Unless you are from New Jersey, many of you may not know of retired Long Branch Fire Department Lieutenant, Armand Guzzi. Lieutenant Guzzi not only has vast experience as a firefighter and an officer, but has spent over 20 years teaching at the Monmouth County, NJ fire academy where he was the Deputy Director.
I felt as though Lt. Guzzi’s insight would be particularly helpful to any aspiring firefighter as he not only has on the job experience, but brings a unique perspective as a former recruit instructor.
Here’s what he had to say.
1. What would you say is the most important trait an aspiring firefighter must possess?
The most important trait someone aspiring to the position must possess is not a single trait, but rather 3 major elements, that together, will bring the employee success throughout their career. These are founded simply on the principles of mind, body, and spirit. Simply put, the individual needs to develop all three to have a successful career!
They must know the theories and technical aspects of why things work the way they do, self-study and reading is a critical aspect here (Mind).
They must constantly seek to improve themselves physically through exercise, eating right, weight control, and getting adequate rest, and stay away from drugs and alcohol (Body).
Finally spirit is what they bring to the table, their heart, their desire to give a hard charge, their ability to always have a friendly demeanor to everyone they meet, they must not be bullies, they must not be arrogant, they must not be high-maintenance employees that cause their supervisors unneeded stress, they must go to work with the desire to give 110% (Spirit)!
2. A word of advice for a candidate/probie?
3. Best advice you ever received as a candidate/rookie?
4. How do you define success as a fireman?
(Lt. Guzzi tied his answer into all 3 questions)
The best advice I can give / the best advice I have ever received / aspects that led to my success were based on:
Develop a self-study program founded on reading the various periodicals that are available, constantly critique yourself and your actions after every response.
Do more listening than talking.
Develop a positive reputation as someone who gives a hard charge, someone who is easy going, and someone who is not a problem employee!
Network and create contacts in the field as well as outside the field.
Start investing early in any supplemental retirement account offered by the department. This is your own personal account – build it up and add to it especially when the market takes a dive!
Stay out of debt! Live under your means and put the rest away! If you take home 3,000.00 a month, then make sure you spend less then this amount!
Live to enjoy your retirement; always wear your mask; always wear your gear properly including eye protection; always have 2 flashlights with you all the time; if you are stretching a line, make sure you always have 2 tools with you!
Don’t get hurt …
With advice like that, it’s easy to see why Lt. Guzzi was such an accomplished firefighter, officer and instructor.