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Firefighter jobs: Teaching firefighting basics to new hires

As your department puts on new members, we give them a riding assignment on the engine, but do we ever tell them what they need to know to fill the seat?

By Todd Jennings
Taylors Fire Department

For years, the fire service has had the positions of Officer, Driver, and Firefighter on the engines and trucks. But what do they actually mean and what are their responsibilities?

No matter what you call them they all hold the same job assignments. In this article, we will take a closer look at each position.

Let’s start with the Firefighter. As your department puts on new members, we give them a riding assignment on the engine, but do we ever tell them what they need to know to fill the seat?

We can’t blame them for mistakes if we don’t train them or even just give them the heads up on what we expect them to do. Let’s take a look at what a firefighter should know when he or she takes the seat for the first time.

  1. Which seat they are assigned to. This may sound amateur, but we all know that everyone has a special seat and most people don’t want the new member to take over their seat. So by telling them which seat is theirs, then there will be no problem when the first call comes in.
  2. What will be their first assignment upon arrival? This should cover things like what tools to take, if they are the hydrant connect, or if they are the line stretcher. On the scene is not the time to tell the probie what he or she needs to do. As we all know, this will start the scene off on the wrong foot. And when this happens, your fire scene will go downhill.
  3. What is expected of them during the fireground operations? Once the first assignment has been completed, what do you expect the new member to do? This will vary with each department’s policies. Some large departments may only have a single assignment and once that is accomplished, your task is done. But in smaller departments, each member has several tasks to perform during the duration of the fire. Make sure that the new member knows what task is given and understands that task to the fullest.
  4. After the fire. This is where we all seem to go wrong. Once the fire is out and we are all back at the station, what should be done? The new probie must know what post actions the department performs. S

    ome departments have critiques, and some don’t. If your department does, then the new members need to know how that works and what may be expected from him or her.

    Also, there are several tasks that must be done after each call. The truck needs to be put back into service. This includes washing the engine, cleaning equipment, loading hose, and filling air packs.

    Make sure that the members know how to perform each of these to the department’s policy and have the skills to do so.

Being the new guy is always tough. We need to make sure that we make this a simple and not too painful experience for all. By assuring that the new members have all the information they need, we are making their life and ours a whole lot easier, not to mention for the department as a whole.