Combination Fire Department Cohesiveness
March 3, 2015
The Fire Chief has to set high expectations for all members of the department, and the expectations have to be the same whether it is a career or volunteer member. An emergency situation does not see the difference, so why should the expectations of the Fire Chief be any different. Without high expectations of all members, the department will suffer.
Set equal qualifications in your department for all members. If you want your career staff to hold certifications, require your volunteers to as well. When individuals hold the same credentials and have been through the same training, mutual respect is developed. The same holds true in requiring qualifications for promotions. You must promote based on qualification and departmental needs, not on the buddy system.
Uniforming your personnel will make a huge equality statement. If you’re buying Class A uniforms or duty uniforms for your career employees to look professional, you need to be doing the same for the volunteers. Most importantly though, make sure you are not passing down old personal protective equipment from the career or part-time staff to the volunteers. It will make them feel second rate, just like the turnout gear. Looking equal makes people feel equal.
Give your officers the authority to act. It doesn’t matter whether your members are career or volunteer. If you put an individual in a leadership role, they need to be able to make decisions even if that means a volunteer officer telling a career member, like an apparatus operator, what to do.
As the Fire Chief, you must lead evenly. If you have to discipline a career member for a mistake or accident, you must do the same for a volunteer member. A policy violation or safety violation should be no different for any member, and the discipline should be similar.
As a Fire Chief, you should be gaining valuable input from all employees. If you’re forming training committees, building committees, or truck committees, you need to include as much staff as possible from across the members’ realms. If possible you need to make an equal number of career members to volunteers; it will help the entire department with “buying in” when both sides are included in big decisions.
Time is one of the most valuable assets that you as a Fire Chief have to give. You have to make time for your volunteers. They may not be able to train at the same time as your career staffing. You must make the effort and time to train and meet with these individuals when they are available. Remember they are in your department because they want to be, not because of a paycheck. So go out of your way to make time for them.
|Yearly Evaluations:||All members need a yearly performance evaluation. A performance evaluation helps the members see how well they performed throughout the year. It will also help to set future goals and objectives for them. Your volunteer members may one day become career staff, and a yearly performance evaluation can help lay the ground work for their future.|