And now, the HARD part begins…

Yesterday, I was back to duty and my first order of the day (beyond PPE checks etc) was an extra detail of PAPER WORK!

I hate paper work but this was some I didn’t mind. Our favorite little “Rookie”, Rocket Randy Armbrister;  from Max Meadows, Virginia is eligible to come off of probation.

Randy came  “in Company” back on July 10, 2011. See that post by clicking HERE .

Of course, it wasn’t long before I had to “pull the book” on him and get him back on the “straight and narrow” …. LMAO …see that post HERE .

It’s been a good year  and I’ve been VERY pleased with Randy’s performance / progress.

He graduated with Honors from  Recruit Class #14.  A 16 week “Rookie School” where candidates receive State level training and certifications in classes such as Firefighter I & II, EMT-B, Haz-Mat Awareness, EVOC, MAYDAY, RIT and much, much  more. It’s basically Firefighter “Boot Camp”.

Randy passed all requirements and graduated receiving the “Captain Chris Brown Character Award” It says a lot about how he handled himself during Recruit School.

As mentioned above, he was assigned to Engine Company #13-C on July 10, 2011 and most think that day (when the Rookies are assigned to company) is when you begin to “coast”….. NOT IN MY COMPANY!

For me, that’s when the recruits begin to learn the difference between “the book” and “the street”. This is the time where Captains and Lieutenants hone a young recruit into shape. It’s where and when they learn the “common sense” of firefighting. There are just so many “tricks” and “techniques” that we’ve learned over the years that just aren’t in the books…. this is our time to pass em on.

Plus, every Company / Department is different. We all have different response areas, different types of building construction, we need different hose loads, different strategies / tactics etc. This is the time that a Firefighter earns his stripes …. it’s when and where they learn to fight fire and become firefighters.

It was no different for Randy.

His first day was all about his SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus). If he didn’t know it inside and out … if he couldn’t operate with it on … if he couldn’t make a bottle last past the front door …. if he couldn’t recognize and correct a potential problem then he would be useless to me, the company and the Battalion.

That day, he did all his station duties wearing his SCBA.

He cleaned and swept. He mopped the floors and even mowed the grass while wearing his SCBA.

I posted about it  HERE   and took a lot of grief over it.

TRUST ME … I had his best interest in mind. I was not “busting balls” or picking on him. I needed to make sure he was comfortable in his SCBA. I needed to know that he could work in a stressful situation and remember to control his breathing …. trust me AGAIN … HE WAS STRESSED.

Much to my surprise (at the time), Randy did VERY well. I was impressed.

we moved on to Calling the MAYDAY …. Self Rescue … Searching …. Stretching the Line …. Fire Attack … Hydrant work etc.

In the past year, we’ve covered it all and in DETAIL.

I hope Randy has realized how lucky he has been to have had a Senior Firefighter like Todd “Boots” Harris and a Lieutenant like George Perdue to “show him the ropes”.

I think he knows and I’m sure he’s learned a thing or two along the way over the past year. As a Captain, it’s been exciting to watch …. a huge source of PRIDE in knowing that we are passing along something that we LOVE to do.

Again I’ll say that Randy has done VERY well. It’s obvious that this is the job he wants and he’s willing to work for it.

With all that, and a full year behind us; it was time for me to make a decision. Time for me to put MY name on the line.

Time for me to write a letter … one way or the other.

That picture to the left is the letter I wrote. Click on it and enlarge it so you can read it …. I think it’s pretty much self explanitory.


I’m PROUD of Randy!

I’m PROUD of our Training Division, of my Company and of our Department for setting our standards so high. Randy will make a good fireman.

I hope that one day he will remember everything those who have contributed to his development gave … I’m sure he will … it’s in his character. More than that, I hope that one day, he too will pass along all that he’s learned to another young recruit. He should never quit learning.

Here’s the thing …. I’ve submitted the letter. If the Chief accepts it and signs off, the easy part is done …. NOW is when the HARD PART begins.

It’s EASY to get this far …. hundreds if not thousands of members get this far. The “hard” part is “keeping fire in your life”…. staying “Battle Ready”.

Keeping the desire to learn. To train, to stay healthy, physically fit and in the shape to do the job required of you. To keep motivated. To keep the discipline to push yourself to the “next level”.  To maintain a positive attitude.

My good friend and Brother Firefighter Zach Green of MN8-FoxFire once gave me a gift. It was a framed quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson and it says ” Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path & leave a trail” 

That’s a pretty awesome quote and I think it fits perfectly. Our “Rookies” are the next generation firefighters. We have to give and show them what we know and have learned then hope they carry on the tradition…. I’m excited to see where they take us!

Congratulations to Randy Armbrister and all the other members of Recruit Class #14 who have made it off probation … make us PROUD Brothers!

Stay SAFE and in House!

Captain Wines