I have just been promoted as the Assistant Chief of Operations in the department I volunteer with. I am also a career Firefighter. As the Chief of Operations I supervise 4 crews on a rotating schedule. We are a department of about 60 firefighter/ medics. We have a schedule throughout the month where members can sign up for shifts they want to run on except on one weekend from Friday night to Monday morning the members are on duty with their crew. In my years as a Lt. and a Captain there has been a lack of training among the crews. Some crews would train on only EMS and some would train only on vehicle extrication. This department runs approximately 900 calls a year. As the new Chief of Ops I have established a monthly training schedule for the Captains to train on with their crews. I have had some negative feedback from a few new Captains. They want sole control over their crews and they want to decide what their crews train on. One Captain has told me I am micromanaging the crews. We currently do not have a training officer therfore I am responsible for training. What I have set up is a month to month training schedule. For example in July every crew will train on water supply and tender shuttles. In August they will all train on Vehicle Extrication. My goal is to get everyone in the department experienced in handling all types of calls. As a Department we conduct weekly trainings where we expand on these crew level trainings and put the whole picture together.
So my question is: Do you guys think I am micromanaging? Is this a good idea to set a schedule so all firefighters are getting trained in the same subjects?
I'll take any feedback and I appreciate it.
It seems to me you are doing your job. Standardized training is important within a fire department so everyone is on the same page operationally at an incident.
Don is absolutely correct.
As a training officer I answer to The Chief, so if I were your training officer I would have you approve everything I teach. That's not too much to ask. That's the way chain of command works and that's how we'd all be on the same page.
Perhaps you can give the Caps leeway to get creative with their training, but make it clear that if you see them getting very far off target you'll have to intervene.
I think you're doing the right thing. Good luck and keep 'em safe!
Hi Sven.. Yes, I think Don and Norm are bang on. Your role is to ensure training is done to certain standards and that each and every member is being trained towards that end. Your dept. sounds very exciting considering you say it's volunteer. I love the concept. Maybe these Captains are feeling a bit insecure about the new changes you are bringing forward.. change is often not accepted graciously at first. Another thought might be to allow the Captains their leeway.. but prior to implementing "their program" ask them to submit it to you and be prepared to sit down and discuss it in fairly good detail.. to ensure you are confident they are going to deliver a practical/safe/and educational training programs..while at the same time meeting the criteria and standards you are striving for. I must assume NFPA 1001 etc.The saying goes..there are many ways to skin a cat (lol whatever that means) and so let them do their stuff..on YOUR terms..there has to be a happy medium where each side gets the results the otherside can live with. All that said.. keep in mind.. it is YOUR (_!_) that will be in a sling in the event something goes wrong. Cover your (_!_) whatever it takes.. and make sure your dept. is trained to the highest standards possible. Success will be yours.. Congrats on the appointment. I look forward to hearing more.
As the new Chief of Ops I have established a monthly training schedule for the Captains to train on with their crews. I have had some negative feedback from a few new Captains. They want sole control over their crews and they want to decide what their crews train on. One Captain has told me I am micromanaging the crews. We currently do not have a training officer therfore I am responsible for training.
Sven, guess what? Captains do not have sole control over their crews. They work for the Assistant Chief of Operations and ultimately the Fire Chief of the Department. Seems the root cause to your problem is the newly promoted Captains have an unwillingness to understand and operate under the Chain of Command.
Looking further into the behavioral aspect as I have been charged to study/evaluate organizational behavior before, these guys probably feel they know more than you or potentially jealous of your newly appointed position as well. They are also products of the environment for which they were brought up in. Meaning they may have had seen their past Captains operate as laid back or lazy or even had a previous A/C for which let the Captain have full control over the crews. That said and only evaluating what you have mentioned in the short post, the previous department culture didn't work. I see lack of training, and preparation for the job, or training on subjects that were only important to "individuals" and that is not beneficial to the organization as a whole. Lack of continuity breeds unpreparedness and often times complacency.
Therefore as a newly promoted A/C you need to start with a strong focus on the leadership of the officer staff. Providing them with a vision of the mission, expectations of their positions, guidance on how to get that done and then give them the opportunity to act upon the request. Should they suceed or fail, provide them with good feedback on how well or not so well they are doing along the way.
The membership will follow in suit once you get the command structure of the organization all on the same page. That is usually the biggest downfall post organizational promotions or restructuring.
Long story short, is this micromanaging? Absolutely not. You are just doing your job as the Assisant Fire Chief. You have created a training schedule. You will need to also create Training Objectives that need to be met as a minimum unless you decide to provide a specific lesson plan for each training subject. Without the latter.... having your captains charged to cover a generic subject from a training schedule will yield four different ways, at different levels of service thus ultimately having the same lack of continuity as stated before.
Best of luck.
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