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  • New Lt in a "senior" firehouse

    I'm looking for some guidance from those out there interested in replying. I'm a new Lieutenant who's been on the job for a little over 6 years. I was reassigned to a firehouse whose 2 "junior" guys have 12 and 8 years on the job. The most senior has 26 years on. Also, I'm sharing the crew with a senior Lieutenant for the time being (we actually only are together when another officer isn't scheduled off...this doesn't happen very often). I've spoken with each FF and asked each of them individually what they expect from me as an officer. I've also told them that I realize that they've seen much more than I have, and that I'm open to suggestions anytime. This was received very well (it seems) by the FFers. I've also told them what I expect from them. I believed this would eliminate any surprises. My small problem is with the senior LT. He's the type of individual that comes in, does the absolute minimum, stays in his office for a majority of the shift, etc, etc. I've asked him how he would like things done in his absence when I'm filling in for him. He's really given me no reply. But what is disturbing is how his negative attitude is infectious. What can I do to overcome his pessimism so he doesn't keep affecting the attitude of the other FFers?

  • #2
    Had this, done that.....

    I have had a simular scenario presented to me a few years back. This is how I did it:
    When I truly thought about it, I asked myself "Do I want this individual's negativity to effect my crew?" My answer was no, so how we ran it was he ran his crew and I ran my/our crew. I did this to limit the amount of exposure that he had on my guys. Another little funny thing I did was when one of my guys brought up a negative point I would ask them to bring up two positive points......
    I have found that negativity is not the only thing that is contagious...... So is positivity. By you as the "Leader" or "Boss" whichever your Management Style supports, being positive then I will guess that your crew will also be positive. Remember, you are only accountable for your actions and the actions of your crew. Do you want your actions and the actions of your crew to be positive? Of course you do, we all do then lead that way, positive.
    Your colleagues personality may be that type that is continually negative. Sometime when you are in the office together, ask him how he got that way. I know that when most FF enter the job, they are "full of smiles and enthusiasm" and not "**** and vinegar." They want to do the job...... no matter what it takes. Listen intently, this will show them that you truly care how he got this way. In the future, don't be surprised if they ask to talk to you and get your opinion on certain topics. We all start positive and somehow decide to turn negative.
    In regards to how you should run the crew in his absence, I think that you can learn something from everybody you meet. Nothing is more true than in the Fire Service, if he runs things different (which he will) ask the crew why. If it makes sense to you, then try to implement it into how you run your crew. If it doesn't make sense to you, then get with the crew and try to figure out what will work while you are working with that crew. Don't try to come in and change his crew . Remember how I said you run yours and he runs his...... See how it's starting to come around here? It will show him how you respect how he runs his crew, but will also show his crew that when you all work together you respect them as a crew.
    Well, hope this helps....... A great Leader once told me "to always try the nice approach since most people respond better to a positive environment than a negative environment." The ole, you get more bees with hunny than you do vinegar......
    "Be LOUD, Be PROUD..... It just might save your can someday when goin' through an intersection!!!!!"

    Life on the Truck (Quint) is good.....

    Eat til you're sleepy..... Sleep til you're hungry..... And repeat.....

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    • #3
      thanks, mikeyboy. Very helpful.

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      • #4
        I would agree. We can only be accountable to the people we supervise. Try not to be influence by going with the "grain" ask questions, LISTEN, and always be a "learner", regardless if your an officer,engineer,firefighter,medic For the last 25 years in the fire service I 've been always learning from the fire service, and will continue to do so. Project a positive environment with good communication and diplomacy.

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        • #5
          Tough situation, and I don't know why your battalion chief is putting you in this position, but it's more important for them to respect you than like you. That's the #1 mistake new lieutenants make, in my opinion. Be even-handed, fair, consistent, and cordial in discipline and training. Make sure they know what you expect from them. Don't micro-manage but hold them accountable when necessary. But recognize good work with outstanding evals. Remember, firefighters only do well that which the boss checks. Firefighters will talk. There's nothing you can do to stop it, but you can rise above it. Don't participate in gossip. Ever. Respect your crew's capabilities as senior firefighters, but don't invite them to second guess your decisions. Why do you suppose someone is still riding backwards after 20 years? You need to show some confidence. So study everything you can get your hands on related to incident command and strategy and tactics. If you remain calm, cool, and collected on emergency scenes, and make good decisions, they will respect you. Can you pump the truck? Do you know it like the back of your hand? Do you know your building construction? Do you know the district? If you train hard, and run a tight ship, your crew will be happy in the long run. I've never seen a slack shift with high morale. Good luck!

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