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The probie to-do list

By Tony Vitalie

The role of the probationary reserve, cadet or other new firefighter around the station is not a very glamorous one. Understanding your role from day one is very important, because first impressions can last a lifetime.

If you have been fortunate enough to have someone clue you in and educate you as to the do’s and don’ts of conduct, consider yourself very fortunate. If you have not yet been informed, then the list below may be the first step in helping you to understand your role and what is expected of a new firefighter around the firehouse.

The following is a sample “to do” list from shift change to 12:00 pm.

  • Arrive in uniform before the rest of the crew having already eaten breakfast and with food for yourself for lunch and some kind of snack food for the whole shift. (If waking up at the firehouse you want to be the first out of bed and in uniform)
  • Make coffee
  • Get paper
  • Raise flag
  • Unload dishwasher, wash any dishes left over from night before and clean kitchen
  • Check personal protective gear
  • Check out, stock and clean equipment
  • Make snacks for the crew
  • Do station laundry
  • Don’t wait or expect anyone to tell you what to do. Look around for what needs to be done and do it.

Once these house and other duties are done you should spend any spare time washing a rig, sharpening tools, studying, going over equipment or otherwise working on your skills.

Every firehouse is different and every crew is going to have slightly different expectations from their new personnel. Adhering to very strict standards of conduct and exhibiting and infallible work ethic will go along way with any and all personnel you work with.

Establishing these patterns of behavior are not just important to make a good impression and establish a good reputation early on, it lays the foundation for the rest of your career.

When practiced consistently over time, these good habits and a selfless work ethic tend to carry over well beyond probation. Establishing and maintaining this behavior is the key to help you to thrive not just during probation, but throughout your career.

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