In the Academy

26 March 2021
Chief Brent Collins, President, www.FirePrep.com

In the Academy

Most large cities have their own academy.  That’s where your reputation will start.  If you start off on the wrong foot, it will follow you to your firehouse assignments.  The instructors at the academy are usually from the department; they will spread the word through other firefighters that Jim Jones is a slug, he has a big mouth, he doesn’t want to listen, he thinks he knows it all.  It will be tough to overcome that initial reputation.

 Some points for the academy:

  • Keep your mouth shut and your eyes and ears open. That’s the number one rule and the most important advice we can offer when you are in the academy!
  • Don’t ever, ever show up late. No matter what the excuse – weather, car problem – it doesn’t matter.  Make sure you are at the academy at least 30-45 minutes before it opens.
  • Make sure your uniform is always clean and looks sharp and not like you played 3 rugby games in it. Shine your shoes!  You’ve seen pictures of people in the military standing at attention – that’s what you need to look like.
  • Don’t be a wise guy or a funny guy. Don’t think that you need to be engaging to show that you have a sociable personality.  This is a para-military organization with para-military rules in the academy.
  • Do what you are told to do. If you screw up, everybody pays.
  • Listen to your instructors; pay attention. What they say will save your life.  Maybe not now but 6 months or 6 years from now, your training will come back to you and could save your life or a fellow firefighter’s.
  • Ask questions but don’t just ask questions to make yourself look smart. The instructors will see through it.
  • Study like you’ve never done before. Put the time in, during the day, at night after class, on the weekends.  Study partners or groups can be helpful but make sure you pick the right partners.  You need individuals who want to study, who want to be successful and not just mooch off you for answers.
  • If you are having a problem with a certain test or with a training ground maneuver, ask for help. There are always instructors that will stay afterwards that can tutor and help you.
  • Forget about everything else while you are in the academy. You have to sacrifice your family time, your free time and put 110% effort into it.  It’s a lifetime job.  You fail out of the academy and you’ll never get another chance.
  • Don’t be a suck ass to the instructors; they will see right through it.
  • Don’t ever look at your cellphone at any point during the training day.
  • Always address the instructors by their rank or “Sir” or “Ma’am.”
  • If you are responsible for checking your equipment daily, make sure it’s in working order.