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Years of Experience

Today Fire Service is never going to be like the “Good Ol Days”. The Service today is forever changing with not just fires, but with medical calls.

We have all met the 30+ year Veterans of the Service. They have some of the best stories, firehouse pranks, and over all, experience.

Like it was mentioned, the Veterans of the service have had the true experience. Nowadays, new cadets and personnel, don’t get the training they should. Is it from regulations to training, like clean burning fuel (which we hardly ever see)? Is it because we fell into the “Teach for the test” propaganda? Or is it that we have become to political in the process?

Whatever the reason be, the Fire Service today is far from using the years of experience as a tool, excuse, etc. The service now has gone away from the true “Vet to the Service” maybe because the average firefighter has only 15 years or less in the service.

People have long said, if you need something, ask so-and-so for it because they are the senior firefighter, driver, or the officer. Like I mentioned the service is forever changing. It used to be the most qualified individuals got the spot. Today’s service, individuals promote for the money or the chance to tap their chest. In turn does not get the most experienced individual. You have to master your craft before taking on more responsibilities. Now that said, you probably will never “Master” the craft/profession. But you can get pretty darn close.

Individuals today have the mentality of I am a certified firefighter, medic, or I have more years than you. They think that because they finished the academy, they are now “Masters” of the profession.

It is constantly mind blowing of the rate of individuals who don’t understand, the profession is like going to school for life. You have to learn something every day to stay ahead of your profession, sort of like a game of chess.

The list of interesting topics that people don’t understand:

  1. Health/Working out

  2. Continuing Education (Not your yearly hours to recertify, which now is a joke)

  3. Treating the Profession as if somebody’s life depended on it (imagine that).

All of these topics can have a full discussion on their own. Individuals now days hide behind a “Contract”. I don’t have to do that because the contract says.

With the service today and its’ changing ways, if you aren’t learning daily, you are as good a dead. Years of Experience is something earned. If you tell me, “I’m a 10 year veteran”, I have wonderful choice words for you. If you mention the sheer fact that you are a veteran, is a joke. The title is earned, not entitled.

In closing, you should constantly be learning from everybody, both positive and negative, so you know what, why, and how things work. Because somebody has 5, 10, or even 15+ years does not make them experienced. You should evaluate yourself often, and ask, “Do I Have The Experience?”.


Justin Hill is a firefighter for the San Antonio Fire Department and is a Regional Honor Guard Commander for the Texas LODD Task Force

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