Inmates running the Asylum.

We have a “tradition”† based firehouse in my city.†† It is in a busy area with lots of good work to be done.† Keeping it “traditional” requires the chain of command to continually assign new recruits (relatives)†to this house.† So as time has gone on it has developed an “us versus the rest of the department” attitude.† A high percent of the firefighters have a small amount of†time on the job.†† The firefighters actively run officers out of the house if they feel the officer is not adequately qualified (related).

So….This is my question to the 3000ish people that read this.

If you as an officer get assigned to this house how do you handle the following:

1.†The firefighters in the house.

2. The chain of command that will be overly involved in your day to day business.

3. The overall atmosphere involved.

My answer:

Classic start tight and then go light theory.

We will follow “the book”† word for word as much as possible.† Document every stupid little infraction.† I believe doing this will help keep the in-laws at bay and also have a written history of my and the firefighters actions incase this becomes a bigger issue, which it may.

I would like to go out training as much as possible within the constrains of the written rules.† †The high frequency of training, pre-fire planning, district familiarization will hopefully keep them focused on the real reason they are at this firehouse 2X’s a week.

We would check the apparatus and do firehouse maintenance†as a crew, all members involved, no excuses.

If this plan does not work I’m sure I’ll hear about it.† If† it does work on the other hand then we can lower the frequency of the additional training.

It sounds a bit romantic and overly simple.† Let me know your thoughts.

6 Comments

  • rusty says:

    Institute waterboarding policies to find out which snitch relative cried to daddy when he didn’t get his way.

  • Chief 72 says:

    If you are the officer in-charge of that fire house. I as a chief officer, would hold you responsible for the actions of those under your command. Relatives or no relatives! An Officer, who hold a position, must demand respect. To many time officers collect a check. The old band without a leader theory. Often times officers are afraid of Union backlash. If thats the case, give up your position to someone you isn’t afraid of doing their job. If one person is suspended, without pay, the others will take note. Its very hard to be a friend and officer too.

  • Tim Austin says:

    I’ve been in the fire service 12 years, prior to this I was in the United States Navy for 4 years. One 2nd class petty officer put it to me like this. When we are at work I am in charge, I am your leading petty officer. We are not friends. When we hit the beach for liberty call we can be the best of friends, but when we are at work you have to understand that I have responsibilitys and one of those reponsibilitys is making shure you get your job done. If you fail that means that I have failed and I didn’t come this far by failing.
    That was 23 years ago and to this day I carry that with me. Self Discipline, Respect for authority and understanding teamwork.

  • Nate Q. says:

    You can outsource them for rendition to Rusty’s house.

    Seriously, though, your plan sounds pretty good. Keeping them busy, is actually (like you mentioned), just having them doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Even if they grumble, keeping them focused will benefit them if they realize it or not. My advice would be to “start tight” and “stay tight”. I can tell you from experience (and mine was just one member, not a whole house full), if you start to lighten up, they’ll complain about you being inconsistent and will make the proverbial inch into a mile. Maybe with another crew you could go light after a while, but probably not these folks. The only other thing I would offer, is to meet with them right off the bat and lay out your expectations of them and find out what they expect of you. A fellow officer in my Dept. wrote out everyone’s agreed upon expectations, and had herself and the crew members sign an informal “contract”. When any issues arose, she referred back to it and said (don’t quote me)”Hey, you knew what was expected of you.” That and good notes have saved many a headache.

  • If you are the officer in-charge of that fire house. I as a chief officer, would hold you responsible for the actions of those under your command. Relatives or no relatives! An Officer, who hold a position, must demand respect. To many time officers collect a check. The old band without a leader theory. Often times officers are afraid of Union backlash. If thats the case, give up your position to someone you isn’t afraid of doing their job. If one person is suspended, without pay, the others will take note. Its very hard to be a friend and officer too.

  • rdngs1 says:

    I always start with new recruits or new shift personnel by having a low key meeting running thru the expectations I have for them as individuals and as a shift. This seems to work as a good starting point. Think about it. One of my complaints when I was a younger firefighter on the floor was not knowing what was expected of me. Maybe some of you can relate. Just letting the guys know what those expectations are then asking them from time to time how things are going have taken me a long way. Respect them as professionals…isnt that what you want?

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Marques Bush

Firefighter Basics launched in February 2009 after Founder/Editor Marques Bush was looking for a way to express himself and share his experiences with brother and sister firefighters. Shortly after founding the site Marques spoke with several trusted friends and ask them to come on board and contribute also. Firefighter Basics is a dedicated group of firefighters who strive everyday to practice what they preach about Training, Safety, and Tradition.  We can be reached at firefighterbasics@gmail.com

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