BACKGROUND and SIGNIFICANCE
It was not long ago that Bloomfield Township Fire Department had no designed
probationary program. For as far back as officers can recall, there has been a one-year
probationary period for new employees in the fire department. During this period a new
fire department employee was considered an “at will employee”. Meaning that they had
no union representation, no grievance rights and could be let go for any reason.
During this year their peers watched over them. There was some good basic fire
fighting training, however, mostly what they were shown was how to do the menial tasks
such as, wash dishes, clean house and paint hydrants.
New employees were placed in positions of low importance. Where work details
constituted most of their available time. Very seldom was a new recruit placed in a front
line roll as an emergency caregiver. This system was in place not so long ago.
Throughout this first year there was no documented history of their progress.
There may have been a time or two when the rookie was told they needed to improve
their work habit. But no bona fide process for the new employee. Each unit had it’s
own idea of what was an important learning experience for the rookie. There was no
consistency. At the end of their one-year period their current shift commander sat
down with the chief and said yes or no to passing their probation. During these times
100% of the recruits passed their probation, with the one exception where a
probationary employee had his probation extended six months, then was promoted to
full time firefighter. All in all, this past practice allowed good employees, along with a
few poor employees to become full time firefighters in Bloomfield Township.