The Fire Officer and Personnel Issues
As a fire officer in the fire service you will be faced with many challenges operationally and administratively each and every day you come to work. Some of the most challenging situations do not just come from managing emergency incidents but from having to address personnel issues with your peers. The true question is when do you address the employee issue immediately or leave it alone. The type of issue and/or who it involves and affects will play a key role in properly handling the employee personnel problem.
The most unique factor when dealing with personnel issues in the fire service is we live with and work with each other for extended periods of time. Even after an employee personnel issue has been resolved; the fire officer must act and perform professionally with the personnel that may have just been involved in any one of the levels of the discipline process. This may lead to some fire officers not wanting to address an issue or complaint with an employee. The issue needing to be addressed may result from performance and/or behavior that may need improvement. Most people do not like confrontation which sometimes leads to the fire officer not engaging in properly addressing or fixing the problem. The lack of addressing a situation can be very destructive among the immediate crew and with other members in your department.
As a fire officer, when you accepted the badge you also accepted the responsibilities of the position and being a leader. Being a leader is dealing with employee personnel issue(s) when the issue first arises. These personnel issues should not be discarded. This would allow the employee issue to potentially become worse with time or thinking the problem will go away. As it may be uncomfortable to sit down and counsel and/or implement discipline with an employee, this is part of being a leader in the supervisory role. You do a disservice to yourself as the supervisor and to the employee by ignoring the problem. As with the case, many of the times your peers around you are watching to see what you are going to do. Step up and be the leader in the fire house and do not be afraid to objectively address and handle any employee personnel issue that arises. Our goal as a fire officer is to ultimately change an employees behavior and return the employee to a productive contributing member of the fire service. In the end, you will gain the respect from your peers and know inside that you are upholding the expectations of your department and the fire service for your position as a fire officer.