It’s hard to believe but Rookie Firefighter Randy Armbrister has been with us “in company” for a little over 3 months now!

Like with everything, this news has both good and bad points … depending on how you look at it.

When our recruits complete the academy, they are assigned to a company, placed on 1 years probation and have a detailed set of objectives to complete / pass within that year. They are assigned a “Rookie Book” which contains those objectives and are evaluated at the 3, 6, 9 and 12 month mark.

Randy just reached his 3 month mark and let me tell ya …. it’s been a long, hard road!

See one of my 1st posts on Randy by clicking HERE

To successfully pass the 3 month field performance evaluation, the probationary firefighter must …

1.) Demonstrate the location, operation and maintenance of ALL firefighting equipment carried on the apparatus. They must also provide examples of the operation / use of the equipment.

2.) Do the same as above for ALL EMS equipment carried on a Medic truck (ambulance).

3.) Complete ALL BLS or ALS internship requirements needed to become an AIC (Attendant In Charge)

4.) Demonstrate the knowledge of 25% of their 1st due territory.

5.) Demonstrate proper station and apparatus maintenance and cleanliness with the team concept.

6.) Demonstrate knowledge of computer systems

7.) Complete on-line ICS 100 class.

8.) Demonstrate proper radio terminology and use.

9.) Demonstrate proper daily checks and cleaning procedures for SCBA

10.) Read and understand ALL Department directives, SOP / SOG’s and City P.O.P’s

11.) Understand fueling procedures (cards, gates, station forms etc).

It’s been “touch and go” for Randy … good and bad. At times, even his moma would have been proud. Other times … well …. lets just say Randy is a “work in progress” LOL

Click here for previous post ” I HAD TO PULL THE BOOK ! “

The good news is that he mat all of the requirments and will stay employed for at least another 3 months. All kidding aside, Randy has been doing really well and I’ve been very please with his overall performance. I was a little disappointed when he killed us in a training exercise but the good thing there is 1.) it was training and 2.) he learned from the experience. See that post HERE .

We took Randy out to our Regional Training Center last day (Monday) so he could demonstrate a lot of the “basics” that we’ve been pounding into his head.

As would be expected, there is a lot of room for improvement but overall, George and I were pleased.

After he caught the hydrant, we had him stretch a line.

Like happens so often with a 3 man Engine Company, Randy was left to make his stretch alone. We have talked almost every day on how sometimes, slowing down” will make an operation move faster.

In other words, slow down just a bit … take the time to make your stretch right the first time and you wont be inside (held up, wasting time) screaming for someone to “pull more line”.

He made a good stretch and seems to understand the importance  of each aspect of the stretch. He did however make one BIG mistake that will the Chauffer on your ass everytime. Did you spot it? He left his door open.

Adrenilin, tunnel vision, whatever you want to call it. Slow down, calm down. CLOSE YOUR DOOR and take a look around you. Make YOUR sizeup.

We moved on and had Randy throw a few ladders.

Single firefighter carries and throws … again, much like he may be faced with due to running on a 3 man company.

Judging distances / height and choosing the correct ladder is essential. Of course when you’re working off an Engine vs Ladder, the choices are limited. We have a 14′ roof ladder or a 28′ extension (plus an collaspable attic ladder).

We worked on a single firefighter moving an extended ladder from window to another. We employed the roll technique ( rolling the ladder beam to beam ) which in my mind is working smarter, not harder. An extended ladder can be difficult to handle alone.

Again, Randy did very well with this part of his testing / training. If he was about 100 lbs heavier and not as smart, he may make a good “Truckie”. LOL … just kidding Truckies .

After we got the ladders up, we worked on some VES ( Vent Enter Search ).

Again, this is a tactic often utilized by Engine companies just as often as Ladders (Truck) with today’s staffing issues.

For straight Engine Company Operations, you could also work on advancing the line to the 2nd floor up the ladder.

As you would expect, once again; Randy did very well.

I did talk to him about “sounding the floor” when entering the window. I guess in Recruit School, they teach you to sound the floor by “pounding” your tool on the floor. DON’T.

I like to teach to “sweep” under the window with your tool. A lot of times, the victim you are searching for will be found at that window. If you reach in with a 6′ hook or halagan bar and start pounding away, you very well may be bashing the crap out of the very person you were going in to save. So, SWEEP FIRST.

We finnished up with Randy completing his ICS 100 on-line.

I thought he was gonna pull his hair out by the time he got to the test at the end.

That’s why you noticed computer use in the requirments from his Rookie Book. A lot of the training that we have to complete is done on-line. Either from our Training Division or other sources, computer use is a major requirment in today’s fire service.

It kinda goes without saying that Randy is not around computers very much. Like all the other functions, it will get easier and he’ll become more profecient with time.


I told him not to worry about it too much.

If he failed ICS on the computer, I’d drop back to printed books and start him out slow and easy ….

LOL.. the only problem with this plan is keeping him from eating the crayons!

LOL … the good news is that I didn’t have to resort to those means. Randy passed his ICS on the first attempt.

Today has been just as busy for Randy as far as training / learning.


Earlier, we had a pretty big water problem inside a residential structure.

I called in a Ladder truck for salvage and overhaul operations. One of the tools our Ladders carry is a wet or water vac.

Randy does a great job at sweeping and mopping around the station so we thought we’d let him try his hand with the vac.

Without giving too much detail, this home was owned by an elderly gentleman. He has a lot going on in his life and did not need any extra troubles. As fate would have it, a water line inside the house burst.

He had about an inch of water in 3 rooms ( 2 of them with carpet ) and the water still flowing. Obviously, we shut the water off to stop the leak. This is the point were some companies would leave the owner to find a plumber and clean up contractor. We elected to spend a little extra time and do what we could to get the bulk of the water out.

That’s just good PR and customer service that shines your Company, Department and City in a good light. The gentleman was very appreciative and we made a positive impact.

Tonight, we had “driver training” out at the Training Center.

Lt. Simmons gave a very imformitive classroom lecture and followed up with some time in our driving simulator.

The training was supposed to also include actual “backing”  scenarios outsdie, in the dark in our Engine ( it was also pouring rain ). I elected however to skip this part. I did not want Randy’s first time behind the wheel of E13 to be at night, in the rain and backing up.

We have 2 simulators, an Engine / Ladder and an ambulance. We started Randy off slow and put him in the Ambulance.

That’s why I’m the Captain !

NOTE the cracked windshield.

I knew what was gonna happen ……

Randy killed more people in the simulator than U.S snipers in Iraq.

LOL … I’m just kidding … he did fine. He did hit a few cars, a truck or two, some curbs and one hippie looking dude on a bicycle but again, it was training and he learned from the experience.


Here’s a short video of Randy behind the wheel …. BUCKLE UP!

That’s gonna wrap it up for tonight . As always, thanks for reading / following. I’ll check back in tomorrow or Friday. Don’t forget to like, share and recommend this on Face Book or to re-tweet on Twitter.

Stay Safe and in House!

Captain Wines