Welcome to my series on thoughtful leadership and personnel management. It is my wish to pass along my thoughts, ideas, and firefighter personnel management theory with the hope that you’ll employ these concepts to create a level of thoughtful harmony within your shift or your department. Whether career, combination, or volunteer, personnel management differs very little. Professional organizations whether paid or unpaid must operate with a set of values and common goals in order to be successful.
Unlike most professions, personnel management in the fire service requires special considerations. These considerations are driven by the dynamics created in fire department the shift schedule, the volunteer culture, and the social aspects within the firehouse.
The reality of the commitment required to be a firefighter can be apparent when compared to an eight-hour per day office worker. The daily work activities of firefighters vary so much that no other work environment can compare in scope, pace, sensory, or knowledge requirement.
The average non-fire service job within the civilian workforce does not require employees to: sleep in relatively close quarters with each other, share shower and personnel hygiene space, prepare and eat meals together, while depending on one-another for survival, protection, and trust.
The variables within the career fire service routine possess a complex environment with which to manage personnel and likewise will require a tailored personnel management plan. Similar to career departments, Volunteer organizations require structure, common human respect, defined expectations, and boundries defined in a set of values.
The average corporate personnel management template is not specifically well suited for a fire service application. This series will cover topics that highlight issues and solutions related to fire service personnel management. The immediate topics in this series (among others) will include, the physical and mental well-being of the firefighter employee, employee health and safety in the fire service, professional development, fire certification system, performance reviews, and disciplinary action. Individually, some of these topics relate and interlace with others but together represent a solid portion of a fire department personnel manager’s responsibilities. Each of these topics requires specific attention designed for firefighters.
We have all sat in the corporate sexual harassment training class, we have all cringed through diversity training, inclusion training, cultural sensitivity training. It’s long passed time for a tailored personnel management education plan designed for firefighters who live, work, and risk everything, together.