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I am hoping this discussion can be used in FF 1 classes on the 1st day as a guide from those around the country. Our wealth of experience hopefully can set the tone (on the right foot) for firefighters who are just starting thier careers. Thanks 4 your input. You never know how it might impact someone you never met!

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Chief,

Only one thing? There are so many things I say to new members……

There is one piece of advice that I believe will have a lasting impact on their career and will begin to establish credibility and respect. Although I’m cheating a bit by breaking it into two parts, it is really the same advice. Initially, become a craftsman in the profession. Don’t be satisfied to learn the basics or to maintain the minimum standard. By craftsmanship, I mean to seek out as much information on every conceivable topic by asking questions, conducting research, reading and doing. Learn the fundamentals and then go beyond the basics to create a depth of knowledge that allows you to be flexible enables you to improvise and gives you the ability to troubleshoot problems and fashion solutions. Strive to become the member whose name comes to mind whenever someone has a problem or question. Make it your name that comes to mind when the members are discussing something and want the answer.

The second part is, after you have obtained some measure of craftsmanship; seek continuous improvement throughout the rest of your career. Never settle for the knowledge you have, seek learning every day. Develop short and long term goals for job specific training and formal education. Don’t fear “school”, it will help make you a better person, spouse, parent, friend and firefighter. Remember, you only know what you know, if you seek to learn something new, it won’t happen if you are talking, you have to listen to learn.

The fire service needs leadership and competence at all levels, start with personal leadership. Lead yourself, become a craftsman and seek continuous improvement.
Don't just get on the job get into the job. By doing so you will discover the true spirit and meaning of brotherhood and pride in yourself.
Keep fire in your life!
One piece of advice. I totally agree with both Art and Ray. I usually reserve a moment at the end of the day to recap with recruits, go over some things that came up that day and since I only get them every third day of the academy, I usually try to instill some ethics and integrity lessons. The one thing that I find myself constantly talking about, is devotion to duty. "I am not here for ME, I am here for WE, and WE are here for THEM."

Never forget why we are here. I think that is so important, I made it the academy motto the year I was responsible for running the whole thing. We are public servants, we serve at the public's pleasure. We are also one of the only "heroes" left that common people still have faith in (whether you believe we should be called that or not, isn't the point, ..that is how much of the public feels). So that being the case, we must live our life of service with devotion to duty. We strive for each other, ....so that we can serve them successfully. Fortitude is another good word for it. Every year we teach an academy in our small department and we draw in young people from around the country and almost all of them have never witnessed an attitude of service or seen it role modeled for them. We have to teach them. Their culture is one of "give it to me, I have the right to it" and they willingly let go of it when we show them a better way. Like the Chief said,....."I have only one ambition, and that is to be a fireman." And that is all I ever want to be.
Limited to a single choice I would have to say... Pick good mentors. They will show you what proby school can't. They will steer you in the right direction. They will challenge you. They can help you develop throughout your career, and provide advice as needed. A good mentor will make sure you have the"tools" at your disposal to become a great firefighter.

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