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  1. #1
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    Default New Age Attitudes - work ethics, what has happened?

    Let me start this out by saying I am not completly cutting on the youth of today(in youth I mean not only the young but "new" to the fire service).

    I am having a problem with my station on my guys overall attitude and way things are going lately and was hoping you guys would help me see a different side maybe. All 3 shifts are experiencing somewhat the same problems.

    I am a career Lt in a small department that has 12 men per shift, I have 7 of those directly under myself. I'll start at the top and work down. The Chief seems to feel that disiplinary issues will iron themselves out if nothing is done (in other words he hates confrontation, direct confrontation). The AC and BC have their hands tied because he complains if they intervein and try to correct things. My Capt and I are left to deal with the following problems that I feel that it has come down to this; if it is within my rights as their supervisor to initiate and follow through with a disciplinary action without the chief doing it, then so be it. In March I will have 21 years completed and have never seen things stoop to this level. Here is the average happenings of the guys I have to work with.

    I have 3 Sgt's, one is a instigator does his work but lately has one of the worst attitudes I have ever seen. The second Sgt follows the 1st sgt like a pup, does everything he does but doesn't know his job so well. He got hired and promoted due to politics. The 3rd Sgt tries to do right but often the adage of 1 step foward and 2 steps back fits here. He does his job and knows enough to do it ok but not to excell. He is turned a bit differently and they guys tend to ignore him.

    I have 4 FF's the two oldest are my trouble makers. My two youngest, one is a Volunteer and has some experiece but needs to know his place in the pecking order of things, the other you don't hear a peep from does a good job but needs more training.


    Anyway, sorry for taking so long in laying things out but to help understand things a bit in the aggrivating situation that we are in. In a nutshell the guys have forgotten who and what ground work was laid before them. there is a great feeling from the officers is that the Sgt's and FF's feel they are doing us a favor for them being here. You have to prod them to do things without complaining or wanting to discuss things. I recently got to the boiling point and told everyone in a group that this isn't a democracy, keep it up and it definitly will become a dictatorship, just do what your told !

    The other day the captain told them to do something for a preplan (didn't affect their safety) but one of my guys asked the facility staff if we had to do it and preceeded to disregard the order. That didn't set well at all. The capt, while in the public didn't make a scene afterwards told him what was expected in the future. My 1st two Sgts said a little something and have set the Capt off ! I now have my guys facing disciplinary actions.

    I really love my job, just hate the situation my department is in. As I said earlier, it is all 3 shifts experiencing somewhat the same problems. Here is a list of things I am going to propose to do as the Chief says it is our shift/station, handle it so here it goes.

    1. No Tv from 0800 to 1200
    2. quick drills from 0800 to 1130 or study for training class preperation
    3. 1200 - 1300 lunch
    4. 1300 TV off, class until 1630

    I will keep them busy and definitly tired at night. Like the Capt said keeping them busy keeps them from plotting. I was off my last shift and the person that did a class only taught 2hrs when the schedule was for 4. Guess we need to go to Saturday training to get the hrs wouldn't you say?

    Give me some ideas on ways to break attitudes and turn them to positive individuals that want things to suceed. I know I just have 6months left before retirement but will still work diligently to make things suceed until that day. Again, I am sorry this was so long but I do need some help/suggestions.
    The evidence of God's presence far outweighs the
    proof of His absence.


  2. #2
    Forum Member TNFF319's Avatar
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    WOW! They must not know they are luck to have the greatest job in the world. Make written proof of their actions then fire them. Guys would kill to have their job and would do it well at it. I realize you have no power to fire them but the chief needs to step up his game. Maybe you should let the public know about this crap. GOOD LUCK.
    FF/Paramedic

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    Default Attitudes

    First may I ask what your Sgts do? Where do they fit in the pecking order? Are your promotions based on testing or seniority? Did this just happen out of the blue? Sounds like the department may have leadership problems versus new people problems. They say a fish rots from the head back.

  4. #4
    Forum Member scfire86's Avatar
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    I guess I must be lucky. I've had a few newbies come through on overtime or shift trades. I've yet to have any problems with them doing their morning routines around the station or training exercises.

    If this is a common complaint, your HR department may want to review their hiring criteria that is causing them to select people of the manner you describe.
    Politics is like driving. To go forward select "D", to go backward select "R."

