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With His Feet Missing His Motivation Returned: Are You in the Same Boat? Is It Time for a Gut Check?

Blog by Richard Blackmon
Captain, Fulton County Fire Rescue Department (Ga.)

I want to share a personal experience you may understand all too well. Recently, when I stepped out of the shower, I looked down and didn’t see my feet. You can imagine my horror. I began to panic, where did they go?

I started to look in the shower to see if they might have fallen off, but was scared to move in case I fell over. Standing there flustered and alarmed, I took a deep breath and slowly bent down to search for my missing feet. It only took a second to realize I did in fact still have feet, they were just hidden by my increasingly over-sized stomach.

What is the point of this you might ask? Well, I had become overweight and at that moment, I decided it was finally time to do something about it.

I am turning 51 years old this year and things need to change. With that in mind, I put a plan in place. I have had a treadmill for years and it has had many roles in my household, most notably, a holding area for my clothes and a storage area for my belongings. But I decided it was time to make that treadmill my best friend. After all, it just might be what saves my life.

My wife and I removed some of the clutter the treadmill was collecting, cleaned the dust away and plugged it in. I didn’t expect it to work, but after a few seconds it came back to life and I jumped on. It was tough at first, but you know what, it’s starting to get easier now.

Motivated with a goal in mind, I’m now ready for my next challenge: lifting weights. I’ve started working out on a daily basis and am walking two miles per day. It’s only been a few short weeks, but I already feel better.

I thought, as long as I am doing all of this exercising, eating better, etc., I might as well go all the way. I decided to make an appointment for my yearly physical.

Those of us serving as emergency responders have a demanding, stressful and important job. But if you look at the statistics, most firefighters don’t die in a burning building or at the scene of a natural disaster. They die from a heart attack. It’s time to take health and wellness safety for firefighters seriously.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be around for a long, long time. I want to continue my career and carry on helping the people of my community. I want to see my grandkids one day.

If you read this far, you may be like me. I hope you’ll take the time to do a self-analysis of your physical well-being. If you need to make some changes, there is no better time than now.

Be safe. Be healthy.

About the Author
Richard Blackmon is a captain with the Fulton County Fire Rescue Department in Fulton County, Georgia. He has worked in the fire service for more than 15 years and is a training officer for his department. He is an adjunct instructor with the Georgia Public Safety Training Center and the Department of Homeland Security as a terrorism awareness instructor. He retired from the US Air Force as a master sergeant and saw combat in Grenada, Panama and the first Gulf War.

Advice for Leaders in the Fire Service: Communicate with Your Rookies

Blog by Jacob Johnson
Lieutenant with Pearland Fire Department (Texas)

What’s the best way to handle a rookie who really isn’t a rookie? You know, someone who left another department and has arrived at your doorstep. These newcomers are rookies in your department and need to learn your department’s culture, but they are still skilled with some experience in the field.

How should we as officers handle these situations?

These individuals are a little different than the regular everyday rookie just off the street. These people require a certain kind of treatment that other trainees don’t. I have with this situation several times now. A rookie recently came to our department with four years of experience. He was starting to learn the Driver/Operator position at his previous department. Here is how I handled his assimilation, and though it may not be perfect, it seems to be working nicely:

First, I sat the rookie down on his first shift and explained my expectations. I wanted to make sure he found out what was expected from me, not someone else. Obviously, expectations for somebody with four years of experience are different than someone just out of fire school. Your rookie should be able to test out of basic skills very quickly and be comfortable testing on their first day if called upon. Once they clear all basic skills, then take those abilities and build on them.

Secondly, I explained that because of his previous experience, the rookie treatment would be reduced. That he would be given a little more wiggle-room than a typical rookie. I wanted to make sure he understood, however, if he ever slacked up, he was most definitely going to hear about it. Even with previous experience, newcomers need to have necessary expectations, duties and goals that all rookies need to live up to.

I have had this conversation with several newcomers to my crew and have seen tremendous results. By communicating effectively, the newcomers feel respect, while being made completely aware of what a new employee is expected to deliver.

The most important thing for just about any rookie, in just about every profession, is to be accepted by the crew. This is especially true in our line of work. Firefighters are known to eat their young and as officers we allow it because we believe it will pay dividends and make that one-time rookie into a seasoned professional. Very seldom do officers really need to get involved, anyway. Usually your crew will handle the rookie well before you need to. Just make sure they do it in the right way.

