Rule 7: Tell the Truth — Always!

The next rule is perhaps the simplest to understand and you have heard it many times and from many different folks throughout your life: Tell the entire truth the first time and every time that you are asked. Understanding that our most precious...


The next rule is perhaps the simplest to understand and you have heard it many times and from many different folks throughout your life: Tell the entire truth the first time and every time that you are asked. Understanding that our most precious resource is our people and that our people are...


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Sometimes, the issue at hand is a simple personnel-related problem, such as arriving to work late. Most every firefighter would relate to this situation occurring and can likely describe some personal event that caused him or her to miss the start of "line-up" (shift change). No one likes to be in trouble or embarrassed in the workplace, so it is understandable why a person may think that manufacturing a story to save face is a good alternative to a bad situation. However, don't take that path! You will regret it in the long run and risk a much more severe penalty when the truth surfaces. The truth always seems to come out eventually and lies are very difficult to remember. In most outfits, coming to work late a time or two means a written reprimand or short-term suspension - not a pleasant experience, no doubt, but survivable. The best advice that I can give you is to "Firefighter Up" by admitting the mistake and taking the consequences that you have earned. And, of course, don't be late to work anymore (change the poor behavior)!

On many occasions, folks have tried to "sharp shoot" the system and lie their way through an issue. The end result typically seems to be a much worse punishment and a lack of trust directed toward the member in question moving forward. In fact, some agencies have rules that require/grounds for termination for the act of lying (lack of candor) or misleading an official investigating in any way.

The ability to simply tell the truth is instilled into all of us. If your practice is to always follow this rule, your life will be a lot simpler and your organization will be able to capture and maintain the public's trust in everything that you do. Once a person goes down the path of deceit, it is tough to recover from and almost always makes a bad situation much worse.

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 (CFO) designation from the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC). He is an adjunct faculty member of the National Fire Academy author of the book Rube's Rules for Survival.