  5. #5
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    Default

    Tbad, The sgts are Apparatus operators in normal routnine however if a officer is off a SGT will take his duties for the day. Some Sgts have truly got it on merit with testing, some by pure politics. Like the statement on the fish rotting it overall isn't the young ones, it is the older ones for the most part. I recently met with the past training chief at the nearest career FD to us and brought up the topic. He said during one of his last rookie class before changing positions he had cell phone problems during the first day of class and actually had people asking about putting down vacation days during their first day of training. He said he exploded a bit and told them they were here to be trained and that he wasn't concerned about any days off and to put the d@mn cell pohones up! Oh BTW his class was mixed from @40yr olds down to mid 20's .
    The evidence of God's presence far outweighs the
    proof of His absence.

  6. #6
    Forum Member MemphisE34a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lieutenant387 View Post
    Let me start this out by saying I am not completly cutting on the youth of today(in youth I mean not only the young but "new" to the fire service).

    I am having a problem with my station on my guys overall attitude and way things are going lately and was hoping you guys would help me see a different side maybe. All 3 shifts are experiencing somewhat the same problems.

    I am a career Lt in a small department that has 12 men per shift, I have 7 of those directly under myself. I'll start at the top and work down. The Chief seems to feel that disiplinary issues will iron themselves out if nothing is done (in other words he hates confrontation, direct confrontation). The AC and BC have their hands tied because he complains if they intervein and try to correct things. My Capt and I are left to deal with the following problems that I feel that it has come down to this; if it is within my rights as their supervisor to initiate and follow through with a disciplinary action without the chief doing it, then so be it. In March I will have 21 years completed and have never seen things stoop to this level. Here is the average happenings of the guys I have to work with.

    I have 3 Sgt's, one is a instigator does his work but lately has one of the worst attitudes I have ever seen. The second Sgt follows the 1st sgt like a pup, does everything he does but doesn't know his job so well. He got hired and promoted due to politics. The 3rd Sgt tries to do right but often the adage of 1 step foward and 2 steps back fits here. He does his job and knows enough to do it ok but not to excell. He is turned a bit differently and they guys tend to ignore him.

    I have 4 FF's the two oldest are my trouble makers. My two youngest, one is a Volunteer and has some experiece but needs to know his place in the pecking order of things, the other you don't hear a peep from does a good job but needs more training.


    Anyway, sorry for taking so long in laying things out but to help understand things a bit in the aggrivating situation that we are in. In a nutshell the guys have forgotten who and what ground work was laid before them. there is a great feeling from the officers is that the Sgt's and FF's feel they are doing us a favor for them being here. You have to prod them to do things without complaining or wanting to discuss things. I recently got to the boiling point and told everyone in a group that this isn't a democracy, keep it up and it definitly will become a dictatorship, just do what your told !

    The other day the captain told them to do something for a preplan (didn't affect their safety) but one of my guys asked the facility staff if we had to do it and preceeded to disregard the order. That didn't set well at all. The capt, while in the public didn't make a scene afterwards told him what was expected in the future. My 1st two Sgts said a little something and have set the Capt off ! I now have my guys facing disciplinary actions.

    I really love my job, just hate the situation my department is in. As I said earlier, it is all 3 shifts experiencing somewhat the same problems. Here is a list of things I am going to propose to do as the Chief says it is our shift/station, handle it so here it goes.

    1. No Tv from 0800 to 1200
    2. quick drills from 0800 to 1130 or study for training class preperation
    3. 1200 - 1300 lunch
    4. 1300 TV off, class until 1630

    I will keep them busy and definitly tired at night. Like the Capt said keeping them busy keeps them from plotting. I was off my last shift and the person that did a class only taught 2hrs when the schedule was for 4. Guess we need to go to Saturday training to get the hrs wouldn't you say?

    Give me some ideas on ways to break attitudes and turn them to positive individuals that want things to suceed. I know I just have 6months left before retirement but will still work diligently to make things suceed until that day. Again, I am sorry this was so long but I do need some help/suggestions.
    Maybe its just me, but your post reads like you are talking about your kids or your kindergarten students. Either way, if thats how you treat or talk to them, my guess is that you are creating the situation, not them.
    RK
    cell #901-494-9437

    Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.

    "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

  7. #7
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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by TNFF319 View Post
    WOW! They must not know they are luck to have the greatest job in the world. Make written proof of their actions then fire them. Guys would kill to have their job and would do it well at it. I realize you have no power to fire them but the chief needs to step up his game. Maybe you should let the public know about this crap. GOOD LUCK.
    I agree, I'd be happy to take their spot, hint hint...

