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How does the company officer keep his members focused and motivated during times of internal and external turmoil? How does the Battalion Chief keep his officers eyes on the ball when the firehouse grapevine is full of daily gloom about staffing reductions, and loss of benefits? Unfortunetly this scenario is becoming too common in today's fire service.

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Dave,

We are dealing with this very issue as our second station is in"brownout" mode and our shift minimum has just been lowered.

I think one big thing is information. Go tothe source and get answers, then provide them to the group. Ask their questions to the bosses and bring back the answers. Try and keep it positive and remind them always that the focus is on doing the best job we can as safely as we can.

It isn't always easy and we had some dark times two years ago that were tough to get through. I have been promoted since then and find myself in a different role. The obvious conerns revolve around being forced to do more with less. The simple answers are we are all in the same boat, we'll work as a team and get through it.
We all are in the same boat, unfortunately. As company officers we are forced to think outside the box, FE simulations have stirred some interest, because everybody has an opinion. I have tried to take that and run with it. Find something that will cause discussion among your crew or company.

I agree with Dave, get accurate information, rumors only serve to lower moral. Work together and help each other. I understand this is difficult, I'm on pins and needles waiting to find out if I'm getting promoted to Captain. Time is the only solution for all of us.
When our department was going thru rough times I struggled to keep the b******* to a minimum. What worked for me was to recognize the issues that effected my crews morale and make it clear to them I would address those issues with management, but the only way to make it thru hard times is for Labor and Management to work together. Our department went thru a couple of rough years and we lost some good firefighters not because of layoffs, but because of working conditions. "A good sign of bad management is retention problems". As far as external turmoil, there is nothing worse for a fire department than bad publicity. Sell your crew on customer service and you will win the publics support!

If you want to keep your crew in good spirits let them know that you recognize the problems, but it is your job as a Company Officer to deal with management. And because they probably respect you the most out of anyone in the department, tell them they need to focus on their crewmembers and making sure that their crew is ready to provide the best possible service to the community. That is their mission! It may not make them forget about the departments problems, but it will at least make for a tighter crew!

Advise to firefighters; If there is a chance you are going to get layed off, don't get a bad attitude that effects your performance. Stay positive and work harder! When it's time to rehire you will be at the top of the list. At least, you will have a good reference. Word of mouth can make or break you. I've seen many firefighters "Black balled" from all of our surrounding departments because of bad performance or attitudes.

I would like to re-open this discussion. 

 

I am a company officer and my department and city we work for is facing the hardest times it has ever seen.  Tonight our city council voted to impose a contract on us that includes approximately 25% cuts to pay and benefits.  Also, there is a plan to reduce staffing through lay-offs.  These cuts are hugely disproportionate in comparison to the rest of the cities reductions in compensation. 

 

I have already been asked by my crew members, “If they are cutting our pay 25%, do we do 25% less work?”  Others are scared from a safety standpoint because of personnel reductions.  Our morale has never been worse. 

 

Here is my question; how does a company officer keep his crew focused on safe and successful service delivery under these circumstances? 

 

Since opening this discussion I'm sorry to say that morale on our job has continued to decline mostly due to labor issues resulting from lack of funding.  My answer to keeping focused at the comapny level is that it starts with the company officer.  If your members were focused before the cuts and layoffs, and you keep your head in the game chances are they will too. Reliance on each other has always been a strength of the fire service.  Frankly, there will be more grumbling and complaining about routine tasks, and an officer needs to know when to pick his battles.  But if we can continue to keep our focus on the incidents and tasks that involve life safety we may be able to get through these times in one piece.     

Reliance on each other, officer needing to know when to pick his battles, and keeping our focus on the incidents and tasks that involve life safety are sound strategies.  Thanks for replying. 

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