1. #1
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    ChiefOne2004's Avatar
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    Default New Chief Needs Help

    Well Brothers and Sisters another Firefighter has been given the Oppurtunity of a life time by accepting a positionas a Fire Chief. The Department is staffed by 24 paid-on call Firefighters and a fulltime Fire Marshal. The new chief needs your help and Ideas of what you would want in a good chief. What has your chief or past chief done to **** you off? I need some help, the time is coming up soon and the department is at each other throats and needs a leader that can lead them into battle.

    Thanks for your help.
    Stay Safe

  2. #2
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    Hey chief, first of all congrads. My department's chief is a good example of a good chief. You'll have to gain the respect of your men first of all. Most important thing ever. Get into trainings with them, actually try to show stuff that they probably never knew from the academy and such. Have get-togethers (picnics, dinners, ...) with your department that way you can actually get to know the families and close friends of your men. Give good trainings to your men, give them the most complicated training sessions to give their minds the test that they don't usually get everyday. Well, if you have any more questions chief go ahead and e-mail me. Take care and be safe.

    FF Dave McMinn
    Engine Co. 1
    City of Norwich Fire Dept.

  3. #3
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    Congrats Chief,
    Where did you get the job at? Either way, good for you. What is the population of the city you are working for? Well, we aren't big either. we have about 20 volunteer firefighters most of the time. The only real problems we have are after someone gets promoted in our department, it goes to their head. Our chief, on the other hand does a pretty good job. He sides with his guys and backs us up. He is not afraid to get his hands dirty and gets up for most of our calls, even in the middle of the night. That is something to be proud of, he is not a spring chicken. The only problem you should look for is officers that get big-headed and try to run the show or don't contribute unless it is something they will benefit from. We had this one officer that tried to split the department and get people to follow him and lead them away from the true command staff. This officer was a real snake. The problems they created were numerous. We would come back from calls and this officer wouldn't help do any chores, felt they was too good for us "peon" firefighters. The most ironic thing, this officer was just a lowly JANITOR for a living. That was the officer's full-time job. We came to find out later, after this officer left out department, that they had stolen from us, taken things that did not belong to them. Well enough of that, those are obviously things you don't want to do, or encourage within your new department. Good luck to you ....C H I E F

  4. #4
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    From one chief (ret.) to another, I think that you have already taken your first "right" step by asking for advise. Just because you are chief doesn't mean that you have all of the answers, it's possible that you might simply know where to get them. Some of the suggestions that have been made are good, but I would also ask yourself the question what kind of chief do you want to be. There is a wide difference between being likes (as a person) and being liked for your abilities. It is a fine balance but one that has to be matched with the type of crew that you are commanding. A crew that has been culturally conditioned by poor example will need to have far more emphasis placed on solid command leadership than being one of the good ole boys. A crew that is operationally solid, will need a more recreational bent, and thus the socialization to take the edge off of hard work (just be careful with all of these... don't go overboard). Finally, you will want to get a feel from each person in the department as to what makes them tick, some will be the result of direct discussions but alot will come from observation. Probabily the worst mistake new chiefs have made is to ask what someone wants of them. This sends two messages; "oh now I get to tell them what I want", and "I am going to get what I asked for". Seldom can either be delivered universally, and often the person being asked doesn't have a clue what a chief's job is, so how can they offer much in the way of constructive operational suggestions. The best you can hope for is a social response like being respected, good communicator, or offers opportunities for the rank-and-file to be heard. I would surely hope that these requisite skills, you already have.

    Hope this will be of some use....

  5. #5
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    A few comments and suggestions for you chief. First of all, congratulations!

    Policies that you may develope and implement on the troops will not only effect the newest probie in the organization, but the most seasoned of your veterans. So, I would put a lot of thought into your policies and directives to insure fair and impartial treatment.

    It seems to be a moral booster to have a chief officer ask his troops for input and opinion on issues, policy, and purchase decisions for the organization. There can be trouble when that happens. When you ask for input,opinions, and say take a vote of the majority to make a decision
    on something and then do what you want anyway, reguardless of what the majority wants, you'll be circling the drain. What works for administration does not always work for your troops doing the work. Input from the front lines is great for moral if you follow through. If you ask for what the majority really wants, but go your own way without an explanation to the troops, why bother asking their opinions in the first place?

    I would watch for bad apples in your command structure and middle management. Training all your officers the same way will put you all on the same page. Fireground tactics and strategy aren't the only skills needed for leadership. Some people are great leaders, but lousy managers. I would recommend Management in the Fire Service as required reading for all your officers.

    One of the things I really dislike in a chief officer from my career in the fire service and volunteering is a "micro-manager". Have faith in your junior officers, command staff, and firefighters in them performing their jobs. Evaluate and re-evaluate. Use and enforce the chain of command on handling problems. Let your junior officers have some leeway on problem resolution. Try not to have your fingers into every little minute aspect of the organization. Trust your people and your people will trust you.
    joejoe33

    Comments and opinions are mine and do not represent the agency or IAFF local that I am affiliated with.

  6. #6
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    ok, So now you have been tapped to fill a Chief's job. First, Congratulations. There are several things now that if you want to gain the respect and admiration of the troops that can help you do that. First, Don't forget what it was like when you where down in the trenches as a firefighter-all of their hopes, desires and expectations are the same as your were before you got promoted. Always remember that a department's most valuble resource is the people that are doing the job-always look out for them and don't treat them any less than you would a member of your family.Praise in public and critcize in private. Support and nurture your officers by placing faith and trust in their abilities-don't micromanage every little detail. Don't be so aloof that your officer's feel like they can't talk to you. Remember that your job is not a popularity contest-sometimes no matter what you do, you will always have naysayers and chronic complainers, so do the job to the best of your abilities and those people will never get to you. Finally, the biggest rule of being a Chief- Make sure that everybody goes home at the end of the day. You have assumed an awesome responsobility, just remember that respect, honor and integrity are things that must be earned-no amount of brass on your collar can give you that.

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    ChiefOne2004, Congratulations! the only thing I can say is put the needs of the community, department and personnel before your own. best of luck to you.

  8. #8
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    Default advice for a chief

    First thing is don't be like my last chief and start demoting the volunteer officers. I had a chief that as soon as they hired a couple of paid guys all volunteers were demoted to Lt. Including a battalion chief who was with the dept for 45 years! Second don't play favorites with a certain firefighter or officer(ie. Teacher's Pet). We had one of those too! He got to be a Captain because the chief liked him. All the firefighters hated this captain but the chief did not listen to anyone's opinion so that killed morale really quick. Most important,don't forget where you came from. We all or most of us anyway started out as firefighters and worked our way up the ladder. Say thank you to your men and women when appropriate. A little praise goes a long way.

    Good Luck.

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