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  1. #1
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    Question "chain of command" vs. micromanagement

    As a company officer trying to do what is right and take care of my personnel and my station, I am butting heads with my supervisor; a Chief officer. In all cases he refers to "chain of command", however I do not fully agree these are chain of command issues but can not find any evidence to support either side.

    On one occasion, I spoke to the Fire Chief in a casual conversation in public about an idea to spruce up the station to improve morale. He thought is was a good idea. A week later when he told my supervisor about it, I was given a talking to about not coming to him first before talking to the Fire Chief.

    On another occasion I was talking to two firefighters about a staffing issue with the plans of coming to my supervisor with a suggestion. But before I had a chance to meet with him, he heard I was discussing staffing with the firefighters and again lectured me on not coming to him first since he has the final say on staffing issues.

    Most recently, I was asked a question by a local government official pertaining to a fire department issue. I respectfully answered the question, but did not let my supervisor know about the conversation. I again was talked to about chain of command.

    Again, in all of these cases I do not feel chain of command was an issue. Does anyone have any insight or know where I can find something to support either side of the dispute.


  2. #2
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    Default

    My opinion, and mine only.

    The first 2 occasions, I see nothinig wrong with. The 3rd, you should have let your supervisor know that you were approached, especially b/c it involved a politician, and Chief's like to know to know what the politicians think, since they are the ones who can usually hire/fire Chief's!!

    I feel that the CoC is a 2-way street, up and down, and information should be passed as necessary.

    The Micromanagement thing strikes a nerve with me b/c it is present throughout the fire service, as well as many other jobs. Folks in management need to realize that it is not thier job to tell the employee what to do. Thier job is to make sure the employee is doing thier job right. Now, if that is not being done (and not saying so in your case, just a general statement), then maybe the employee needs to be told.

    I'd say sit down with him, ask him what his expectations of you are as a company officer. Listen to what he has to say (although you may not agree), and try your best to work with what you have. As a company officer, you are "middle-management", which I feel is a tough position since you are working with the "labor", but report to "senior management" who ultimately make decisions that effect you and your crew, sometimes in a not so good way.

    I've always said that a Fire Chief has 1 job...take care of his people!! EVERYTHING else falls under that, and in return your people will take of you(The Chief).
    A Fire Chief has ONLY 1 JOB and that's to take care of his fireman. EVERYTHING else falls under this.

  3. #3
    Forum Member bfdhoser1's Avatar
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    Wink Chain of "Command"-BFD ?

    This subject has plagued Fire Departments for years.

    Some try to argue a Fire Department is a "Pseudo Military Organization." Given that reasoning , heres a definition :

    (quote from Wikipedia) In a military context, the chain of command is the line of authority and responsibility along which orders are passed within a military unit and between different units. Orders are transmitted down the chain of command, from a higher-ranked soldier, such as a commissioned officer, to lower-ranked personnel who either carry out the order personally or transmit it down the chain as appropriate, until it is received by those expected to carry it out.

    In general, military personnel give orders only to those directly below them in the chain of command and receive orders only from those directly above them. A service member who has difficulty carrying out a duty or order and appeals for relief directly to an officer above his immediate commander in the chain of command is likely to be disciplined for not observing the chain of command.

    The concept of chain of command also implies that higher rank alone does not entitle a higher-ranking service member to give commands to anyone of lower rank. For example, an officer of unit "A" does not directly command lower-ranking members of unit "B", and is generally expected to approach an officer of unit "B" if he requires action by members of that unit. The chain of command means that individual members take orders from only one superior and only give orders to a defined group of people immediately below them.

    The term is also used in a civilian management context describing comparable hierarchical structures of authority.(end quote)

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Now my rant on the subject:

    Now in the real "civilian" world - we all know these aren't the everyday guidelines used in most Fire Departments and certainly not in the Buffalo New York Fire Department. These guidelines are usually sited/enforced when it suits Admin - but not enforced when applied in the reverse.

    I personally believe in our Department (BFD) it is just another double standard excuse for finding fault and passing blame rather than for informational/organizational efficiencies. It seems the Admin feels they can "Break the chain" any time they want and if they need reason to "Stifle input" they site the "Chain."

    That said , this is not a indictment of all Fire Departments or their Admins ! Many try and adhere to some semblance of these guidelines. Being x-military , I believe the "Chain of Command" does work when applied evenly and honestly. Many times "ego" becomes more important than guidelines.



    Hope this info helped !
    God Bless
    Stay Safe
    Quoted from :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chain_of_command
    www.bfd-firedepartment.com
    Last edited by bfdhoser1; 07-11-2008 at 05:11 PM.
    www.bfd-firedepartment.com
    23 years B.F.D. Local 282
    13 years U.A.W
    U.S.Military - Joined.

  4. #4
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    Default Better safe than sorry

    In any situation in which my direct supervisor is supervised, I always keep my direct supervisor informed of conversations with higher supervisors, no matter how insignificant they may seem. Keeps me out of trouble, and shows loyalty.

  5. #5
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    Default

    1) The first two fall under your 1st amendment rights (yes even in the workplace). I'll bet you have a policy that speaks to the third instance (ie dealing with the media/politicians).
    2) If this guy wasn't such a nuisance you probably would have talked to him about all three instances just in passing. What micro-managers don't understand is that the more they micromanage the more folks hide from them, they end up losing the control they're trying so hard to assert.
    3) Talk to the other officers on you shift and see if they are having the same issue.
    4) Document these three instances and any others that come up.

    Since he's talked to you three times and never cut paper on you, it seems like more of a posturing/control issue. If he really thought you were insubordinate, he's shot his case by giving you repeat flacid verbal warnings and not taking definitve action.
    Remember, he has a supervisor too!! If he keeps harassing you, call him on it. If he persists after that, bring your complaint up the chain. Just make sure you deal with him respectfully and don't lose you temper. Good luck.

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