After you spend a while in the fire service your experience teaches you a few things that don’t necessarily come from the textbook. A lot of what you learn will come from the people you work with, and hopefully you will get some good training from your training division. There are a few things that you will learn on your own, and those things might be the most important. Here are a few lessons you don’t want to miss.
1. You are not driving a race car. Having lights and siren is not a license to speed, blow traffic lights, or drive recklessly. I have seen people get into this field just for the thrill of emergency driving. Truth of the matter is there is really no thrill to driving an emergency vehicle, it actually takes a lot of concentration, and skill. So if you are planning on driving a race car the fire service is not the place for you.
2. Watch out for your own safety. I don’t mean that you shouldn’t trust your officer or co-workers, but I do mean that you are responsible for your own safety. That means you need to know the building and situation you are getting involved with. Unless it is your first day you should have enough knowledge to help keep yourself safe. Always listen to the more experienced firefighters, but don’t be led into situations you know are unsafe.
3. Make a choice to be positive. A career in the fire service can be very rewarding. You will meet a lot of friends, and have a lot of fun, and at the same time you will be helping others. Just like any job there will be days, or situations that will not be quite so fun. There are some things that can get you down, and some firefighters spend the majority of their career living in the negative moments. You can choose to enjoy and live in the positive, or you can dwell on the negative.
4. Try to stay fit. It is easy to tell the difference between the new guys and the ones that have been around a while, the old guys have bigger waistlines. Not many firefighters will argue the fact that we all gain weight through our career. Sometimes we gain a little and sometimes we gain a lot. One reason we gain weight is that we are good cooks, and we eat too much. It is really impossible to maintain a healthy diet when the cook makes enough different things to make everyone happy. We eat too much, we eat too often, and we don’t usually eat right. When you combine that kind of eating with a job that takes you from sleeping to full out work in a matter of minutes you are looking for trouble. Not many people understand what it’s like to go from sleeping to rushing into a burning building with a couple minutes. It’s difficult but try to eat healthy and participate in some kind of fitness program.
Follow these rules and you have a better chance of enjoying your career. They are simple things that can make a big difference.