How to Build Department Morale in Fire Department

By | March 16, 2017

At the present time, many organization are at a fragile place in their evolution-the time between the past and the future. For same leaders, the present looks very much like the past, particularly if their recent past is embedded in success. In the midst of change, and without any clear direction, such individuals view significant shifts in control as potential threats to the stability and harmony of their system-a system that in many cases they helped to create. There individuals can delay, if not prevent, the “natural” evolution of their organizational system by taking “control” and stifling the redistribution of leadership. They lock themselves into ways of interacting that ultimately lock them into obsolete practices. If the change does finally occur, it may need to be radical and revolutionary to overcome the forces that have kept the organization and/or institution from changing and developing. Why? Because in the midst of significant change, these individuals are often poorly equipped to transfer control to larger collective.

Typically this is risky because, even with the best intensions, the larger employee group may be poorly equipped to take on greater control and responsibility. This to fundamentally change leadership practices, we must also change the followers’ ways of thinking, acting and reacting.

One goal at the top of any company’s list is to keep workplace morale high. After all, a happy employee is more likely to do his or her job well, and is less inclined to leave for greener – or happier – pastures. So how do you go about improving your employees’ job satisfaction? It seems that for every morale-boosting option out there, there are ten people who will tell you their option is better. Do you establish an incentive or reward system? Hire a motivational speaker? Increase salaries? Well, although these types of extrinsic motivators are good ways to inspire your workers and express appreciation for their efforts, the reality is that workplace morale is far more the result of employee job satisfaction than it is the byproduct of any system or speaker. Job satisfaction is not the result of rewards that come from outside sources – it’s an inside job. “What does lead to high morale is an intrinsically rewarding work experience: a work experience where employees feel respected, valued, and appreciated; a work experience where employees get to be players and not just hired hands

Good leaders are able to adopt differing leadership styles with different people or with the same people at different times depending on the situation. The key factors likely influence the style a leader adopts at a particular time include the nature of the work to be done, the skill level of the person being asked to do the work, and the ongoing needs of the Leaders relationship with that person. This practice is quite common in the fire service. Fire leaders who command at a fire well not lead the same in the firehouse or when interacting with other departments.

This is why successful organizational change is often developed around a vision that clearly articulates the desired state, yet is built upon the culture found within the organization and the values and beliefs of employees, understanding this is key component of any successful change process.

This is six leadership styles and this is the characteristics of the six style.
1. The Visionary Leader – inspires, believes in own vision.
2. The Coaching Leader – listens, helps people identify their own strengths and weak-nesses
3. The Affiliative Leader – promote harmony, friendly, empathetic, boosts morale and solves conflict
4. The Democratic Leader – superb listener, team worker, collaborator and influencer.
5. The Pacesetting Leader – strong urge to achieve, high personal standards initiative, low on empathy and collaboration, impatience, micromanaging, realizes challenging and exciting goals.
6. The Commanding Leader – commanding, tight control, monitoring studiously, creating dissonance, contaminates everyone’s moods drives away talent.

From six leadership style I think that we needs to have a Pacesetting Leadership style and Coaching Leadership style, I want to everyone in my team know that they have to high standards initiative when they works and they creates harmony and friendly each other’s.

Leadership in the fire service must realize the future will not resemble the past, leader must focus on creating new opportunities rather than just solving problems. They must continually aim for something that will make a difference rather than something safe and simple.

Dealing with organizational culture can be the most challenging and frustrating aspect of leadership yet can pay the most dividends. The ability to break down the cultural barriers existing within in organization, to provide new levels of thinking and openness, is a mark of true leadership.

Below is a list of ideas to improve morale. Some might make minor dents in the problem; others might make a huge difference. Most of these will work in all types of Fire and/or EMS Departments.

Professionalism
• Look professional
• Act professional
• Be professional
• Be positive, smile, and laugh often
• Leave your ego at home

Camaraderie
• Hang out together on duty: Eat together, workout together, train together. Get together before/after morning checks to discuss local news, what everyone did on their day(s) off etc.
• Hang out together off duty: Have your coworkers over for dinner and include their families. Get together at a local park for a picnic.
• Invite another firehouse over for a friendly game of basketball, training, cornhole, or dinner.
• Be positive: Be nice, be friendly, be a friend. Not everyone has the best days every day at the firehouse, some have to ride the medic unit time to time!
• Motivate others: Be mindful of the strengths and weaknesses of others.

Company Pride
• Create a logo or mascot for your firehouse. Get patches, shirts, coins, chips, and/or stickers made.
• Build a custom firehouse kitchen table
• Clean all of the tools on your rig together. Paint them up in a paint scheme unique to your firehouse.
• Look and dress professional. Lose the “I fight what you fear” or “Big Johnson” t-shirt and where a uniform shirt with the rest of the crew.
• Social Media: Create a Facebook page, twitter account, instagram account, blog, or other social media account for your firehouse and/or fire department. Share information that other firefighters might enjoy as well as the community. Show off your pride, invite the community into your firehouse. Create communication, relationships, and conversation with others. Be seen!
• Open House: Have an open house annually or each month for your community to come in and see their firehouse,

Training
• Territory: Put a map up and see how much each person can get. Then go out and drive it. Pay attention to hydrants, long hose lays, building construction, oddities.
• Equipment: Go over new equipment and old equipment. Get it off the rig and go over it with everyone. You might know something others don’t and vice versa.
• Tools: Discuss what tools you have and why. Discuss other uses for tools and identify tools you might like to have on your apparatus…then try to acquire them.
• Apparatus: Quiz each other on what gear is in which compartment on the apparatus. This will bring everyone up to speed on where things are properly placed.
• Formal Classes: Keep an eye out for available classes in your area and encourage your Brothers and Sisters to attend the class with you.
• Informal Classes: Identify topics your company wants to learn and refresh on. Then, identify different company members to teach the classes to the company. Follow through and schedule the classes on duty.
• Critiques: When you get back from the big one, schedule a critique in the firehouse of the incident. Be positive, use constructive criticism when needed, and identify areas that your company needs to train on more often.

Apparatus
• Wash the rig when it needs it.
• Clean the dash and vacuum and/or wash out the interior regularly. Fire apparatus can get real dirty real quick. The same with EMS apparatus.
• Wash out the compartments regularly.
• Thoroughly check the apparatus each day.
• Identify issues and make corrections and/or write it up for future maintenance.

Firehouse Integrity
• Don’t complain about other shifts at shift change. If there is a complaint, take it to your company officer to handle.
• Clean up after yourself.
• Clean as you expect the other crews to clean when you aren’t there.
• Leave the firehouse and apparatus cleaner than it was the day before.
• Get a subscription to fire service magazines and leave them around the firehouse for others to read.

Speak up, listen, and understand
• Speak up for yourself. Make yourself heard when you need to.
• Listen when others are speaking. Listen to other ideas.
• Understand what others are saying and why they are saying it

Health and Fitness
• Workout together. Change up the workouts to the needs of your company.
• Eat healthy foods. Cook things that everyone enjoys, but make it healthy.
• Workout on your days off. Some of the guys in my department get together to ride bikes on our greenway, run 5k races, and workout at the local gym together.
• Be positive. Understand that not everyone is trying to kill it in the gym. The fact that some are in the gym is a huge improvement for some.

Probably the biggest thing you can do is have a positive attitude, which is also one of the hardest when morale is low.

– Novi Dimara –

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