09-07-1999, 09:17 AM #1AFFFFirehouse.com Guest
Fire Department Clicks Problem or Not?
I am 13 year veteran of the volunteer fire service in Pa. and I have been in several differant departments. In therse departments it seems that if you are not part of the in crowd (click) you do not get anywhere. I have seen these destroy departments. Are these more of a threat than the ever growing problem of finaces and training that is expected of the volunteers? could they be the down fall of the volunteer fire departments? What is everyone elses opinon? What can be done to control the clicks?
09-07-1999, 12:11 PM #2ericnhFirehouse.com Guest
I'm a volunteer in New Jersey and also see the problem with the different clicks in the department. What I have seen is that if you work hard and dedicate yourself you will be accepted into the group. But, if you join the department, and don't really contribute anything than you will not be accepted.
In my department I have seen many people come and go. The ones that stay are the ones that are accepted into the group, and the ones that aren't accepted leave. But, I haven't seen very many instances of someone who tries really hard and dedicates themselves be pushed out by the popular crowd in the department.
09-07-1999, 01:12 PM #3Bob SnyderFirehouse.com Guest
Cliques can be a real problem on a personal level. They are probably a danger to individual volunteer companies also, but I don't know if it could bring down the entire volunteer fire service.
My station is too small for this sort of thing. From the outside, we probably look like one clique in the community (like the playground committee, the Lion's Club, the Womens' Club, etc.), where you either show us that you can contribute and can get along or you don't make it. That probably does have some impact on our recruiting, but I don't think that our internal visibility is high enough for it to be a major factor. It has a much bigger effect on retention, and we've been proactive in changing the atmosphere in recent years, with good results.
The biggest impact that multiple cliques seems to have is on the stability of the company. I'm familiar with the area of the state you're in, AFFF, since I ran with a company not too far from you while I was in college. I'm not going to say exactly which one. At the time I was there, cliques were noticable, but not a big problem. In recent years, I've had occasional contact with that company, and I've noticed that the entire roster of officers seems to roll back and forth between a few groups of people every few years. I just can't believe that this is good for everybody else in the company, and I can't see how it could be good for operations in the long run. Still, they keep getting the job done and they maintain a large active crew. You go figure.
Maybe it's like our Captain says...the nozzle nuts like us will find us and stick around in spite of us...it's the others we have to recruit. Either way, it seems that cliques are just another part of life in the fire service, and the fire service will survive them.
09-07-1999, 08:00 PM #4Scott ClarkFirehouse.com Guest
I have to agree and disagree with the earlier statements. Cliques are very destructive to the fire service and are slowly desolving what should be a commmunity oriented organization. We forget that though. We worry more about what the fire department is going to do for me, than what I'm going to do for the community! I have heard so many fire service personnel tell me "but I am all for the community". But when I really quiz them about their motive for being a member of the organization, I find with a majority of them that they have lost their community focus. When that focus is gone all that is left to feed is their own ego. If you don't think that a fire department can be desolved due to internal cliques, think again. I study fire department growth and community participation, and I have found through USFA reports that 10 fire stations shut there doors last year alone. Why? Well they didn't have the manpower to operate efficently anymore. Still don't believe me! Well a study was done by Columbia University and SUNY Plattsburgh and another is being done by Syracuse University about how destructive cliques and politics are destroying the volunteer fire service. We don't think it can happen, a fire department closing its doors. Well it is a reality! This country is made up of 73% of fire departments being all volunteer, only 6% are all paid and that leaves 21% being combination departments. This number is growing every year. Don't be fooled by thinking that it can't happen ........... it is happening!
If we stand united.... We will never fall.
09-08-1999, 11:36 AM #5iwood51Firehouse.com Guest
I have to disagree with ericnh, I have seen a lot of people try very hard, and then get discouraged and leave due to others always being held in higher esteem because of their friendship with the higher-ups in the organization. I will not air the dirty laundry of my department just as I don't expect anyone else to air their's, however, if you take a long look, I think you will find that this is the case in many, if not all, volunteer departments out there.
09-08-1999, 01:39 PM #6BURNSEMSFirehouse.com Guest
Whats up, my Father was a 35 yr f/f and his father also, why are we loosing the dedication and allowing these destructive occurance in our fire stations, Last I was told Fire Fighting was not a Glamor Shot or G.Q. idea. It should be about a TEAM of people who work well togeather to accomplish a mission, what ever it may be. Why do some Officers allow this to occure I have been in departments were the Officers were the click and boy did that cause problems, some clicks are not Dangerous, if you have a group of folks who work well togeather and seem to be able to accomplish the job with little Instruction or Assistance then I would think this is a good thing, Its up to the membership to set the Pathway for accomplishment as long as you are not Hindered by outside influence. If the Click is destructive and not a Proactive Element of your service then deal with it through your own elements and Dont give up
09-08-1999, 02:22 PM #7iwood51Firehouse.com Guest
I don't think any of us are giving up, I've been doing this for 15 years and 'if the good Lord's willing and the creeks don't rise", I plan on doing it for a lot longer, however, I can see where people get discouraged when good, solid, honest effort is thrown aside because that person wasn't "in" with the right crowd, you'd think we were still in high-school
09-08-1999, 04:51 PM #8TigerFirehouse.com Guest
As the cliche goes: "There's no I in team."
