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    Red face Officers And Crew Happiness?

    I am having issues with my crew and I am not sure how to approach resolving the issue. A little history about myself first. I just got promoted to Captain. Before I was in the fire service, I had been in management, so I'm not new to general personnel issues. As you know a fire crew is more personal in different ways, so problems are more difficult to resolve. I have two guys on my crew, both are excellent firefighters. One of them is a long time friend, the other is new to our department. Both of them seem to have difficulties with the chain of command. I started out trying to be lax, with some guidelines. I think I messed up there. My goal was not to ruin the relationship we had, yet still get the job done. I think my long time friend has a problem with me being his boss now, and the other was a Captain on another department before and acts like he is still the Captain at times. Both of them nit pick the way I do things, and sometimes approach me with a problem with attitude. In my experience you always respect your Officers position, and never overstep a respectful approach to a problem. The last time we sat down and tried to fix our problems, they act as though there is nothing wrong, and proceed to tell me that they just tell it like it is sometimes and they don't care who they are tallking to when they do it. I have no problem with honesty, that is what I want. I don't like being told how it is with attitude and disrespect. If they were my boss I wouldn't do that to them, I expect the same. What makes it worse is when one disagrees with me they both team up over little ****, and the big ****. I am asking anyone for their thoughts and any help would be very much appreciated. When we fight fires we work great together. It is station duties and things of that nature we have problems with. Thanks for the help in advance.

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    Lightbulb

    Been there, done that ..not fun.

    When you become a company officer, you "straddle the line" so to speak.

    There are times that you are "one of the guys", like ordering dinner, watching the game on the TV, etc.

    The minute the bell rings, that changes.

    The minute you have to assign someone to do an unpopular detail, you no longer stradle the line. You become one of "them"... them being those who wear the plungers on their collar.

    You can be firm and fair. Tell your crew your expectations. Every once in a while, you will have to do the "come to Jesus" talk, but remember, if it does happen, "they" forced the issue.

    My philosophy is in my signature at the end of my posts. I have a good realtionship with my crew, but every once in a while, I have to use it.

    Good luck and keep us informed!
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 07-21-2006 at 10:37 AM. Reason: corrected for spelling.. posted before my morning coffee!
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    Gonz, I think they call that the "Critical Shift".

    I don't think the FD does either FF a favor when they let a new officer supervise an old friend.

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    Meat,

    I've belonged to three departments during my time - and I've been an officer on two of them (currently a Captain). The dynamics in all three departments are surprisingly different. As such, there is no pre-determined way to deal with this issue. I have experienced what you describe.

    It doesn't appear that there are any competency issues with how you're handlling the job. It appears that you're dealing strictly with personality issues. This is the same scenario in which I founf myself the first time I was an officer. My problems dealt with action on the fireground. Most of my crew had years of experience over me and they weren't about to take orders from some whacker. I could have run to the Chief for some backup, but that would not have scored any points in the respect department. I decided to speak to the offending members privately - but I laid it on pretty hard. If the insubordination continued, I would seek department charges because their actions were putting their brothers in danger. The good news was the fireground shenanigans stopped. The bad news is that my unpopular status never went away. However, I did succeed in what was most important - unity on the firegroud.

    Fortunately, you haven't experienced insubordination on the fireground - everyone's doing their job. Unfortunately, you're dealing with attitudes - there are no rules about how a subordinate is supposed to feel. Your buddy who seems to have some jealousy issues may come around after a while. The second-guessing FNG will probably be that way for a long time (what better way to show you're officer material than by telling the ranks the way HE would have done it, right?)

    I agree with Gonzo - just keep doing the job and make sure both guys are doing what they're supposed to be doing. Unless someone is telling lies about you, you'll have to deal with the Monday Morning Quarterbacking. It truly is lonely at the top...

    Good luck, bro.
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    First mistake is trying to be "friends" while on duty. Sorry but I didn't join the Fire Dept cause I needed friends. If these guys can't seperate off duty with on duty relationships then come down on them hard and fast.

