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As a veteran firefighter, what advice would you give a rookie?

You will be anxious during a fire, maybe scared, but nothing is wrong with that


A question posted recently on Quora asked, "What advice would a seasoned firefighter have for a new firefighter?" Dan Cook, a retired firefighter, gave his opinion on the topic below. Check it out and add your own thoughts in the comments.

A lot of things that there is not enough time for here. Let's start with you have two ears, two eyes and one mouth; so watch and listen more than talk. Save your mouth for meals and asking questions.

When you get to a fire scene or even a practice, never anticipate the officer's commands. You are part of a team. The worst thing you can do to make things go sideways is to make a wrong decision when you first arrive on scene, like a guy that started pulling hose when the truck stopped at the fire on the way to the hydrant so I could start the size-up. Fortunately, we were able to pull that one back together, but that guy had to live with that mistake for a while. Firefighters seem to never forget when you have a screw up.

What advice would you give? Sound off in the comments below. (Photo/Joe Thomas of Greenbox Photography)
What advice would you give? Sound off in the comments below. (Photo/Joe Thomas of Greenbox Photography)

Work hard, don’t be a slacker; you will get a reputation and it won’t be easy to shake. On the opposite side of the coin, don’t be a know-it-all, because you probably don’t.

Leave captains and chiefs alone when they are working in their office; they have all been through what you are doing and are probably working on something important. Respect your seniors, they have been doing what you are now doing and should be able to help; these are the people to ask questions. If they don’t have an answer, they will ask the company officer. That is the beginning of the chain of command.

You will be anxious during a fire, maybe scared, but nothing is wrong with that. The guys with you have been doing this longer and will know when to pull back or get out of there.

Know which way is out, this will include how to read a hose coupling and how you enter and search a building. Some of my most anxious moments were being trapped or lost. Lost alone was the worst. Backdrafts, flashovers and explosions won't give you time to be scared, but may get you mad. I've never experienced a backdraft, but have experienced flashovers and explosions.

Good luck. Have a great career and stay safe.

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