What keeps me up is the influx on new guys to my job, new officers and senior guys. We are a small department, 2 stations, 15 full time and 20 part time. Last year I got two probies, both of the 'street' with no experience. Forest, you may know one, Bob Meyer, he went to SUFD. This year I got two more probies. Both with under one year total service. This year I will lose at least one senior guy, enter the probie, next year I will lose two senior guys, more probies. So from last year to two years from now, I will have 7 guys with under three years and 8 senior guys over them. Not a total 'icky' situation at all. Fresh ideas and young attitudes are good for business, (sometimes). Did I also mention my Chief has less than two years in the boss' chair?
But I have the new firefighters to worry about, I do put them through a pretty intense welcome to the job, here is what we do, get in and hold on kinda thing. Not fair to them I know, but as a small town, we need the manpower. We have a max of 5 per shift, but a min of 3. Seems like we live at the 3 manning all the time.
I also have the 2 new officers and 3 new senior guys that ride the front seat when the officer is off, or if we have 5 that day, the officer goes out in the buggy. So I have to make sure my officer/leadership training is spot on along with my introduction to firefighting training is hard,fast and understandable. By no means am I saying I have a perfect plan going here, but as for now it is working and I stress safety at all times. If they are not sure, don't go.
My probies are willing to learn and put in extra time by doing training projects I give them on and off duty to complete. The new officers are harder to get moving in the direction I want, but they are at least moving. We do get a pretty good amount of fire duty where we are, so the training needs to be hard and fast, but at least they get to see what they learn often.
So, what keeps me up at night, hoping I am getting the right and proper information to two total different groups of people, hoping they understand it all and implement it when and how it is intended to be done.
Your at the point in your career where you are making the transition to the experienced guy that everyone coming on will look to, they'll be watching, listening and learning all the time, lots of pressure on you even when you dont realize it. Your reaction to these frustrations and manpower issues sets the tone for their entire career.
Getting and passing along the best/most information and holding your people accountable for their own professional development is a key to this puzzle. Cultivate the old timers while you have them, make sure they pass along those trade secrets, knowledge of buildings and the history and traditions of your job. Big vacuum will be left, but someone will fill it, sounds like you right now.... Keep it up!
Good Rob, situational awareness is a big buzz word right now and a deadly problem. Read something, listen to somebody and make a mental replay you can refer to when you in similar situations. An example from a bunch of years ago is when I had read an article in a mag. about using a CO2 extinguisher to chase away bees, some time (yrs) later, I had a call where we were swarmed by bees at a call and grabbed an extinguisher to protect us, worked real well. At the time I read it, I never had an idea that i was putting something it the back of my then black haired head, now much grayer.
I agree with your comments. I think the problem comes from this: If we had say 12 good offiers and 2 excellent officers the mentoring would be natural (somewhat). But with 12 minimum performers (who are all excellent on the 5% of the job which is the scene) the mentoring and example seting is not there. I simply cannot model company officer behavior and coach everyone every day, not even some days.
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