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    Default Dr. Mike's psycho babble

    Sorry but a Boss CAN be a friend. As long as the friend dosent take advantage of that friendship. It is a two way street. If you truly are a friend, then you will happy for your friend that got promoted and support that person in his new position by doing what you are supposed to. The new Boss needs to do his job without becoming an a-hole. Because that happens too.
    IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

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    Talking

    When I was treading the path to achieving promotion, I was given some advice by a senior officer, this advice was to "remember the three Fs"
    Be Friendly,Be fair, Be firm. When I finally achieved promotion I remembered and used this advice, You cannot treat any member of your crew differently. be it in a positive or negative manner. On the rare occassions when I have had to discipline anybody, I have always tried to do it in a calm and professional manner, and remind them that they and not I am the cause of the problem. Tell them why they are being disciplined and LISTEN to what they have to say.
    Finally, a true friend will have respect for your position and will not expect favors that are not warranted.
    I wish you luck in resolving the issues.

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    Default The firehouse grump

    Quote Originally Posted by wag11c
    First mistake is trying to be "friends" while on duty. Sorry but I didn't join the Fire Dept cause I needed friends. If these guys can't seperate off duty with on duty relationships then come down on them hard and fast.
    Sorry to hear that you are missing out on one of the great joys of being a firefighter. But then again, it may explain a few things as well
    IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

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    God, there is so much stuff on this. I have found that being clear and upfront of my expectations in the very begining of working together and each shift takes the stress off. This is what we have to do today and this is what I need. I like to be clear, "middle of the road" and respectful to subordinates. Give them the rope to do the job, but let them hang themselves.

    I also show them respect and let them take the relationship southbound. Then its time to "Document, document, document".

    And another thing, stand fast. Do not let them get a "chink in your armour". Stand by your decision and do sound, look and act weak. Dont wafer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wag11c
    First mistake is trying to be "friends" while on duty. Sorry but I didn't join the Fire Dept cause I needed friends. If these guys can't seperate off duty with on duty relationships then come down on them hard and fast.

    It's funny, if I weren't friends with my brothers, this job would lose a great deal of its appeal.

    I do need my friends, and I also know my friends need me.




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    My officers who are also my friends have marked the lines very clearly; when duty calls there is no doubt who is in charge. They are my friends, as such it is my own responsability to recognize their need to perform they leadership duties, so I respect them enough not to interfere with that. They have had to chew my butt more then once, but they respect me and I respect them. They use this philosophy, be firm, fair, and most importantly, consistent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wag11c
    First mistake is trying to be "friends" while on duty. Sorry but I didn't join the Fire Dept cause I needed friends. If these guys can't seperate off duty with on duty relationships then come down on them hard and fast.
    Some guys wonder why their retirement parties could have been held in a closet...
    ‎"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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    Just some thoughts. First,,,, if the "long time friend" is indeed one, then he should know how things work and not be putting you in this spot to begin with. I'd take him aside, have a heart to heart with him, and let him know how things are going to be. If he feels that he can't live with it, then maybe it's time for him to go to another house. Next,,, how "New" is the new guy?? There is no reason for you to have a rookie tell you that he "Tells it like it is" Do you all have a probationary period?? Why is he an ex-captain starting over in a new department?? This raises a red flag to me, and tells me that he might be a problem child that someone else got rid of. He's the easy one. If he can't or won't get with the program, then do your part to assist his career development before his p*** poor attitude has a chance to poison some other impressionable young minds. Just my 2 cents. Good luck to you.

    Q6cap

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    Default Update From Meathead

    I had a long heart to heart/ come to Jesus talk with my longtime friend, and now he sees things from a different perspective. He apologized for his attitude and actions. As for the other guy, he and I have a meeting with the Chief coming up. The Chief has had enough of his attitude, lack of respect, and his view on his responsibilities. I see a shift change in his future. I hope that for his sake his attitude changes when he goes to another shift. It seems to me we have a personality conflict that he isn't willing to work with. He wants to be in a ****ing match that he will win, because I won't even participate in this crap. When I say he was a Captain, he actually is a Captain on a Volunteer Department. Thanks for all your help, it's good to hear other people's point of view.

