Becoming the Old Fireman.

No matter how long you have been in the fire service, I’m pretty sure you have heard this one before; “The best thing an old firemen can teach a young firemen is how to be an old firemen”. That said,  is the tradition of becoming the old fireman fading? Too often we see WEP_information~~element40firefighters that want to climb the ranking ladder and not earn there street credit riding backwards. Being the old fireman is not a bad thing no matter what anyone tells you! I am by no means the old fireman, yet. But I have stepped up as a Lieutenant and senior man. I have started to pass on what i know by mentoring new firemen. It’s the handing down of fire department operational knowledge that helps hold the integrity of our mission together.


It doesn’t take much to become a mentor in the fire service. If you have an “all-in” attitude and the training to back your tactics then share your knowledge with those new guys. If you are ever selected as  a mentor in your department then take it as an honor. Your leadership is placing the task of moldingCITfire02P013115 that new member in your capable hands. You are there to be their go-to-guy to teach them and show them what this service is all about.

Now that you have mentored a younger fresher member. What is next on becoming the old firemen? Early morning shift change talks over coffee?. Early and late night training operations? Encourage younger members on gaining not only class room training but using every emergency as a training opportunity. War stories of fires past and bizarre calls and the crazy solutions you invented to mitigate them all help create a picture and an expectation of what future calls may hold.  Those are a few things the old fireman does to strengthen their members.


My hope is that after you read this that you think about how you can step up and mentor and help a younger fresh member of your fire department. If you do not open up the doors to a member and encourage his participation in the department then you can not complain when they never show up!

6 thoughts on “Becoming the Old Fireman.

  1. Very true I retired as Deputy Chief from a vol. sta. In Pa my time as training officer I think was my most proudest time I would start basic fire sch. With the young guys till they met others and fault comfortable a watch them come in to there own the bold you have with these guy is awesome. Then as Deputy to tell a young guy he did a great job the look on there faces was priceless because it came from a white hat and I was smileing from ear to ear because you helped mold and made him proud of him self.

  2. A great article Riley! With call volumes going down in most places as we succeed in our education and awareness efforts, training and mentoring is more critical than ever. Retirements and the demographic shift is also making the senior-man (or woman!) younger in years, but don’t let that fool anyone. 20 years on making 1 call a month versus 7 years on making 20 calls a month makes a big difference. Passing on knowledge and experience is critical to the success of the individual, the crew and the station.

  3. I’ve seen it so many times… Old Heads get mad cause the New Boys don’t show them any respect. This article says it all… You want respect from the New Boys? Then give them a reason to respect you. Do your job and do it well. Share your knowledge and experience. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to learn something yourself. You’ve made it through to the twilight of your career but you’re not done yet. You still have an obligation to help them make it through too!

  4. So true, I passed on moving up just to be next to the new kid. At times I could see the brass shake their heads but I made sure everyone went home. I took a note when I started from two of my senior fire fighter. Ten years later I took their advice. I left my brothers and sisters to be with my daughter and spend the time they missed with their kids. One my saddest day but one of my best choices.

  5. I know you don’t become an old Firefighter on your own or by being stupid we have to confidence to walk into dangerous situations because we trust our crew to back us up remember the guy you mentor might be the one backing you up

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