As most of you likely know, Denis is retired as Deputy U.S. Fire Administrator and Superintendent of the National Fire Academy. He is also retired Chief of Department of the Jersey City (N.J.) Fire Department.
Curt retired from the Providence (R.I.) Fire Department as Deputy Assistant Chief and continues to serve as a volunteer Chief. With 30 years as a practicing attorney, Curt runs www.FireLawBlog.com and is well known for his work on fire service legal issues.
If I bring anything to the table, it’s that in my 49 years as a firefighter (39 as a chief officer), I’ve met some pretty spectacular people who have impacted me very positively. Curt and Denis are without question in that category and both close personal friends. Put the three of us in a room together and we will solve all your problems.
OUR MOST CHALLENGING MEMBERS
As we sat together at the conference, we were talking about particularly challenging firefighters, fire officers and chief officers. Some of these members present minor challenges while others cause you to spend 90% of your time focused on their specific issues. You know those kinds of folks in your fire department – whiners, complainers, yard-breathers, empty suits, hiders, do-littlers, it’s-all-about me-ers. Yep, them.
As we get older, our “files” fill with experiences, our own mistakes, and all the stuff that helps guide and mold us. That file gets even fuller when you meet folks like Denis and Curt. The file also grows as a result of run-ins with the members who appear to be on this job for all the wrong reasons. The good news: There is much to learn from them as well.
Now before you write me, preemptively arguing that it’s not always the rank-and-file firefighter’s fault, let me say this: You are right. Rank doesn’t matter here, nor does agency type – paid, volunteer, whatever. We’re talking about the members or staffers who are constantly in conflict, late, ignoring rules, blaming, complaining – those people who have a seat in the supervisor’s office with their name on it, the people who find themselves always in conflict, those who (be it their intention or not) blame “the issue of the day” on anyone but themselves. These are the members who make it so the “greatest job in the world” isn’t so great when they are around.