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    Memphis,

    I guess it is how I wrote it. I don't treat them like kids.... Probably ought to with how they act at times. Like I said in part of my post, there was an order given by the captain to wear their helmet at a factory preplan and one of my Sgts thought he'd side step the shift captain (commander) and see if the facility "required" it and they thought to themselves they were in the right since the factory didn't require it, they didn't have to obey the order. Since then the Shift commander asked for the verbal write up to be placed in their files. The Chief siad..."let me talk to the city att."... It was 3 weeks before an answer was heard, Capt said just forget it... Can't discipline someone that long after an infraction. Matter of fact I think I even heard a statement in the conversation "it is like whipping a dog for wetting the floor the day after he does it".

    Main thing Robert, is there is no consequesnce for substandard performance attitudes or conduct. Like I told some of them in discussion, in the past we pulled hose for most of a day to correct attitudes and behavior. Call it abuse if you want to but it got the desired result, without arguement and everyone still loved the job.
    The evidence of God's presence far outweighs the
    proof of His absence.

  9. #9
    Forum Member MemphisE34a's Avatar
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    Lt387,

    I understand what you are talking about. I guess it's just the way it came across in your post.
    RK
    cell #901-494-9437

    Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.

    "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

  10. #10

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    Let em fuss all they want. They know what has to be done, if they don't check with you city/county personel manual and follow disciplinary actions. Over they years, firefighting is geared more towards "business" and not so much the sit around the firehouse and wait for a call. We have to shake hands and go out in the public. That is why people line up for miles to give money to Jerry's Kids. Sounds like these "kids" are in if thinking they are going to be a hero. Sit them down, explain to them what the deal is, you are their officer, if they don't like it, they were looking for a job when they found yall, and if they don't get their acts together, they will be back to square one. Sounds harsh, but drastic times call for drastic measures.......

  11. #11
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    Interesting topic. This is an issue that I believe is beginning to surface more and more throughout the fire service. I tend to think that the poor attitudes and sub-standard work ethics exist due to many people have the resistance to change and do not like being told what to do. They take orders and commands to a personal level and feel that they are being threatened.

    I strongly believe in company officers with a strong work ethic and a solid presence within the house. If an order is given, follow it. If a work plan for the day is laid out, stick to it. Disobey and you shall suffer!

    I also tend to think that it comes down to laziness. We as officers need to motivate our troops. Sometimes this means an offering of a few kind words. Other times, it may mean a flame-thrower in order to get people moving.

    Lastly, there are the pot stirrers. They strive each day to do nothing more than to keep the stick moving in order to create unrest and rumor. I have no tolerance for this group of people.

    It's human nature. Each officer must learn to deal with each group in his or her way. Just have to be fair and consistent.

  12. #12
    Forum Member FortechFEO's Avatar
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    Default Got a handful

    Well LT. Sounds like a handful. If you need a new engineer let me know. I would love to have one of their jobs. Some times keeping them busy is not the answer it just creates more strife. I have seen a Capt. That has done the same thing. I think the best two pieces of advice I have received over the last couple years is. Lead by example and if there is still a problem stop looking and trying to extinguish the smoke and find the fire that is causing the smoke. Sounds like the 1st SGT is putting up a big smoke column. There is a fire somewhere that is burning him up. The other two sound like followers of the first smoke column. Extinguish the fire the smoke goes away.

    Clear as mud?
    Good luck! Let me know if you need a SGT that will lead and work.
    Jeff
    Hotshot, Helicopter Rappeller, EMT, Engineer, Firefighter, boss, and last but most important Husband.

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    I guess Im considered the youth of today, Im 21 and recently got a fire job. I can honestly say that Ive never had a problem with athority, I honestly believe its partly how you were brought up. I didnt grow up in a strict family persay but there was a high level of respect. Personally I dont understand how someone can come into a career like this and not respect the guys who lead you. Sorry to hear your having this problem, I can tell you this...where I work if I pulled that crap I would be "kicking rocks".

