When growing up around guys who fixed everything on their own, you tend to learn a lot. I used to sit back and have to watch people work on things as a kid because they didn’t want me to get hurt or dirty. As I aged, I got to do a little more every time there was a project or when something needed to be fixed. Through life, you experience things that, if you pay attention, you will learn from. Do you see where I am going with this?
The fire service is just like life, you start out as an infant, and through the years you’re allowed to do more and more as time passes. The old saying of crawl, walk, run is always a good rule to follow in life. No self-respecting fireman will throw a new guy into a fire and say “here you go kid.”
As an infant, you become familiar with your surroundings. Your apparatus, buildings, SOP’s/SOG’s. You show that you can crawl by knowing all these things undoubtedly, like the back of your hand. While you’re crawling, you are the 5th man or the lay out guy, not exactly what you expected out of this gig. But remember you’re still watching.
Now that you can crawl let’s see if you can walk. Now you are responsible for pulling the dump load and feeding hose to the men inside, laddering the building or taking care of the gas shut off. The boss still watching over your shoulder to make sure you won’t get hurt, but he’s letting you do enough that you feel like you have accomplished something.
Walking proud and tall, it’s your day to run. The boss tells you to grab the nozzle and go. You turn around, and the backup man on the line is the guy that has taught you everything he knows, don’t let him down. Have no fear though he won’t let you hurt yourself, he will be there every step of the way reassuring you that you’re doing a good job and if you’re not he will let you know.
One day you will see an infant crawl, then walk and ultimately run. Remember that you once could only crawl and be conscious of that. Be the guy that teaches them all the little idiosyncrasies within the job, that way when they start running they don’t run too fast. In the end, you can sit back as they teach others and be proud of what they will accomplish.