Thread: How Do you...?

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    Default How Do you...?

    How do you Change a Dept. that has the mentality? ("This Is Always How Have Done it")

    How Do you Change The public Image Of the Same FD?

    How do you Train people that Don't wanna Train?

    How do you Recruit FF's when No one wants to Help?

    How Do you Lead people that Won't follow?

    How do you deal with all of the Bull**** that Comes along with being a VFD officer/Paid FF that Knows what they are doing is Wrong, Dangerous, And Going to Kill some one?
    Courage, Being Scared to Death and Saddling Up anyways.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushwhacker View Post
    How do you Change a Dept. that has the mentality? ("This Is Always How Have Done it")

    How Do you Change The public Image Of the Same FD?

    How do you Train people that Don't wanna Train?

    How do you Recruit FF's when No one wants to Help?

    How Do you Lead people that Won't follow?

    How do you deal with all of the Bull**** that Comes along with being a VFD officer/Paid FF that Knows what they are doing is Wrong, Dangerous, And Going to Kill some one?
    I don't know if you were asking all of these rhetorically or not, but I've faced most of them over the last couple of years.

    1. This one isn't as tough as it always seems. When faced with this response my reply was always, "Well, we're going to do it differently now." With some people that may not be enough, even coming from a chief. They want to know that you're not changing things just for the sake of change. When faced with this difficult people (usually dinosaurs) I pointed out other departments they respected that were doing the same thing. I haven't had a tremendous amount of difficulty with this one because half of my department are in their 20s. They had been itching for some major changes that the dinosaurs always complained about. You'll never cure everyone of this illness. Some of them you just hope they take early retirement.

    2. Changing the public image of the department requires a good PR push. I took out an ad in the newspaper, wrote several guest columns in the same paper, sent out fliers to random people in the public detailing our mission and telling them about the department, showed up at any public event possible in uniform and did the meet and greet, sending a customer satisfaction survey to every patient we transported, participating in many radio interviews at the local stations, glad-handing with the council members who had previously been against the department before I arrived (now all but one of those original four are our biggest advocates). You name it, I did it. Did I feel dirty sometimes? Eh, not so bad. I got done what my department needed and hot showers work wonders.

    3. I punt training off to our training officer, but when he complained about how people didn't want to train I ordered him to start writing people up if they were behind on their training by more than 1 month and didn't have a reasonable excuse (i.e. gone on vacation, out on sick leave, or maybe they were on the ambulance during a month where we got pounded). We're still working on this one, and we still have a long ways to go to be where I want us to be.

    4. Being an all paid department, I don't really have to recruit. They come to us.

    5. Leading people who don't follow is a tough one, but might be easier to address if there was some clarification. The easy answer is that you lead by example. When I wanted the guys to go through a new search and rescue prop our training officer set up, they complained it was too hot to get in turnouts and SCBA that day. Rather than scream and yell, I threw on my turnouts and an SCBA and went through it first. Yup, that's right, the chief can still put on an SCBA. They all followed me through and I didn't hear another peep from them. Sometimes it's not that easy, despite your best intentions. You lead by choke collar in such instances.

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    Quote Originally Posted by roykirk1989 View Post
    5. Leading people who don't follow is a tough one, but might be easier to address if there was some clarification.......
    I Have dumped my blood, sweat, tears, and More time than i can count into those boys and the only thing i get is Flack. I have lead by example, i have Been a dick, I have been a nice guy, I have worked beside them, above them, and Behind them.

    The ones that Follow Are some of the best in the World and have told me more times than i can count, "When you Go, WE Go."

    I can't get the others to train, I can't get them to work together, I can't get the upper level to work with us , I don't know what I am doing Wrong But most of all
    I Don't know what to do Next,
    Courage, Being Scared to Death and Saddling Up anyways.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushwhacker View Post
    How do you Change a Dept. that has the mentality? ("This Is Always How Have Done it")
    We haven't had that issue - as long as the new idea comes from the 'right' people. Sometimes you have convince the right people, then others will follow. Basic small department politics, unfortunately.

    How Do you Change The public Image Of the Same FD?
    Around here, unless a given department has a specific issue, it becomes more of a general thing for all departments in our area - that whole social club aspect.

    How do you Train people that Don't wanna Train?
    The $64,0000 question. One tactic I try to push is to use the term "drill" if it's gonna be hands-on. That way they may understand that they aren't going to be sitting in the meeting room listening to Firefighter Tree droning on about something they are convinced they won't care about. But even then, you have to deal with some of the old-timers who feel that they've already learned all they need to know and have no need to learn more or to practice. They do neglect to consider that by working with the new members they both impart some of their knowledge (which may be genuine) and allow the members of the department to work together better (which may be an issue if they prefer to be a 'hero').