Treating a newcomer with some experience like he’s completely uninformed will cause them to shut down. We need to respect their experience. And the best way to receive respect is to give respect. It’s also equally important for rookies to respect the men and women who came before them. Communication is the key.

About the Author
Jacob Johnson is a lieutenant with the Pearland Fire Department in Texas. He has been in the fire service for more than 10 years.

The Ultimate Test of Leadership

Blog by Bill Sturgeon
Retired Division Chief of Training for Orange County Fire Rescue Department in Florida

At the age of 38, Scott Waddle was selected to become the commanding officer of USS Greeneville, an improved Los Angeles Class Fast Attack submarine stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Commander Waddle was selected from a highly competitive field of specially trained and exceptionally skilled naval officers. On board his new submarine, the challenges Waddle faced were staggering. Extremely low morale and an unacceptable turnover rate were two of the most pressing issues.

Few thought his ship could improve, but Waddle only became more resolved to prove the critics wrong. The solution was a system of beliefs that Waddle calls Deck Plate Leadership. Its a process of replacing command and control with commitment and cohesion by engaging the hearts, minds and loyalties of workers. By every measure, Waddles principles led to breakthrough results. Personnel turnover decreased to an unprecedented three percent. The rate of military promotions tripled and operating expenses were slashed by 25 percent. As a result, the USS Greeneville became regarded as the finest boat in the Pacific Fleet.

The ultimate test for Waddle and his shipmates followed a tragic accident when the Greeneville —  while at sea for a distinguished visitors day cruise — performed an emergency surface maneuver and collided with the Japanese fishing training vessel Ehime Maru, sinking the vessel in three minutes and killing nine aboard.

The story of the collision made global headlines and was the subject of heated discussion and debate. What followed, however, was even more unprecedented. Waddle, as the former commanding officer, took sole responsibility for his and his crews’ actions. He took the stand during the Navy’s Court of Inquiry and testified without immunity knowing his words could be used against him in a court martial. In a time when corporate executives have been quick to blame others within their organizations for their failures, Waddle demonstrated an uncommon strength of character, integrity and uncompromising ethical conduct by accepting responsibility for himself and the actions of his crew.

In the aftermath of the ordeal, Waddle shows us failure is not final and tells us there are no failures in life only mistakes, and from these mistakes, lessons.

What is deck plate leadership?

Let us start with a working definition of leadership.

Leadership is spoken of in various contexts. Sometimes it’s meant to describe the person in a position of authority and other times it is describing an ability to influence. Either way, a good definition of leadership would be to inspire a group of people to work together as a team and accomplish the impossible.

This is exactly what you are being asked to do every day as a fire officer. Our basic mission is to make a very bad day for someone better. But what are the characteristics of a good leader? Here are 20 characteristics of a leader:

1. Confident, but humble.

2. Demands excellence from himself and his crew.

3. Firm, but can relax and have fun doing the job.

4. Calm under pressure. Maintains focus.

5. Executes The 5 Best Principles. Be Positive. Be Specific. Be Consistent. Be Certain. Be Immediate.

6. Gives credit to teammates publicly.

7. Does not blame teammates or points fingers.

8. Knows the mission and the strengths and weakness of personnel and allows them to apply their skills.

9. Involves the entire team.

10. Sacrifices personal glory for the good of the crew.

11. Accepts that no one is perfect and that we all make mistakes. But also recognizes when a mistake has been made and learns from it.

12. Visible for everyone to see.

13. Leads by example, from the front.

14. Displays the values of honor, courage, and commitment.

15. Multi-tasks effectively.

16. Manages time efficiently.

17. Has excellent instincts and vision.

18. Makes sound, educated decisions and only takes calculated risks.

19. Vocal and points out where things aren’t happening correctly, but is not openly negative or pessimistic.

20. Inspires the crew to accomplish the impossible.

If you do not possess all of these attributes do not fret. They are all obtainable with a willingness to learn and a willingness to change. Let me sum up what Waddle would say your action plan should be every shift:

1. Get up, out of the chair!

2. Get down, on the floor to see whats going on!

3. Get dirty, do the job!

By applying lessons learned and developing your attributes as a leader, you will soon develop deck plate leadership.

