Friday, May 30, 2014

Prank the Probie

One of the standard fire service traditions is to play pranks on probationary firefighters – those new faces that show up on the line one day, fresh out of the fire academy. Firefighters will pull pranks on one another regardless of seniority, but newly minted firefighters are a favorite target.

First, you should understand that senior firefighters call new firefighters by a variety of names, depending on the department and region. Some common terms are:
  • Probie (short for probationary firefighter)
  • New guy (regardless of gender) or new kid
  • FNG (meaning “f***ing new guy”)
Firehouse pranks can be elaborate or simple, and are usually fairly harmless – just a way to blow off steam, relieve boredom, relieve stress, and/or welcome the newest members to the brotherhood and sisterhood of firefighters. However, I believe that some fire departments have abolished these rites of passage because some of them got out of hand. Boys will be boys and all that.

During my time on the line, I was subjected to a number of silly pranks (and played a few of my own!). My bunk was short-sheeted and floured; a cup of water was balanced on the door of my locker so it would come crashing down when the door was opened. One trick involved using clear tape to depress the trigger on the kitchen sink sprayer. When the unsuspecting person turned on the kitchen faucet, he or she would receive a stream of water squarely in the chest.

I became very good at checking sprayers when I approached any kitchen sink at any fire station…

The only cardinal rule we had was that personal protective equipment (aka PPE, turnouts, or bunker gear) and equipment on the rigs were strictly off-limits.

I found an article at the Fire Link website that lists 25 ways to “prank the probie.” While certainly not all-inclusive (an entire book could be written on the topic!), it will give you a taste of firefighter prank creativity.

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