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What do you feel is the most significant roadblock to building a team, any team. From an engine company, station crew or battalion to a special operations team such as hazardous materials or technical rescue

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I agree 100%!! I think things are going to start to move fast and once people see what we're doing I think they will step aside and say it's not for them. But i also think that a lot of people are going to be out there saying that they "deserve" to be some where because they have been here longer without putting in the time.
The beauty of the system is the leadership of the team gets to make those decisions, not them! For those that do not know, the leadership of our technical rescue team consists of the Team Managers (2) and the Discipline Specialists that have put in the time to develop disciplines for the team. In other words, the ones that make me look good. A wise chief once told me to surround yourself with excellence and give them the tools they need to perform to their potential and everything else will take care of itself.

I have been blessed to do just that!
As many others have said, Trust is the biggest issue. Consistency is a big one. One you have the consistency and trust you must train together. Train alot. Knowing what each other will do will bring alot to the table. Over time the experience will come and with experience will come a great team. Talk with others who have similair teams and learn from them while bringing new ideas to the table.
I think, in many cases, it is a situation where people fear that which they have little knowledge or experience about. The first place I would start is by having the BC's become involved in the training these teams do. At an observational level at first. The BC's first have to see for themselves how motivated and dedicated these people are to their particular disciplines; be it high-angle, trench, collapse rescue, etc. I think it is, at times, difficult for chief officers (who are very knowledgeable, experienced and dedicated themselves), to realize that these special teams can become part their emergency service arsenal without them having to become experts in it themselves. The BC's will quickly see, through their observation of the training sessions, that these teams are lead by capable personnel who will be easy to work with within the ICS structure. The BC's will learn to trust the experts in the field and the abilities of the personnel involved. I spoke about ownership above... If you can get the BC's to the training and show them how well trained, professional and how well lead these teams are and how valuable an asset of a special rescue team he or she has at their disposal, before you know it the BC's will be bragging about them. This is also important to you and your team because I would guess that someday one or more than one of those same BC's will become Chief of Department. It is then that you and your team will reap the biggest dividend of your efforts by having the support of the top guy, having developed a good working relationship. So I guess my humble advice would be to get the BC's involved in your training. Let them see it for themselves. I hope this helps.
Hey Alex,

Your examples are a few very good examples of why history is a double edged sword. As bob said, ego! Ego can be responsible for things like animosity, grudges and letting bygones be bygones. Compounding this problem can be things like lack of trust, not even in you but in those that preceded you. Nevertheless if we went in with the attitude of regardless of those before us, we are better...We would have a tough go of it. The more distrust and pain that has been caused the more "gentle" the approach must be.

Thanks for the input!

Thanks for the good words of wisdom. We are in the middle of merging two technical rescue team. Needless to say, communication is critical at this juncture. It is an exciting time to have the privilege to lead one of these two teams. Creating a balance between gaining input and having a team by committee is always a good challenge. Put any 63 firefighters in a room and you are sure to have a ton of chest puffing and egos.

A great learning experience none the less!


Hey Scott,
In my Department I find the biggest road block is getting the members who control the department to buy into the new fire service and its needs. As the younger members buy in with the progressive members to train and advance in the requirements of our communities geographics, the others who do only what they need to, try and tear it apart. We have to large lakes, 70 foot ravines,tidal water ,Train line transportation Hub(North Jersey Coast Line) 2 Major Highways,3 Major County Roadways ETC. The need is there, the desire is there, but the support is not ! My Company has become certified in Ice and Water Rescue, Tec Rope Rescue, Confined Space Rescue, Haz-Mat Operations with one Haz-Mat TEC. Highly Trained Rit Team, NJ State and NREMT' s ,and EMS Response ENG. Getting those to understand this is not the fire service of old and we are responsible to the changes and not here to just fight fires is at times unbearable. We train to maintain our skills but get burned out trying to convince the others. So I guess the answer to the question is Politics and the Couch Potatos!!!!!! Great Question ! STAY SAFE !!!
A Team Leader that is in it for the wrong reasons usually means the team is going to stuggle. A Team Leader that is involved to pad a resume, or gather lieu time, is a Team Leader that usually is a roadblock to forward thinking, training and crew bonding. Finding a Leader that really does want to learn, and make things better for the Team and the Department is the key to success.

I understand how frustrating if can be when everyone doesn't see the same needs. It sounds like you have a tremendous potential for many disciplines within technical rescue. Is the issue that the management of the department won't allow your members to spend more time and money on these disciplines or do some members simply not participate?

Keep up the good efforts, they will pay off!

Good Point Neil,

Becoming a team leader means you are just beginning another learning curve; the learning is not over, it is just getting started. We have all seen managers that are in a position for the wrong reason. I would argue that manager is a better title for them than leader. I reserve the term leader for those who realize it is their job to provide those under their charge with the tools to be successful, no matter what team they are a member of.
Hey Scott,

I noticed I had a deleted reply and wondered if I touched a nerve on someone or my comment was not worthy of a reply?
So I decided to try and rephrase the reply to explain. Learership and trust are paramount to the success of anything we do in the fireservice. To put together a technical team you need the support of not only the members commited to the team but also the leadership at the top that will carry that team with a budget, equipment and training. We have the commited members, the team leadership that is trusted by its team members and the trust of each other for our skill level and desire to make the team work. Our roadblock is the leadership at the top that does not support the NEED in our community . Supporting a team after the fact is too late !

Hey Dennis,

I'm not sure what happened to your post; you should be the only one that delete your replies. Your point is well taken; Support from above is critical. Many times team members within the same organization have a hard time convincing their leaders of the needs. When this happens enlisting the help of neighboring jurisdictions a forming regional relationships help. That way much of the justification comes from outside the organization. One thing that is important with that approach is to ensure clear communication with all parties so there is no backstabbing. Another approach is to have a third party do a needs assessment and implementation plan for you. The needs assessment will in all likelihood identify the same elements you have and that's a good thing.

Thanks for the input!

Don't ever worry about striking a nerve. These discussions are how we learn!



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