  14. #14
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    A little update, had enough one day - last straw whatever you call it but one of my guys snapped at me last Friday. I spent 10hrs researching that day and believe I am now getting the upper hand. I would much rather teach a man rather than show the total authoratI as it says on one of those cartoons "respect my authoratI". I found provisions in our city manual in the reprimand section that allow for the "immediate supervisor" or the department head to give a verbal or written warning. So, basically a company officer can do the 1st two steps with out the permission or blessing from the Chief. As I said before most of the officers believe that the Chief wouldn't stand behind the officer and has folded under the pressure or just hasn't done anything at all confrontational in trying to improve or teach the newer guys how to act or treat their officers. I briefed the Chief early in the shift in my findings and even explained the write up the captain wanted to do "that in the city manual we didn't have to ask for his blessing or permission to correct problems, period." No disrespect was intended but it was there cut and dry. the Captain and I met with the firefighter later that day and I laid it out to him, explaining that his complaining the past shift was a insubordinate act. He tried to question it a bit and once I read to him what exactly the city employee manual said about the topic that even "disruption of order" was a definition of insubordination, breaking it down even further for him in stating "basically if you ****** me off for the day because of a response you made or actions you took (if you upset the flow for the day was one definition) it was insubordination. All in all I didn't write him up in a disciplinary form, the form I did use states that if these actions continued this document and further suporting documents would be used against him. the captain and I spent two hours getting things across to him trying to improve him, that it was better to at this time do things this way rather than taking it up to the next level, learn from it and go on... Time will only tell, but I am taking control of my shift with help from 5 bugle or not !!
    The evidence of God's presence far outweighs the
    proof of His absence.

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    Default Sounds Good

    Sounds like you are getting things in hand. Insubordination is one of the few things arbitrators accept as means for dismissal. Hopefully they get the message.

  16. #16
    Forum Member Naegling's Avatar
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    The worst part of being a middle manager is being crapped on from both sides. I think your concerns need to be sent up the chain of command and put the turd in their pocket. If they don't want you disciplining the troops, then it becomes their job to ride herd on them.

    Without knowing your department, it sounds like you have at least one SGT that while different, knows his job. I know that in the past, I've used a guy like this to set an example for the others. If you start making a strong SGT #3 then you will see SGT#2 start falling in line. Also the first SGT you mention, sounds like he's rather being enabled by the attention of SGT #2. Do your best to split them up and give SGT's 2 and 3 tasks together. The firefighters should take care of themselves if you have a strong chain of command, but the same rule applies.

    If it's not contractual, split the crews up to create the least amount of chaos for yourself. This will not be popular, but if you have people refusing to play as a team, they should be sitting the sidelines whenever possible. Type a "pot stirrers" hate that. They want to be the ones making the calls and sitting the sidelines kills them. This might be seen as playing favorites, but as long as you are not violating their rights or contract, they perform work at your digression. Above all - Be consistent. If you praise the "good" guys for something, do the same for the troublemakers - it's how you will get them to change their attitudes.

    Ultimately, your still stuck in the middle, but you shouldn't have to take it from both sides. I have one officer in our small department that I might think is a brainless twit, but I still follow his orders ( I make sure they are not going to kill me, or my fellow FF's).

    The last thing I would suggest would be to shake up the shifts. Find out if other CO's are having similar problems with groups of people. Guys that are together one one shift and are really bad eggs can be very good when split up.

    I've often wondered if fire dept's could get an exchange program going with say a ditch digging company and exchange workers for a week. I think it would give some people a complete different perspective on just what an great job we have.

    Stay safe, and good luck.

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    Default Pappy

    Very timely discussion. If fact it is a discussion that our service had better join into on a large scale.

    I am a capt. with 22 years. I am with a department that has added 14 stations for a total of 44 during my career. Although we are all paid, the change in the culture of young recruits as well as our departmental culture has been huge. I have a discussion on this issue just about every shift.

    I have also worked with combination departments a great deal. I have always enjoyed working with smaller departments on both a volunteer and paid (part time) basis when I have been able to.

    I thought at first that perhaps "firefuss" worked at my department. I really like the feedback that "frosty" supplied.

    I see 2 issues here. 1) the difference in what a rookie is like now vs. what we remember them being like. 2) As we grow as departments, where does accountability stop and start.


    Issue 1:

    Yes, it has happened. I have finally said "whats with this younger generation" just as my Dad did. I am finding 2 basic differences in the rookie as opposed to yesteryear.
    a) they generally come from a culture where manual labor was not as large a part of their "pre fire service experience" as it used to be. With a small department that I recently assisted with training, a fellow in his early twenties approached me concerning the difference between a 2 stroke and 4 stroke engine. It occured to me that I would have been severely ridiculed as a rookie for not knowing this. It also occured to me that a large amount of our young firefighters may come from a background in which they never swung a hammer, worked with power equipment, drove a large truck, dug a ditch by hand.... and so forth. (b)They also come from a far less structured and disciplined enviroment for the most part. This includes home, school, and previous work experience. They have also been taught that it is perfectly allright to cast an opinion whenever they please. And when I say they have been taught that I mean it very seriously.

