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How do you deal with inexperience from top to bottom? e.i. 28 College students in a fire science program 18-22 years old and most staight out of high school and have never even worked a job, some Lt's and Capt. with VERY MINIMAL experience, and guys like myself with only a couple of years in being considered your senior guys.

Looking for any insight at all.

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Read books. Read articles. Read the forums in this community. Learn from you brothers and sisters.
The fact that there is little experience is on one hand not so good and on the other hand, excellent. Let me explain. Little experience is a problem that must be handled as soon as possible. When a group of firefighters/officers have not had a job or much other real life experiences, they are lacking a perspective. There is much technical and organizational training that must happen to bring these folks up to speed. The more senior people either FF or officers must use every response, every drill, every firehouse discussion and every question asked them as a training moment. The history and traditions of the department, the technical and tactical aspects of engine and truck work and the basics of how to operate harmoniously in the firehouse and on the fireground are all important. Sometimes when I am sitting in the firehouse kitchen after dinner I will ask a young firefighter what year the 23rd street fire occurred. (12 members of the FDNY perished at that fire). Other times we will talk about other significant events and occurrances withing the department. Just about every moment of the day can be used as a training moment.
Now for the good news. Since most of these folks you mentioned have no experience, they probably also don't have any bad habits or other negative tendencies that need to be reversed. That is good and their lack of experience makes them a blank page. You have control over what they learn and how they learn it. That is a great responsibility and also a great opportunity. OK, I've talked enough, get to work with your people.
Great points Chief. This actually brings up another aspect of this relating to the the new guys being a blank page. This is how the program works...They are enrolled and go through a fire academy put on and tought by students that just graduated from the program and a couple of the officers from that district. Our house has nothing to do with the initial training and creation of habits, expectations, standards, etc. They are (for lack of a better word) thrown to our house to increase staffing and give them experience. They only spend about 1 in every 3-5 of their shifts in our house and the rest are spent in stations in the other district. Therefore most of the habits and expectations are created by a different firehouse. This makes it a little frustrating I think for the students and us both because they constantly don't know what to expect and allot of them just don't make it very well in our firehouse. Things like, being expected to fix something when you see it's broke, take out the garbage when you see that its full, etc. Basically just being self motivated, and taking initiative. The other houses are based more off of checklists and task sheets. So you do whats on the checklists and that's that. Not sayin one way is right or wrong but obviously very very different. So from academy they are shown things that when in our house, just don't fly. We expect allot from our guys and people end up either loving our house or hating it. Out of the 28 in the program we have found 4 that have really shined in our house. Any advice on how to approach this with the guys, Lt's, Captains, and Chiefs.
I only have a short 5 yrs time in the field, but I have strived to do as much as possible to learn. As Doug stated books, articles, magizines, etc. I have also attend every possible training opportunity from fire school given by Missouri U. twice a year, FDIC, seminars held at various departments in the area, the internet has many places to learn from youtube ( fire training) and the fire service magazine sites and the most important is from fellow brothers in service from your own department and others in the area. The more information you have before your neck deep in it, the easier it will be to recognise it when the situation comes and hopefully it won't be a total suprise. Knowledge gained by others expierience is like a treasure, it is out there just need to go find it...your family and everyone around you deserve your best. Never stop learning...ever.
I've had similar feelings regarding even my own experience. Coming form the volunteer side, and watching our numbers not dwindle, but seeing our core group assuming all the major responsibility roles within the department, I've questioned my own experience as well as the experience of the men and women I'm attempting to lead.

I've been a Lt. since 2005, but 2008 has offered me the most experience from a firefighting leadership perspective. We had more working fires than we have in recent years, and the increased fire volume gave me the opportunity to make more working jobs and get some interior ops experience as an officer. But beyond the working calls, go to as many calls as you can, learn from every one of them. There is something to learn at even the most mundane calls. Just the other night we had a routine fire alarm: keypads and main alarm panel beeping, but no fire alarm activation. It was a communication failure between the alarm panel and the central monitoring station. But that wasn't where the lesson was--the lesson was dealing with someone who was obviously a firefighter or EMT somewhere who decided to be overly helpful, called the alarm company using her cell phone, and kept giving the alarm company representative bad information. Tactfully getting the phone out of her hand to put out whatever fires she started with the alarm company was the lesson I was learning.

Never stop going to training sessions, even if you think you're going back to hear the same messages again and again. They will help you in the long run.


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