You know you're a probationer when:


• You’re telling your friends where to meet up later that night, but directions to the bar include “it’s right near the hydrant on the southwest corner,” or “…it’ll be in the twelve-hundred-block of  Connecticut Ave.”

• “Yes, sir” has entered your everyday lexicon, even at home.

• Directions to your house have ended with the phrase “…to box.”*

• When a late-night phone call suddenly wakes you up, your legs swing out of bed and you fumble around in the dark for your boots. Oh wait… yep, I’m in my apartment. Dammit.


• When responding to even the simplest of questions, one must fight off the urge to recite what particular article, section, and sub-section the answer comes from in the Department Order Book.

• You have become very, very good at washing dishes.

• Between your name tag, Probationer tag, and your collar brass, various items get snagged or ripped off your uniform all the time. Thus, wearing any collared shirt at home has become an exercise in absent-mindedly touching your clothing to make sure everything is pinned on properly—and then realizing that you’re an idiot.

• While you’re running errands, the distinct ring of a multi-line phone system causes you to look around and think for a split second that you have to go answer it. You soon realize you’re in bank, or an office, or a restaurant.

• Similarly, you have an unexplainable urge to answer your cell phone within two rings.



Note: The phrase “…to box” is a reference to the information book in the firehouse. If you flip it open and look up a certain box number in our response area, the directions read something like this:

Box 1234: Left on Smith Street, right on Jones Avenue, right on Davis Terrace to box.

1 Comment

  • CKemtp says:

    Great list. It’s different in our department, of course, but it definitely should invlove running to the truck and being dressed well before everyone else. ;)

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Alex Capece

Washington, D.C. Firefighter and Paramedic

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"For anyone who ever wanted to grow up and become a firefighter... from someone who did just that."
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