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Getting the Old and Bold involved with Recruits

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Just seen an Instagram story from Dublin FB, and have seen it before from US Fire Depts, what are peoples thoughts on getting retired members to come down and talk to the new recruits in service? 

I often feel a lot of tradition is gradually being eroded in this job, with high retirement rates and low (at times) recruitment rates, meaning there's a lot of people serving with not much time in.

This could be a great way of reinstalling a sense of pride and belonging in a fire service through the new entrants. 

I'm often called a fire nerd or a spotter, but truth is I love the job and feel like a lot of the time it's becoming "just a job" to people who years ago would have also fell in love with what is arguably the best job in the world.

This could also be a great way to keep retired members a part of the fire family. I know a lot of FF struggle when they leave, especially for some who the fire service has been 2/3 of their entire life and feel somewhat detached when they're suddenly not on a watch

Just my thoughts

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It's a wonderful idea, but would be a complete anathema to the modern fire service, especially LFB where the undercurrent is old=bad, new=good. I am often critical of what I feel is the 'cheesiness' of US Fire Departments obsession with tradition, but one thing they do vey well within that is respect for those who went before and the continuation of valuable tactics in among some of the more questionable traditions. 

I'd happily volunteer some time to speak to youngsters, but I know it would be about as popular as a turd in a swimming pool. 🤷‍♂️

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@Rory-495 - What recruit could afford @Steve 's fees mate?? - that's a non starter. Even then, some areas of the UK would need a translator to understand his cockney accent and rhyming slang.🙂

I would love to do this, but that Court Order prevents me talking to youngsters 🤔

I think Steve is right, I reckon a modern UKFS wouldn't allow a full and frank discussion about the UKFRS of a few years back without caveats or following a script. Subjects such as hook ladders, photo BA and escape ladders might have a place in the chat in the context of how far things have changed- especially safety wise. But to allow freedom to discuss station life before 'we allowed birds in the job'* and when the 'men' sat down to relax in station bars in the evening to relax for a few hours might not be what employers want her staff to hear

Again Steve is right. There are a lot of old farts that criticise every change in the fire service since they left - and I mean every change. I have my moments I must admit, but I have never had time for the macho smoke eating  rhetoric. Most of those old farts die an early death and that cannot be allowed to continue.

They would disagree with my support to many of the changes - which now that extends to the absolute need to protect firefighter's heath as well as safety - such as protection from PPE and gear contaminated by fire products . This is long overdue. 

Its a pity about the tradition being eroded, but that's life I suppose. But I am more disappointed about the lack of pride. That really is a pity. Why do you think that is happening ?

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I suggested a visit to our current recruit courses about the things they might see and the support available afterwards. This was because I had gone through the whole phase of bad job, breakdown and lengthy counselling that went with it. I also thought it would be positive a fellow firefighter, not officer, coming to talk to them without any airs and graces. 

The reply was the course is only 8 weeks long, they cant squeeze any more stuff into it

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Slight tangent.... but for me they'd be better re-employing the old timers to deliver training imo, I've noted a bit of a pattern the last few years where we've seen more and more inexperienced or more junior Firefighters delivering training across the country, or even non ops staff and for me, you shouldn't be training people in things you've never done yourself. Anyone can talk a good game, but if you haven't gone and done it for real it's just baseless information.

The pre requisite for training staff should be perspective and experience. Ops training and firefighting isnt a job you can learn out of a book. No matter what the academics and more naive members of senior management or parliament might believe.

You wouldnt have a h&s trainer who had never done a h&s assessment. You wouldnt have an IT trainer who couldnt use a computer. So why is ops seen as any different? Given the potential catastrophe involved if they get it wrong

There's a lot of guys retiring very soon and they've all got a hell of a lot left to give, some only in their 50's and they might all be dismayed with the political environment but behind all that they've still got a passion for the job you won't see in many of the younger end. They should put it to use before they lose it. 


As for initial post.... Its a great idea that would add real world perspective to the very corporate role the job currently dress Firefighting up to be.

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One idea I think would be really good and affordable in WMFS would be a day/morning at the new heritage museum at Aston. Its run by volunteers, some of then ex firefighters themselves. Would be great to see the history as they are becoming part of that history. 