Understanding Crew Resource Management

Blog by Brian Ward
Officer with Gwinnett County Fire Department in Georgia

The International Association of Fire Chiefs describes Crew Resource Management (CRM) as the effective management of all available resources to mitigate a situation while minimizing errors, improving safety and increasing performance. Five factors have been identified as major components in dealing with accidents. These same five factors make up the core of CRM. They include situational awareness, communication, decision making skills, teamwork, and safety barriers.

Situational Awareness
The first and arguably the most important component is situational awareness. Everything on an emergency incident functions and revolves around situational awareness, including our decision making on the fireground. Situational awareness is commonly referred to as the Big Picture. It also encompasses more than just the Big Picture.

In Gary Klein and Caroline E. Zsamboks Naturalistic Decision Making, situational awareness is broken down into three levels:

Level 1: Perception of the Elements in the Environment

Level 2: Comprehension of the Situation

Level 3: Projection of Future Status

For the fire service this translates to how we perceive incidents, being able to understand incidents and how factors are interrelated in accomplishing our goals and forecasting future factors of an incident.

Communication
If situational awareness is not the most important key to handling an incident, then it most certainly is communication. Without effective communication, nothing will be accomplished. The IAFC describes communication as the cornerstone of CRM. There are six keys areas to communication: sender, receiver, message, medium, filters and feedback. Its best to use face-to-face communication when possible, but radio is the only option most of the time. Regardless of the method, the six key areas must be understood and used in order for communication to work and the job to be completed. Within these six key areas there are several other items that need to be addressed. The first is simply being clear and concise. Say what you mean and give enough detail, but don’t overload the individuals working memory space.

Below is a prime example from Gary Klein’s Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions on how even great leaders can make a communication mistake:

During World War II, Winston Churchill gave the order to not engage with warships that were larger and that could destroy their individual ships. What he meant was do not try and take on ships larger than theirs and lose. Consequently, one of his admirals had surrounded an enemy warship but let it go because it was larger and he did not want any trouble with his superiors. This was not the intent of Churchill’s letter to the admiral, but because of unclear communication, it happened. That same warship went on to destroy some of Britain’s ships, playing a significant role against the British during the war.

Decision Making
Situational awareness is vital to how we make decisions. One recent study examining military fighter pilots showed their decisions were directly based on how they perceived situations. They may have made the right call for their perception of the incident, but they didn’t perceive the situation correctly, so they failed.

In essence, having a strong background in situational awareness can help us make decisions within our limited scope of time. In conjunction with situational awareness, our incident commanders need accurate information relayed back to them to establish strategies and tactics. Once this has occurred, the leader can make a sound decision that will have a positive outcome on the incident.

In recent studies in the field of Naturalistic Decision Making, making decisions in a natural setting (real-life environment) has brought forward several considerations for training to be designed around, including mental simulation, pattern matching, story building and the power of intuition.

Each of these plays a part in how our brain relates to what is in front of us and how we make decisions. Nothing can replace on-scene experience, but that is not always something we can control. With this information, we have found the need for more training.

Using scenario-based or tactical decision games is a great way for a firefighter to begin to build patterns and stories of how to operate at an incident, without actually being on scene to learn. Mental simulation and intuition will only come once we show a complete understanding of how one factor relates to the next even when it’s not directly in front of us.

Teamwork
How often do we actually train or perform as a team? How often do we actually examine what we do as a team that makes us function effectively or fail? As firefighters we train constantly to function as part of a team; however, do we always carry that to the field?

When a team has worked together and has bonded, it functions smoothly. One key in reaching this goal is communicating suggestions and concerns to other team members. Mutual respect among team members is essential for it to excel.

Barriers or Safety Nets
Barriers or safety nets are put in place so that when we make a mistake, something is there to catch us. No matter who we are, how much training or education we have received, how much experience we’ve gained, or how many awards we have garnered, at some point we are going to make a mistake. The key is to understand our weaknesses and to avoid repeating the same mistake.

Barriers can come in the many different forms. Some of the obvious ones are SOPs/SOGs, effective training, core competency books, updated equipment and increased use of technology. Other barriers could include establishing Incident Safety Officers on all scenes, establishing RIC teams with proper resources and staffing, providing acting and company officers training, and offering drivers training programs.

One other area that can be of great benefit is the use of checklists and worksheets to help the officers on scene such as Incident Commander, Safety Officer, Rehab Group Supervisor and RIC Group Team Leader. Checklists can help remind the officers of the tasks to be completed, benchmarks, safety concerns and crew locations. However, with all great things there are downfalls.

