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     "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."  A well known piece of advice to ease someone's assimilation into a group or situation.  But what if the Romans have it all wrong?  Another follower joining the ranks would just reinforce the negative.  Especially if that newcomer is a recently promoted, or transferred company officer. 

     Few in the fire service are promoted to the rank of lieutenant or captain without merit.  Whether its testing, interviews, job performance evaluations, or a combination of the aforementioned, the vast majority of company grade officers know the basics of what is expected of them and their subordinates by the department.  With this knowledge comes a responsibility to carry out the duties assigned to the rank, even when they are the "new Roman."    

     The newly transferred, or freshly minted officer must appreciate that the company they are joining has an ongoing dynamic of personalities and attitudes that help set and maintain the unofficial rules of the group.  The previous officer may have officially been in charge, but not atop the unofficial  hierarchy.  The new officer must walk the line of appreciating the existing as well as past relationships, but not letting the past automatically dictate his/her tenure of command. 

     A good bit of advice for the new officer is to establish expectations within the company immediately upon assuming command.  Many of these may be "carry-overs" from the previous officer.  However, any changes will be more palatable if all members know that while the new boss has new ideas, the world won't be turned upside down.  Some officers are quick to give verbal assurance, or non-verbal cues that everything will remain the same under their command (the "when in Rome" excuse).  Not only is this self-defeating to the officer for any future changes, it is unfair to the members who will miss an opportunity for a smooth transition period.  A face to face meeting with the firefighters is in necessary to assure members that while some practices will remain unchanged, there may be new expectations under your supervision.  This meeting is also a venue where firefighters may present ideas not accepted by a previous officer that a new boss may find interesting.  A trial period for these suggestions may go a long way towards "converting the empire."    

     The new officer has a one-time opportunity to create a smooth transition and a clear set of expectations for the future.  Not that all history will be forgotten and discarded, but a course correction may be the order of the day.  The "new Roman" can work towards converting the company to operating in a manner more in line with his/her methods and goals. 

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