1. #51
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    Bear with me while I assemble my thoughts as I go. First off, this is a great discussion. I truly hope that when it’s over, we’ll all have a greater understanding of the dynamics of command.

    Many of us are ex-military (me, Navy enlisted, 4 years, 3+ of sea duty). But no matter what branch we served in, we understand a very autocratic command structure that functions reasonably well and has since there have been armies and navies. In general, the tighter the command structure, the better it seems to have worked. It has worked well enough that pretty much worldwide, fire departments and police departments have emulated it for their own structures. In addition, the majority of commercial ventures have, too.

    When we look at an organizational structure, whether commercial or military, if we stand back far enough from it, they all appear pretty much the same, that is, a triangle. And why not? After all, that is the strongest geometric shape there is. The vortex is at the top, and it spreads out as it goes down from there ‘till it gets to the lowest rank at the bottom. Works well, has for centuries.

    Then along comes Dr. W. Edwards Deming and his Deming Management Method. He turns the whole thing upside down. He says, the people who normally are lowest in the structure are the ones who interface with the “customers.” Since the customers are the ones who buy the product or service, therefore providing the money that pays us all, shouldn’t the people who have daily contact with the customers be at the top of the heap instead of the bottom? And all of the rest of the structure should be supporting what the customer contact people do.

    Dr. Deming then goes on to talk about systems and training and empowerment. We create systems for accomplishing goals. We create systems for performing the tasks that lead to the goals.

    We in the fire service call those systems by various names, one of which is SOPs. We train our people in those systems so that they will know when and how to apply them. The training is or should be structured and formalized. It should be provided by people who understand the systems, have a proven track record of performing them, and who are capable of communicating the knowledge to the trainees.

    We empower people to do their jobs. We learn that decision making should be done at the lowest (on the traditional command structure) possible level. That is, we don’t tell individual members which pocket in their turnout gear to carry their personal items. Within reason, each individual member should be capable of doing that for themselves. Having knowledge of each item, where it best fits and can be accessed should be enough. Beyond that, how each person stow stuff affects no one else on the team.

    We empower company officers to accomplish certain tasks. The company officer has been trained in the departmental SOPs and has trained the rest of the crew in the methods for accomplishing them. The officer is empowered to select the tools for the job and assign work to the crew. The crew performs the work and the officer supports their efforts with supervision and guidance as needed. The individuals in the crew are responsible to observe and report back to the officer conditions that might affect the successful accomplishment of the task.

    And on up (or down) the line it goes. Each level has certain things to accomplish. Each one is responsible and accountable. In order to be successful at them, there has to be the empowerment and authority to make it happen. If we look at it from that perspective, it becomes clear that incident command systems parallel that model.

    But none of this is democracy. Democracy, as so many others have stated, has its place in the station or in training. Questions can be raised and situations examined with an eye toward finding better, safer ways.

    Otherwise, the Captain commands, the Executive Officer runs the ship. Translated, the IC commands, the Operations Officer runs the fire.

    The whole point here is, democracy and empowerment are not one and the same. They are neither mutually inclusive nor mutually exclusive.

    Dr. Deming also notes that when there are failures, they invariably can be traced back to a failure in a system. That, in turn translates to a failure in management.

    One common point: Each generation of members complains about the rigidity of the previous generation and the laxity of the succeeding generation. I say this from the perspective of one who has served with members, their sons and their grandsons, not to mention mothers and daughters. Even in at least one case, a member, his granddaughter and great granddaughter.
    Last edited by chiefengineer11; 08-24-2010 at 10:47 PM.

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    Thumbs up Yep............

    Chief Engineer 11 is right on the Money with his Comments. (VERY Well Researched Too!!...) My only question would be if Dr. Deming took the time to see if his projected methods would work in a Monopoly situation where the Customer did not have a choice of which "Store" would get his "Business", and in fact, a situation where the "Customer" was required to call the "Business"....... A Free Market and a Public Safety Market are Apples and Oranges.......


    My earlier Comment about the differences a Generation makes seem to be pretty common across life in General, it just has a more noticeable effect in the Fire/Rescue Service. BUT, there is Nothing like Riding on a Call With your Kids and Grandkids. If the Current Rules and requirements remain in place, I'm 13 years away from Riding Calls with the First of the Great Grandkids........ Not many folks get to do that......
    Last edited by hwoods; 08-25-2010 at 10:18 AM.
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    I think there are two different issues here, one fireground and one not.

