Challenge Safety, or Challenge the Chief?
In my 8 short years in the fire service (volunteer, civilian, and federal) one phrase has been beaten into my head in every training session, formal class, and conference. That one thing is the saying “That everyone is a safety officer, and everyone goes home.” A statement that I whole heartedly agree with.
But in the past few weeks in my “house “I have seen some very disappointing actions on the fire ground, and even more disappointment in the incident critique. I am a firm believer in safety, for the simple fact that I am willing to put my life on the line every day, but tomorrow morning I am going home.
These issues have been weighing on my mind for a few days now, and I have run them up the chain of command. My issue is how do you fix a broken system with a chief who is not willing to accept that fact that they system is broke, and when you have brothers and sisters who are willing to complain and badmouth the chief on the incident, but will leave you standing with a butchers block full of knives in your back when you ask about the issues.
Never in my life have I seen a room full of firefighters be so quiet you could hear a pin drop. The chief asked if anyone had any issues. Me and two others were the only ones to stand up, with no support.
So what do you do when you see safety issues, you voice them, the chief is not willing to accept it, and your people are not willing to back you up when it’s laid on the table?
It feels like it’s going to take a black band, a folded flag, and someone’s last ride to get things changed.