Nothing Is More Despicable Than Respect Based On Fear.

Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear- period.

I tire of hearing of newbies and probies being ridiculed, questioned, demoralised and many other forms of "harassment" and "punishment" by the older generation in the emergency services.

There's simply no need for it. Resepct should be given from day one that the newbie walks into the firehouse.

I'd suggest that if the older generation firefighters (and other emergency service personnel) want respect, then they'd better start showing it as well.

Respect is not "earnt". It's given automatically.

We're the emergency services for crying out loud! We're not the military where we want to break the spirit and mould the new recruit into a "lifestyle".

True story- I have a good friend who is a FF with the MFB here in Victoria. go to )

He's worked for a umber years on the side for a safety and emergency response training company. And yet, becuase of his rank and appraent lack of experience he can't teach any classes. This is a guy who spends his spare time in places like refineries as a "Rescue Coordinator" for shutdowns, has been in the role of "Fire Officer" for chemical manufacturing plants and has a huge amount of real world experience in confined space rescue, atmospheric monitoring, HAZMAT response and so on. And yet, as far as that service is concerned, he doesn't know jack.

Now that's bulls**t! He's gone out of his way to get this experience and it only compliments his role as a FF with the MFB.

For those with attitudes like, "shut your mouth and learn from the years and decades of service and experience the "Old Timers" have to offer.", get over yourself! The oldtimers can learn a thing or two from the younger generation too. If I was confronted with that sort of attitude when I walked into your firehouse, then my blockers and brickwalls would automatically go up. You'd have a hard time convincing me of anything other than your arrogance.

Now I don't know the real context or background of this, but Johann von Goethe once said, "There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action."

My interpretation of this (and to perhaps put it into a context relevant to this rant) is the older generation FFer who doesn't think they can learn anything from anyone else (unless they've been around longer than them!) and commits to either a failing plan or doesn't understand new technology and techniques and ends up failing anyway.

Swallow the pride, admit that you don't know everything and can still learn a thing or two and allow the younger generation to learn with you, grow with you and allow the emergency services to progress....

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Comment by ffmom on July 24, 2008 at 9:07pm
I have to say I hope I'm not stepping on any toes here, I am the mother of a new Probie FF. and he is experiencing the kind of disrespect, riducule and demoralization mentioned here. Everyone is telling him it is just part of the "dues" he must pay to show that he can be counted on not to break in a stressful situation and become a team player....he has no problem with that hard work and even razzing done in fun, and also has no problem showing the respect the senior members require, he is struggling with the total lack of respect he is receiving in return, frankly they are making him feel like a piece of sh*t. If anyone here can offer some suggestions on how he can get through this, a person can only take so much and I would hate to see him give up on a carreer that he has worked a year and a half of school and training for. Thank you for any tips you can offer, you all have my utmost respect and gratitude for the job you do.
Comment by Mike Simmons on April 3, 2008 at 11:47pm
Military training? Been there, done that, got the T-shirt! Teamwork, command structure, discipline, ethics, history & tradition, physical fitness.........sound familiar?
Comment by Tony P on April 3, 2008 at 4:07am
Respect. Like trust, it's a two way street. Being an optimist, I start out both respecting and trusting people I meet (my ex, used to say I was stupid and gullible - I'm happy to stay the way I am thank you!), and this can grow or shrink, depending on how that person behaves. We have NO disrespectful treatment of new and/or young members. They will be teased, but it's always with a laugh, and always with the aim of drrawing them into the group. They very soon learn to have a go right back at us! And that too is what is wanted. I love to instruct newer members in anything I can, and let them know that I don't know everything, and that I learn from them too.

Lutan, I'll dispute your idea of military training though. Neither I, nor my sons, experienced that sort of thing. I viewed recruit training as a way of ensuring that all those immature, self centred, infividuals (I was one) learnt that there were other people they had to care for, to look after, to work with. Teamwork in other words. Very much like the way we tease our newer members really. But if you've experienced differently? Bugger :(
Comment by Art "ChiefReason" Goodrich on March 25, 2008 at 12:19pm
I am not fond of the whole hazing thing for newbies and probies; in fact, I abhor it. I do not automatically "give" respect to anyone because:
in this age where you can purchase your degrees on-line and cut and paste your credentials, embellish your resume' and buy your clothes without so much as a letter on department letterhead, you are not necessarily getting what you are "seeing".
I guess that I still have to be convinced. And I'll try not to scare anyone in the meantime.
Are we relating our experiences or telling stories?
Because, there is a big difference.
Comment by LadyChaplain on March 25, 2008 at 9:43am
I have uber issues with the respect gap in my firehouse. First issue I have is the fact that as a female, who was the victim of sexual harassment, gets none from the majority of the fire department. They've resolved themselves to saying that I was just jealous of the other firefighter and wanted to "take him out" and "ruin his life".