    I DO think that as the OP stated, anyone should feel he/she can discuss issues with the chief off the fireground. Sometimes it's a legitimate concern, others it's a teachable moment where they can learn why we have done something a certain way.

    On the fireground, though, there has to be somebody in charge. Period. That's why I hate the term "incident management" as opposed to "incident command". Somebody MUST be in command, in charge, in control. There is not time to have a committee meeting when the house is blazing, the chemical is leaking, or the patient is bleeding inside the car.

    In planning a fireground strategy, it's true that sometimes a rookie, as a new set of eyes, can lend a good new perspective that can help us out. And I agree that if anyone catches a safety hazard on the fireground and informs the IC, he/she has not overstepped the bounds of his/her role. Indeed, this is how a good incident command functions.

    But ultimately, the IC has to give the orders, period. To let the rank and file think any differently is to run the risk that they'll assume that orders are just suggestions, leading to disobedience and chaos.

    On the fireground, commanders give orders. Personnel obey orders.

    Period.
    "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.
    --General James Mattis, USMC


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    Talking Uh Huh..........

    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefKN View Post
    Also...

    The parking lot would have giant potholes and all the brooms would be broken.

    Only in New Jersey..................


    Oh...... You mean AFTERWARDS..........
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    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods View Post
    Only in New Jersey..................


    Oh...... You mean AFTERWARDS..........
    There's no material in the world that's firefighter proof or resistant.

    As for our potholes, those are actually "scenic overlooks".
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefKN View Post
    There's no material in the world that's firefighter proof or resistant.

    As for our potholes, those are actually "scenic overlooks".
    Cleanup in the Deputy's office....
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefKN View Post
    There's no material in the world that's firefighter proof or resistant.

    Many Years ago, I had a Crew that caused a large loss to an unoccupied Dumpster...... Sort Of......


    Typical Shopping Center/Strip Stores, Dumpster on fire in the Rear of the Food Mart. We put it out and returned. Hour Later, Store people had put "Fresh" Cardboard boxes in it, Kids re-lit it. We Re-Extinguished it.

    This went on a couple more times, until we Plugged the Drain in the Dumpster and filled it with water.

    Next day, around noon, the Trash Company's manager showed up at the Firehouse Screaming at the guys that were on duty....... Seems that the Dumpster held a LOT of Water, and when the Truck tried to pick it up, a Lot of Hydraulic lines Blew............
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
    In memory of
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    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

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    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods View Post
    Seems that the Dumpster held a LOT of Water, and when the Truck tried to pick it up, a Lot of Hydraulic lines Blew............
    I hope they advised him if they would add sprinklers to their dumpsters, they could save everyone a lot of trouble.
    HAVE PLAN.............WILL TRAVEL

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    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods View Post
    My only question would be if Dr. Deming took the time to see if his projected methods would work in a Monopoly situation where the Customer did not have a choice of which "Store" would get his "Business", and in fact, a situation where the "Customer" was required to call the "Business"....... A Free Market and a Public Safety Market are Apples and Oranges.......
    My exposure to Deming management came during my years in the trucking industry. My employer got into it, so many of us got some pretty good training and exposure to it. As you might imagine, there's more to it than the little bit that I put in. One of Dr. Deming's principles was "Drive out fear." After a change of some of the hierarchy at the company, the Deming program was dropped and the culture from above seemed to change to "Instill fear."

    Several years after I retired, the company closed. I don't want to cite that as the reason the company closed, it isn't. But there were many, many factors and I feel certain that was one of the many.

    Although I haven't had any direct exposure to Deming outside of the day job, I'm told that he did some work with one or more fire departments to adapt the principles to that setting. Perhaps some other contributor has more on that subject. I do know that he had detractors as well as supporters. Being on the outer fringes of the world of classical music, I am aware of what's known as "Professional Jealousy." I suspect that there's more just a little of that involved.

    Deming believed that most workers in any industry are reasonably intelligent and want very much to do a good job. They are interested in improving systems and given a problem, will come up with workable solutions. He believed that systems need to be in place for the various tasks and processes, and that those systems need to under go constant review and improvement. He felt that the front line workers had much to contribute to the improvement process and that good management would take those contributions seriously. But in the end, it is management's job to develop and implement any given system. If the system failed, it was management's duty to fix the system.

    From our perspective, these are not principles to be voted on at the scene of an incident. But they do present a process for looking for improvement. When viable ideas are presented, they can be developed, evaluated and tested on the training grounds. If an idea works, great. It can be adopted. If it doesn't work, why not? Is there something else that can be done to make it work, or was it just not such a good idea?

