Spring Cleaning

Sometimes I start a blog post and don't like how it sounds, so I may bench it for a time where it sparks my interest.  I started this last year and just came back through it again.  

I was thinking about a time where I was helping a family "in need" to spruce up their home.  We were doing a lot of work to the person's yard and some interior patchwork, but I remember wondering how this home got in this condition to begin with.  There were members of the family standing around and not so nicely critiquing the effort a stranger was making on their own time, out of their own pocket, to fix up their family home. I also remember I was thinking, if it was so important to you, why didn’t you step up and fix it yourself?

While there are any number of things we can talk about in that regard, I’m just going to share this one today.  It is the reality that we can polish the outside of the house and fix the cosmetic damage, but if the foundation is unsound, it’s just a matter of time before the place falls apart anyway.  Given the short amount of time we were spending, this home would become acceptable for a period of time, but the overall neglect of the structure for many years only doomed it to eventual failure.

If you truly want organizational success, putting a shine on everything is nice, but the heart of the issues lie at the hearts of the people involved. Together, all that we do, especially in the promotion of our core values and our mission, all works together with shiny fire trucks and ambulances, the uniformity of deployment, procedures, etc.. to create a strong structure. But without the strong foundation of shared values, the organization will not be a lasting success.

Efforts to progress should be positively directed forward, not looking backward, except in an effort to gain perspective. Even then, our look in the rear-view mirror should be brief. If we stare at the rear-view long enough, we are bound to crash into what is in front of us. 

  • firefighter zero

    I read these kind of posts quite often. We are banging our heads against the wall trying to find out how to get people to get more involved with the dept. Take pride in the station and trucks and do the job the community is paying taxes for. They all seem to cherry pick calls, if they show up at all, leave early from trainings, scream about there social life and sleep needs, and basically cause trouble. the dept. is split right down the middle in terms of numbers. Some respond to 65-75% of the calls and some respond to 1-5% of the calls. When the top responders start dragging a@@ and ask the other guys to help out, the five per centers get red in the face and say that they have a puppy to take care of or a busy social life. We are out of ideas. Sorry for venting at you, I am sure there is not a magic bullet for commitment.

    • http://firehousezen.com/ Mick Mayers

      I hear you. Unfortunately this is a common situation these days. There are so many competing interests that doing this one, which has a lot of requirements in order to stay proficient, much less than trying to excel, this one is a struggle sometimes. To me, it is a question of how do we inject our own personal passion into the job. When we have passion for doing something, it is infectious, that is, if the people around you aren’t so far gone that they can’t be brought back around. Sounds like it is time to decide if those “five percenters” really contribute to the bottom line and if they are sucking the life out of you, cut them off. That said, sometimes it is best to take the five percent they give you and be thankful you got even that much. But it definitely sounds like you have a challenge ahead of you. Good luck.

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Michael "Mick" Mayers

Deputy Fire Chief - Operations Division for Hilton Head Island (SC) Fire Rescue and an Emergency Response Coordinator with the United States Department of Health and Human Services  National Disaster Medical System Incident Response Coordination Team.

FE Talk: Humpday Hangout

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