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I recently read the blog post on how to be the new guy from a new guy and it fired me up a bit. While I agree with many of the points on station life I believe this mentality is slowing fire service growth. I’d like to offer a different viewpoint and see how others in the fire service feel.

Station life, absolutely your job is to be the first out of the chairs and to do the cleaning that others prefer not to do. It’s your job to make the coffee and wipe the tables down after breakfast. This makes sense, it’s the expectation of a new member of the department. This mentality however does not translate to fire service training and tasks.

The fire service is changing. It’s becoming more diverse and that leads to less lifelong members. This is my own belief, but the way I see it we are gaining more individuals from other professions and backgrounds and losing more members to other professions as well. This means we need to accept that new firefighters have a broad knowledge base that is valuable to the department. To say you’re new you know nothing is ridiculous.

If we continue to beat our new members down to the point where they are too nervous to say anything we are failing in our profession. We are restricting growth because our pride and ego won’t allow us to accept someone who just walked through the door knows more about a specific topic than we do. One of the most valuable aspects of a new hire is a fresh set of eyes that can look at a process and say “is there a reason we don’t do it this way?” Obviously the way this is brought up is important. Respect your senior firefighters and always be willing to have a thoughtful discussion when it comes to firefighting.

One last point. The real issue with this mentality is when it comes to safety. If we continue to discourage speaking up we are creating a dangerous situation on the fireground. If you see something you need to say it. Don’t be afraid to get on the radio and call out hazards. I don’t care how long you have on, you have to speak up when it comes to keeping our brothers and sisters safe.

Just wanted to offer another viewpoint and maybe spur some good discussion.

Stay safe out there,

Andrew Olson

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