We still have not found a way to checklist or talk a fire out. It’s important to remember that the checklist is only as effective as the expertise of the individual using it. We must still train and educate the same as before and still allow officers the discretion to change the plan of the checklist as they see fit. Each of these key areas has a place in every fire stations training schedule. The ability to understand how to correlate and implement these components into our training will translate to increased efficiency and safety on the fire ground.

About the Author
Brian Ward is an engineer/acting officer with Gwinnett County Fire Department in Georgia. He is a past training officer, chairman of the Metro Atlanta Training Officers and currently serves on the Honeywell Advisory Council. He is a State of Georgia Advocate for Everyone Goes Home and the Membership Task Force Co-Chair and Live Fire Instructor for ISFSI. Brian was recently awarded the National Seal of Excellence from the NFFF/EGH.

Is It Time to Arm Our EMTs

Story by Tim Holman
Chief, German Township Fire & EMS

According to the department of labor, 52 percent of EMTs in the field have been assaulted. This statistic is even more alarming when we see the increase of ambushes on first responders. In recent years we have seen EMTs shot and killed while trying to perform emergency care. These incidents are increasing each year.

Due to media bias toward guns, the idea of arming EMTs for self-defense and protection will receive much scrutiny. But times are changing and civil unrest is increasing. More people are becoming desperate and more people resent figures of authority.

Some argue we should just wait for law enforcement to clear the scene before entering. Unfortunately law enforcement is experiencing staffing issues just like others in public safety. How will waiting 30 or 40 minutes to enter a home to treat a patient stand up in court? Many systems, when dispatched to a drug overdose, rely on law enforcement to clear the scene before entering. This is a wise and proactive approach for keeping our EMTs safe. But suppose you are called to such a scene and the patient is not breathing. You stage your unit away from the scene and wait for your local police. Unfortunately all their units are tied up and the ETA is 20 to 30 minutes. You wait and the patient dies. The family sues you because you made no attempt to determine if the scene was safe. They argue the patient was unresponsive and of no danger to anyone. Do you really think that a jury would rule in the favor of the EMS?

What about routine calls that deteriorate into violent situations? Retreat? And what if you do not have time? Is that just the risk associated with the job? No, that is unacceptable. Our constitution states we have a right to bear arms for personal protection. That right should not end just because you are now at work.

Some may argue there are many EMTs who should not be allowed to carry a gun. The same can be said about some law enforcement officials I know. No one can convince me we cannot train EMTs in tactical skills. We teach them to start IVs, intubate, deliver medications, and many other difficult tasks.

Why can’t we train them to carry a gun for protection? Not to arrest people. Not to be a cop, but to be able to enter a scene and clear it for safety.

In 2009 the FBI estimates that more than 2 million crimes were stopped by law-abiding citizens with concealed handguns. Of these it is estimated that fewer than 100 shots were fired.

Before arming EMTs they must be trained in tactical techniques in clearing a scene, carrying a gun in deep concealment, de-escalating a violent encounter and various other skills. And yes some may not be allowed to carry if they cannot qualify appropriately. At the very least we should consider arming at least on individual on each EMS crew.

There are some negative consequences in arming EMTs. Our image may change. Some people think guns are evil. Public education would be needed to combat this. Some advocate using deep concealment and not publicizing that EMTs are armed. Another drawback may be the liability insurance. Training and qualifying may help reduce this challenge.

By the way, if you are still thinking this is a crazy concept, consider several cities have already passed ordinances to allow EMTs to carry handguns while on duty. Another city in the west has made it policy that no EMS crew leaves the station without someone on the crew being armed. This policy originated after several of their female crews were dispatched on false calls to lure them into homes.

Most people will have very strong feelings about this concept. Talk about it. Think about it. Consider other options. But we must stop the senseless killings of EMTs trying to serve their communities.

About the Author
Tim Holman is a seminar speaker who has conducted programs throughout the United States. Holman speaks and trains on a variety of business, fire and EMS management and leadership issues. Holman specializes in providing fire and EMS officer development programs. Holman was the Fire Chief magazine “Fire Chief of the Year” for 2002.

How to Motivate Your People More Effectively

Conventional wisdom says there are two ways to motivate employees. The carrot and the stick. But the truth is there is a third way, a better way. By showering employees with respect and appreciation, you can earn their loyalty and greater productivity.

