Collaborative efforts for organizational efficiency and effectiveness are a must in today's society. Business practices that once worked for an organization may not necessarily work today. For many years, we have been transitioning our organizations over to computers, GIS mapping software, new and innovative 911 alerting systems, and now web-based reporting programs that are being developed by firemen...for firemen.
You have to remember that every fireman starts out as a rookie, leaning on the coat tails of a senior mentor and coach...with a vision of becoming a salty dog; like the ones they read about in Firehouse Magazine. Along the journey of becoming a seasoned veteran, we often run into obstacles...obstacles that nobody would speak of during your training days. These obstacles that we face would sometimes haunt us, wanting us to stray from what we once envisioned.
When I started my career in the fire service, no one ever mentioned to me how fast things would change. I was under the impression that the standards were the standards and that was it. I focused on training every weekend I had available, traveling from venue to venue; learning the tricks of the trade, just to find out that something new would be introduced in a couple months and the certification I had would no longer be valid.
I can remember being criticized by my own peers for wanting to excel in my career, denying training requests because they didn't see the importance of official training and certification. The motto was "just don't get hurt" and you could do anything on the fire ground. This practice is still being subject to use today, simply because manpower stats are critically low and leaders are failing to be innovative in recruiting and retaining team members, failing to re-align their organizations, and failing to use the assets they have sitting next to them.
Often times we find ourselves surrounded by those that have been handed everything in life…never having to earn their spot because they were in the right place at the right time and they continue to carry out acts of demoralization because those that raised them...raised them wrong. It is your job to push them into the right direction, seeing the importance of what your team has to offer and what they are capable of individually in these changing times.
Tradition and Pride are often talked about as being the reason why department's do NOT change. I raise the red flag and call b*******! Tradition and Pride do not have to die just because you change how you operate, re-organize your rank structure, consolidate departments, or utilizing mutual aid.
As you grow into the senior leadership positions, take the time to remind yourself of who you are and what you stand for. Paying it back to those that will fill your boots upon retirement is critical for their success. Encourage those youngsters to become better than you are now. If you create better firemen, you did your job! Better yet, if you create innovators, you can be proud of what you stand for!
Most firemen and leaders forget that we pay the same taxes that our community pays. So do the right thing and do what is right!