International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Welcome to the Brotherhood: The Perception of Initiation and Hazing Rituals in the Fire Service
Terry L. von Thaden, Sajid Khurram, Sara Jahnke, Christopher K. Haddock, Walker SC Poston, Brittany S. Hollerbach, Christopher M. Kaipust

Positive initiation traditions can serve as building blocks to camaraderie, trust, and teamwork in the fire service. Yet, in recent years increased attention has been focused on negative trends in the fire service, namely hazing rituals. This is a growing concern as traditionally accepted initiations may result in trauma and sexual assault. Investigation frequently reveals these rituals have persisted over time, serving to test compliance and adherence to prevailing social hierarchies. This paper provides a qualitative look into these rituals from the perspective of firefighter recruits who identified that: 1) there is appositive nature of initiations that supports unit cohesion, acceptance, and group identity,2) hazing is expected and seen as a test of mettle in the probationary year, and 3) hazing is expected to end once the probationary year concludes. These perceptions are congruent with previous research into hazing which have focused on separation, luminal inversion, and reintegration.

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