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We all have them. You know, that one person that continually complains about how bad things are. How management is screwing labor, how the Chief doesn't have a clue, how the organization isn't taking care of it's members. Lip Service. Yada yada yada.....You go to the galley to get a cup of coffee and there they are at the table talking about this bad decision, or that percieved slight. You are training and all they do is run their mouth about how this training doesn't apply to te real world, or we should be doing it this way. Lip Service. Yada yada yada..... But when you ask them what the solution is or want them to serve on a committee or a work group to change things for the better, well....Lip Service....You see where I am going with this? If there is one thing that gets me hotter than a tanker fire on the 4th of July, it's those folks. Complaining, pointing fingers, finding fault, but never willing to bring a real solution to the table to correct a problem. And what makes me madder still is the resentment it creates among the other crew members. Soon those guys and gals with good attitudes start to believe some of the crap these folks spread, and from that fresh laid manure, seeds of doubt start to grow. Seeds that soon turn into weeds and vines that start to choke your crew and your department from within. Pushing out the good things and taking over what was once rich fertile soil ripe for growing young minds and developing them into tomorrows leaders. Like a cancer this type of behavior starts to destroy a department from within. If left to spread unabated the life of a once growing and progressive department can be laid to waste. A Captain I was assigned to back in the day told me upon being assigned to his house that if I had a complaint or a concern to come see him and I could vent away. But he gave me a word of caution: I had best bring a solution along with my gripe or he would drop kick me out of his office. And I knew he meant it. That was one of the most fun crews I ever worked with. We all got along well and if we did have a complaint, we all sat down as a crew and resolved it. Our captain was like dad, listening to what we said and yes, even listening to what we thought was a good way to solve it. Not that he always agreed with what we said, and he always had the final say, but because we were positive in our approach and the captain always showed value in our opinions, we found that most problems were not really problems at all and learned to focus on what was really important: Being a good crew that did our job to the best of our abilities and who looked out for each other and really valued our time together.  So how do we stop these folks from spreading the manure? Hey I am just a firefighter, you say. So? The next time you hear Mr. Fertilizer starting it up you can politely inform them you do not wish to be a part of that conversation and walk away. If these folks are denied an audience, they soon find themselves working a very lonely shift with no one to talk to. Peer pressure is a remarkable tool in changing attitudes.  As an officer the solution is even more simple. Just like my captain of old, take them aside and inform them they do have a right to complain, but only if done in a positive manner with a solution provided. Otherwise todays version of the boot is still around. Don't let Lip Service kill your department's morale. Stay safe brothers and sisters!

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