I'm not really sure where I should stir up this conversation so I decided to do it here. Our Department has been struggling since about March. Everything from Drama that should never be brought to the firefighter level, Administrative Changes, and a HUGE Moral issue. Of course we struggle with about the same thing that a lot of volunteer departments struggle with and that is man power. The Drama and smack talking from some people is not helping get people on the department.
Anyone have any ideas or similar situation they could give some kind of advice? We did have a Strong Department at one time but it seemed like when crap hit the fan it was by the truck loads!!!
STRONG leadership, a low tolerance for the nonsense, and real discipline for those that don't knock off the BS that is tearing your FD apart. Morale is important no matter what many of the new management pundits in the business world may say. .
We are going through a similar thing too. Just got a new chief. She is young and knows her stuff but quite a few of the old timers dont want to do things her way. She wants to run things more like a full time dept. in the way of what we wear to meetings and while out with the trucks to how much time we should spend at the dept. We also have one of our officers that would rather spend money on lights and flashy things instead of improving and replacing the older equipment we have. Me being the new guy on the dept. i just keep my mouth shut and do what im told but we are going to loose a few good guys that know what they are doing if things dont get straightened out. And there are also the issue with one of mutual aid depts. because they dont like the fact that we have a young woman as a chief so they refuse to work with us
Like Don stated. You need strong leadership and low tolerance to B.S. . Not sure how long you have been with the department or rank if any. Sounds like someone needs to take the bull by the horns and get stuff straightened out. Not really enough information here to say much and I would not put all the problem on here but if you want to send me a message I will try to give you some advise.
Jason, If you have a department that won't work with you because you have a young women as chief I would not worry about it. Their loss. If the older guys are not willing to change then maybe instead of sitting around keeping your mouth shut maybe you should be trying to help all involved reach a happy medium. It does you no good to sit in any organization and not speak up. This makes me think if someone is not thinking on the fire ground; and about to do something that could hurt them or someone else. You would just let them. Believe me if you think you can make everyone in a organization like you its not going to happen. Speak up and let people know where you stand and what you are about. They may not like it but you will at least earn the respect of most.
Well the issue with the mutual aid dept is half of our town is in their coverage area but we are closer than they are. So sadly everyone else has to suffer because of b.s. politics. And I am trying to not ruffle any feathers because I have only been there for 2 months. This is my first time doing anything in the fire service and so far I like it and dont want to mess it up so I try to stay out of the drama. As for the drama when on the fireground everyone is professional and does the job assigned to them. Its after we clear and get things cleaned up that the b.s. starts again. Like I said I just do what I'm told and stay out of the drama.
Well Said! Just had a meeting tonight and basically the same thing was stated. I'm sure things will get worse before they get better. But I think the path we are headed down will turn out for the better in the long run!
Hi Jason. There are subtle and diplomatic ways to express your concerns to your department's leadership without giving the impression that you are "stirring the soup". One way is to have a one-on-one meeting with your new chief and express your concerns. From what I read in your previous post, she seems like she is genuinely concerned about making the department better, and that she does not come across as the type to "blow off" your opinion just because you are the new guy in the department. Will it work? I cannot predict the future, but it is certainly worth a try.
Hopefully your members will see that what is going on could be destructive to the department, and will have a change of heart (a "Coming to Jesus" moment, so to speak). And the fact that some of these issues were brought out in the open at the meeting is a very important first step. As the old Alcoholics Anonymous cliche states: "The first step towards recovery is admitting that you have a problem". Best of wishes to you and your department, and hopefully better times are on the horizon. Keep us updated on what happens.
Well besides not wanting to "stir the pot" the issues that everyone has are the norm for me. The changes they bitch about were in place before I started so to me its just how its done. I have no beef with any of the changes that most hate so why start trouble when its not my fight. When they start in i just nod and smile and go about my biz. Im just looking to keep my noes clean and learn all i can
It appears that the more senior members are the ones with the "issues". They will have to confront those issues sooner or later, and the sooner the better. Change is challenging for everybody but it is inevitable. They can do one of two things: Get on board the train, or risk getting run over.
We already have one officer taking a leave for "personal reasons" but i know it has to do with some issues around there that go over looked. Mostly with some equipment we have. Got a new brush truck and they spent more money on putting lights on it than equipping it.
The issue that many departments have and I go out and consult with alot of them, is they are well prepared to manage and mitigate emergencies but have absolutely no training on how to deal with people. A common phrase you hear is, "Man hope we have a fire soon because our morale so low." During times of stress like a fire, we tend to forget about our differences and things seems better. But it never lasts! The underlying issue is the organization has many different personalities within and that makes up the complexity of managing all of them. That being said if certain personalities are in key roles,(Officers/Chief's) they may choose to not deal with the BS because it is easier to remain non-confrontational. Some feel things will work themselves out on their own.... never happens. That only allows the problems to fester and ultimately manifest into bigger issues down the road. I have found that because most of our problems occur during downtime (non-emergency) we must have greater emphasis on people skills. Therefore I have created a few classes one is called "The Art of Dealing with Negativity" and the other is Interpersonal Dynamics -"Personality Based Effective Communications". When you have the skills to communicate on a level that a person feels secure with the topic, regardless if it is positive echange or if you are delivering discipline, it is all about the relationship. Check out the link on a radio podcast I produced on How to Deal with Negativity in the Fire Service, should be worth your time.
Billy Greenwood (FETC)
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Stay strong Brother. A short time period of pain to handle the issue is FAR better than years of mediocrity and drama.