Blog by Peter Dove
President of the Shared Values Association

Much has been written about how to motivate people. Some people think there is some type of magic that if they could only access, they could zap a new power into people.

Sorry, but no.

There are various kinds of motivation. Coercive motivation for example can be quite effective. Do you remember this quote?

“You can make a horse sit up and deal cards, it’s just a matter of voltage.”

Col. Nathan Jessep, played by Jack Nicholson in ‘A Few Good Men’

Later in the movie, Jessep famously exclaimed, “you can’t handle the truth!”

The truth is this: People are only motivated by what they value. Yes, that might be money, or saving their skin, but people remain motivated exclusively by what they value.

You can coerce people into doing what you want. Threats, punishment, and the rest of the stick methods are often used. Restrictive motivation is another stick method and somewhat of a cousin to coercive motivation. You can restrict liberty, freedom, access to information, things, people, or opportunity, as punishment unless people do what is demanded.

On the more positive side, one can motivate by way of incentive or quid pro quo, which is “do this and I’ll give you that.” It really is sort of based on a bribe paradigm and the carrot-end of the carrot vs. the stick approach.

Offering a carrot or brandishing a stick will indeed get people to do things, but it is something difficult to sustain; and as Alfie Kohn demonstrates in his book “Punished by Rewards,” it does not work very well. People resist the stick and carrots become carrot cake, then steak and carrots. Entitlement sets in and people expect steak, carrots, peas, potatoes and fine wine! And yes, fine wine gets expensive.

But there is a better way, a third way. You can work to understand your people’s motives and align your behavior in a way to deliver what they want. This is sustainable. Again, people are only motivated by what they value.

The typical manager thinks they have only two kinds of power (carrot and stick) available to them. But the carrot and the stick are accessible because of their position. Do this or that because I’m the boss and I have a certain amount of authority over you, they say. A good example is automobile dealerships, which use coercive, restrictive and incentive methods to persuade sales people to sell cars. This does not make these dealers good or bad, it just makes them typical of how business is done.

What Is Referent Power?

Referent power is based on a third idea and the greatest of things: Love. I will do for you, not because I feel a threat, either explicit or implied. I will not do for you because of some reward. I behave, work at my best and carry a certain winning attitude because I respect and want to serve you. I do what I do because I want you, my boss to be proud of me. I execute my duties with care because I like the people I work with and want to contribute and not let them down. I behave as I do because what we do together has meaning.

Can you see how referent power is the most powerful? The trick of course is how to deliberately create this values-based referent power in your workplace. There is not enough space here to describe all that goes into building a shared-values work environment, however, here are three things you can do now.

1. Make it safe: Create a workplace where it is safe to tell the boss and co-workers the uncompromising truth, without fear of repercussion.

2. Give credit where credit is due: This is the easiest thing to do and you can start now. Most people are not told they are appreciated and why they are appreciated.

3. Make expectations clear: Unclear expectations are enormously de-motivating. Tell your people what is expected, by when, what a finished job looks like, what the failure and success paths are, what the resources are and then coach them on their way.

There are a number of other values that must be shared in the workplace in order to arrive at a credible referent power base – or what we call a Heroic Environment. But focusing on these first three steps can accomplish much. I wish you all the best on your journey.

About the Author
Peter Dove is a management consultant with a background in corporate culture design. He serves as the president of Shared Values Associates, Inc. In this position, he travels the U.S. speaking to groups on the importance of shared values in the workplace.

Personal Protective Equipment: Back to the Basics

Blog by Brian Ward
Chief of Emergency Operations, Training Director for Georgia Pacific

How much do you know about your Personal Protective Equipment, specifically, your bunker gear? How well can you perform your job duties wearing the gear you have?

Understanding the basics of PPE and training in our gear are some key principles that will help us stay safe. The more information we know about how gear is properly put together, the safer we will be.

Several topics should be discussed when considering different types of gear. What may be good for one department in the northern part of the country may not be suitable for another department in the southern part or on the coast. It is important to point out that each of these topics is not mutually exclusive they all have an impact on each other:

>> Total Heat Loss is basically the breathability of gear. The higher the numerics, the better the firefighter’s body heat will dissipate. This could lead to cooling the core temperature of a firefighter and preventing such situations as heat stroke and over-exertion. According to NFPA 1971, a minimum of 205 watts per square meter must be met.

