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......
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Thread: Making the fire scene democratic
08-25-2010, 10:37 PM #61
- Join Date
- Jun 2002
- Glenn Dale Md, Heart of the P.G. County Fire Belt....
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
Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
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.
08-26-2010, 10:39 AM #62
- Join Date
- Mar 2003
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.
08-30-2010, 06:16 PM #63
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.
08-31-2010, 03:07 AM #64
- Join Date
- Sep 2009
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?Ē (Joe Brown, www.justlookingbusy.wordpress.com)
08-31-2010, 08:19 AM #65
- Join Date
- Sep 2006
- Northeast Coast
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.
08-31-2010, 10:06 AM #66
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.
08-31-2010, 10:12 AM #67
- Join Date
- Jul 2010
08-31-2010, 01:34 PM #68
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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