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Know About the Culture,
and Fitting In
We in the fire service are old school, are you going to be able
to fit in?
There is one thing that every fire department in the united states, and probably
the world have in common, it’s that they each have their own unique culture.
After you're hired you’ll find things that are done in the station that are
traditions, or habit from so long ago, no one knows when it started or why in,
many cases. L.A. city has stations where every one changes shift at 0600 so
they can beat the traffic. In some departments the newly hire firefighters are
not to go to bed before their captain. In one dept., by tradition when the
meals are served the firefighters and medics eat first, followed by the
engineers, captains, then chiefs, because they have the people who do the most
work eat first. Until a few years ago, in San Francisco the engineer was
expected to hose off the wheels of the engine at 10pm each night, and they
didn’t know why. After doing some research they found out why. It was because
the old apparatus would get horse manure on the wheels during the day and it
would hurt the paint.
There is a change happening in our society today. It’s called extended
teenagership. This is how people are describing that it is sometimes at age 26
or 28 that men are maturing to the level they would have been at 18, back in the
20’s or even the 60’s. is this a bad thing?…well why is it happening. In the
20’s there was a depression and everyone had to work to eat, and get by. In the
60’s the average age of a foot soldier in Vietnam was 18 ½ years old. You sure
wouldn’t have to have your mom tell you twice to make your bed in the morning if
people where shooting at you half way around the world the month before, you’d
just be glad dinner wasn’t coming out of a can.
So, the fact that no traumas have made our young me mature before their ready is
a good thing. But, understand that the people you will be working for were from
those other groups, and they don’t understand you. You have to learn to fit in
with their world not try to bring them into yours. As a punishment in a lot of
departments you have to buy ice-cream when you mess up. How do you think these
old schoolers responded when the rookie pulled out his cell phone and had his
mom bring the ice-cream down to the station?
What you may not understand is that when you are off in the training academy,
everything you do is spread through the whole dept., and when you come out into
the engine companies, right or wrong we feel we already know you. DON’T START
OUT BEHIND THE EIGHT BALL. Do yourself the favor of keeping your nose clean
until you know how to fit in. the things you did in the training academy will
be brought up at your retirement dinner. We don’t forget.
If you can visit, or hang out with some of the people that work for a department
you may be able to start learning their culture before you get hire, but be
careful not to be a pest. Good luck
"Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"
Rob is Captain Bob's Son. He works for Contra Costa fire
department. He does all the entry level coaching by phone nationwide. You can
contact him direct with your questions or set up a coaching appointment @
707-869-1330. or e-mail me @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Ask Rob Any Question
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