    How do you Recruit FF's when No one wants to Help?
    A tough one if a department has a history of being a closed club, taking only the buddies of current members. One department in our area did a significant media blitz, followed by a door-to-door campaign, all of which yielded six new members. That may not sound like much, but if your truly active roster is around 25, that's a pretty good boost.

    How Do you Lead people that Won't follow?
    Most people will follow someone, you just have to find out who that someone is.

    I learned some years ago that most organizations such as ours have two types of leaders - nominal (elected/appointed) and opinion (the guy who runs the locker room/clique discussions). The opinion leader rarely wants a position with responsibility (and won't accept one), but loves having a position of authority. It comes down to your basic politics again. If you can't win over the opinion leader, you may have to whittle away at his/her support base.

    How do you deal with all of the Bull**** that Comes along with being a VFD officer/Paid FF that Knows what they are doing is Wrong, Dangerous, And Going to Kill some one?
    Do the right thing, take the safe course, and make sure the person they are going to kill isn't you or your partner(s).

    Lead by example, even if you aren't officially a leader. F'rinstance, If you're doing overhaul, go ahead and pack up. If someone asks why - tell 'em. There's plenty of information available in the trade press and on line.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tree68 View Post
    Basic small department politics, unfortunately.
    If you think small fire department politics are bad, you should give thanks every morning when you wake up that you don't have to participate in large fire department politics. At least if every major metropolitan department is like mine.
    RK
    cell #901-494-9437

    Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.

    "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

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    Time and effort.

    That's the bottom line.
    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 MemphisE34a View Post
    If you think small fire department politics are bad, you should give thanks every morning when you wake up that you don't have to participate in large fire department politics. At least if every major metropolitan department is like mine.


    The Loo is correct. As a major player in a large metro section of Northern Virginia, I can attest that it is someday and endless battle to please everyone and get them all on the same page of music.

    It takes time and patience plus the effort to get everyone singing the same song in the correct key!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonnee View Post
    The Loo is correct. As a major player in a large metro section of Northern Virginia, I can attest that it is someday and endless battle to please everyone and get them all on the same page of music.

    It takes time and patience plus the effort to get everyone singing the same song in the correct key!
    Did you ever hear a orchestra "warming up" for a performance? it is a cacophony of different sounds, notes and time signatures... but when the conductor comes to the stage and taps the baton on the dais... it all comes together in harmony....

    A fire department is a lot like that symphony warming up... until the tones drop...
    ‎"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 Bushwhacker View Post
    How do you Change a Dept. that has the mentality? ("This Is Always How Have Done it")

    Leave those behind that won't change and work with those that will. Eventually one of two things usually happen, they see that the majority are going along with the changes and join in, begrudgingly of course, or they quit. Sometimes them quitting is the best thing that ever happened to the fire department.

    How Do you Change The public Image Of the Same FD?

    Performance...plain and simple. You show them you are professional, efficient, and well trained when on calls.

    How do you Train people that Don't wanna Train?

    See my first answer. It is correct here too.

    How do you Recruit FF's when No one wants to Help?

    I have no simple, clear answer to this. Perhaps showing the public what you can do on calls. Perhaps open houses. I wish I had more for this one.

    I tend to believe a fire department with a good reputation brings in members.


    How Do you Lead people that Won't follow?

    Lay out CLEARLY your expectations, give a couple of chances, and then follow your FD's discipline procedures. If no change occurs you simply do not need that person on the FD anymore.

    How do you deal with all of the Bull**** that Comes along with being a VFD officer/Paid FF that Knows what they are doing is Wrong, Dangerous, And Going to Kill some one?

    I'll tell you what. When you figure that one out let me know.
    Keep the faith Brother.
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
    Millions of people living as foes
    Maybe it's not too late
    To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

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    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyChiefGonzo View Post
    Did you ever hear a orchestra "warming up" for a performance? it is a cacophony of different sounds, notes and time signatures... but when the conductor comes to the stage and taps the baton on the dais... it all comes together in harmony....

    A fire department is a lot like that symphony warming up... until the tones drop...
    Have you been watching "Roxanne" again???

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    This one is easy. Turn to page 16 in your "Chiefs Manual" and every answer is laid out there, with step by step instructions on how to implement.

    Right.

    This is exactly why everyone thinks the Chief job is easy, until they "is" one. This is the Chiefs job, and everyone attacks it differently. To me, this is the most difficult part of the job, as it is a constant juggling act. It never is "complete".