>> Thermal Protective Performance (TPP) represents how much conductive and radiant heat the gear will shield from a firefighter through all layers of the ensemble. At first thought, the higher the TPP rating, the better off a firefighter would be, however, this is not only false but also dangerous. As the TPP rating is increased, firefighters might be inclined to proceed further and envelop themselves in elevated temperatures where they should not be. In addition, the higher the TPP rating the lower the THL will be. It’s a trade-off.

>> CCHR was incorporated into the testing procedure as a method of examining the shoulder and knee areas of our PPE. This test is conducted with wet and dry gear at a starting temperature of 536 degrees, as a method of comparing the insulation provided by the PPE when it comes in contact with hot surfaces. According to NFPA 1971, it should take 25 seconds for the temperature of the opposite side of the gear to rise 43 degrees.

As you review gear, look at surrounding departments and examine the specifications they are using. Remember, there is no one perfect set of gear for every department. Choose the gear with the right combination for your department. In addition, no matter what gear you have, understand how it operates and know its limitations. Anyone can tie a knot, but can everyone tie a knot with gloves on, and correctly?

The only way to know these limits is to train and train often in a multitude of situations. Training for familiarization and in realistic environments will assist in developing these necessary skills.

Try this drill: Have a firefighter bunker out (pants and boots only) and blackout their SCBA mask. Take the remaining parts and spread them throughout the station in areas where they could obtain them by performing a primary search of the structure. Place the items so that the firefighters have to build their ensemble as they complete the search. This drill is simple, non-hazardous, and will assist in familiarization with their equipment. In the end the firefighter should be breathing air and dressed as if they were entering a burning building. Make sure that the gloves are the first item they come to and that everything is completed without the removal of their mask.

Train hard, take care and be safe.

About the Author
Brian Ward is chief of emergency operations and training director for Georgia Pacific in Madison (Ga.). He is a past training officer for Gwinnett County (Ga.), chairman of the Metro Atlanta Training Officers and currently serves on the Honeywell Advisory Council.

Dedication and Commitment: The Guts to Do More

Blog by Doug Cline
International Society of Fire Service Instructors, Vice President

As fire service instructors, we have a duty to provide the highest quality of service and instruction. We need to be our students’ inspiration, pushing them to strive for excellence.

But there’s a question we need to answer: Are we, ourselves, dedicated and committed enough?

Instructors need to stop and look in the mirror. The future of the fire service rests on our shoulders. That’s why it’s imperative that organizations, leaders and instructors take a hard look at how training is being delivered.

There are numerous ways to do this. Reaction questionnaires can be given to students. Subject-matter experts or senior trainers can audit training sessions. Test scores can be analyzed. Other instructors can perform peer assessments. These are just some of the methods.

The optimum time to evaluate the work of an instructor is while they are actually in the process of delivering a training session. Observation is recommended. However, observation is only effective if it is driven by standards that are objective, comprehensive, reliable and accurate.

Follow these steps to evaluate the delivery of training:

Step 1: Identify and define the objectives of the evaluation and determine how this process will work. Determine why the evaluation is being conducted. One reason may be to provide feedback on an instructor or a specific delivery issue. It also may be to evaluate the overall competence of an instructor.

Step 2: Consider how the information will be summarized and to whom it will be reported. Evaluation data can serve many purposes and can be interpreted different ways. It’s important that clear decisions define why, when and from whom data is being collected. It’s also important to evaluate what information is collected and its relation to the original objectives, which caused the need for the evaluation.

Step 3: Identify and define the specific competencies and performances to be measured. First, you must determine which competencies will serve as the basis of the evaluation. Typically, a detailed evaluation involves no more than three competencies where a more general evaluation may evaluate multiple competencies. Secondly, the objectives of the evaluation must be clearly specified. This is so the evaluator and the instructor understand what is being measured.

Step 4: Determine the sources of data. You can obtain evaluation data from a number of different sources. More common methods of data collection are evaluations by evaluators, co-instructors, and peer and self-evaluations. It’s important to remember that evaluators will have varying levels of skill that may influence data.

Step 5: Write the questions. For quality control, questions must be linked to a specific desired outcome for the evaluation. When the questions are written, we can control the specificity or generality of the individual item. These controls are essential to keep the evaluation instrument practical, manageable, reliable and valid.

Step 6: Design the format and layout of the instrument. Evaluation instruments must be written clearly and concisely for what is being measured. The evaluation must contain unambiguous directions for use and feature ordered questions or items to be evaluated. Instruments must be user friendly. This means easy to read and use and enough space for documentation.