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    MEATHEAD1, just a thought that you may want to carry in with your pre-meeting with the Chief - I mean just before meeting with your "Back-Pain":

    You suggest a possible shift change in the future. May I recommend that this action be a last resort? Coming from the Army side of things, in the past it was a long time tradition to take undesireable guys out and move them to another unit. This was especially true for those with discipline problems. In Canada they have stopped doing this as often as once was, because oft times it creates a greater void within the individual. Thus he becomes a greater back pain to the next commander. This is mostly due to the original commander not effectively dealing with the problem in the first place. (not sure if this is coming out quite like I want)

    My thought is, give the guy a bit of a chance to say his peace, and try to work with him to adjust, rather than just packing his bags for him. And as an army geek, I know how hard it is to be a field commander in one location, but a peon in the next. Its a tough go, sometimes.

    If you have any questions, please email or pm me, especially since I am not sure if I expressed my intentions very well.
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    I suppose I deserve a beating after my latest post, I never said I don't have friends on the job, as a matter of fact the majority of my off duty socialization is with other FF's and their families. My point is that I've seen too many new officers attempt to maintain the same level of fraternization as they did while riding the back step. I have a guy right now that is particulary hard to work with, thinks his way is always best and that's not what I need in the stress of a fireground. What's funny is that if the weather didn't stink today I was headed to his house thuis morning for a day of boating. We finally reached a level of understanding that what happens on duty does not relect our friendship off duty.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wag11c
    I suppose I deserve a beating after my latest post, I never said I don't have friends on the job, as a matter of fact the majority of my off duty socialization is with other FF's and their families. My point is that I've seen too many new officers attempt to maintain the same level of fraternization as they did while riding the back step. I have a guy right now that is particulary hard to work with, thinks his way is always best and that's not what I need in the stress of a fireground. What's funny is that if the weather didn't stink today I was headed to his house thuis morning for a day of boating. We finally reached a level of understanding that what happens on duty does not relect our friendship off duty.
    I for one, am glad you clarified that.
    We have what is among the strongest brotherhood there is. That is what makes this profession so special!




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    Quote Originally Posted by MEATHEAD1
    I am having issues with my crew and I am not sure how to approach resolving the issue. A little history about myself first. I just got promoted to Captain. Before I was in the fire service, I had been in management, so I'm not new to general personnel issues. As you know a fire crew is more personal in different ways, so problems are more difficult to resolve. I have two guys on my crew, both are excellent firefighters. One of them is a long time friend, the other is new to our department. Both of them seem to have difficulties with the chain of command. I started out trying to be lax, with some guidelines. I think I messed up there. My goal was not to ruin the relationship we had, yet still get the job done. I think my long time friend has a problem with me being his boss now, and the other was a Captain on another department before and acts like he is still the Captain at times. Both of them nit pick the way I do things, and sometimes approach me with a problem with attitude. In my experience you always respect your Officers position, and never overstep a respectful approach to a problem. The last time we sat down and tried to fix our problems, they act as though there is nothing wrong, and proceed to tell me that they just tell it like it is sometimes and they don't care who they are tallking to when they do it. I have no problem with honesty, that is what I want. I don't like being told how it is with attitude and disrespect. If they were my boss I wouldn't do that to them, I expect the same. What makes it worse is when one disagrees with me they both team up over little ****, and the big ****. I am asking anyone for their thoughts and any help would be very much appreciated. When we fight fires we work great together. It is station duties and things of that nature we have problems with. Thanks for the help in advance.
    When I promoted a couple years back and got my first crew (and with every new crew member since) I just have a meeting first off. Lay out your expectations and as another mentioned, be consistent. Everyone has a position on the team, and everyone has a job to do.

    I have simple rules:

    1) I expect everyone to watch each other's back on calls and off, and take care of each other.

    2) I expect them to know their job, do their job, and own up to mistakes.

    3) I expect them to speak up if they see something or have ideas because everyone has different experiences.

    4) I expect them to have fun. This is the greatest career in the world

    If there is a problem with 1-3, the issue gets dealt with objectively and fixed, then it's right back to #4. Otherwise, I let my guys do their job.
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    Quote Originally Posted by wag11c
    First mistake is trying to be "friends" while on duty. Sorry but I didn't join the Fire Dept cause I needed friends. If these guys can't seperate off duty with on duty relationships then come down on them hard and fast.
    Thats the best thing in the world to do......if you want to lose every decent guy that comes through your company and you aspire to be a babysitter instaed of a company officer. Treat your guys like 1st graders and thats how they're gonna act.