    All I can offer is lead. Lead by example. Pretty soon one joins in, then another, and another. Don't ever expect 100% of the people to follow down the same road you want, but if you lead well, then most will follow, and the others will end up following, just on a different, yet parallel route.

    Expect issues. When they happen let people know your disappointment. If you have been leading well, although they may say "I am just a volunteer, and our chief is too" know for a fact that they are doing a knee jerk reaction to having failed you. If you have them in that spot, there is hope.

    Sit down with the unofficial leaders - the pack leaders. Tell them what you want, what you expect, and how you want to do it. Get their input. Make them your converts. Notice, I did not say friend.

    Don't be afraid to talk to people, and to explain your objectives. Don't make it an election, but outline what you are doing and why in the big picture. It may make things much easier for you.

    Your mileage may vary. I don't live in Utopia, and neither does my department. It is made up of people, and people can be interesting. I still have the best bunch of people I could want.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Keep the faith Brother.
    This scenario is hitting a little close to home, isn't it? It sounds awfully damn familiar to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chenzo View Post
    This scenario is hitting a little close to home, isn't it? It sounds awfully damn familiar to me.
    Only a poor bird craps in his own nest...especially if the neighbors are watching.

    Capice?
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
    Millions of people living as foes
    Maybe it's not too late
    To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefKN View Post
    Time and effort.

    That's the bottom line.
    Chief I am Not sure I HAVE that much time. It get so Frustrating to spend Days and days working, training, Drilling, just to see them forget it all when they get on a Fire.

    The problems Aren't just with the Boys it goes all the way to the top and back to the bottom of this Regime, Its just becomes a Pain in the *** being stuck in the Middle.

    You guys have all reinforced what I know Needs to be done/ How I need to handle it. And Thank you For that.
    Courage, Being Scared to Death and Saddling Up anyways.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    Have you been watching "Roxanne" again???
    You mean the Bossier Parish FD training film?
    ‎"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 Bushwhacker View Post
    Chief I am Not sure I HAVE that much time. It get so Frustrating to spend Days and days working, training, Drilling, just to see them forget it all when they get on a Fire.

    The problems Aren't just with the Boys it goes all the way to the top and back to the bottom of this Regime, Its just becomes a Pain in the *** being stuck in the Middle.

    You guys have all reinforced what I know Needs to be done/ How I need to handle it. And Thank you For that.
    I hear you. Unfortunately, cultures so entrenched don't move easily.

    I've seen some departments stay in 1979 as the world around them changed. They see the change, acknowledge it,then laugh and ignore it.

    Some are merely 5 or 10 years behind the curve. Stupid story, but we were one of the first to name the incident and give a size up. "Main Street Command".. etc, over the radio. Other departments mocked us... poked fun, but we stuck to it and polished our size ups. Now they all do it near us.
    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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    Unfortunately for many depts. large and small, nothing will change until someone gets seriously hurt or worst. Then the troops come in, the lawyers lick their hands and long needed changes are implemented. The really sad part is that it happens over and over throughout the country.

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    Quote Originally Posted by penman View Post
    Unfortunately for many depts. large and small, nothing will change until someone gets seriously hurt or worst. Then the troops come in, the lawyers lick their hands and long needed changes are implemented. The really sad part is that it happens over and over throughout the country.
    I remember back in high school football that, before we could enter any live-contact drills or a game, we were required to watch a film hosted by Dick Vermeil on the dangers of improper tackling. The film showed x-ray images of necks breaking and had interviews with physicians, trainers, and players who had suffered paralysis as a result of improper tackling.

    Maybe the fire service should require us to watch a couple hours of firefighters who have been critically injured and widows telling stories about their late husbands and how all of them would still be active today if they'd followed proper safety guidelines.

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    Quote Originally Posted by downstate_firefighter View Post
    Maybe the fire service should require us to watch a couple hours of firefighters who have been critically injured and widows telling stories about their late husbands and how all of them would still be active today if they'd followed proper safety guidelines.
    Can't happen to "me"...

    "I" don't go to rehab, either.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by downstate_firefighter View Post
    I remember back in high school football that, before we could enter any live-contact drills or a game, we were required to watch a film hosted by Dick Vermeil on the dangers of improper tackling. The film showed x-ray images of necks breaking and had interviews with physicians, trainers, and players who had suffered paralysis as a result of improper tackling.

    Maybe the fire service should require us to watch a couple hours of firefighters who have been critically injured and widows telling stories about their late husbands and how all of them would still be active today if they'd followed proper safety guidelines.
    Ya know that's a Dam good Idea...
    Courage, Being Scared to Death and Saddling Up anyways.

