Firefighter Nicknames- NEVER try to give one to yourself…


So we find ourselves sitting around the kitchen table patiently waiting for someone to make the first move to clean up the dishes, and digesting Scotty’s Garlic Stoup- of which none is left.

Perhaps drunk off the stuff, one of the guys burps then blurts out from nowhere, “I need a nickname.”


firehouse kitchen table We all just sat there and smiled in anticipation.

Boy oh boy oh boy. All too infrequently, these gems of opportunity present themselves up for the artful manipulation that can only be exploited by your crew. Your brothers in arms.

We set the trap and ask him with all the innocent sincerity we can muster,

“What nickname would you give yourself?”

Of course, he already knows the answer but deftly hesitates for effect, errantly believing he is controlling the conversation.

“Hmm, I dunno. Let’s see. Well, they used to call me ‘Bulldog’ at my old department,” he offers hopefully.

Which was pretty damn funny as he stood all of 5 ¾ feet and weighed in at about a buck and a half. He must have seen a different movie.

What this poor guy didn’t realize was one of the "Commandments of Firehouse Nicknames”. Thou shalt never nickname thyself.

Truly great nicknames can only be anointed upon you by your peers. Only they can supply a label with a perfect fit and convey a true sense of who you are (in their eyes- which is all that matters).

They are best kept clean enough to be uttered in all types of company. This way it can work as a complete replacement for the name you used to have. You know- the name HR has.

But that doesn’t matter on the bay floor. Now you have your new name. From your brothers.

“Bulldog? No,” we decreed. “Lapdog. That one fits you like a nice little sweater, Lapdog.”

Maltese dog in sweater.ashxAnd of course once it’s out there, the next priority is to get it to stick. In this case, that didn’t take too long.

“Hey Lapdog, be a good boy and fetch me the spreaders.”

“Hey nice job on that arrest today, Lapdog. You deserve a treat.”

(whistle) “Here Lappy. WannagoforaRIIIIDE?”

No less merciless than inevitable, learning had occurred.

‘Lapdog’ is certainly not one of the best nicknames out there, but it sure fit this guy. Do you have one to share? We’d sure love to hear about it…

Stay stoked!



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John Mitchell

Firefighter/Paramedic and a Lieutenant in suburban Chicago

Toledo prayers