Step 7: Pilot-test the instrument and obtain feedback. Prior to using a document for program evaluation, allow it to be pilot-tested. This will allow others to provide feedback on the instruments adequacy and usefulness. This pilot-test helps evaluators determine how well the instrument design and layout meets the objectives you are looking for. It also allows for the evaluation of the instrument to ensure its designed to provide what its intended to do. Since instrument development is time consuming and costly, it’s imperative to evaluate the tool to ensure it will provide the best information possible.

Step 8: Create the final instrument and implement the evaluation. The final instrument must provide the data needed to ensure training achieves its objectives or job performance requirements. Instruments may be used to assess a variety of aspects focused around training. The instrument may be used to assess the instructor’s performance and usefulness of instructional methods, course materials and content.

Effective fire service organizations must recognize their responsibilities to assist in the professional development of their instructors. Fire service instructors must also realize they have areas that need development.

As the leaders of the fire service, instructors need to have the guts to do more. We should be setting a precedent for the future. We start by looking at the man in the mirror.

About the Author
Douglas Cline is a student of the fire service serving as training commander with the City of High Point (N.C.) Fire Department and assistant chief of administration with the Ruffin Volunteer Fire Department. Cline is a North Carolina Level II Fire Instructor, National Fire Academy Instructor and an EMT-Paramedic instructor/coordinator for the North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services. Cline is a member of the North Carolina Society of Fire Service Instructors and the International Society of Fire Service Instructors where he serves on the Board of Directors as The First Vice President.

Learning to Be the Boss in the Fire Service

Blog by Alan Brunacini
Retired Phoenix Fire Chief and Author of “Functional Boss Behaviors”

I’ve studied bosses, and I’ve noticed that the best predictor of behavior in an organization is to look at the way the boss behaves. Often times, however, we lose sight of the fact that the relationships between bosses and workers have a direct impact on the level of service an organization provides.

If you ask anyone who has been a boss in the fire service, they’ll probably tell you a lot of stories about the road rash they experienced trying to get it right.

But I’d be willing to bet a lot of them would say, “I wish someone had told me this.”

After 50 years in the industry, making observations and learning by experience, I’ve put together some notes on what it takes to be a boss in the fire service. These notes, which I turned into my Functional Boss Behaviors book, which is available as a course through TargetSolutions, outline a set of 10 behaviors that effectively support and assist a worker in delivering standard service and added value:

1. Workers Must Take Good Care of Customers: A great deal of our focus is on customers. These are the people who receive services from us. When we are connected to the customer, we should deliver the best possible service to the customer.

2. Bosses Must Take Good Care of Workers: The relationships inside the organization are the launching pad for how we deliver services. The behavior of the boss is the most powerful thing in our everyday environment. If bosses don’t take care of workers, how can we expect the workers to take care of Mrs. Smith?

3. Build Trust or Go Home: Trust is a basic part of any relationship and is what connects the boss to the worker and to Mrs. Smith. Mrs. Smith trusts us because we respond quickly, solve her problem, and we’re nice. The workers trust Boss Smith because he responds quickly, solves the problem, and has a supportive relationship with them. Bosses must foster, develop, and then refine the trust relationship inside the system in order to provide the best service outside the organization.

4. Sweat the Big Stuff: The first priority for every boss is that “everyone goes home.” The routine stuff we do is important and ensures we are ready for the tough stuff; however, the boss’s focus should be on the critical stuff that allows us to deliver service and survive that service.

5. Set the Workers Free: When we become bosses, we gain authority and power that we use to create order, deliver adequate service, and take care of the workers. One of the best things a boss can do with that authority is to empower workers to be independent and self-directed.

6. Play Your Position: Organizations essentially consist of three levels strategic, tactical and task. For the organization to be effective, each level must be independently functional and capable, AND they must be interconnected. The challenge is to knit these three levels together in a way that connects the levels to each other, but points the organization toward the customer.

7. Keep Fixin’ the System: We are always operating within a model of continuous improvement. We follow procedures to deliver service and then constantly critique what worked and what went wrong. That model is necessarily boss driven. Bosses must continually look at SOPs, training, and, most importantly, themselves to improve organizational performance.

8. Create “Loyal Disobedience/Insubordination”: The firefighters the workers have the best set of perceptions, experiences, and connections to Mrs. Smith, and often they have ideas about how to improve service. A willingness to come forward with suggestions and bad news is a mature form of organizational commitment and respect. A good boss is accessible and will help solve the problem.

