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Want Probies to Learn? Just Yell at Them

Want Probies to Learn? Just Yell at Them

If you’re in the fire service, you’re going to be yelled at from time to time. I don’t care how tough and talented you are, I don’t care if you were the student body president or you dated the homecoming queen. The simple truth is that you will be screamed at. I admit that I haven‚t met you, but I know that you have been, or will go through this. Why? Because these are 2 universal truths that exist in every last fire department in America.

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1) Universal truth number one, you’re new. You will screw up. You just will. You will try as hard as you can to be on your game all the time, but you aren’t perfect- you‚re probie. It might be something small like forgetting to put on your seat belt while riding on the apparatus or not trying to use the handle on a door before putting an axe through it in your excitement to get inside. Or, your error might be something as serious as getting too far ahead of your partner and separated inside a working structure fire. The reality is, eventually, you’re going to make a boneheaded move sometime, somewhere, somehow

2) Universal truth number two: Because you work in crews, when you do screw up, your mistake will be noticed.

Now that we‚ve established that you are going to mess up, you may wonder why you should be yelled at for such a predestined occurrence? You may wonder, why yell and scream when instead, you could just pulled aside for a cordial talking to? Come on Chief- can’t we just reason it out, you know, like guys?

Sorry kids, that stuff’‚s for Hogwarts- you‚re training to be a firefighter not a Harry Potter character. First of all, it’s really loud out there. Either the sirens are running, the truck’s pumping, or the radio is crackling, so to be heard you have to raise your voice. More importantly, firefighting is dangerous and time-sensitive (that’s what makes it an emergency and not a barbeque.) If you make a mistake, it could get somebody hurt, and somebody may need to get your attention RIGHT NOW. They may see something you don’t, or have experience that you don’t have. The guys with you know that if they don’t get things straightened out right now things could go south fast for you, for a brother, or for a patient. It’s nothing personal, your brothers are looking out for you; they want to see everybody go home safe (including any victims involved) and- whether you like it or not- that takes priority over your feelings right now.

That being said, nobody likes being yelled at. It’s embarrassing, because it means that you screwed up and everyone else knows it; plus it’s damaging to your pride because you want to be good at what you do. Finally, it hurts your feelings because a more experienced firefighter is carving you up. I know this as well as any probie, because I’ve been shouted at about as much as anybody else who’s new to the fire service. Yeah, it can be a little surprising when somebody whom you’ve hung out with at the station suddenly changes from Firefighter Jekyl to Batallion Chief Hyde.

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