For example, the small task of replacing the (TP) toilet paper can say a lot in regards to an organization's culture. We all understand that when short cuts happen in this area (though not a life or death situation by any means) it can be an uncomfortable and often embarrassing moment for someone. But when we find this type of mindset in the fire service, it can often point to other areas lacking "operational readiness" that will have a direct correlation to our own life safety. I am talking about making sure things are right and tight out on the apparatus floor for EVERY shift. Are the trucks actually getting checked? Are the SCBA self-contained breathing apparatus full, clean and ready for the next response? Are your tools and equipment in service and at the ready? Or as a culture do we play the adapt and overcome mindset with our safety? By opting to play the blame game with the previous shift, that is not what I would call a good answer to why things were not in the ready or available.
Our job is the protect the public but more importantly protect each other... they call it a brotherhood for a reason. When we see this type of behavior, it often falls back to a lack of pride in your workmanship, "Hey your lucky he left you a roll on the shelf man" But more importantly from an administrator's standpoint if you do see this issue, honestly it is time to look at your leadership. Quality Assurance (QA) is critical for our own well being. For us to be ready to respond in a moment’s notice, and deliver the best possible service available the leadership needs to assure the "little things" do not come back to haunt us. You can learn a lot about an organization from a simple roll of TP.
Stay alert, stay attentive and most importantly... stay "battle ready" my friends. Your training and your mind are what is going to make the difference on the next call. Billy
The author is a 19 year veteran of the fire service, serving as a volunteer, call and career firefighter with departments throughout New Hampshire. He is a regular contributor to Fire Engineering, multi-year presenter at FDIC, hosts "Tap the Box" on Fire Engineering Talk Radio and owns FETC Services which delivers advanced firefighter and leadership training programs throughout the United States.