    Respect cannot be demanded from your guys through the pen. You must earn it through your relationship, how you support them, how you teach them, and how you protect them.

    They guys will always work harder for you when they are doing it because THEY want to.


    ****EDIT****
    I posted that before I read your latest post. I am also glad you somewhat clarified yourself. I still don't think the first or best answer is playing hardball.
    Last edited by MemphisE34a; 06-14-2006 at 01:53 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fireman4949
    I for one, am glad you clarified that.
    We have what is among the strongest brotherhood there is. That is what makes this profession so special!




    Kevin
    DITTO!!!!!!

    Be fair but firm. There is a time to be friends and a time to be boss/firefighter. This line should be clear. I'm glad your buddy came to his senses. Any real friend anyway would have done the same.

    Sounds like this former volley Captain still thinks he can boss people around. Jack him up and remind him he is not volley anymore. If that doesn't work then do the shift change as a last resort before he gets a boot in his posterior.

    Keep us posted.
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    Lead by example, both on and off the fire ground. Not saying that you need to be the only one mopping the floor, but LEAD by EXAMPLE. Show them that they are NOT below you, but that you ensure they do thier jobs.
    Some of the Captains I've worked for were the ones watching the tube, some didn't do anything around the firehouse besides reports. We didn't have that many reports to do. But they ate off the dishes and ***** in the toilet that we firefighters were cleaning every morning (not in the same water!).
    Some of the BEST officers I've worked for were the first up in the morning and had breakfast on the table, first to wash the truck and the first to ensure that our equipment was in proper order. These guys were not the bell ringers. They were the first at the station and last to leave. They were the first on the apparatus and the first off on the incident. They were the best Captains I've ever worked for. I know that they would not expect me to do anything on or off the fireground that they were not willing to do, whether they were required to or wanted to or not.
    When play time came around, they were the ones that played the hardest and remembered the most about me and my family. Those are the guys that it didn't take long to grow to love them and know that I would do ANYTHING for them. They are what all officers (in that department) need to be like.
    There are some great officers, but some it just takes a little more time to find the officer in them and them to find it themselves. Once they've found it, they fit right into the GREAT officer title.


    *Mark
    Last edited by mark440; 06-15-2006 at 02:06 AM.
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    Default Update

    We had are meeting with the Chief. Went well. It was basically put to them we need to tolerate each other at work. He pointed out I was their Captain and like it or not what I say goes. We are supposed to take our time off, think, and regroup. When we come back to shift we are going to sit down on our own again with a clean slate. I am goig to lay out my expectations, an gove the guys a chance to air out problems. Just to let everyone hear know, I am the sort of officer that does what I ask of my crew. I won't ask them to do anything I haven't done or won't do. I am helping them all the time and sometimes doing jobs on my own while they sit around, but they never seem to remeber that stuff. They like to cpmplain about when I don't help. They don't care if I am too busy with something else, they see it as me not working. That is what I have a real problem with. They complain about the littlest things like u bunch of women. (NO OFFENSE LADIES!!!) I can't stand that crap! Basically the Chief left it with (If it happens again, a shift change or worse will happen, so figure out a way to make it work.) So we will see what happens when we return to work. All I ask is they do their job, and if they have a problem with something I do talk to me about it, don't yell at me in front of another crew. I never once yelled at my officers. I wouldn't do it to them, So I expect them not to do it to me. I'll keep you updated.

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    Sounds like mostly a reasonable approach. Good luck to ya! Hope all goes well.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

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    Default Wow

    When I say he was a Captain, he actually is a Captain on a Volunteer Department. Thanks for all your help, it's good to hear other people's point of view.
    MEATHEAD1

    What does that have to do with anything? Because he is a Vol. he can not be a capt. I do not understand that part of the statement. So it sounds like he is an officer at his Vol. dept, you are an officer at I am assuming your paid dept? And since he is under you there he has a problem. Have you ever Vol. before? You say you lead by example, how long have you been in the fire service?
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    I think he was responding to why an officer took a non-supervisor role in another department. I hear him as saying that he was a captain and wanted to make it a career so he joined the ranks of full time FF. I don't see how this is an insult to anyone.

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