Assessing Fire Department Organizational Behavior comes in many different forms. There are many professional standards, response models and certified accreditation. On a recent training trip I had the opportunity to provide an unofficial organizational assessment of a department. Assessing organizational behavior is important for instructors. You see you can learn a lot about the department's work ethic, from the department head. There are many levels of service delivery within the fire service. Some organizations offer basic fire and rescue services, while others offer technical rescue, hazmat and fire based EMS. One thing that remains pretty consistent within all these organizations, is the basic foundation or fundamentals of fire service organizational behavior. You see when you build a beautiful house on a weak foundation; regardless if it is the best house on the block, we all know that over time the weakest link of said construction will rear it's ugly head. That analogy is no different in the fire service. You see a fire chief can buy as many shiny red fire trucks he wants, or all of the techinical rescue equipment in the world but without a culture that cares about training and operational readiness, their service delivery model will certainly faulter.
KISS - Assessing the fire department's behavior using the kiss method can be as easy as looking at the little things. If the attitude and behavior of an organization is healthy (strong and positive) you will NOT find a lot of little things seen as "petty" by the membership. If they have Pride and Ownership (author: Chief Lasky) in their actions; they will make sure they are at the response ready. But when you do find that the "little things" are left unresolved within the organization, it can be a huge red flag for other issues that may need to be addressed or resolved before someone potentially gets hurt or killed.
For example the small task of replacing the (TP) or toilet paper, it can say a lot in regards to an organization's culture. We all understand that when short cuts happen in this area (not a life or death situation by any means) it can be an uncomfortable and often embarrassing moment for the end user. But when we do find this type of mindset in the fire service, it can often point to other areas lacking "operational readiness" that does have a direct correlation to our own personal safety. I am talking about making sure things are right and tight out on the apparatus floor for EVERY shift. Are the trucks actually getting checked? Are the (SCBA) self-contained breathing apparatus full, clean and ready for the next response? Are your tools and equipment in service and at the ready? Or has the culture of no (TP) caught up to us and do we adapt and overcome with our safety? Our primary function is to protect the public but more importantly protect each other... We call it a Brotherhood for a reason. When we see this type of behavior, it often falls back to a lack of pride in your personal workmanship, So if you hear, "Hey your lucky he left you a roll on the shelf man" it is time to rethink our organizational behavior.
But more importantly from a fire department administrator's standpoint, if you do see any of these issues, it is time to honestly look at your leadership. (QA) Quality Assurance in non-emergency modes is critical for our own well being when we are under duress. For us to be ready to respond in a moment’s notice and deliver the best possible service available, the leadership needs to assure that the "little things" do not come back to haunt us. You can learn a lot about an organization from a simple roll of TP. Stay alert, stay attentive and more importantly...
Stay "Battle Ready" my friends.
Billy Greenwood; Tap the Box; FETC Services