Being a good boot…

I have had several captains in my time on the job so far. They have all given me tips to be a successful boot. Some of them are as follows:

  • Get to your station between 0600 and 0630.
  • Always introduce yourself to someone you don’t know. This is common courtesy, not just a fire service tradition. This may be your first and last chance to make a good impression.
  • When you get to the station find your relief. When you are going off shift, give a thorough but brief summary of your shift.
  • If your relief isn’t up when you get to your station, start by making coffee, bring in the paper, check out your rig, get your gear ready. Do not turn on SCBAs until after 0700.
  • Flag goes up by 0700, but if the sun is up, the flag can go up. Lower the flag at 1700. A lot will be going on at that time of the day and it’s good to have a reminder other than your crew.
  • Raise and lower the flag in your complete uniform. No T-shirts or PT clothes.
  • Always make sure there is fresh coffee until lunch time. After that, ask if anyone wants a fresh pot. If you are not making a fresh pot, you can have water and new grounds made up.
  • No mingling or sitting in the dayroom. Do not sit and read the paper or have a cup of coffee.
  • Check out your rig and all others at the station. Write down what is in every compartment and memorize them.
  • If you are at a battalion headquarters, you will check out the Chief and EC’s truck and RIC equipment as well.
  • Know the back of the medic truck, where the equipment is, how to set up IVs, and O2 supplies.
  • Have one of the medics show you the inventory of the truck and how they want IVs set up.
  • Some Captains are ok with you to put their gear on or at least next to the rig. Ask them what they want. This also applies to the rest of your crew. Do not assume, but once someone on your crew is at the station you can put their PAR tag on the truck.
  • You are responsible for cleaning the head and then whatever else needs cleaning. Do not start this before the 0700 wake-up call.
  • Have something new to clean or organize each tour.
  • It is your responsibility to answer the phone. Run to get it. It will be a race.
  • Answer the phone with station, rank, and name.
  • Call all Captains by rank and name, even if they tell you not to.
  • The first time your BC comes to the station ask them what they would like to drink. Next time, just get it, don’t ask.
  • Bring ice cream on your first shift and buy ice cream for all your firsts.
  • Bring your chow deposit on your first shift.
  • Bring bedding, sheets, blanket and pillow. You will have a locker to store them in.
  • Have a set of toiletries to leave at the station.
  • Bring at least 2 full uniforms to work each shift. Extra PT clothes, socks and underwear are also suggested.
  • Optional but recommended items in your turnouts: screwdriver, wrench, flashlight, knife, spanner, cable cutters.
  • Most mornings you will be able to get the head and morning equipment check done by 0800. Be ready to work out with your crew.
  • Some stations have line up in the morning. Prior to line up, check DBs and MMs have been updated and bring both clipboards to the table.
  • Update DBs and MMs after 1700 each night.
  • Keep the phone close during line up and at meals. Take a message unless otherwise instructed.
  • Your first tour you should be the last one to go to bed. After that you should make your last walk through the station at 2200 before you go to bed. Lock all doors and gate to the parking area unless instructed otherwise.
  • Do not wear your hat at chow. NEVER wear it backwards.
  • Never watch TV, especially if the medics tell you it’s ok. It’s a set up.
  • Meals are usually at 1200 and 1700 but are later more often than not.
  • Help in the kitchen as much as you can. Get as many good recipes as you can.
  • Be the last to make your plate at chow. Never make your plate before your Captain unless they order you to.
  • If you are at the station and your crew is not and chow is ready, do not start eating. Wait for your crew. Even if the ladder and medics tell you it’s ok, it’s another set up.
  • Clean up from meals is usually 1300 and 1900. If you start early you can expect to be told to stop or expect to do it by yourself.
  • You are on whathever needs to be washed in the sink. Be prepared to hold your ground in front of the sink.
  • You will do the shopping for the meals. You or the person cooking will make the list. Make sure you are clear about what is needed.
  • It is always better to come back with more food than you need.
  • Always check staples even if you don’t make the list. You never want to run out of eggs, PB & J, bread, or coffee. Buy name brand staples.
  • Make sure you have a discount card at whatever store the station shops at.
  • Compare prices on brands and quantities. The lower the chow bill, the better.
  • Take your phone to the store. Doing the shopping is not as easy as it sounds.
  • Kitchen floor gets mopped every night after chow. Sometimes immediately, sometimes before you go to bed. Kitchen trash goes out each night.
  • Before you go to bed, gather any dishes, start the dishwasher, set up coffee, and secure the station.
  • You should be up by 0600, bring in the paper, unload dishes, start coffee, unlock gates, and straighten the station.
  • Clean the refrigerator out on the last shift of every tour.
  • In your spare time you should be studying. If you aren’t studying, you should be cleaning, cooking ,drilling and learning your rig.
  • Limit personal calls.
  • If there is another boot at your station, don’t show them up. You will gain more respect from your crew if you can help them succeed.
  • Do not text or make calls going on calls.
  • On medical calls you will be doing all of the vitals in the beginning.
  • Don’t forget equipment when leaving a call.
  • Protect yourself and your crew. Wear your PPE and carry extra gloves, sleeves, OPAs.
  • On fires your captain decides who is on the nozzle. When you get it, own it. Do not give it to anyone. Especially a medic.
  • You are working the longest and the hardest at fires. No high fives in the front yard. It may be your best day, but it is the property owner’s worst day.
  • Never let anyone tell you not to wear an SCBA.
  • When you go into a fire, always have a tool. Irons, pike, TIC, flashlight.
  • If the fire is out, don’t stand around, clean up equipment, pick up hose. If your crew is ready, help other crews finish up.
  • You should always be in the hose bed when loading hose. When the red line needs to be rewound, help your engineer and clean it with a wet rag.
  • When your engineer needs to back up, you should be the backer. Wear PPE and use the back-up controls.
  • Any time you are out of the rig on a street, always wear your traffic vest.
  • Listen to dispatches. Learn your 100 blocks as quickly as possible.
  • When refueling, you should be pumping. Put on exam gloves to keep fuel off your hands. Know how many gallons you pumped.
  • When your duties are done, find someone to help. Always help the engineer wash or dry the truck.
  • Any time you use equipment you should restock.
  • Always tell your engineer when you are taking equipment off the rig, especially at a fire.
  • BC and EC trucks have coolers with Gatorade in them. Restock and re-ice each shift.
  • When you go for training, volunteer for everything.
  • Hold doors fro your crew.
  • Always have a pen and notepad.
  • Do not wear your hat in a classroom.
  • You are going to make mistakes. How you recover is going to be looked at more than your mistake. Own your mistakes. Take responsibility.
  • Stay in shape!
  • There is nothing wrong with thinking about promoting, but learn how to be a good firefighter/EMT first.
  • The fire service is one of the biggest rumor mills. If you hear something about someone you know, ask them directly.
  • Do not judge someone on hearsay.
  • Never watch someone work. Always lend a hand.
  • Respect seniority!
  • Don’t complain about “BS” calls. You wanted this job. There are thousands of people who would love to have this job.
  • Most people only call 911 once or twice in their life. Your actions are what they will remember.
  • Our job is often described with words like “honor”, “honesty”, and “integrity”. Once this is questioned, you may never get them back.
  • Attitude is also what people on and off the job will remember.
  • Work ethic and attitude will or will not get you recruited by other crews.
  • Don’t forget the hard work it took for you to get this job. Keep working that hard!
  • Volunteer on your days off!
  • You have the best job in the world!
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