Friday, January 16, 2009


From Firehouse Zen:

We are coming to the end of a series of promotional exams for our personnel and I had someone say to me that a certain person deserved a promotion because they were the “most experienced” candidate.

I’m of the belief that experience is only valuable if you actually learn from it. Longevity isn’t the same as experience. Surviving something isn’t the same as living it. There’s a big difference between lasting through a ride on a horse and riding the horse. It’s much like the difference between taking your dog for a walk and the dog taking you for a walk.

The more you see an event occur, or an event like it, the experience becomes valuable if you can constructively critique your performance, understand how you can improve, and make changes to your behavior. If you can’t do these things, your experience is useless.

Benefit comes from being able to see the right pitch, recognizing it for what it is, and to swing when the timing is right. Are you mentally able to let go of your perceptions and beliefs for a minute and recognize that change is difficult, but often required, to improve?
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  1. I totally agree that there is a difference between, seniority and experience. For whatever reason, there is a sense of entitlement that is associated with years of service. Too often, the quantity of years for one person overshadows the quality of years of another.

    So many factors can be considered when qualifying "experience". Quality hands-on training is the quickly becoming a necessary substitute for real-world experience. Fires are down, vehicle safety is reducing extrications but administrative duties (paperwork) is never ending. In order to truly obtain "experience" in today's fire service you have to go and get it (whether it be volunteering or working part-time for another FD or finding additional training).

    The days of reporting for duty and waiting for runs are gone. People with that mentality are dinosaurs and are dangerous. You have to get out of the firehouse, drill and get into these new buildings to stay ahead of the curve.

    From a promotional standpoint, the "system" should be set up to acknowledge and respect years of service, but reward those who capitalize on opportunities to get better at their job. Demonstrating the importance of continuous improvement is the message that we should be sending to younger firefighters and that is what a fire officer's job should be. It is the department's responsibility to ensure that they are sending the right message.

  2. Experience only keeps you from making the same mistake and a good plan keep you from making it the first time!!!


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