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Rookie Initiation
EVERY FIREFIGHTER’S been there. Regardless of rank, at one time every firefighter was a rookie and therefore the target of a myriad of pranks created in the highly ...

Tommy Neiman, Author of Sirens for the Cross; EMS Training Officer – St. Lucie County, FL; Fellowship of Christian Firefighters International Regional Director / International Board Member


The target of a myriad of pranks

EVERY FIREFIGHTER’S been there. Regardless of rank, at one time every firefighter was a rookie and therefore the target of a myriad of pranks created in the highly imaginative minds of veteran firefighters.

On my memorable first day as a rookie, I found guys jumping out of the trash dumpster late at night, and that was just the beginning. Later, when I jumped in the shower the tones went off. Not about to miss my first call, I jumped out, threw on my jumpsuit, and ran to the pole. Still dripping, I literally flew down the pole. As I hit the bottom padding on the truck room floor, loud laughter accompanied my bump: “False alarm, Tommy!”

Things chilled out until I was informed I’d missed washing a dish. The information was stated so matter-of-factly, I believed them. When I turned the water on, I was hit with a hard stream of water from the side sprayer. They’d rubber-banded it wide open.

“The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” (Psalm 126:3)

One by one, everyone headed to bed. I gullibly reasoned they’d had their fun and followed suit. I encountered a deathly quiet and pitch black dorm. I slowly crept in the general direction of my bed, not wanting to tap the wrong one. I felt confident as I neared my bed. Home free, I thought, just as a scary animal roar rang out. I was pushed onto my bunk. Not only was I startled to death, but I landed on a hard humanlike figure buried underneath my cover. I jumped off to the sounds of massive laughter. I hit the bed light and pulled off the covers to unveil the rescue mannequin.

The rest of the night was call-free, and more importantly, practical-joke-free—except for the gentle coating of flour under the covers that added one more round of laughter in the morning before shift change.

When I remember that shift, it’s with a joyful heart. Their joking in a spirit of camaraderie began a bonding that strengthened with each subsequent joke as well as with each tension-filled call. Laughter in the right spirit is truly a gift from the Lord. In the Psalms we are told to be joyful because of all the Lord has done for us.


Lord, you have done great things for me. May I never lose sight of that joy regardless of the situations I face. I thank you for being with me at all times whether during idle moments at the station when joking prevails or on tense and demanding calls that require discipline, expertise, and concentration.

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