These boots

I’m officially no longer a boot.

boot
/boot/
noun
A probationary firefighter

Yay!

hmmm…. I don’t know that “Yay” really sums up what I’m feeling right now. Perhaps “I’m elated!!” is a little closer.

The last 3 years have been arduous to say the least. I started this process in the fall of 2013. I went to night school for EMT, and then Fire 1 & 2 at the Pima academy. Then I got hired on and quit my I.T. career and then did a 22 week academy. It’s been a thrilling ride!

Since completing academy in December of 2015 I have been in the field and on probation. Our department does 3 modules during your probationary year. These modules cover all of the knowledge and skills you should have when you get out of academy. At intervals throughout the year you have module tests and oral board interviews. Those can be pretty stressful. You sit with your Captain, another Captain, and your Battalion Chief and they question you about all of the aspects of your job. Then they test your practical skills. Needless to say, your career depends on your performance.

Throughout this whole process you’re the “boot” at the station. You’re the guy (or gal) that sprints for the phone, you clean all the toilets, you do most of the cooking, you get all of the tasks that are less than desirable. You’re making a name for yourself. Everyone on the job scrutinizes everything you do. To be clear, as a firefighter you do all of those things anyway, but being the boot has the added pressure of being able to be fired with little to no recourse. This can play out in everything from poor performance to station life. If you’re just not able to fit in, you could be out… even after academy and modules and everything else that goes into it. People have been fired in their last 3 weeks of probation. It happens.

So after 18 months (academy for 5 months and probation for 13 months) you log into the staffing site and next to your name it no longer has (Prff) … You’ve made it. No pomp or ceremony, but you better make sure you get some ice cream for your crew that day.

If you’ve read this far, chances are you’re one of the people that has helped carry me this far. You’ve prayed for me, cheered for me, showed up for milestones along the way, listened to me whine, or just had a beer with me. Thank you. I never could have made it this far without God carrying me and you to cheer the way. Also, thanks to my wife Ciara, and my kids, Jeremy, Layla, and Deanna. They have all sacrificed to no end and have helped to make this dream a reality every single day.

Truly a great day. Now I’ve gotta go, as I have work to do!

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