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Firefighters are Brothers, Not Friends

Firefighters are Brothers, Not Friends

Ethan Vizitei

Firefighters are more than simple friends. Friends go out for pizza on Friday nights. Friends come over to watch the game on your television. “Friends” also have a tendency of disappearing when times get tough. You can’t fight fires with friends. To fight fires you need the brotherhood.

Last week I asked my biological brother, a firefighter on the department I’m training with, about the burnout rate for probies. I was curious because my recruit class is just about to graduate and statistically, I know that about 20% of my class will not be active in the department next year. I wanted to know how I could avoid being in that 20%. I want to keep getting better after recruit class is over; I want to grow and develop within this department. How could I make sure that I’d still be here when next year rolls around?

His answer was short, it was eye opening, and it can be summed up in three words: “become a brother.”

The first year at your new station will be tough physically and mentally, for sure. I’m positive that I’ll be aching badly after my first multi-hour fire at 2:00 o’clock in the morning. I have no doubt that my first pediatric medical call will be an emotional struggle. Ultimately though, the hidden force that can shut you down more effectively than a weak body or devastating calls is ostracism, of being excluded from the tribe. The only way to make it as a firefighter is by becoming a brother.

How do you become a brother when you are just the new probie? Who wants another wide-eyed probie around?

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