Growing Pains. Retention through a bad public image, and weak moral.
Good Morning Everyone,
Let me start by giving you a little history about myself, I am a 12 year veteran of the fire/rescue business. I started out as a volunteer, worked up into a career/periderm department, and now back to a volunteer/paid-on-call department. In 12 years’ time I have attended all sorts of training classes and events to help myself as a firefighter and be just that much more useful to the department whom I serve. I’ve gone as far as being an instructor for various Academy courses, helping get the new generation of firefighters ready to serve, and pass along my knowledge and experience to those just starting out.
OK… Now onto my dilemma; this is something I have spent many hours pondering at the firehouse. How can I take a group of volunteer firefighters, with mixed level of experience and knowledge and get them to work together as a cohesive team? The department to which I volunteer at has had a very trying past 5 years, with several tragic events that have resulted in loss of life, destruction of town property and bad media/press. It seems that the whole “brotherhood” and “team” aspect of the Department, the part which I love the most about the Fire service is only present when the bell sounds and even then it is a lax presence at best. The rest of the time the station is a war torn battlefield with the little cliqs and camps setup. The “he said, she said” and rumor mills plague and poison the moral.
There is a culmination of things occurring that I feel contribute to the overall disposition of the department, mostly stemming from a few different areas, some of which are out of my control to effectively change. One thing I would like to see occur though is implementing some moral/team building exercises. I have read briefly on some activities and events that challenge groups to think and problem solve a situation together. Fun and enjoyable exercises that help and encourage team building amongst many other things. I would like to know if anyone else has had experience with these kind of activates or would recommend some good ones maybe that pertain directly to the Fire/EMS service. Are there any courses or classes perhaps that anyone would recommend? I am thinking I would like to make a Saturday event out of this.
Overall, I am looking to help change the moral, professionalism and teamwork amongst the members of the Department. I am hoping that with slow change and implementation to first change the attitude of the department members, and hopefully vicariously change the Departments image and perception amongst the surrounding agencies to which we work with. I don’t want the department to continue to be “that” department amongst our neighboring municipalities, I want the community to which we serve, and those districts around us to know when the call is made, they will receive a professional steadfast response and service.
Thanks for anyone and everyone’s input, I apologize for the wall of text, but do appreciate your time and insight on this pandemic of an issue.