Fire Engineering Training Community

Where firefighters come to talk training

How do you handle a leader that ruins morale, department budget, training, and refuses to listen to constructive criticism?

Views: 735

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

just a little advice first how do you elect your officers that really huge and do you have a board of directors if not maybe you shoul consider getting one for such things as this with your chief from past experience that i have had the election of your officers is the first way to stop the chief from tearing down your organization because if the moral of your department is down then it follows you all the way to each scene you go to. This is where you get people hurt, so guess alot of getting your moral back starts with getting rid of all your leadership problems, then go from there. I have approx. 90 volunteers so believe me i know what it's like to not have any morale but we do great but it's very important i listen to my members and their imput and concerns that way i can keep the morale of this organization up and possitive so if i can be of any assistance please let me know.
As others have said in this post, leaders are not made by title. Title gives individuals position power which can be easily abused. It is up to person with the position to see it as an oportunity to advance their crew and department into greatness. When these people fail and drift into apathy and complacency,it is your dutyto lead from the middle. This is a concept that has been lost for a long time in our Fire Service. We have done ourselves a diservice by promoting technically competent officers that do not have any leadership training or experience. We have put them into a position where 90 percent of the job is management and administrative duties, but cripple them without the tools to acctualy do the job.
Lead from the middle. You have already identified the gap in leadership. This is the first step. Now fill in the gap by leading those firefighters who need it. Train those young people, show them the right way. make them competent firefighters and you will find out something about yourself. you have become the leader that your department needs and without even having a title!

DTRT and stay safe
Like the guys above said, the Junior officers need to keep the crews together when their are problems up above. It's like the "Breaking Point" episode in Band of Brothers.  Sgt Lipton keeps the guys together and is the real leader while Lt D*** is flaking out and leaving the men.  A good Lt or Senior man in the firehouse can help keep the focus on training, staying safe and keeping morale up until the time for change comes.  

Ben-The brothers that have answered you show lots of wisdom. (I even liked the "walk the plant' remark. Hey, gotta have some fun, right?) Morale is an attitude, a way of life and a culture. Those of us involved in the Everyone Goes Home program struggle every day with LSI#1-Changing the culture if the fire service. It's a culture change for the firehouse but all of the members have to want it too. Are there any others who agree with your current leaders? If so, change is even more difficult. It can be done but it's like eating an elephant, you have to take one bite at a time. Gather your hungry allies and make your changes despite what the current dictatorship may be doing. Don't be insubordinate and don't undermine but if there are safety related issues, demand answers and accountability. You can have high fire department morale despite bad leaders. I like what Brandon said about uniting and approaching department leaders. Sometimes, enough is enough. When you approach however, do it professionally and with finesse. Never let it be said that in fact you attempted a "hostile take over." That won't work in anyone's favor. Above all, you and the other members must remember why you signed up in the first place. Protect your community, keep training and keep your knife and fork. Good Luck.




Leadership is a word FF love to use. They also love to use the "brotherhood" word, we are all brother and we are all opened minded... I'm European, working for more than 10 years on structural firefighting and many talk to me as an expert on this subject. Each time I tried to have a serious talk with US FF about the use os nozzle, after 3 or 4 messages, they just have insult to throw but no explanation...

In you case or rather in the case of the relation ship with the chief, just ask yourself if he is ready to ear you "constructive criticism". Because the main problem is not the way you talk, but the way the one to whom you talk, understand what you're saying.

Maybe you think your criticism are "contructive". But are they really? Are you in a "struggling" system, or are you going to work together?

Maybe juste have a commitee to see the futur: a fire service, like an organisation or a company, must have a futur vision. Time, money, people. What are the objective of you fire service? Responding to a fire? Yes, of course, but do you have a training planing for one year? Maybe your chief don't know really where to go. But do you know where are you going?

Project links people together. Project are motivation.


We can go back to the nozzle. I will just tell you something. And you will try to see how you understand that: "A fog nozzle can extinguish a fire in about 10 times less than a solide bore, with about 20 times less water. And if you want, I can instruct you".

Is it criticism? Is it positive? Is it negative? Not so easy....


Best regards and welcome to the marvellous word of human contact :-)



As the question is as broad as the responses you've recieved thus far. I'll give the broad answer that will still work....

Stress by definition is self-induced; meaning it's our reaction to the stressors around us. We can't force an individual to change. We can make their life miserable, along with everyone around them (ourselves included), but I can assure you it won't help. 

Todd, Jason and Kevin are on the money. The Chief can only be as good as his team. If the leader is inept, it will catch up to them without mutiny and regardless of political affiliation. Yours is to take care of business. Do what is right to take care of firefighters and Mrs Smith. Dot the i's and cross the t's, document your recommendations. Neither cover for nor scuttle the officer's actions they will speak for themselves.

Reply to Discussion


Policy Page


The login above DOES NOT provide access to Fire Engineering magazine archives. Please go here for our archives.


Our contributors' posts are not vetted by the Fire Engineering technical board, and reflect the views and opinions of the individual authors. Anyone is welcome to participate.

For vetted content, please go to

We are excited to have you participate in our discussions and interactive forums. Before you begin posting, please take a moment to read our community policy page.  

Be Alert for Spam
We actively monitor the community for spam, however some does slip through. Please use common sense and caution when clicking links. If you suspect you've been hit by spam, e-mail

FE Podcasts

Check out the most recent episode and schedule of

© 2024   Created by fireeng.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service