Second, I do see a generation gap when it comes to respect. I have respect for the older guys in my department, I really do. They've gone through hell and back with subpar equipment and are here to talk about it. That's huge, and I respect that --- but when I've just come back from a state sponsored extrication class, and we're running an extrication drill and I start using the Jaws or cutters how I was taught in the class, and they're telling me that I have to do it THEIR way or else I won't be allowed on the tool anymore -- that's crap.

I also take issue with the favoritism of the older guys. Sure they have run the gamut, I'm not debating that, but when they're "excused" or given "alternate" drills than what the younger people are doing -- that's also crap. If you're an active firefighter, DRILL LIKE AN ACTIVE FIREFIGHTER. If I'm in the training classroom working on collars, backboards, patient assessment etc, the older guys (who are lower carded on the EMS contiuum) are out in the bay washing trucks -- that's crap becuase I know I'll be on an EMS call, and they'll be the ones trying to tell me what to do.

And finally,
I do believe you do have to prove yourself a LITTLE bit when you enter the fire service - but this isn't an inhuman task. It's simple. Make your calls, make your drills, show an effort. It shouldn't be more complicated than that. If you're doing what you're supposed to without slacking off, people have no reason to disrespect you, but alas we know that's not the way it happens.
Comment by lutan1 on March 25, 2008 at 12:32am
Please make no mistake in reading my blog- I have no issues when it comes to technical capability (But older generation beware- if you're out of date with techniques, accreditation and technology, then you're in my targets!), but the whole issue of respecting a person for who they are and acknowledging that they are in fact human (beleive it or not!) when they walk into your fire station is a whole different matter....
Comment by bryan lamb on March 24, 2008 at 1:41pm
thanks for that i was with a department i will not name that told me i was soposed to be seen not heard becouse i told a person who wanted to join that i loved doing this in front of a senior member later on after i protested i was asked to leave so now i am at another station where they want to here the thoughts of all the members probies on up its imbarasing when your treated like you are nothing more than a (punching bag for the other more experianced members) well i try to treat everyone like they belong untill provin otherwise thax for letting me vent
Comment by Mike Simmons on March 23, 2008 at 10:41pm
I failed to note that "respect based on fear" is not respect at all. It's known as intimidation. I'm not an intimidating type, being of average build & temperament, & don't want people intimidated by me (or anyone else) at any rate. I need my coworkers to feel as tho they can trust me, not that I'll do something to them.
As an Asst Chief, I never put up with that sort of behavior. Newbies need to be able to look to veterans for guidance, not hide from them. Especially the 1st year, as that is a huge adjustment in lifestyle. They don't need their minds messed with.
I had my share to put up with as a rookie, but it was never mean-spirited or harmful. Just a way to initiate me into the brotherhood. Some of it was pretty damn funny, too.
Comment by lutan1 on March 23, 2008 at 8:58pm
Feel free to eat up my space! I agree with you....

Automatic respect? The simple, human respect we all show (or should show) others, sure.
That's exactly what I was trying to say.
Comment by Mike Simmons on March 23, 2008 at 7:31pm
I read somewhere that a Fireman's act of courage occurs when he 1st commits himself to becoming a fireman. That's the approach I always tried to use.
Now, a little good-natured ribbing is ok, as long as it is good-natured & not intended to insult or belittle.
Automatic respect? The simple, human respect we all show (or should show) others, sure. With me, it was "I don't give a damn what you think of Mike Simmons, but you damn well better respect
Chief Simmons." Meaning, of course, the rank. Personnally, I preferred to earn respect thru my work ethic, how I treated others, how I conducted myself & the example I could set for younger troops.
ANY FF who thinks he knows everything about fire & firefighting is dangerous. Guys like that need a good old-fashioned talking to behind closed doors. Every day is a learning experience, & as soon as you lose sight of that it's time to turn it in & go fishing.
Experience is the best teacher of all, but somebody fresh out of rookie school has learned a few things himself & as dynamic as our field is some of what he learned probably wasn't taught when you & I went. You might wanna listen when he sez "I was taught...." We call that a two-way street.
When you're on a small FD like I was, you're just so damn happy to get some new blood in to take some of the load that you AUTOMATICALLY love & respect that person & try like hell to help him succeed.
We are a FAMILY, and this must never be forgotten. Before mounting somebody's ass over something, think, "Would I talk to my brother or sister or my parents like that?"
That answer should be "No". Act accordingly. If the answer is "Yes", get some counselling.
Yeah, I know I'm eatin up your space. I'll back out now. Stay safe.

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