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What happens when firefighters don’t have information? They make it up!  I don’t have to tell you this; you already know. Sometimes it’s no big deal, but other times it can be detrimental to your department in many ways.

As members of the fire service we put our heart and sole into our work and our passion.  It’s only normal to feel that you want your efforts reciprocated in some form of respect. The type respect that gets us motivated to continue doing what we do is when the people in higher positions than us make the effort to keep us in the loop and to make us feel like we are part of the mission.  If we aren’t part of the mission, if we’re not sure what the mission really is, we’ll make it up as we go along. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence in our business. 

Rumors and speculation, negative speak and bashing are nothing less than cancer that spreads through your department.  There are those people who contribute to this demise, those who sit by idly and listen to it, and those who do something about it. Which one are you?

Promoting harmony in your workplace is not the job of a few; it’s the job of all. You have the power create the environment you want to be in when you’re at the fire station. Don’t allow someone to spread cancer in your department. If you listen to it and don’t speak up then you’re allowing it to go on. What you permit, you promote.

If you’re a supervisor of any rank, keep your people informed so they don’t have to make up the information based on the flavor of the day.  This is a good way to get those fence riders on the positive side of business because now they feel like they have value and are part of the mission.  When you get those fence riders on the good side, this leaves the negative Nelly’s with fewer reinforcements and alienates them even more. Talk about pressure to conform into a positive, harmonious work environment.

Be part of the solution, not the problem. You’ll enjoy the business of public service delivery much more. You’ll enjoy the fire station environment much more.  Your department will be better for it, and it will show in the pride that permeates the fire ground or the EMS call the next time your out.

Attend Paul's class, RIC for REAL; learning from our mistakes at FDIC in April 2015!

Paul Strong entered the fire service in 1990. He is currently a shift captain at the Valley Regional Fire Authority in King County Washington and owner of 3 Sixty Training. Paul has served as a Shift Captain, Department Training Officer, Incident Safety Officer, Medical Program Specialist, Haz-Mat Technician, and Technical Rescue team member as a Rope/Dive Rescue Technician. Paul continues to present the 3 Sixty series classes at conferences, training officer’s associations, and individual fire departments. He is the Creator and Lead Instructor of RIC for REAL, The Road to Fire Service Leadership, and Fire Ground Practices - First on Scene. He is an adjunct instructor at the Washington State Fire Training Academy and has lectured at many conferences including IAFC Fire Rescue International, FDIC-Indy, and Washington State Fire Training & Safety Officers Association. Paul has taught and consulted for numerous agencies and has been published in Fire Engineering Magazine. His approach to fire service education and training is effective, thought provoking, and intense. For more information, please visit

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