Yesterday was the third shift of my current tour. It was also my 38th birthday. I’m usually pretty quiet about my birthday (being an introvert and all). However, my Captain, and one of the Rescue guys at my station discovered it was my birthday. Rescue Steve and Rescue Frank bought me a Chocolate Tres Leches cake (which was amazing and a very pleasant surprise! (Thanks Guys!))
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:
Graduation day. The day I had been working towards for 21 arduous weeks.
The evening before graduation was “family night,” an evening which we got to display our skills for our loved ones. The whole proceeding felt like a dream. My teammates and I came into the academy later than usual that day to begin the setup for the evening’s evolutions. We were allowed to wear our “official” blue shirts! I was assigned to the “vehicle extrication” demo. We made a couple of cuts ahead of time so we could keep the demo time low as there were many to get to. As we cleaned up our tools in preparation for the arrival of the crowds I began to feel excited and like it was really almost time to go.
As the families and friends began to trickle in, the sun started to set, bathing the entire drill ground in a reddish glow. It was beautiful and only added to the moment. As darkness settled, we marched in as a class, singing a “jodie”. We demonstrated our abilities to our families to show what we had been doing while we were away from them for so long. For me, it was a very proud moment. God had carried me all the way to the finish line!
At the end of the evening, we went up onto the tower and they announced each person and we stepped up to the railing and announced “FIREFIGHTER YourNameHere” and rang the giant bell. It was very final and each ring of the bell vibrated my chest with pride. So much so that I thought it would burst!
The next morning I dressed in my blue shirt and admired my cleaned, pressed, uniform that was adorned with official patches. In excitement we headed to the venue of the ceremony. As we arrived, we all milled around restlessly, ready for the ceremony to begin. We did a practice walk-through and continued to wait.
As the graduation began, we were lead in by the pipe and drum band. At the sound of the bagpipes I immediately began to get choked up. I could not believe the day was finally here. We progressed through the auditorium past what seemed like a thousand eyes and lenses, brimming with tears and pride. They all matched my own. As I neared the front of the hall, I saw my beautiful wife, kids, friends, and my parents. We had made it.
As we took the stage, we pledged allegiance to the flag and heard the national anthem sung. My head was spinning with the raw emotion. We heard speeches from the brilliant Training Chief, the Chief of the department, our super boot, and our keynote speaker. All the while, it was mostly a blur to me as I kept trying not to look at my wife or my mother, lest I get as choked up as they were.
We were issued our badges and swore our oaths. I meant every word of it. With each word, I felt the weight of the past 21 weeks lifting off of me. God had carried me across the finish line!!
As my wife pinned that badge to my chest, the tears came. I choked them back but the emotion welling up in me was too much. We held each other for so long, assuring each other that by the grace of the Almighty, it was over and life was now going to be very different.
Looking back on the days leading up to (and including) graduation, it was a huge blur. A warm glow of triumph that lasted for quite a few days. The battle was over. I had made it. God had carried me every day. Just like He promised He would!
Tohono O’odham Fire department in Tucson, AZ
Today’s Foto, courtesy of photog500
They say that first impressions are important. It seems that in the fire service this is doubly true. I’ve heard no end of mention that whatever impression you create in your first year in the service will follow you around for your entire career.
Being around the house and hearing stories of firefighters past and present it becomes painfully apparent that this is very true. People form their impressions of you right away and it’s very difficult to change those impressions later.
The advice that I keep getting is to make sure you work hard and keep your nose clean during your boot year because being a lazy boot can sink your whole career.
There are lots of little things that go into others’ opinions. Some of the things I have learned can help you to make a good impression are things like:
- Always introduce yourself to anyone you don’t know
- Always be the host at your station
- Offer coffee or water to any guests
- Notice when work is happening and be involved
- Be the hardest working person on your crew
- Never be standing still
- Always volunteer
- Clean, drill, or study at all times
- Be the first one up
- Be the last one to bed
Be friendly, work hard, be safe!