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 firefighters 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 molding 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!