As the company officer we have an obligation to ensure that our crew stays safe. Wearing seatbelts, traffic vests, headsets on the apparatus and making sure that our PPE is worn appropriately are all important, no doubt. But, imagine being given a map with no starting point and no idea where you are and being told to get to a destination. It would be almost impossible because we have no starting point, we have no indication of where we are or which direction to even start in.
This is happening to our firefighters everywhere. Company officers are not spending enough time providing a starting point and direction to our new firefighters. For that matter, even to the seasoned guys. What this really boils down to is are we giving our crews, the people that depend on us for leadership and direction all of the information and tools that they need to navigate the dangers that we may face on a daily basis?
Are we creating habits that will create safe and proficient practices on the fireground? Are we stating our expectations and providing solid reasons why so that there is understanding, not just sheep being prodded by a staff? Have we trained and invested in our people to build trust and commitment so that when we are not on duty that day, they still do it right?
These are things to ponder the next time you are contemplating what your going do on the next duty day. Build strong habits by drilling regularly. Build trust by actively listening and communicating effectively your expectations, and stand by them. Cut the path to effective and proficient firefighting by mastering the basics and being engaged in the fire service and practicing our craft. Doing and accomplishing these things will allow you and your crew to know that the little things are being taken care of.
Be well and lead from the front. If you don't have anybody behind you, your doing it wrong!