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How much do we value trust in our fire department?

   Trust is a five letter word that means so much in the Fire Service, that from time to time it is lost in a person’s character. Whether influenced by peers or it became the norm in the environment that surrounded the individual. Whether your career or volunteer the expectations are the same. Do the right thing of integrity all the time, on and off duty.

   When you enter the fire service, an investigation may have been done to see if you are a character of trustworthiness. They may have checked references, work history, financial history, etc.  Can this person be in a position trusted by the public? As Firefighters, we are always under public scrutiny. Can the person be trusted to do the right thing?

    Do we trust others in the fire station? Do we have to lock our personal lockers and gear lockers because the trust level was diminished by others in the past. Is security cameras necessary in the fire station because trust was lost? If they cannot take a simple task of taking out the trash, how can we trust them on the fire ground?

    If another member opened another member personal locker without the permission of that member and stole something and made that member sick and missed days on the job. And the one who committed the act was promoted six months later. How much trust do we have in that person, or the leaders who promoted that individual? Does this decrease the level of trust within the organization?

    If a driver operator said he checked out an Apparatus and filled out the paperwork that the apparatus was checked, the Apparatus didn’t move during the shift. And the next shift the oncoming crew puts 20 gallons of fuel in it after checkout. Should the check be verified after it has been completed?

    How much trust do we have in our mutual aid partners? If the Incident Commander of a Mutual Aid Company gave your crew an assignment of overhaul inside the structure after two hours of defensive water pipe operations in a type three construction dwelling. Do you have trust in your crew members to speak up when something is not right or a safety concern?

    If a member committed adultery with another member’s spouse while the other member was away at work. Three months later the member who committed adultery was promoted. How does the organization handle this trust issue? Will it cause conflict between team members?

    Trust is reliability over time. Continuously doing the right thing time after time. Look at other members in your department, you can tell who you can trust. What trust relationships have been established in your department?

    Does trust exist in the workplace by looking out for safety of others and taking corrective action? Does members get punished for speaking out? How many trust issues exist in your department? Does trust have a revolving circle? Do trust issues compound and decrease productivity? Do trust issues get resolved upon discovery within your organization?

    Does the leadership with the organization communicate openly? Does the leadership show confidence in their subordinate abilities? Does the leadership include and listen to others in the organization? Does the leadership cooperate and collaborate with others? Do we trust leadership with sensitive information?

    Is there an award or recognition program for recognizing members who perform ethical acts or show good conduct. The military awards personnel who exhibit good conduct with the “Good Conduct Medal”. Does your organization share great ethical stories that showcases the desired good behavior. Does the leadership and management of the organization set the tone of trust in the organization or do the lower ranking members set the tone within the organization in spite of management?

    Does management have confidence and trust in their employees? If the employee consistently is reliable in getting the job done and management still doesn’t have trust in the employee, conflict may occur. If other employees don’t have trust in an employee who consistently gets the job done,  other issues may exist that prohibit team cohesion.

    We call ourselves a brotherhood and say we are always there for each other when something gets real. Do we practice it on a daily basis? What happened to the level of trust we investigated in the member when he or she first came into the organization? What happened to the culture of the department that allowed this over time for the trust to erode?

     Establishing a Firefighter Code of Ethics in your department is a step in the right direction. Constant training and empowerment is needed on all levels. How well does the community trusts the fire department? What relationships exist between the Fire Department and the community? How well do we value trust in our organization?

     What are the core values or principles in the organization? Does every member in the organization are aware that they exist and understand what they mean? Does any of the core values describe trust?  It is great to have core values displayed on the walls of your organization but if their never communicated or understood among all of the members, there just displayed as words on a shelf. Trust is a foundation for success in organizations.

 

Reference

Firefighter Code of Ethics. Retrieved December 17, 2020, from:

https://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/code_of_ethics.pdf

 

 

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