    Another principle has to do with resistance to change. We all know about that one. Someone else already mentioned that one of the greatest ways to get change accepted is to get the people who are going to have to change, drive the change. Present the work force with a problem and ask them for solutions to the problem.

    Invert the triangle. Empower the work force. Supervisors (company officers), Managers (various levels of chiefs) act as coaches, coordinators, evaluators and supporters. Then stand back and watch what happens. This is where a democratic approach can shine.

    On the fireground, the front line folks are doing the hands on. Company officers are supervising (sometimes assisting) and giving guidanceto the front line and feedback up the line. Chiefs are giving direction, securing resources and enabling the front line to be most effective. In this model the most important people are the ones who are actually doing the job hands on. Everyone else is empowering the next level to do its job, and providing support for the overall effort.

    Since it's highly unlikely that the incident commander will be doing the hands on tasks, even that position is one of support. Putting the IC at the vortex of the inverted triangle, that person becomes the main support and responsible for the successful conclusion of an incident.

    Nothing democratic here. But each level is given their job(s), provided with the resources and empowered to make it happen.

    Idealistic to be sure, but how much easier would it make the job?

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    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods View Post
    Many Years ago, I had a Crew that caused a large loss to an unoccupied Dumpster...... Sort Of......


    Typical Shopping Center/Strip Stores, Dumpster on fire in the Rear of the Food Mart. We put it out and returned. Hour Later, Store people had put "Fresh" Cardboard boxes in it, Kids re-lit it. We Re-Extinguished it.

    This went on a couple more times, until we Plugged the Drain in the Dumpster and filled it with water.

    Next day, around noon, the Trash Company's manager showed up at the Firehouse Screaming at the guys that were on duty....... Seems that the Dumpster held a LOT of Water, and when the Truck tried to pick it up, a Lot of Hydraulic lines Blew............
    LAMO Thats got to be one the funniest things I have ever heard of.
    Bring enough hose.

  11. #61
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    Thumbs up Wow.............

    Quote Originally Posted by chiefengineer11 View Post
    My exposure to Deming management came during my years in the trucking industry. My employer got into it, so many of us got some pretty good training and exposure to it. As you might imagine, there's more to it than the little bit that I put in. One of Dr. Deming's principles was "Drive out fear." After a change of some of the hierarchy at the company, the Deming program was dropped and the culture from above seemed to change to "Instill fear."

    Several years after I retired, the company closed. I don't want to cite that as the reason the company closed, it isn't. But there were many, many factors and I feel certain that was one of the many.

    Although I haven't had any direct exposure to Deming outside of the day job, I'm told that he did some work with one or more fire departments to adapt the principles to that setting. Perhaps some other contributor has more on that subject. I do know that he had detractors as well as supporters. Being on the outer fringes of the world of classical music, I am aware of what's known as "Professional Jealousy." I suspect that there's more just a little of that involved.

    Deming believed that most workers in any industry are reasonably intelligent and want very much to do a good job. They are interested in improving systems and given a problem, will come up with workable solutions. He believed that systems need to be in place for the various tasks and processes, and that those systems need to under go constant review and improvement. He felt that the front line workers had much to contribute to the improvement process and that good management would take those contributions seriously. But in the end, it is management's job to develop and implement any given system. If the system failed, it was management's duty to fix the system.

    From our perspective, these are not principles to be voted on at the scene of an incident. But they do present a process for looking for improvement. When viable ideas are presented, they can be developed, evaluated and tested on the training grounds. If an idea works, great. It can be adopted. If it doesn't work, why not? Is there something else that can be done to make it work, or was it just not such a good idea?

    Another principle has to do with resistance to change. We all know about that one. Someone else already mentioned that one of the greatest ways to get change accepted is to get the people who are going to have to change, drive the change. Present the work force with a problem and ask them for solutions to the problem.

    Invert the triangle. Empower the work force. Supervisors (company officers), Managers (various levels of chiefs) act as coaches, coordinators, evaluators and supporters. Then stand back and watch what happens. This is where a democratic approach can shine.

    On the fireground, the front line folks are doing the hands on. Company officers are supervising (sometimes assisting) and giving guidanceto the front line and feedback up the line. Chiefs are giving direction, securing resources and enabling the front line to be most effective. In this model the most important people are the ones who are actually doing the job hands on. Everyone else is empowering the next level to do its job, and providing support for the overall effort.

