We have all heard the same statement, " the department starts and ends with the company officer." Whether you agree with this statement or not, we cannot deny the profound affect, both negative and positive,that the company officer has on our companies and ultimately our department.
How we operate and how we train will be dictated by how the company officer lays out his expectations and how the daily routines are performed. When a company officer during a training evolution makes a broad statement to his young crew that "we never enter a building without a charged hoseline", we know what the ramifications will be for the members of his company and the people they are supposed to protect. These attitudes and beliefs will be perpetuated, making our job even more difficult.
It is easy to see how the long term attitude and beliefs will be affected one way or the other by the example set by the company officer. Lazy company officers have lazy crews and working company officers have working crews. I don't know when this got so complicated.?
When the backstep pulls the line off of the rig inadequately and the officer jumps his s***, we have a problem. Is it not the job of the company officer to make sure his crew is ready? Is it not the officers job to ensure that the guys on his truck are proficient at the tasks as simple as pulling a line? Sure the backstepper has a responsibility, but that company officer has a problem with the wrong guy. If that company officer drilled regularly, any deficiencies would have been identified and remediated before they became a problem. It's called knowing your crew.
The way that we get to know our crew is to get to know your crew. That means you, as a company officer, have to invest in your people. You have to "work" with them. That means actually doing things around the fire house and talking. That means eating together and doing regular training drills. It is a relationship and you have to put "quality" time into it. You cannot expect to come in, run a few calls and go home and expect to know who your working with.
In most parts of the country we are fighting less fires. This is dangerous and makes it even more important to drill regularly. The officers of the past had years of actual firefighting experience to lean on and pass on. We are losing that experience and that requires us to train as a crew in order to know what is expected, what our company capabilities are based on available resources and to create those "experiences" that are hard to come by. It all falls on the company officer.
If you ask most companies and officers, there are a few things that really brings a crew together. One, obviously is a good, working fire. Everyone comes back and is pumped up and the stories begin. Second is meaningful training that is inclusive, well planned and relevant. Third is doing projects in the house. No matter what the work is, the crew talks, interacts and generally has a good time while doing work together.
We can't allow our comforts of the job to override the mission. Stay safe and train. Hey, maybe today take off the hand tools and give them a good sanding and cleaning. Oh, and do it as a crew.
Seldom do I disagree Jason, with you anyway. In this case I agree with most of what is here, however, you have forgotten one little thing that I live with every tour. Nothing we do is just that Simple! While many of us go out of our way to be simple stupid, it seems we have someone of the same rank or higher turning simple to difficult. The best we can do is KTF and push forward, one day it will be simple, I hope. IMHO!
Stay Safe Brother! To much time on my hands bro!
Your right Jeff, you can only control what you can control. There are always some that will make that much more difficult, and like you said, Keep the Faith and push onward.
See ya Brother,
-Tome Brennen was fond of teaching us that firefighting is always about the basics. Learn and apply the basics properly and everything else will fall into place.
-The "basics" also apply to management... and it really is that simple. Treat your people well, train them, empower them; embolden them. Look out for them and be their biggest cheerleader and be genuinely concerned for their lives; professional and private. Defend them vigorously and chastise in private. Remember to be their advocate... always.
-I recall a newly promoted chief, who was showing forgetfulness about the rank and file and appearing to sell out to city hall pressure, being told "I understand that you have a responsibility to your employer but you have a sacred obligation to the men!"
-Good leadership and management starts at the company level with the officer and sometimes the "unofficial leaders. A good leader recognizes these assets and attributes and takes advantage of them. It really is that simple. A good officer learns the assets and limitations of his crew and utilizes that to the company's advantage to effect a successful outcome for the end user of our services, but he never forgets his obligation to his people, which are his greatest assets. Without the company or men to lead the leader is nothing. Care for your people and they'll take care of you.
"When the backstep pulls the line off of the rig inadequately and the officer jumps his s***, we have a problem. Is it not the job of the company officer to make sure his crew is ready? Is it not the officers job to ensure that the guys on his truck are proficient at the tasks as simple as pulling a line? Sure the backstepper has a responsibility, but that company officer has a problem with the wrong guy. If that company officer drilled regularly, any deficiencies would have been identified and remediated before they became a problem. It's called knowing your crew."
I agree with this to a degree, but like the saying goes "You can lead a horse to water but you cant make it drink" I have trained people before at drills, and asked them questions, and when we were done they said they were comfortable and demonstrated the skills adequately enough, but than the call comes around and the newly acquired skills are tested, and the member screws something up. Is this the end of the world? No, just a member who doesnt use the skill often enough to be proficient at it, and chances are, after screwing up in front of the other crew and you talk to them afterwards about what happened wrong and how they can make it better next time, that mistake will never happen again. That is what I believe dictates a good officer. To me an officer that "Jumps anyones s***" in front of other crew or even in front of civilians and bystanders is just a glory hound. There is no need to rip into anyone when mistakes are made, the lesson is never learned that way. The only thing that comes of that is a secret hatred for the officer and discontent with the job. That firefighter will be increasingly uncomfortable around the officer and his/her crew after that and will not try 100% any more.
Instead, the officer should take them aside and talk about what went wrong and if the member understands why, and if there can be any change made to make it better. This fosters respect for the officer and in the long run makes a better crew. The crew trusts the officer and work hard for them, and the respect is earned. Im not in any way saying that the officer needs to "Baby" the crew, but be firm without an audience. If it involves a threat to life...Thats something that requires a firm and swift reprimand, but than finish it at the station with only the crew to witness it.
The other officer tries to force the respect, and it just serves to make things worse. I have served for both types of officer and know the feeling of being berrated in front of others and its effects...not to respected.
I try to be the good officer and hope my crew will eventually look up to me, and I hope to "earn" their respect some day as well.
Good Topic brother, Stay Safe.