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Being The Informal Leader

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  • Being The Informal Leader

    So I'm having a bit of a problem, and hopeing someone can help me out with it. I am currently a senior driver operator in a relatively large dept, (350+ career personnel). I have been with the department for just over six years and have worked very hard to advance to the position that I am in now, and am currently planning to advance futher in our next promotional process. But, in the position I am currently in, as the senior D/O at my station, I consider myself an "informal leader".

    Here is the senario I have recenlty found myself in. I was given a brand new crew on my shift. A new LT, a new paramedic and emt on the ambulance. All three of the people I find myself working with now all alike have a reputation as not being very motivated firefighters. But I took this as a challenge, and very quickly found ways to motivate my crew to go out and train, and to try and become better firemen, that part was not hard. But with the Thanksgiving day upon us, the crews in our battalion always go to the central station for thanksgiving dinner. Well this year, my new crew decided that they did not want to attend this gathering, even with my pleading and reasoning, they were unwilling to participate. I recieved some good natured jabbing from my friends from the other stations, but they all said they knew I would have been there had the decision been up to me.

    So the question really is, as being the "informal leader", motivating your crew in the station is the easy part, but how do you motivate them to be part of the fire dept as a whole and the brotherhood that goes with it??? Help please!!!!
    Last edited by brandon_stephens1; 11-29-2013, 08:25 PM.

  • #2
    You find yourself in one of the most difficult positions in the fire service. They may not want to be part of the bigger group so I'd concentrate on the smaller group initially but you'll need the LT on board if this is gonna work. Tell him your plan and ask for his support.

    Getting them out to train is difficult sometimes but you'll notice once they're out there they are most likely happy and jaw jacking with the other guys having a good time. The reason is because they need to learn to enjoy hanging out together first. Organize some off duty events like golf, go kart racing, bowling, anything with a little competition. Firefighters love competition. Once they start enjoying that and laughing about that around the firehouse introduce a bit of good natured competition between firehouses. If you start telling them the house a mile away says they are better firefighters the guys will work harder on kicking butt at trainings and on calls. The "I'll show them" attitude works wonders. Insist on dinners together, it's the guys chance to sit down and talk. Rotate cook nights between the guys and it works out well.

    Finally you have to show them everyday the pride you have in your department, your equipment and your job. Point out vehicle checks that are done improperly and talk about why that is so ridiculous. Have them see you cleaning and waxing the rig or emptying compartments and cleaning even ask for their help. Show them you will not accept vehicle checks done half assed and go out of your way to make things right on the vehicles making sure they are ready to leave for any emergency. Solicit their help on projects that make it a better department and their pride will start to grow on all the cool stuff they have worked on and put in place. Finally take an interest in the guys lives. Make sure they know you not only care about them but you care about their family. Call them if they're sick, offer help if their family is in a bind and mow their lawn if they're out of town. Make their safety a priority at emergency scenes and let them know you're looking out for them. That will build the brotherhood. I got your back, you got mine.

    Pride in how you prepare, how you respond and in your brothers will fix any bad attitude. Even the most negative people don't want to be miserable all day, they want to hang out with guys in good moods who love their job. It's contagious, it'll take time but they'll eventually come around.


    • #3
      Leadership by example. You cannot change years of perception in just a few short weeks or a few events. Live the brotherhood, show the pride, and lead by example. It is infectious. Never stray and lower your standards.

      In your situation I would have had a station meal and maybe invite other stations to yours. If they know what your up against they should understand. Your crew won't go to the brotherhood then bring it to them. It will catch on. And make no excuse or secret as to why you are doing it.


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