Tag Archives: leadership

Interior Firefighting is Becoming Obsolete—We Just Don’t Know It

I’m not saying that firefighting as a whole is becoming obsolete, but I am proposing that we need to get out of the “pot” before we become boiled. Our approach to interior structural firefighting needs some serious restructuring lest we will only see more firefighters encountering flashovers upon arrival, structures weakened to their collapse point before firefighters arrive, and firefighters developing cancers more frequently from airborne and skin exposure hazards.

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Bullying and Harassment in the Fire Service: A Video Misses the Mark

Bullying and harassment in the fire service, as those behaviors are in the general population, are about power and control. Those individuals who engage in bullying or harassment do so because they want to maintain the status quo or they're seeking to elevate their status among their peers or they're insecure in their position of official power (officers). In my opinion, these elements are inter-related just as fuel, heat, and oxygen are critical elements necessary for combustion. If we can successfully remove these elements in our organizations, we can make the fire (bullying and harassment) go out for good.

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3 Giant Steps for First Responder Mental Health Issues

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Too many firefighters and EMS providers still adhere to a mind-set that mental health issues are something that happens to other people, but not them. Because to believe otherwise requires them to admit their own human frailties. They rely on this sense of denial about the realities of mental health risks as a “shield”, but it’s a “paper shield” at best.

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Accountability in the Fire Service

Creating a culture where employees are accountable means that first; the leaders must be accountable to the employees. Information sharing, discussions about challenges, and allowing everyone to engage in the dialogue is the first step in starting the change. Everyone makes mistakes, the difference is what the individuals do after the mistake.

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Organizational Climate: Another “Weather” Report

Much is being written and discussed about the fire service and its culture of risk-taking and the influence of that culture on firefighter deaths and injuries. But there is also the culture of the firehouse, and that’s the culture that’s influencing the inappropriate behaviors, on and off the job, that are resulting in careers being ruined, lawsuits being filed, and in the worst cases, firefighters taking their own lives.

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What does a future fire officer look like?

What traits do you believe make a firefighter a good candidate to promote to Company Officer? I asked several fire service colleagues the question: What traits to you look for in firefighters as potential company officers? Two of those colleagues, Fire Chief Bud Backer and Division Chief Susan Tamme, provided some really good insights back to me via e-mail. I could only use a few of their comments in the finished article, but the rest were so good I just couldn’t leave them on the “cutting room floor.”

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Engaging Our People in the Fire Service

People--especially those who enter the fire service--generally want to be successful and feel like they are making a contribution to the organization. Lack of clarity from their organizational leaders, and especially their first-line supervisor, in the form of clear expectations can be a significant "roadblock" to their success.

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Thoughts on Fire Service Diversity and Inclusiveness

We can change the culture in the fire service, but not through solutions like policy or procedure or training or lawsuits. The change must come from the “majority stakeholders” in the fire service: Men. Men must take responsibility and ownership for the problems we face in the fire service. And right now, they must also take responsibility for seeking and implementing the solutions.

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