I belong to a volunteer fire department ive been in for 9 years im the training officer asstint..the moral and commradship is VERY low in our dept....people are fighting with other people... a lot of talking behind peoples backs...etc,,,etc....but at a fire scene everyone works well togeather.im getting very sick of it almost to the point of Quitting or going on a leave of absence...We are having an elections of officers coming up in December not sure if this is the problem or what....im hoping that someone can give me some suggestions on how to fix this or lead me in the right  direction..we just got a good recruitment of new firefighters of 10+.....i would hate to see the new ones learn this way



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What's your training schedule look like?

Insert some training which builds teamwork and makes people rely on each other to solve a problem outside of a call. Call it team building if you want to, but it should be realistic, needed training which just happens to involve a high degree f teamwork. If your department needs it, have everybody go through HAZMAT training together, Awareness, OPs and Tech over the course of a few weekends, finish it off with a Family gathering to celebrate the accomplishment, say a Department Picnic or cook out at a local park. Use the NIMS structure to plan the picnic and have it completely planned and executed by "junior" members (either by age or by experience) of the department, to give them an opportunity to step up to a leadership role.

Thee are other ways to accomplish the goal, but they all center around finding common meaning and a common goal for everyone in the department, and putting in a situation where they gain a greater understanding of each other's strengths and weaknesses through common experience. Obviously we get some of that on calls, but we're so focused on mitigating the actual emergency, and we're each working in our particular lane (i.e. interior, ventilation, etc..) they not everyone on the scene shares the same experience. Besides, we should build the team outside of an emergency response, out of the public's eye.

If you think your department works OK on scene now, wait until after you do some good team building and see how well they perform then!

A wise man once said..."Be the change you wish to see".
I know it's beyond your control but you need to try and dump the election process and go to an appointment system that requires qualifications.This will stop the most popular and possiblyleast qualified from sitting in a spot that hinders improvment. How often do you train like was mentioned team bulding will help. OCCASION TIME COMPETITIONS WILL ENCOURAGE YOUR MORAL.
great idea on teamwork training something i will consder
As an alternative, if your department insists on elections, set prerequisites for each office in terms of qualifications, training, and time served on responses.

Bring this up long before the next election of personnel, and vote on it in a special election if you have to, now so those interested in running can get into training over the summer and fall.

You might not be able to change the system right away, but if you are positive and persuade the other members that change is needed, you can make it happen.


The negativity that you are experiencing is very common in the fire service today. With everything that is happening in the world like the down economy, loss of employment, natural disasters, personal relationships, divorce, bankruptcy are all "real" and are underlying stressors for which absolutely carry over into the firehouse. I personally feel fire departments have failed it's membership. Let's be honest, not many departments provide leadership training beyond, "Hey congrats, here is the bugle, and these are the physical things like tools, equipment, manpower, reports, etc. that you are now responsible for" but let's get real... none of that is assisting the new or veteran fire officer with the proper tools to "lead" people. The fact is most fire chief's have no clue how to deal with the complexity of dealing with interpersonal dynamics. I ask that you go to this link and listen to exactly what I am typing about and then send me a message on what you think in reference to your thread.


Best of luck to you.
Ive always said we needed to change our bylaws for election of officers because like you said the least experince get in and it becomes a popularity contest.
we train 2 tuesday evenings a month....is there any web sites or some were i can get information on team training ideas?

Any of your standard training exercises can be used.Either use just a single evolution drill such as starting your portable pump or use a complete evolution say drafting starting with deployment of required equipment to end withb an established water supply. You may want to divide into teams appropriate in numbers for the evolution . Then time the evolution to creat a competitive spirit and see what team accomplishes the goal in the best time.
love it!
I agree with this being a common issue, Our department is going through similar events. I being fairly new dont notice a change as much, but older members have pointed it out and are always giving me advice. Reminding the probies to rise above the drama and focus on firefighting and improving their skills is helpful. (at least it has been for me!)
In my department, we have an all-hands training on the First and Third Monday of every month, and whenever there's a Fifth Monday in the month we have a cookout with all the members, paid employees and everyone's families behind the Fire Station, just to help build Esprit de Corps and morale!

In addition to good training, regular social gatherings really help build the team and provide a sense of community within the department, which really helps boost morale.

As an Officer you have to stop the rumors, and talk as you get wind of it. "Bustin balls" is part of the firefighter tradition, but when it comes to kill morale, it's not bustin balls, it's malicious. One thing my dept does, is, after training we'll have hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill. Yeah the probie gets to cook and run around for the pitchers of drinks. But EVERYONE eats together. As my 1st asst Chief would say, "What? You cant eat with the brothers?" Think about your family, how do you keep them happy and working together? I'm a big advocate of the FDNY, and the traditions they hold close to them keep them working together and happy. When a problem starts, the Company Captain or Lieutenants find the answer to the problem, and end the issue. It might be as simple as, "Some times you have to agree to disagree on this topic or issue. But when it comes to getting the job done, you will follow your training."

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