Some of you may remember my blog about not knowing when I became the one that the new kids looked to for answers to their questions about fire fighting, but that over the years I had gone from being the one asking all the questions to the one being asked. It was recently brought home to me that I am the one with the experience, when in a class we were asked to give our names and how long ago we started in the fire service. When it was my turn I gave my name and when I said I started in 1982, one of the kids said I was born in 1982 and another said he wasn't even born until 1988. I told both of them that I didn't want to hear any jokes about being old. It also occured to me that while we were in the same class learning the same thing, I had also gained a wealth of experience and that it is now my job to pass along that experience to the younger fire fighters, as it was passed on to me. I don't want to give anyone the idea that I know it all, on the contrary it seems I learn something new all the time, but I do know quite a bit and I have come to the point in my career that I enjoy passing along my knowledge and I believe that it is the responsibility of veteran fire fighters to pass along their knowledge and experience. We as veterans have gained this experience through long hours of training, fighting fires and dealing with the medical and rescue calls. We have earned our stripes and while the new guys have to earn theirs, we can make it easier on them and make them better fire fighters by passing on our experience. We as fire fighters have a long tradition of handing down our knowledge, and experience, and we need to make sure that the tradition continues. I know that sometimes it's difficult to deal withthe newest generation of fire fighters coming up, but remember that they joined the fire service for probably the same reasons that we did, and that desire to help and make a difference in the community we serve , is basic to all of us.

As far as me passing on my experience, I have become a training officer, and an instructor. On the fire scene I am willing to give up the nozzle, and show the new fire fighters how to attack a fire. Don't let all the years we have spent gaining this valuable experience go to waste. Pass it on to the new generation, even if it takes the paitence of Job, and I promise it will be worth every minute.

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Comment by John Schander on October 25, 2009 at 9:41am
Alan, the problem didn't lie with the senior member, he used his expeience and made the right call and was looking out for his little brother. It goes back to what I said about being patient with the new fire fighters and knowing that you might upset them with your decisions, but we as senior members have to stick to our guns and make sure that the new guys get to become senior members.
Comment by Alan Shaw on October 25, 2009 at 8:53am
The flip side of not letting new members use their training may be the need to protect them somewhat. We had an incident a few years back that lead to allot of bad blood. We had a newer member who started palling around with one group of members many of who were ex officers. He got his Firefighter ! very quickly, because of a class that started right when he joined. As a result he was certified but with less experience than most of our new members end up with.

He rode as part of a crew, mutual aid, on our ladder truck to a structure fire. Our crew was directed to cut the roof, but this was going to have to be done with ground and roof ladders not the bucket. This was the second suspicious fire in the same vacant house within a very short period of time. One of the senior guys from the group this new guy hung out with said to the Chief, that maybe we should leave the new guy on the ground this time, it might get bad up there. The Chief agreed and had the new guy set up scene lighting.

After that it was like the Hatfields & the McCoys between this guy and that group of guys. He started hanging with a "rival" click and ultimately ended up leaving the department. Could he probably done the roof ventilation just fine, yeah. Was the senior guys concern well founded, yeah. I can see both sides, but I can assure you that not wanting a member to put his training to good use was not a motivation here. Making sure a new guy didn't get jammed up at his first fire was the only motivation.

Remember that part of being a brother hood, is when the older brothers look out for the younger brothers.
Comment by John Schander on October 22, 2009 at 12:14pm
Dustin, I don't mind if you print this blog, but I don't know if you should just "hang it up", you might want to try giving it to the officers when you talk with them privately.
Comment by Dustin J. Millis on October 22, 2009 at 12:18am
Nope, I am not. The members I am concerned about (the young guys not being able to do anything) are all still probies. If John doesn't mind, I would like to print this blog and just hang it up on the wall for a few days, have some of the officers read it, and see what they say/think.
Comment by Doug on October 21, 2009 at 2:46pm
Dustin, are you still under rookie/probie status? If not, speak up, you may have to offend someone. Do it in private though, and eloquently.
Comment by Dustin J. Millis on October 21, 2009 at 12:20am
John, I wish some of my officers would read this post. I've been in the fire service for a little over two years now. I've been in fires, cut up cars, seen my share of nasty med calls. I dont really want to question the thinking of my officers but lately it seems that a few of them are forgetting the color of their helmet. Example... last week we ran a real simple car accident, single vehicle into a tree, the passenger was still inside the vehicle and the passenger door needed to be popped, no big deal. Our rescue truck rolls with a senior ff as engineer, our safety officer, another ff who got on the dept. the same time I did, and myself. One of my captains was already on scene reporting what would need to be done and the entire trip in, our safety officer made it very clear that he would be the one popping the door when we arrived on scene. I didnt say anything but kinda thought... "ummm.... shouldnt the safety officer be the last one doing extrication while on scene." The call went just fine and in the end the pt. got out and was transported just to be on the safe side.

I could give quite a few more examples of the same situation while on different calls, fires and mva's. I'm not quite sure how to address the situation because I dont want to offend anyone but there are firefighters on the dept. that have been on only a short time and I feel they are being cheated. They have all their proper certifcations and basic training that we all went through and now our officers will not let them put any of that knowledge to use. I feel the best way to learn is by doing the task yourself... "hands on" but they will never have the chance if things continue the way they are...

Any advice?

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