If you were asked, "How do you measure your fire/EMS company's success?" how would you respond? Would you pull out the statistics on property saved vs. property lost (fire loss)? Would you look at your total response time? Would you measure the number of members that turn out for emergency calls? Would you look at total fundraising or the development of a budget that meets your needs and stays within the means? Would you look at success of patient care procedures, i.e., IV sticks, intubations, proper implementation of specified medical protocols, etc.? These are all ways that we can measure success and they are very valuable to the organization's ability to deliver the services to the customer. Fire and EMS agencies have traditionally been very good at measuring success in these areas in order to satisfy the inquiring citizen as well as the scrutinizing jurisdictional authority (City Council, Mayor, City Manager, County Commission, Fire Supervisory Board, et al). It is time we spend more time measuring our success by looking inside to our most valuable resources - our members and employees.
One way that we can measure company success is to look at the dynamics of life in our stations. Do you have one or more of these members on your team - "He (or she) is a great firefighter who can do any job on the fire ground, but he/she is a pain in the rear to live with"? They are only happy when working a legitimate call? Does this same person or persons constantly complain about overall operations and always believes that if it was done his/her way, things would be better? If you have one of these on your team, doesn't their behavior and attitude affect the entire crew?
An employee or member who falls into this category has a negative impact on company cohesiveness. As a crew, we spend the majority of our time "living" together and not on emergency incidents, let alone legitimate emergencies. In a volunteer system, a member who only seems to "appear" when the pager sounds contributes little value to the overall effectiveness of the station. Like a contagious disease, other members/employees will mimic behaviors that are seen as accepted or acceptable.
A successful company has crew and members that can interact well professionally, both during emergency operations and non-emergency operations, and they interact well socially - that is, living together. If you are the company officer, you need to realize that you cannot make everyone happy all of the time (you will go crazy trying). Instead, recognize individual differences, spend time getting to know what makes a person "tick", and use those characteristics in ways to compliment the entire force.
Another measure of company success can be found by evaluating safety related statistics. Needless to say, both firefighting and EMS have their inherent dangers. However, through administrative controls (SOP's/SOG's, policy), engineering controls (PPE, equipment design), and human factor controls (medical screenings, physicals, physical fitness, training) we can minimize the number of injuries that occur.
On the average, over 85,000 firefighters are injured every year on the job. This number is believed to be under-reported. Injuries occur in the line of duty (delivering service), in the station, training, and while operating vehicles. They result from failure to utilize personal protective equipment (PPE). Successfully reducing these numbers (trending) can be directly related to company risk reduction strategies. Are all members aware of the SOP's? Are they followed? Is proper equipment available and used? Does the manpower assigned to a task allow for a successful outcome? Are the company leaders leading by example (both good and bad)? By addressing these control factors, greater overall good can be expected.