1. #1
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Mar 2003

    Default Interview ? - Unsafe order

    You are a rookie firefighter who is assigned a task that you believe would be unsafe. What would you do and why?

    I would repeat the order to my officer and make sure I heard it correctly the first time. If the order remains the same and I heard it correctly, I would proceed with the order as directed. The reason I am going to do this is because you tome me that I am a rookie firefighter. I have some background and experience in building construction but the Captain has infinitely more insight and wisdom. If he or she believes it’s safe to enter the building then I will do just that.
    You train me to recognize things that may be unsafe. I have recognized something and brought it to the attention of the officer. He saw exactly what I saw and was comfortable with the conditions. The reality is that I have never seen something like this. I must trust my superiors. I am especially confident that is’s safe to enter because I know that firefighter safety is paramount to everyone on the scene. No officer wants to tell my family that I have been injured or killed.
    So, I will repeat the order and proceed if that is what I am directed to do.
    We are a paramilitary organization. Many people forget this fact. You have the right to clarify an order but if you disobey it you will be charged with insubordination and be terminated. This is especially true during the probationary period. We are not looking for people who tell us in the entry level interview that they would disobey orders from their superior officers. How would this play out in the military? I guarantee that it would not play out well in the fire service either.
    So, when I interview candidates who tell me they would disobey a direct order (especially one in which they have no experience), I would not hire them in the first place.
    To put this into perspective; I get a call from one of my senior officers or from a senior firefighter that one of the new firefighters disobeyed an order on the fire ground (or wherever it may be). I will investigate the incident and expect that the order given was the right directive. I believe this to be true because the officer has been around the block a few times and has passed the promotional exams. He or she was put into a leadership position because we have confidence in their abilities. Now a brand new firefighter feels differently? While the firefighter may be correct, it’s unlikely.
    So, there is not a very high likelihood that I will hire someone who tells me in the entry-level interview that he would disobey a direct order. We are the fire department. We cannot have our officers issue orders and “hope” that our new employees will follow them.

    In another thread on this board, a current firefighter who is testing for another department believes this question is beneath him. To him I will say to do yourself a favor and stay put on your current department. Your attitude is why many of us stay away from hiring firefighters from other departments. While your experience is appreciated, I already have a Captain on the rig and you are not it.

    Regardless of your experience, I am looking for a probationary firefighter who keeps his mouth shut and his ears open. In time you will earn the respect of the men and women of MY department and your opinion will become welcomed. But for now it's not.......
    Last edited by paulLepore; 03-28-2011 at 10:28 AM.
    Paul Lepore
    Division Chief

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