    So in regard to this, instead of throwing my hands up, I need some different tools from time to time in order to deal with them. The type of service (civil or non-civil) you are employed with has a big effect on this as well. I have to find what each individual is lacking and try as an officer to provide them with the way to obtain what ever skill they need. That includes lack of skill and sometimes lack of respect. My best advances with these young people (and some more new to firefighting than young) have been through a face to face "lets talk about the facts" meeting. In almost every case, in a face to face talk that I open with the expectation that I am an adult expecting adult participation, I have been able to come away with a better attitude in both the firefighter and myself. After that, I meet with the rest of my crew individually, because like someone said earlier, bad attitudes spread like cancer. Fortunately, so do good ones.
    Once this is accomplished, I have at that point addressed "issue #2, ACCOUNTBILITY!!". I have held not only the subordinate accountable as a subordinate, I have also held myself accountable as an officer.

    On accountability, your boss is putting on the blinders and and saying "you are accountable to handle it", meanwhile your boss is not being accountable as a leader. That is what got us into these positions in the first place, not being accountable to our department, our subordinates and ultimatly the citizens we serve because it is uncomfortable to confront. Sorry everyone, leadership means that sometimes you will not be popular. The fact that you found a way to hold your boss accountable and actually went through with it is a sign of your committment to right and wrong. Stick with it.

    Accountability flows up, down and laterally. Sometimes we have to remind our bosses and our peers of that.

    I will close with this, despite everyones ego or avoiding confrontation due to fear of confrontation, there is rarely little gray area between right and wrong. Right means taking care of the privilege of being involved in a very important job that makes a hugh difference in the lives of others during perhaps the worst moments of their lives.

    I also must remember, in the sense of being fair, not everyone is cut out for this service. I have to be honest about that during my asessment of a new/young firefighter. God bless, be careful.

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    Default Its starts at the top

    You are in a unique situation in that you know you are gone in 6 months. Use this as you parting shot and tell this chief the honest truth (respectfully, ofcourse!) Its tough to speak truth to power but its often exactly whats needed. Let him know that his no disciplinary action policy has you hamstringed. Explain your situation and why it warrents a departure from his "hands off" policy. Explain that you have provided ample time for it to "iron itself out" and now it requires action. These guys are disobeying captains for christ sake!!!! (Make sure u clue this Capt. in first by the way)

    As an aside, dont give these guys a horse&pony show when us issue the discipline. Just explain what its for, tell'em you know they are good guys and that you can count on them to fix it. You know u wont have to but if they continue to disobey, you'll be forced to inrease the severity of the reprimands. Do it all with a pleasent tone. Basically, let the paperwork do the talking...

  19. #19
    Forum Member firehat87's Avatar
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    Default

    My lieutenant when I was a firefighter had the best disciplinary approach I've ever encountered. It's basically a contest of wills approach. Simply, he'd find whatever tedious, menial, mind-numbing work he could find around the station. Get a jug of Varsol and a rag and a step ladder and climb up and hand scrub every panel on all eight bay doors. Get a tire brush and a bucket of soapy water and a step ladder and take down every fluorescent light and deflector on the ceiling of the bay and scrub them, dry them, then put them back up. Get a rag and some soap and clean out every compartment in one of the trucks, especially effective when it's a reserve truck or a truck that isn't even in service or slated for sale.

    That's all pretty mundane, but the kicker was that he'd sit there and watch all this being done while sitting in a chair with his legs crossed, reading the paper and drinking coffee. What are his subordinates going to do about it? It shows them who is boss and doesn't involve messy paperwork, lasting harm to their careers, or the chain of command.
    In time

  20. #20
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    Default

    You're certainly not alone. You might have them look into Pride and Ownership by Rick Lasky, here's copies of part of it. The book is money well spent as well as the video presentation. At Close Calls, in the downloads section just scroll down and they start with "Part1..., Part2..., etc.
    http://www.firefighterclosecalls.com/downloads/

    http://www.firefighterclosecalls.com...OurMission.pdf
    http://www.firefighterclosecalls.com...irefighter.pdf

    What I do with my guys is tell them exactly what is expected. If they make a mistake, I'll help them, if they outright disregard what I tell them, it's a whole other ball game. I would take the "problems" on one on one and hammer it out in private also.

    My approach is ensure they're well trained, let them do their job, expect them to do their job, and expect they do it right. I also make sure they know I will take care of them and stand up for them, and I fully expect them to work with me and not against me. Part of my job is the B.S. buffer from above also. Good luck, enjoy retirement.
    FTM-PTB-RFB
    IACOJ

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