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Thread: ideas needed

  1. #1
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    Default ideas needed

    Can anybody help me find any retired chief or anybody that is willing to speak to the members of my Vol. Fire Company on teamwork, leadership, and respect for others. We seem to be having a problem here with younger members disrespecting authority, there rank, and the firehouse itself by leaving it a mess after using it. If I as the chief try to discipline i get "GOOD THEN I QUIT" .... We only have about 10 truly active memebers out of 24 on the roster but runs are increasing yearly. Im pulling my hair out over here. ive been chief now for five years and most memebers are friends outside of the company. Its a tightrope i walk to maintain the balance.


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    If you can find it, fireengineering.com once had Chief Laskey's speech at FDIC available for viewing. It'd require a link to the net, as you can't download it and burn it to HD or disk. I haven't got the chance to, but I've been recommended to read his book about Pride and Ownership. The video is excellent, but I'm not sure if it'll help.

    I hate to tell you, but until you get some guys to step up and lead, you're going to have a problem getting the others for fall in line. However, if you do get some leaders, others should follow suit. When I was appointed chief, I had myself and three other guys on the department. However, they were guys that were dedicated, so as others joined, they learned by example. Other than minor stuff here and there, I have had luck not having the same issues you are. Not that I suggest to let the ones who don't care go, but at the same time there's some aspects of that idea that might not hurt.

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    Ah the old blackmail the chief with the "I'll quit if you make me do anything I don;t want to" line. I experienced that when I was chief, primarily from one very vocal member. I was giving in to keep people happy and after a while I hust got sick of it and one meeting we were implementing a policy change and he said "If you do that I am gonna quit." I looked him square in the eyes and said "We'll miss you." He said "What does that mean?" I said "We are making this policy change and apparently you are quitting. So....we'll miss you." He didn't know what to say and sat quietly for the rest of the meeting and afterwards he came and talked to me. I said we would like you to stay but you will not be setting policy anymore by threatening to quit. Guess what? He quit and the rest stayed and we are still here and better than ever 15 years later.

    Look...you can make rules that are meaningless unless you enforce them or you can continue to be blackmailed by the few who simply don;t care enough to follow the rules. My final comment is this do they listen on the fireground? If not why keep them around they are going to get somebody hurt or killed.

    Good luck...I fear you'll need it.

    FyredUp

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    A few things we have done

    1. A new member gets an initial counseling (written) of whats expected of him, requirements etc. The member signs off that he understands yada yada. Some people do not know how to act this gives some insight.

    2. Officers address each other by rank (when in front of general membership). Seems kinda silly but it takes that "hey joe" out of the conversation and sets the example of rank and file and who is the boss.

    3. Officers must show a united front! Officers can not question each other in front of the membership, get into the many ****ing matches, or disrespect another officer in front of the troops. All disagreements are dealt behind closed doors.

    Monkey see Monkey do. If a member see's an officer or a senior man acting like a tool he will instantly assume, "if he can do, it so can I".

    Senior men and officers need to set the example.
    "Never share a foxhole with anyone braver than yourself."

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    We used to have the same problem you are going through here just a while back. When I got promoted to Lieutenant the guys at my station were lazy, the trucks rarely got washed, office was never swept, windows had month old dead bugs on them, etc. It was a grub pit to say the least. As stated before you have to enforce the policies and establish mere expectations that you have of your people. The Captain and Battalion Chief at my station are still disobeyed regularly however I've noticed that several of the firefighters at my station now obey the policies and my expectations with out my presence.

    As an oncall department we have no uniform requirement for training sessions however we do have an attendance requirement. From my station over half of the personnel are in a "duty" style uniform for every department meeting proudly representing the department. Also, 2 out of 28 employees did not meet the 70% training attendance requirement. Department wide 6/54 personnel did not meet the training requirements. I think that is excellent and its because we aren't affraid to enforce the policy. At one point we told our personnel that if they did not meet the training requirement they wouldn't have the option of quitting they would be terminated and our mutual aid companies would be running more calls with us until we could hire dedicated employees.

    We too had to begin addressing each other by rank. Not only amongst officers, from officer to firefighter address them by rank. This establishes a certain expectation of them and gives them the respect they've earned. It also helps to establish a separation of "good buddy" from employee.

    I can promise you that you will **** someone off, and some may even quit, but your department will be better off because of it. You must establish control. Sounds harsh and it is, but it is honestly for the good of the department and your community.

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    Forgot to mention.....

    You can bring in any chief from across the country and have them give the greatest speach about commitment, teamwork, dedication, what have you but at best you'll see a change for about two weeks. For two weeks your personnel will be the best employees you have ever seen. Then slowly they will slip back into their current routines.

