I recently had the privilege to speak with retired Captain Michael Morse of the Providence Fire Department in Providence, Rhode Island. Cpt. Morse is was not only just an accomplished fireman with over 23 years of experience, but he is also the author behind the blog Rescuing Providence and has penned several books.
I had the opportunity to speak with Cpt. Morse and ask him what kind of advice he would give to an aspiring firefighter. Here’s what he had to say…
What would you say is the most important trait an aspiring firefighter must possess?
An even temperament is imperative. You simply cannot be an effective firefighter if your emotions interfere with your ability to respond. Suppressing emotion is a recipe for disaster; those hidden feelings always come back. Having the ability to assess a situation, calculate risk and respond efficiently all depends on performing the job at hand while rationalizing that the emergency happened whether you were there or not, it is simply your job to make things better without becoming part of the problem by overreacting.
A word of advice for a candidate/probie?
Know this; if you want to be a firefighter, truly want it, you will be a firefighter. It may take years, even decades, but believe in your yourself, and know that it is possible. It may not be at the department of your choice, might even be in the military, or you could find yourself volunteering, it matters not, life has limitless opportunity, stay the course and live your dream.
Best advice you ever received as a candidate/rookie?
“Keep your mouth shut and your ears open.” ~ Day 1, Providence Fire Department Division of Training
How do you define success as a fireman?
Learn how, then do your job…
They will teach you how to operate a pump; learn how the pump was made.
They will teach you how to use a master stream; learn why, when, and when not.
They will teach you how to vent a roof; learn everything you can about building construction.
They will teach you how to dress a hydrant: understand water supply. Go to the reservoirs, the water towers, the pumping stations and learn how water pressure originates. Visualize the grid under your feet. See the water mains underground, not just the hydrants above.
Studying for an entrance exam will help you answer questions. What they teach in the academy is only the beginning. Being a firefighter opens your mind to the endless stream of questions that will bring you success as a firefighter, as long as you know that you will never know everything, but are willing to look for the answers.
For more information about Cpt. Michael Morse he can be found at Rescuing Providence, and a list of his books can be found here.