9. All You Got Is All You Get (Anatomy & Physiology): Every boss has different strengths and weaknesses. A boss’s personal effectiveness is dependent on how the boss uses his very personal skills and capabilities. Small improvements can produce big time results in the boss-worker relationship.

10. Don’t Do Dumb Stuff: This is pretty straight forward, but I bet we could talk all day about the dumb stuff we’ve done or seen others do. Workers can easily identify anything the boss does that is self-serving or stupid, which can be really destructive.

I’ve never figured out how to change somebody’s attitude, but I’ve noticed if you can change someone’s behavior, their attitude will change over time. And I don’t think you do that with leadership. You do that with an online, present, conscious, engaged boss.

About the Author
Retired Phoenix Fire Chief Alan Brunacini is one of the preeminent authors and pioneers of the fire service industry. Chief Brunacini is a 1960 graduate of the Fire Protection Technology program at Oklahoma State University and he earned a degree in political science from Arizona State University in 1970. He graduated from the Urban Executives Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1973 and received a Master of Public Administration degree from Arizona State in 1975.

Boiling Point Avoiding the Hypertensive Fallout

Blog by Todd J. LeDuc
Deputy Chief, Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue (Fla.)

A published study by the Institute of Medicine calls attention to a national epidemic that is particularly threatening to firefighters across the globe untreated hypertension.

With cardiovascular events one of the leading causes of firefighter morbidity and mortality, unrecognized and untreated hypertension and pre-hypertension must be more aggressively diagnosed and confronted.

More than 70 million Americans suffer from hypertension while an additional 50 million more are close behind with pre-hypertension.

Hypertension contributes to nearly one-third of all cardiac events and is the leading cause of stroke and renal failure. According to the International Association of Firefighters website, 75 percent of firefighters with hypertension do not have it controlled.

The United States Fire Administration has reported in a meta-analysis of firefighter line-of-duty reports that the leading cause of fire service deaths is heart attacks, which accounts for 44 percent of all firefighter deaths.

Furthermore, a Harvard study concluded that while only 5 percent of firefighter’s time is actually spent combating fire, they are 100 times more likely to have a heart attack.

This may be attributed to the extremely psychically demanding rigors of the service and environment that firefighters operate within. This, coupled with risk factors such as high blood pressure, obesity, heightened cholesterol levels and a sedentary lifestyle, creates an axis of risk.

Several factors were noted that fire service members should realize. First, only 2 percent of adults receive adequate amounts of potassium. This places a higher propensity to elevated blood pressure levels. A concerted effort must be made to eat foods high in potassium.

The recommended daily intake of potassium is 3,500 milligrams. Excellent sources are fish, fruit (especially bananas, apricots, cantaloupe, and grapefruit), peas, beans, and potatoes, among other foods.

Additionally, compounding the propensity toward high-blood pressure is the over consumption of sodium. In fact, the average adult unknowingly takes in 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day when the daily recommended allowance is 2,300 mg.

This is often a byproduct of processed, canned and prepared food son top of additional table salt added to meals to enhance flavor in preparation or at the dinner table. The study also reviewed contributory factors of excess weight and its effect of hypertension. The researchers concluded that modest reductions of 10 pounds in overweight adults through diet and modest exercise would result in an 8 percent decrease in cases of hypertension.

Of course, the first step in combating hypertension or pre-hypertension is identifying it. This can only be done by routinely monitoring your own blood pressure and sharing the results with your healthcare provider.

The Institute of Medicines findings show we can’t rely on our health care professionals to solve this problem. As the commander of your own ship, it’s imperative you take an aggressive role in managing your blood pressure.

As fire service professionals, your cardiovascular risks are greater than those of the general population and as such your diligence should be greater. Hypertension is not named the silent killer without good reason ignorance is not a panacea for wellness and heath.

Make a pledge to learn your pressure, modify your risk and contributory factors, and embark on a path of prevention. Your proactive imitative can prevent you from reaching a boiling point.

About the Author
Todd J. LeDuc is the deputy chief of department for Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue in Florida. With more than 25 years in the service, he lecturers and publishes frequently on fire service leadership, safety and wellness topics. He has worked extensively with fire departments in more than a dozen states with master and strategic plans, accreditation, department evaluations and consolidation studies.