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    Try not to get too frustrated. The "you do that and I''ll quit" and "this department was here long before you and will be here long after you" guys only need to see a few firefighters start backing you up and they will go away. Well, it seems to be going that way in my department anyway. Gain the respect of a few and it will spread. Make them understand the importance of what you want changed. In our case it was training, OSHA, record keeping etc... Alot of extremely important stuff that got ignored for thirty years. A new chief, with a couple good officers did wonders to turn a backwords department around. Alot of deadwood left, and the rest has either jumped on board or do the minimal amount required and then sulk in the back of the room. Some feelings were hurt but in the long run we are a much safer, better prepared department than we have ever been and that in turn has increased motivation around the station to keep things clean etc...

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    Quote Originally Posted by cannon121
    Can anybody help me find any retired chief or anybody that is willing to speak to the members of my Vol. Fire Company on teamwork, leadership, and respect for others. We seem to be having a problem here with younger members disrespecting authority, there rank, and the firehouse itself by leaving it a mess after using it. If I as the chief try to discipline i get "GOOD THEN I QUIT" .... We only have about 10 truly active memebers out of 24 on the roster but runs are increasing yearly. Im pulling my hair out over here. ive been chief now for five years and most memebers are friends outside of the company. Its a tightrope i walk to maintain the balance.

    I'm a chief too and I have somewhat the same problem as you. We are extremely low on membership, about 23. Only a dozen actually respond. If those young guys don'tr treat others the way they should and they say "I quit", I say let them. They aren't doing you any good anyhow, right? All they are doing is costing you money on BWC and training. Get rid of them.

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    If they cant follow the rules, tell them where the door is, and they should not let it hit them in the *** on the way out. If they are doing as you say then they are not helping you at all. If they dont have to follow them then you will have others doing the same thing. Better to have 10 guys rowing in one direction than 24 rowing in opposite directions.

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    Thank you for your support and understanding. My Asst Chief has now quit which is totaly OK with me. He acted as sort of a click ring leader. im sure others will follow. And that is ok. If they quit they truly were not firefighters at all... just users. Next fire meeting im laying down rules and policies. Officers will be acountable fior there actions. They will also be given alot more responsibilities. If they cant handle the changes well then Quit or step up to the task..be men not mice.

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    I've been the Deputy Chief in my department for just over a year now. We had very crappy attendance numbers with most members. So I implimented what I call reserve status. It states that members are to attend at least 70% of practices per quarter. I went per quarter because it allows for a little more flexability than 70% for the year. Members who do not make the cut of 70% for that quarter are now what is known as reserve status and are to turn in their pagers right away. They are not to resopond to calls but must attend weekly practice. For that term they are on reserve status they must make 70% practices. If they fall below 70% they may be put on reserve for the next quarter or asked to leave, that part would be up to you. I brought this in effect last November and we have lost 2 members. Now these members had attendance of 0% and the other of 7% maybe. Did we really lose anything? Not really, on paper it looks good, it is 2 names, but when it comes down to doing actual work names on paper don't help. I didn't fire anyone, those members did it to themselvs, I just gave them an altimadium. either your with us or you're not. If the are the 10 members you do have the ones saying they're going to quit? If not let the other 14 quit if they want. Your not losing much. In 2000 we had 14 members quit one night due to different reasons but we made it, and we're much better for it.

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    Well, just an update on my situation. I had an officer resign his position. I think he expected me to stop him but I didn't. I think it made the others a little nervous as well. Hope so. Keeps them on their toes.

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    As an officer we may not address each other by rank nor do the firefighters address us by rank. However, they know we are the officers and they have to listen to us when given an order. If they disrespect an officer or another firefighter for that matter they get to have a chat with the Chief and a couple of officers in the Chiefs office. If they threaten to quit then ok, we let them quit. Here is a quote I read somewhere and I like, "Lead from the front....but back just enough to where you can put a boot in some backsides." If it gets too laid back a well placed boot is in order. It dosen't happen often but it happens. Our Chief is one of those laid back guys, that likes to have fun and will cut up with the best of us. Even if a practical joke is played on him, with in reason, he will laugh with the rest. But tick him off, disrespect him, or don't follow his orders, look out. Everyone that is not involved in the butt chewing will knock down others to hide, including officers.
    Last edited by LtTim556; 12-06-2006 at 11:27 PM.
    Vintage Firefighter: The older I get, the braver I was.

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    LtTim556, sounds just like our dept. But it's running way too smooth right now, almost scary:P

    Mike

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