    Since it's highly unlikely that the incident commander will be doing the hands on tasks, even that position is one of support. Putting the IC at the vortex of the inverted triangle, that person becomes the main support and responsible for the successful conclusion of an incident.

    Nothing democratic here. But each level is given their job(s), provided with the resources and empowered to make it happen.

    Idealistic to be sure, but how much easier would it make the job?

    Abnsolutely!....... I still have a First Edition Copy of Tom Peters' "In Pursuit of Excellence" which I used as a resource for turning around a VFD that was heading toward extinction. Some Very dedicated folks got together and we pulled it off. There is a terrific amount of stuff in the Private Sector that will work here, if given a Chance......
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
    In memory of
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    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

    IACOJ Budget Analyst

    I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

    www.gdvfd18.com

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    Chief Gonzo , I am with you - deck gunis the way to go , but without one guy in charge , you would have opposing deck guns -- one guy on a red line - a couple of 1/3/4 combo nozzles -a 2-1/2 smooth bore- a couple of push brooms - a leaf blower and one yahoo out there with a feather duster.

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    One observation I've made during my time in the fire service is that local training tends to be heavy on how to do the job but often skims over or neglects the why we're doing it this way portion of the lesson. I think a lot of the issues surrounding democracy on the fireground could be erased simply by explaining to the more inexperienced members why certain tasks are performed a certain way. If that is taken care of during initial training and reviewed during annual training, I think there would be a lot fewer questions to answer at the scene.

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    Quote Originally Posted by downstate_firefighter View Post
    One observation I've made during my time in the fire service is that local training tends to be heavy on how to do the job but often skims over or neglects the why we're doing it this way portion of the lesson. I think a lot of the issues surrounding democracy on the fireground could be erased simply by explaining to the more inexperienced members why certain tasks are performed a certain way. If that is taken care of during initial training and reviewed during annual training, I think there would be a lot fewer questions to answer at the scene.
    And there lies the problem, as in one particular post said, "do it the ordered way or you or the rest of your crew may be in jepordy" (or something to that text). If it is a prescribed way of approaching a task on the fire ground I feel it is the recruits responsibility to study and search out his questions. For some "new generation" reason everything has to be force fed or they are not going to search for themselves. I don't mind questions at all, but not on the fire ground, it should have been done way before.

    Let me set up this little scenario: My dept's SOP on ventilation is to on a regular fire, if able (due to fire conditions) use a PPV. We all know what that can do on a balloon construction fire if the fire has not been located. I have one firefighter that has been studying things out, doing his research and in the right way questioning things. It has taken me six months to get him to trust me in the fact that I may not use the fan as perscribed in our SOP (which I have been trying to get some revisions in as they are 22yrs old). I may delay or not use it at all but in the seated FF position on the truck, if you are are the assigned fan man I want it off the truck and at the intended opening. If and only if I can tell from the outside where the fire is at and can create the correct opening for the exhaust, then we will use the fan if it is not a balloon constructed house. Recently we had a fire in a balloon construction, one I couldn't see the fire from the exterior. I held the ventilation. I made the exit hole in preparation for the fan. As the IC I kept checking on the crew inside to see what progress they were making in finding the seat. I had a FF on the back up line to ask why we werent using the fan, my response was "I don't want to burn down the hose down". As they told me they had found the seat, I ordered the fan fired up. The house had very little structural damage and could be rebuilt when we left. I had a little training class shortly after the fire in the critique to get everybody on board in a "better" understanding. Guess what, there is no more vent questions. My guys at either station come to me now with their questions ahead of time, not on the fireground. I have gained their trust in my abilities as their IC. As a relatively new shift commander I have been faced with several of those things in getting my shift on the right track in the "right" way to treat them and get the job done for our customers, with the least problems in getting them done.

    Sorry for the long ramble.
    Am I being effective in my efforts or am I merely showing up in my fireman costume to watch a house burn down? (Joe Brown, www.justlookingbusy.wordpress.com)

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    Quote Originally Posted by downstate_firefighter View Post
    One observation I've made during my time in the fire service is that local training tends to be heavy on how to do the job but often skims over or neglects the why we're doing it this way portion of the lesson. I think a lot of the issues surrounding democracy on the fireground could be erased simply by explaining to the more inexperienced members why certain tasks are performed a certain way. If that is taken care of during initial training and reviewed during annual training, I think there would be a lot fewer questions to answer at the scene.
    While some of us might like to think that newer generations should just respect the lessons given, I think that explaining the WHY makes more sense. The newer generations are far less tolerant of the "just do it my way" mentality and while I don't advocate allowing "why" being asked after every order, I do believe we'll be further ahead by showing these folks the reasons. Someday these kids will be passing on the same training and without a thorough understanding of the why, a lot gets lost in the translation.