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I agree with the point on training made by @PB86 There's nothing stopping an 18-month firefighter from going into training as long as they are deemed competent. I have met firefighters who have done this length of time and never had an operational BA wear. It's the same with outreach teams, firefighters are finishing their development, going straight into outreach. It doesn't sit right with me.

@Messyshaw you asked recently about the lack of pride in the job, and I think @PB86 summed it up incredibly well. Firefighting is being dressed up as a corporate job and not the job it is. There have even been firefighters joining London and refusing to wear BA as they thought they could go straight into roles such as community fire safety.

I don't know how other services are managing at the moment, but it feels like in London the workload is becoming so much it is affecting operational training. Targets for home fire safety visits have been removed, yet we are doing more, even getting sent to them on the bell.

Some recruits are entering the service, and it's fairly evident they should never have gotten through training school. Although I never went to Southwark I still dug out blind to get through training and it is one of my proudest achievements. Training was something that could be failed, but now that doesn't seem to be the case (the cynic in me is convinced this is due to the £10k per recruit bounty received by the LFB to train apprentices) This causes issues on the watches, all of us want our new recruits to be the best firefighters they can be, but when we are spending significant amount of time going through the absolute basics (Pumping, ladders, knots, BA) and the recruit still isn't getting it after months, something has gone wrong. We are not trainers, but we try our best.

The job isn't for everyone, but the fire brigade is pushing the line that everyone can do it. This isn't the case as we all know.

It's not the fault of the new trainees, they are a victim of this too. They are being put into a dangerous position by the people in charge of recruitment and it's an absolute miracle there haven't been more deaths in service.

I'm very proud to be a firefighter, and especially a London firefighter. I am able to serve the city I grew up in and feel an immense sense of pride when I do the job that I joined to do.

Becoming a firefighter was something I always wanted to do since I was a child, and I have seen the same aspirations echoed by my Son. Now? I am ready to walk away from the job that I love. Of course, this may be looked at as being part of the problem, but at some point, I will need to make that decision. In the first 3/4 of my relatively short career, I never had any doubts that I would go home at the end of a shift. I never doubted the firefighters around me, and I never doubted the officers above me.

In the last few years, that has changed. Poor training, poor leadership, and poor standards have gotten me to this point. I cannot pinpoint where the change began, but I can see it, and I am not the only one. I have always kept quiet about my negative thoughts on what is happening but this was something I felt I needed to say. It is us who are at risk from these decisions, and I know we all joined knowing the risks, but what I struggle to understand is how the fire brigade can constantly make decisions that are putting us even more at risk. Our new radios are proof of that.

I apologise for the lengthy message, and I hope my point isn't taken in any way other than what is meant, A cry of despair for the job we all love.


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@LFB92 I agree with every point you’ve made tbh. I’ve only done a short amount of time, only 5 years (almost to the day), so don’t want to put myself on a pedestal like I’m the be all, know all, end all of the fire service because I know I’m not and I’m still learning every shift.

That being said, I think the problem lies in recruitment. Recruits are being told this is a job for everyone. It is not - plain and simple.

I had a recruit on my watch who was back coursed twice for BA, and was helped along to reach pass out. I know for a fact the Babcock trainers raised serious concerns about their competency, as one of them was a day 6-7er from my station. 

The recruit could not tie the knots needed to haul aloft a jet into a building, despite countless times being shown, helped and drilled on. They would simply break down in tears on the drill ground. PDPs were raised.

They then got lost and went into entrapment procedure on a drill ON OUR station. StnO refused to sign off probation report, was told by an ADO he has to and we have to adapt to make it work. 

The final straw was on a persons reported job where I was the next crew in behind said recruit, and found them in a smoke filled room absolutely out of it with no clue where they were. After this job, they put their resignation in and accepted the job wasn’t for them. The brigade offered a new watch, new station, different role in the brigade, anything to keep them in the job. They asked questions if we were bullying or harassing them; if we had been out drilling and doing training; if we were doing our DaMOP. I have a lot of respect for this recruit because it isn’t their fault they got to that stage, they were told every step along of the way they can do it. They put their hands up and said no it’s not for me. 

This seems to be the norm in training school now. When I was in training school a mere 5 years ago, one lad got threatened with being thrown out of the brigade because he was struggling on week 4 with 135 commands as he was ex retained. Now you can fail BA assessments multiple times and come to station with PDPs.

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