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  1. #41
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    I am one of the younger generation guys, and I do believe Democracy has its place, at station and at training, but not at the fireground. At the fireground the officers are in command and should be in command. When the building is burning, we don't have time to stand around in the street like a bunch of Nancy's deciding what to do. Granted sometimes, such as in the earlier mentioned situation of a burning transformer, if there is a life safety issue, orders may need to be questioned, but otherwise do what the officer orders.


  2. #42
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    So it looks like we're agreed - two-way interaction at the fireground is OK with regard to safety and improving operations, but democracy belongs at the business meeting.

    In general, we're all about getting the wet stuff on the red stuff, and we have established procedures for doing that, procedures that should be followed.

    Occasionally there is call for consensus, but only when searching for a solution to a problem that has no predefined answer. And that consensus usually occurs at the command level, not across levels of command.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

  3. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcwops View Post
    I am one of the younger generation guys, and I do believe Democracy has its place, at station and at training, but not at the fireground. At the fireground the officers are in command and should be in command. When the building is burning, we don't have time to stand around in the street like a bunch of Nancy's deciding what to do. Granted sometimes, such as in the earlier mentioned situation of a burning transformer, if there is a life safety issue, orders may need to be questioned, but otherwise do what the officer orders.
    If it is a hands on training, better bring it up prior to the start of the drill. In training a new recruit or repetition training for seasoned guys it seems when one instructor is doing the training and another wants to put a twist on a idea (and sometimes they are worthy of trying) it seems like the class gets derailed and no one learns for the day. One class, one instructor is the only way I will let it run. If the instructor isn't completely correct I will find a break in the class, get the instructor to the side away from the rest of the guys and help him correct the problems. I won't allow a guy to teach unless I am confident he can do the instruction, so the sideline talks usually don't happen.
    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)

  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Capt387 View Post
    If it is a hands on training, better bring it up prior to the start of the drill. In training a new recruit or repetition training for seasoned guys it seems when one instructor is doing the training and another wants to put a twist on a idea (and sometimes they are worthy of trying) it seems like the class gets derailed and no one learns for the day. One class, one instructor is the only way I will let it run. If the instructor isn't completely correct I will find a break in the class, get the instructor to the side away from the rest of the guys and help him correct the problems. I won't allow a guy to teach unless I am confident he can do the instruction, so the sideline talks usually don't happen.

    I would respectfully disagree. I have often found more is learned and retained from the "derailed" situations, than the scheduled class. Now I do agree the instructor should try to keep the class on subject and moving ahead, so training sessions don't turn into 5 hour gossip sessions, but I do think there are times where there is as much to be learned from each other than just one instructor

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    Quote Originally Posted by mcwops View Post
    I would respectfully disagree. I have often found more is learned and retained from the "derailed" situations, than the scheduled class. Now I do agree the instructor should try to keep the class on subject and moving ahead, so training sessions don't turn into 5 hour gossip sessions, but I do think there are times where there is as much to be learned from each other than just one instructor
    I have 11 guys under me and have seen it more than I care to count over the last 24yrs, everyone offering "their" take on the issue at hand leads to at least 10 ****ed off guys, 11 if you count me because of everyone getting aggrivated and the learning aspect flying out the window. I have seen Chiefs come in and change senerios, have unrealistic situations for us. The guys will get back in the engine and usually their first comments are " a lot of good that did us".

    I don't have objections to new ideas, and now as in many years past I have brought a truck load to the table. Some worked and some didn't. There is one thing for sure my ideas were easier accepted if I showed them to my officers and the guys either before or after training and not disrupting the instructor.
    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)

  6. #46
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    You take ten fireman and assign them the task of sweeping a parking lot. You will have ten different ways of doing it , at least nine of them will be effective , proably some more effective than others. If you want it done in a timely manner - do it the bosses way.

  7. #47
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slackjawedyokel View Post
    You take ten fireman and assign them the task of sweeping a parking lot. You will have ten different ways of doing it , at least nine of them will be effective , proably some more effective than others. If you want it done in a timely manner - do it the bosses way.
    My way would be sweeping the parking lot hydraulically.. and making it a hose handling drill...
    ‎"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

  8. #48
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    As I was told years back and I passed it on to new hires, "This job isn't a debating club"! "You do what you are told when you are told or you and even the whole company may get hurt."
    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

    Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by slackjawedyokel View Post
    You take ten fireman and assign them the task of sweeping a parking lot. You will have ten different ways of doing it , at least nine of them will be effective , proably some more effective than others. If you want it done in a timely manner - do it the bosses way.
    Also...

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

  10. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyChiefGonzo View Post
    My way would be sweeping the parking lot hydraulically.. and making it a hose handling drill...
    Bingo. Fire stream control
    Bring enough hose.

  11. #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.

  12. #52
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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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.
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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  13. #53
    Forum Member EastKyFF's Avatar
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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


  14. #54
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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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..........
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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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

  15. #55
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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."

  16. #56
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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

  17. #57
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Talking Absolutely!!.........

    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

    IACOJ Budget Analyst

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

    www.gdvfd18.com

  18. #58
    Forum Member PaladinKnight's Avatar
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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

  19. #59
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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?

  20. #60
    Forum Member L-Webb's Avatar
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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.

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