But there is in clique and there's a big difference between a team and a clique. A clique is a group of individuals (thus the I) with their own agenda and standards that are rarely based on performance.
However, a team is also a group of individuals, but with a common goal - and hopefully a positive one for both the company and the community.
I have seen cliques destroy departments and I have also felt the brunt of being excluded from one. My personal belief has always been that I joined the fire service to serve the people in the community - not necessarily the people in my company.
Unfortunately, cliques are a natural part of society, not just volunteer fire departments, but political parties and social organizations. Chief Jack Snook taught us that the biggest challenge in dealing with volunteers - is the fact that they are volunteers. Another wise fireman told me that "It's only the name of the department that changes - the challenges remain the same."
Without pay as reward or reprimand - we have little clout with which to manage or mold people.
Cliques and the recognition that comes with them offers weaker people the opportunity to belong and often masks the real purpose of their belonging.
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09-08-1999, 05:50 PM #9BURNSEMSFirehouse.com Guest
Very well said, I agree
Here today for a Safer Tomorrow
09-08-1999, 09:42 PM #10Scott ClarkFirehouse.com Guest
Well said Tiger. There is a lot of truth in his statement. Our fire departments are self-destructing from the inside out. Cliques are playing a major part of that. I have been on the outside of bad cliques and have been the point of their attacks. And as history repeats itself I'm right back there again. You see I made a pact with myself. I have decided to "no longer do what is popular, but do what is right". In my current situation I have challenged the "negative clique gang" in the eye of the public. I warn you if you try this , do your homework first. I have and always do and always get positive results. The bible challenges us to be boat rockers, so I have no fear. If you want to put an end to the bad cliques of your department, be a stand up guy. Be ready to be talked about, lied about, the brunt of bad rumors, and ignored by station personnel. If you are like me, well that was already happening so I had nothing to lose! Fire Departments are not held accountable for their internal operating conditions. What is the main part of internal operations ...... the people. When a department can't keep people on staff it is usually because of internal personnel conflicts, ie; CLIQUES! When we leave one job for another we usually leave because there is someone there that really bothers us. We say it was for an increase in salary, was it really though? As I said before I have taken my fire department clique and placed them in The public eye, they are now having to justify themselves and their motives for being a volunteer firefighter. They have now turned on themselves and are blaming each other for the departments failure to maintain membership "go fiqure". The clique has driven out so many people, they have only kept 20.14% of their membership in the past 5 years. SAD! This has lead to the development of a whole NEW fire department with user friendly rules and set goals for the future. You see the public needs to be informed because this is their fire department, not ours. That is what the cliques think, and when you take that power away, they stand there like a naked soul standing in a arena full of many on lookers. We will always risk the chance of every person that we recruit will be a "clique member", but if we train them right and develop their mind and attitude as well as their skill level, volunteer fire departments shall live forever.
If we stand united.... We will never fall.
11-05-1999, 06:46 PM #11DED1645Firehouse.com Guest
Do departments have clicks? YES, of course they do. The question you have to ask yourself did you join the service to help your community or to become part of a click. I didn't. If I made friends in the process, Great. But that is not the reason I joined the department. The biggest concern of mine is does it affect your responsibilities on an incident. If so, then your chief should step in a basically put a stop to it immediately!!! Our chief did. We all worked together or if he felt that a person or persons were going to be a problem they would be humping hose for the guys that did work together. The department is for the community not a party spot.
Presently Lindenwold,NJ(I'm not a member of any of this District's dept's.)
11-11-1999, 10:53 AM #12FyredUpFirehouse.com Guest
Cliques are a part of society. As long as the clique does not create conflict or destroy the operational efficiency of the FD who cares? Personally, as a 41 year old member of the volly department where I live, I have little in common with the 19-25 year olds other than the FD. So if they choose to be in their group so be it, as long as when there is work to do, or tones sound we all work together for the common goal.
We are fairly lucky in that the younger guys we have are decent hard working guys who do what needs to be done, usually with little direction.
Cliques can be destructibve but so can the reaction to them.
