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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.

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