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    Do you have one or two of the firefighter that do like to follow your idea and want the changes? If so use them to help talk positive about your ideas and new training. Ask each of them to try and get two other firefighters to get on board and so on. Also if you can I know it hard at times but get rid of the problem children or lessen there duties. It takes time a long time. I have only been chief two years and I'm having to go through that same things you are. Trust me I get very frustrated at times. But I keep moving forward slowly and I'm slowing making progress. Also try and think our side the box. I started and awards banquet now each year about christmas time. I give out awards, door prizes, and gifts like new tee shirts. I even do all the cooking for it. Show them then your in it for the long haul. Very slowy but as long as change is there I'm still excited

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    Just another thought...

    Do you have an explorer or junior firefighter program?

    Sometimes if you get a decent group when they are young, you can tap into their enthusiasm and train-a-bility and invest in the future.

    It's a longer timeframe, but if you can get a core group of six or so in a few years, you'll have a good start.
    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
    Just another thought...

    Do you have an explorer or junior firefighter program?

    Sometimes if you get a decent group when they are young, you can tap into their enthusiasm and train-a-bility and invest in the future.

    It's a longer timeframe, but if you can get a core group of six or so in a few years, you'll have a good start.
    No I do not, I have had to look into that for Staffing though I do have a Small group of three-five that Do what to see change, They have been working very hard to help me in any way that they can but the combined effect of a Negative Public imagine, a Worse attitude at the correct way of doing things, And some loosing there spine when faced with the possibility of making some one mad, has been detrimental.

    This FD is soo Deep rooted in the Past that i think injection of Fresh Blood and Ideas are almost a Culture shock, I think they are worried about something new not working. the Changes that have came have been slow and hard fought, but after wards the old crew looks back and says" wow that was a good Idea."
    Courage, Being Scared to Death and Saddling Up anyways.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushwhacker View Post
    How do you Change a Dept. that has the mentality? ("This Is Always How Have Done it")

    You have to stick to your guns. The way we used to do it entailed hand- or horse-drawn carts hose, buckets, leather coats, rubber boots, and a water-soaked beard in your mouth. That's not how it's done today,and it can't be done that way.

    At the same time, the fires we used to catch entailed natural fabrics and wood. That's no longer the case. A fire department using 1950's tactics on 2010's fires is asking to get someone killed.

    If they need more convincing, slap a copy of the Charleston report in their lap and make them read it.


    How Do you Change The public Image Of the Same FD?

    A LOT of hard work and time. You have to change the culture of the organization, which is not easy. Not only do you have to put the right people on the bus, you have to put them in the right seats on the bus.

    How do you Train people that Don't wanna Train?

    Mandate it. If you truly want to become a good, or even great, department, everyone in the organization must look at what's best for the department. While I understand family time and all that jazz, the department has to be a priority as well.

    How do you Recruit FF's when No one wants to Help?

    You have to change that culture and make people want to be a part of it. Start young with an Explorer post and get them excited about the prospect. Let others see what you're doing and that the guys actually care about what they're doing and who they're helping.

    How Do you Lead people that Won't follow?

    Lead them... out the door. Sometimes you have to cut off a few heads to get the rest of the herd back in line.

    How do you deal with all of the Bull**** that Comes along with being a VFD officer/Paid FF that Knows what they are doing is Wrong, Dangerous, And Going to Kill some one?

    By doing what you know is right.
    It's never simple, but I've been in a situation similar to what you're describing. Our department was being led by a guy that had no clue and was interested in his own motives. The city finally saw what a handful of us were trying to tell them and dismissed him. The next day we had 4 guys, but those four guys were dedicated to the department and making it better. In the 10 years since, we've done wonders. Instead of saving foundations, we're saving trailer houses miles outside of town. Instead of first responders with only CPR training we're now an ALS provider. We dropped our ISO rating from an 8 to a 5 (which no one believe we could do) and still have some more room to drop it.

    It takes time and commitment, and dealing with a lot of frustration.

    I don't know if you're a reader or not, but I'd recomment two books: "Good to Great" by Jim Collins and "It's Your Ship" by Michael Abrashoff. Both are books I was handed after being promoted to a training chief position with my career department, and both are books that I've learned a lot from and am trying to apply to both my career and vollie department. When you first start reading either, you wonder how it's going to apply, but it'll click.

    Stick with it. Once you start seeing things change it's well worth it. The problem you'll face then is keeping it going, which can be equally as frustrating.

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