Last week we discussed two fundamental character traits; those traits were maintaining a strong work ethic and taking the proper initiative. This week we are going to cover two more equally essential character traits that will help you achieve success throughout your fire service career:
The academy and the probationary period can be compared to a pressure cooker. You will be pushed beyond your physical and mental limits. However, having a positive attitude with the correct mindset will enable you to overcome this pressure.
There will be bad days. There will be days where you will be completely broken down. You will find out what you are made of and what your limits are during this process. It is essential to know what your pain threshold is and also what you are capable of achieving under pressure. This is a profession where you will be under pressure your entire public safety career. It is essential to learn how to improvise, adapt, and overcome in this stressful environment. Remember, this is the best job in the world. Every day we are on duty is an opportunity to help someone that needs us to mitigate his or her emergency.
Passion is contagious, and so is negativity. One is motivating, and the other is a disease. Stay out of “Negative Town” city limits. Don’t allow yourself to be consumed with negative energy. Focus all of your energy on building positive, meaningful relationships with your fellow academy classmates. Lead your mindset and don’t allow yourself to be a victim of the mental trap of negativity. You are in control of your thoughts and the ability to overcome any mental obstacle. Rise above the negative environment and be aggressively positive.
It takes leadership to be a follower. First, you have to lead yourself. Everyone can be a leader by first leading themselves. Followership is leadership. Remember this concept while in the academy and beyond in the probationary period. Be the best follower that you are capable of being for your fire officers and senior firefighters. When you are at your best, your leadership can be at their best. It takes a team effort to be effective on the fire-ground. Remember, it is our citizen’s worst day in their lives when they place the call to 911. We have to be at our best for them.
Take pride in everything that you do. There is an opportunity to leave your unique set of fingerprints on everything you touch throughout your public safety career. Take pride in knowing that you are making a positive difference. Take pride in this profession. Take pride in serving your community. Take pride in your appearance. Every action is an opportunity for you to demonstrate just how proud you are of being a public servant.
The probationary firefighter displays leadership qualities by maintaining a positive attitude with the correct follower mindset. There is greatness within you. During the probationary period, you will have to consistently self-evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Aforementioned within this series; you must strive to remain humble while your leadership showcases your specific strengths, and they most certainly will assist you with overcoming your weaknesses.
Cover Photo Courtesy: Rob Fling
Chris Baker, has over thirteen years of experience in volunteer, combination, and career, fire departments in California. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Anthropology and Associates of Science Degree in Fire Service Command, Company Officer. Chris is a California State Fire Training certified Fire Officer, Driver-Operator, Fire Instructor, and Lead Firefighter I Certification Evaluator. He has over nine years of teaching experience as an Adjunct Instructor in the EMS discipline, Firefighter 1 Academy Instructor, and Fire Science Instructor in the California Community Colleges System. Chris is a member of the California Fire Technology Directors’ Association and the California Training Officers Association. He served as a volunteer Peer Reviewer on the FY 2017 Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response Grants (SAFER) for both hiring and recruitment/retention. Chris also served as a Peer Reviewer on the FY 2017 Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) and the FY 2018 Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG). He is a Volunteer Advocate Regional Manager, Region IX (CA, NV, AZ, HI) for the Everyone Goes Home Program through the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Chris also serves as a volunteer member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Safety, Health and Survival Section serving in their staging area. He was a member of the 2018 and 2019 Safety Stand Down committees. Chris is a member of the Board of Directors and Public Information Officer (PIO) for the National Fire Heritage Center located in Emmitsburg, Maryland. He is a National Fire Service Instructor teaching at notable fire conferences across the country including the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) International. Chris is the co-host of the Fire Engineering: The Future Firefighter Podcast, and he writes blog articles published through Firefighter Nation and the Fire Engineering Training Community on mentoring the future generations of the fire service.