    If you look at the EMS field you see that a good part of what makes paramedics better caregivers than advanced EMT's is the more in depth knowledge of why a person is experiencing the symptoms they have. As an EMT-I, I can give a host of drugs out of my cookbook but have very little understanding of how they actually work. 99% of the time this is fine, but I know many times our medics have forgone certain treatments that would seem to be in the "recipe" because they understood more about what was going on than the EMT-I with them.

    Arming our younger firefighters with knowledge cannot harm us or them, and only can serve to better the situation. The more they know the less likely they'll be to question a reasonable order and more likely they'll question a bad one. I will agree that there should be some personal responsibility to seek out more information and develop a thirst for knowledge, that seems to be lacking in many newer personnel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Capt387 View Post
    And there lies the problem, as in one particular post said, "do it the ordered way or you or the rest of your crew may be in jepordy" (or something to that text). If it is a prescribed way of approaching a task on the fire ground I feel it is the recruits responsibility to study and search out his questions. For some "new generation" reason everything has to be force fed or they are not going to search for themselves. I don't mind questions at all, but not on the fire ground, it should have been done way before.

    Let me set up this little scenario: My dept's SOP on ventilation is to on a regular fire, if able (due to fire conditions) use a PPV. We all know what that can do on a balloon construction fire if the fire has not been located. I have one firefighter that has been studying things out, doing his research and in the right way questioning things. It has taken me six months to get him to trust me in the fact that I may not use the fan as perscribed in our SOP (which I have been trying to get some revisions in as they are 22yrs old). I may delay or not use it at all but in the seated FF position on the truck, if you are are the assigned fan man I want it off the truck and at the intended opening. If and only if I can tell from the outside where the fire is at and can create the correct opening for the exhaust, then we will use the fan if it is not a balloon constructed house. Recently we had a fire in a balloon construction, one I couldn't see the fire from the exterior. I held the ventilation. I made the exit hole in preparation for the fan. As the IC I kept checking on the crew inside to see what progress they were making in finding the seat. I had a FF on the back up line to ask why we werent using the fan, my response was "I don't want to burn down the hose down". As they told me they had found the seat, I ordered the fan fired up. The house had very little structural damage and could be rebuilt when we left. I had a little training class shortly after the fire in the critique to get everybody on board in a "better" understanding. Guess what, there is no more vent questions. My guys at either station come to me now with their questions ahead of time, not on the fireground. I have gained their trust in my abilities as their IC. As a relatively new shift commander I have been faced with several of those things in getting my shift on the right track in the "right" way to treat them and get the job done for our customers, with the least problems in getting them done.

    Sorry for the long ramble.
    If I'm misinterpreting your statement I apologize, but the way I understand your post is that you feel it is incumbent upon the new firefighter to learn all they can and then come to you if they have questions.

    If that is the case, I couldn't disagree more. When you go to school, the teacher doesn't (or shouldn't, if they're competent) hand you a textbook on calculus and say "Go figure this stuff out, and if you have any questions along the way, let me know." We would never have a need to have formal training or classroom instruction in the fire service if people were expected to figure it out on their own.

    I hear a lot of our senior guys saying "Just use common sense." Anyone care to tell me what is common about a house being on fire? Common is a house not being on fire. What is common about a hybrid-electric car buried under a semi trailer? Common is a hybrid-electric car not being stuck under a tractor trailer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by downstate_firefighter View Post
    I hear a lot of our senior guys saying "Just use common sense." Anyone care to tell me what is common about a house being on fire? Common is a house not being on fire. What is common about a hybrid-electric car buried under a semi trailer? Common is a hybrid-electric car not being stuck under a tractor trailer.

    Common sense for 99% of the public is to run out of a burning house while we usually run in, so we are already way past using common sense.

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    I Was trained by a one Stud of a Captain, I Always thought that this was as Good. Right after Being told what we where going to do He ended it with. "Questions, Comments, Gripes, Bi*chs Or Complaints?" No one ever got to File anything in the Last four.
    Courage, Being Scared to Death and Saddling Up anyways.

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