. It was DEFIANTLY the best time I ever had!
Torment them so they say screw this place and leave! You surely dont need any help right?
Mike Schlags, I would like appologize for getting defensive and unjustifiably abbrasive!
I should have expected some rash responses with the way I worded the opening discussion.
This whole event is Family friendly and I am well aware of possible ramifications and I appreciate the reminder that we do live in a litigation happy society and the perspective opinion of a Firefighter that has Wholesomly paid his dues
The response made by Jason VanDewater is exactly the kind of Ideas I was after.
My bad Captain Busy


Vern Simpson II
Personally I don't see anything wrong with it. It's more of a tradition when you get to a house to get hazed for being a probie. I went through it and feel better for it. There is always a point to draw the line. You have to watch them closely. Pull a prank on them and see how they take it, if they take it well then fine we can see they have a sense of humor, if they take it poorly then see how they feel about it. If someone gets turned away because of a harmless prank, I feel that it's not your fault for pulling the prank but because you didn't make it right afterwards.

Personally a nice big bucket of water does wonders as far as pranks go. After my first big fire, we were doing overhaul and I came out to get some water from the cooler and noticed it was "missing." As I was walking around the entire truck, the guys who "found" the "missing" cooler somehow mananged to dump all of its contents on my head. Good laugh afterwards and then the next time, you have the honor of getting the next rookie.

I know FDNY also does this. As soon as a probie gets out of the academy and once he arrives at his first house where he will start his probationary period, the guys in the house tell the rookie that someone wants to take his picture with his full dress on outside the firehouse. Once the probie steps outside the guys from the house dump a full bucket of water on him from the roof.

Just simple things like that. Not too embarrassing, but still funny. I've also heard of much worse things but you definately don't want to do those things to anyone much less a rookie so I will leave those be.
Jason, Excellent idea!

Bradley, Amazingly I have heard of the bucket of water. It was mentioned in a book by Dennis Smith called "Firefighters, Their Lives In Their Own Words". Although funny, we have dicided to shy away from this following the purchase of new uniform shirts after eating spegetti with spoons while blind folded and being fed by your spouse who is also blind folded. A bit more extreme but thats why we try to protect the uniforms.


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