Rule 11: If You Don't Care…Get Out!

One of the most difficult personnel issues is how to stop members from falling into the "apathy trap" once they decide they don't care about the agency any longer. When a member acts out that they "don't care" about the department or projects harmful...


One of the most difficult personnel issues is how to stop members from falling into the "apathy trap" once they decide they don't care about the agency any longer. When a member acts out that they "don't care" about the department or projects harmful behavior to other members or, heaven forbid, to...


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If, however, you are sure you don't want to be part of the department, do everyone (including yourself and your family) a huge favor and move on. Retire if you're able to do so. Transfer to a different division or maybe even a different department. Rather than becoming an "organizational terrorist" and disrupting the good work of so many, take the high road and get out. All too often, stories are told about those who no longer have the respect of their department and are openly at odds with nearly everyone in the organization. Life is too short not to enjoy it to the fullest. A poor attitude leads to poor performance on and off of the job. Poor job performance in our business typically leads to near-misses and accidents that may cost a life.

At a recent seminar, retired Phoenix, AZ, Fire Chief Alan Brunacini was asked what to do about non-contributing members. His answer was simple, but brilliant. He suggested giving a "disenfranchised" member an application and asking the person to consider signing up to once again join the department as a firefighter. What a shock that would be to some marginal performers.

The message here is to be in control of your attitude and behaviors. There will be mostly good times, but as with every vocation and advocation, there will be storms to weather from time to time. Keep the long-range view in sight and remember that someone is always watching your performance and behavior. Always strive to be professional (career and volunteer members) in all that you do, especially when the going gets rough. Refocus and get back to your "A" game.

DENNIS L. RUBIN, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is chief of the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department. Previously, Rubin was chief of the Atlanta, GA, Fire and Rescue Department. He holds a bachelor of science degree in fire administration from the University of Maryland and an associate in applied science degree in fire science management from Northern Virginia Community College, and is enrolled in the Fire and Emergency Management Administration program at the graduate school of Oklahoma State University. Rubin is a graduate of the National Fire Academy's Executive Fire Officers Program, is a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) and has obtained the Chief Fire Officer Designation (CFOD) from by the International Association of Fire Chiefs. He is an adjunct faculty member of the National Fire Academy since 1983. Rubin is the author of the book Rube's Rules for Survival.