11-11-1999, 11:46 PM #13RVFDCaptFirehouse.com Guest
I like your answer, FyredUp. Cliques are a part of society and are basically unavoidable. A dept has to be careful,though to understand that the cliques, etc. stop when the tones drop. When a fire dept is on scene, we are there to do a job and you are no longer "friends" so to speak but coworkers. Leave your friendship on the engine and just get the job done. Then we can hang out with our buddies and have fun. Cliques, if kept in perspective, can actually be a good thing to help comraderie.
11-22-1999, 07:59 PM #14Deputy53Firehouse.com Guest
WOW, some of you sound like you want to be on the outside looking in, Scott you fit that bill, There is only a very few number of members to go around, Your Chief has to make SURE that people work together and try to get along, you are part of a click(English spelling), you are running into a burning building when most people are running out. that makes you a part of a "Bigger Click". come on guys/girls we are all part of the same team. It sound to me like some of your leaders dont have control over there people.If there is a few bad eggs. dont spoil the bunch, GET RID OF THEM. (Sorry no bible lessons here). This is the FIRE DEPT.
11-23-1999, 10:00 AM #15iwood51Firehouse.com Guest
Deputy53, I cannot tell by your profile if you're a volunteer or paid firefighter, however, I would like to comment on a couple of your statements.
"WOW, some of you sound like you want to be on the outside looking in, Scott you fit that bill."
I totally disagree here, none of us want to be on the outside looking in, if we did, we would be. I am in a volunteer fire department, have been for 15 years, and am still here because I like it.
"There is only a very few number of members to go around."
Agreed, there are only a few members to go around. Recruitment and retention is crucial to any volunteer fire department.
"Your Chief has to make SURE that people work together and try to get along."
I think it's everybody's job to do this.
"you are part of a click(English spelling)"
Wrong, click is something you do with your mouse, clique is the correct spelling for this discussion.
Main Entry: clique
Pronunciation: 'klEk, 'klik
: a narrow exclusive circle or group of persons; especially : one held together by common interests, views, or purposes
It maybe a misconstrued "Americanized" spelling, but it is certainly not the English spelling. The definition above was taken from Merriam-Websters online dictionary, and I can assure you that it is not spelled any differently in Oxford's Unabridged English Dictionary, although I haven't looked online for that.
"You are running into a burning building when most people are running out. that makes you a part of a "Bigger Click". come on guys/girls we are all part of the same team.
I don't think that this is an issue, we all pull together when the whistle blows.
"It sound to me like some of your leaders dont have control over there people.If there is a few bad eggs. dont spoil the bunch, GET RID OF THEM. (Sorry no bible lessons here). This is the FIRE DEPT."
The issue of this whole topic pertains more to what goes on when you're not on an alarm, although this does spill over come election time and the most popular person gets elected, not necessarily the better qualified, or even remotely qualified for that matter, but this has been addressed in another topic. I do agree with the other posts in that people do not stay around where they are not welcomed. My department celebrated it's 50th anniversary in 1991. That was only 8 years ago, and 75% of the members of my company then are no longer members now. I don't blame this entirely or even mostly on cliques, but it did have something to do with it.
12-08-1999, 12:14 PM #16Lieutenant GonzoFirehouse.com Guest
Cilques are definitely a problem. I have a friend who wanted to join the volunteer fire department in his community. He was willing to make the commitment for time and training. His biggest problem? He is originally from Massachusetts and was not a "born Vermonter". When he approached the town's Fire Chief about membership, he was told "flatlanders" need not apply. At the time, they had a sign in front of their fire station asking for people to join the Department. Small town politics and cliques are a detriment to those who want to serve!
12-11-1999, 07:55 AM #17Mark MongerFirehouse.com Guest
Is it possible that people sometimes mistake the family-like atmosphere of a Vol. fire dept. as being a clique? I have been a Vol. in my community for 13 years and have a very close bond with most the firefighters in my company, as well as their families!
12-21-1999, 04:15 PM #18DudeFirehouse.com Guest
And I thought this was a New South Wales Rural Fire Service Problem only. I guess cliques are a worldwide problem. Worse than cliques are the "family dynasty" phenomenom that occur in the volunteer brigades. A family that has had a member in the brigade since year dot usually continues to run the brigade down thru the generations. Not that this is always a bad thing, but sometimes the older members don't know when to turn loose of the reins. The other members who live in the same village or town don't wish to "rock the boat" or become outcasts because they dared to nominate someone else for the leadership position and just go along with the majority.
The clique problem usually occurs with brigades that are on the urban fringe and not so much with the more rural brigades because the rural brigades are strapped for manpower anyway and everone in the district is welcome to try and put out bushfires. It is those who don't offer assistance out here who are looked upon with puzzlement and slight disdain.
As a few of you have said, It is up to the leadership to curb destructive cliques if they wish to have a winning team.
Dude, Wagga Wagga NSWRFS
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