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Top Ten Things Things That Build Cohesiveness in your Firehouse

Ah yes, another “Top Ten List”. It has been a while. As with most of these Top Ten Lists, you the reader often have ideas that might fit into the list that I leave out. I challenge you to comment with something(s) that I might have left out! I might be biased in that I am an informal leader…I act when the Captain is off and run interference when I can. I would much rather nip something in the ass before the BC finds out about it…or before the Captain has to be a Captain!

Thanks to the guys who sent in their photos in short order on the Fire Critic Facebook Page…If you aren’t a fan yet do it now!

So what if I ranked them 10-1…it doesn’t really matter, they all work for the greater good!

10. Laugh together
Share a joke! Keep it Clean! If you see something funny or hear something funny be sure to let everyone in on it! I love seeing people laugh. Whether it is because something I said or at my expense I love it. I think laughter is the best medicine. Everyone deserves a laugh!

St. Louis Rescue 2 as sent in from Bruce J. Stelmach on The Fire Critic Facebook Page

9. Understand Each Other
Not every firefighter is born of the same cloth. Some of us were made for this shit…others are looking for a paycheck. Did you ever stop to think that maybe you could rub off on the “other” guy? Likewise, not all of us grew up in the same neighborhoods or live in the same now. You have to learn about each other and understand where they are coming from. You have to appreciate the differences and learn from their lives as they learn from yours

8. Stick up for One Another
Rumors in the Fire Department? Never! Actually, some might be surprised how often other companies are talking about each other. The next time you hear someone talking about a member of your crew stick up for them…or if it is true, get to the bottom of it and let your guy/gal know the things are being said so they can better themselves.

7. Share Your Experiences
You have fought fire, they have fought fire…sit down in the war room and talk about the worst fires, the best fires, the lessons learned, how you might do things differently on a call you were on. Trust me, they will learn and you will learn. Don’t just talk…listen! You aren’t the baddest mutha out there!

Big Jim (in the middle) is named after one of our firefighters who was killed on the job in 1999, Jim Clark. Kiddos of all ages love him! This is Ladder 2, B-Shift from Midwest City, OK.

Big Jim (in the middle) is named after one of our firefighters who was killed on the job in 1999, Jim Clark. Kiddos of all ages love him! This is Ladder 2, B-Shift from Midwest City, OK. Submitted via The Fire Critic Facebook Page

6. Treat Each Other Like Family
Some guys/gals have a hard time adjusting to firehouse life. Give them a hand and treat them as you would want to be treated. Sure, you can pull pranks on them…but be sure it is in a little brother/sister kinda way. You aren’t out there to kill the rookie, just let him know you have the upper hand…and be sure to treat them like family!

5. Counsel and Console
If you see an issue, problem, or shortcoming then nip it in the ass. Don’t let it escalate. Get to it before it gets to the Captain and try to counsel your coworker/teammate. Listen and understand the issue and then offer your thoughts. Console your brother and sister firefighters if needed. We don’t always get a day away from work when shit gets bad. Take a minute to listen to your brother/sister firefighters. I am all for checking out the apparatus, but if someone needs to vent then listen!

Lt. Brian Dalrymple, Wayne Tyler, Rodney Spruill, Rick Nunnally, Mark Owens, and Danny Owens RFD (Richmond, VA) Rescue Company 2 "A" shift as submitted by Danny Owens on The Fire Critic Facebook Page

4. Paint the Tools Together
Nothing says company pride and ownership than keeping the tools ready for use and looking pretty! Do it together. Share the load and have everyone chip in. Who cares if you catch a fire the night after you paint the axe, you will look good using it. You might be surprised by what is talked about while men/women stand around sanding, painting, taping, and looking at a freshly maintained axe!

3. Hang Out Together
How often do you get a chance to drink a beer with the guys/gals you work with. Invite their families. After all, your wives, husbands, girlfriends, children rarely get to meet each other. They hear about your family at work enough…let them meet each other and hang out. Have a cookout at your house and invite the whole crew. Take everyone out for a picnic, bowling, local event, etc. Give them a turn to meet each others families outside of the firehouse.

2. Train Together
I admit, my company might not train as much as we should. I could offer you many excuses…We try, but it doesn’t always work out. Try giving each member of the company something to train on each month. This builds teamwork and bonds. Each member has something to offer. Plus…as I have always said that you will learn more by teaching than by sitting in a class. Put your firefighters to task and have them teach you something. I guarantee you will learn something.

1. Eat Together
This can be easier said than done. Some guys are picky eaters. Some like to piss of the cook. Whatever it is, try to do your best to offer a menu day-to-day that all the guys/gals will like. Breaking bread together can cultivate unity and cohesiveness within the firehouse. Some might think this is not a big deal…try working in a firehouse where the kitchen is broke up…or have that one guy/gal who doesn’t eat with everyone else. It can do much more harm than you might realize. Even in the worst case scenario that you CANNOT eat what everyone else eats…at the very least eat at the same time and at the same table as them. You might be surprised at how the World’s problems are solved at the kitchen table!

So there it is, the Top Ten Things You Can Do To Create Cohesiveness in your Firehouse. What do you think is missing? What would you add/delete. Do you think there is merit to what is written…or do you think The Fire Critic is full of it?

Comments - Add Yours

  • Dave Statter

    Full of it. But it has nothing to do with this column.

    • Fire Critic

      Bright and early…

  • Michael P O’Neill

    Good job Rhett.

    • Fire Critic


  • Mgrunsell

    Its great to see we all have the same loves, the same dislikes, we are Firies, we r brave yet dont regard ourselves as heros, we watch our brothers backs, we can argue with each other but defend our brothers whole heartidly then have a laugh at the end of the day, we r tarred with the same brush, its what makes us who we r, at the begining of shift to the end of the day no matter what the day brings, Our communities regard us with high esteme, and we respond accordingly, differences aside, We r all brothers! Long live Firies all around the world! from 402 stn New South Wales Australia

    • Fire Critic

      That is certainly the right attitude to have! Thanks for the comment!

  • Mykewebster

    “Did you ever stop to think that maybe you could rub off on the “other” guy?”. No I did not but I will definitely try it next shift. All kidding aside, I could add more and keep in mind that sometimes there are people who just don’t want to get along. Nice article though I do like and will share.

    • Fire Critic

      I wrote that part while gritting my teeth. We have a guy I (we) want to get rid of. He is the I in Team…it isn’t beneficial. I cannot wait to replace him with someone who wants to be there and fits in. He crosses the grain of almost everything on the list! It is an optimistic article and has some merit, but this isn’t a perfect world!

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  • Laurentiu Barbu-Maximilian

    are popieri officer in Romania. Hi all savers in the world and I wish you health and luck!

  • Chrisw37

    The questions always arise why is morale low, why doesn’t this feel like a firehouse, how come it doesn’t seem like people care, etc.. Here are some hints to life in the firehouse and how to build a team. So which ones do you embrace or promote? Collectively do you strive for unity or have your own agendas? Do you work well as a team or do you undermine the group? You may have or be the A,B or C team working today but the question is are you a TEAM. Are you able to conquer any challenge given to you or do you act like the old vibrating football game and everybody does their own thing or goes their own way. Look at the men siting across the table from you. Do they buy into the mentality of firehouse life or do they view it as a place where others will pick up their slack? Do they make the bell their priority or do they just do enough? The team as a whole needs to fire on all cylinders to make the motions smooth and meaningful. Again what do you and your crew do on this list to make that happen.

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