At some point, you will be ready to actually write the policy in question. In some situations, it is relatively easy to jot down your thoughts for a clear new policy governing an existing procedure or a simple, clear-cut matter. In other instances, it may require a number of revisions to coordinate your efforts. However it turns out, be diligent in your efforts and work to get the most out of your group.
When you have the policy on paper in its final written form, someone has to make the final decision and declare that it is the law of the land for your fire department. If you have the final say in policy matters, this is not an issue. However, if you have to convince someone of the merits of a new policy, prepare an educational message on just what the new policy is and what you intend for it to accomplish. And then sell it to them.
Once you have received the necessary approvals for your new policy, you have to see that it is put into use by your fire department. The best way to insure that a new policy will fail is to print it up and ship it out to the troops in your department, along with a notice which says quite simply, "Do it!" Let me suggest that the proper implementation methodology for a new policy is an educational process.
People must know the exact reason for the policy and its intended outcome. If people know the true reason behind a change in policy they will normally work to become acquainted with the change.
It has been my experience that most people want to do their job properly. If you want to make reasonable changes and can demonstrate the logic and reason behind these changes, people will come on board in a reasonable time. Change is always a difficult matter, but resistance to change can usually be won over by knowledge and reason. Treat people like logical, thinking beings and they will respond. Bring them into the process as much as possible.
After a reasonable period of adaptation to a policy change or addition, the supervisors in the organization are responsible for the new policy as a matter of daily consequence. If a new policy is not enforced, people in the organization will simply not obey it. It is up to you, as a responsible fire officer, to become familiar with your organization's policy and work to see that it is used to guide your daily operations. This leads to a more productive organization.
Times change: that is a fact of life. It is up to you and your organization to see that its policies are continually checked for currency, applicability and validity. If you have taken the time to develop a well-thought-out set of organizational policies, then it behooves you to continually review them to see that they still fit your operation's needs.
So why bother with policy at all? You do this because your organization and its members will work more effectively if they are moving toward common goals using a common set of methods. This will avoid needless duplication of effort, disharmony and operational malfunctions where people work in opposing directions.
Some of the major policy impact areas are:
- Organizational effectiveness (getting job done)
- Operational efficiency (using resources wisely)
- Improved personnel safety
- Better training and discipline (Easier to pin things down)
- Define scope of employment for liability purposes
Writing policy can be a difficult, boring task. Even the best of our leaders know this. However if you want to succeed as a leader in your organization, you will apply yourself to writing a series of truly solid policies. The rewards can be manifold. Your people will appreciate your effort. More than that, your organization will become a strong, effective and efficient influence within your community.