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How Do You Affect Your Department?


By John Morse

It takes a special person to fit in at the fire station.  There is a wide variety of personalities and if you aren’t flexible you might find things little uncomfortable.  There are some people that are a pleasure to work with and there are some that are just a pain in the butt. You will find people that are a pleasure to work with and some that you wish had called in sick.  The real question though, is which one of those people are you?

One of the best ways to find out how someone stands with the members of the department is how people react when there is someone working an extra shift.  It is acceptable with approval to work a “swap” or shift exchange so that you can get a different day off to meet some outside obligation.  You work a shift for someone else and then they work your shift.

Another way to get a different person on the shift is when someone has called in sick and another firefighter works an extra shift.  When you swap with someone that is a not fun to work with, you will hear it from the rest of the people on shift.  There is even a standing rule that if you swap with a certain person, you are required to buy ice cream to make up for the shift having to put up with that guy.  This is the guy (or girl) that has very little confidence in their firefighting skills, and always has an excuse when they make a mistake.

On the other hand, there are people that are a welcome addition to the shift.  That would be the guy that brings a smile and contributes in a positive way.  Maybe this guy has a little kitchen talent or maybe he has a good sense of humor.  When it comes time to put out a fire, this guy knows what to do, stays calm, and just does his (or her) part.

When the right person is added to the shift, you can feel the positive energy as soon as you know who is working.  When the wrong person is added to the shift, it is like a big storm cloud hanging over you for the whole day.  When your regular shift has a couple storm clouds, a 24 hour shift can feel like an eternity.

So when it is your turn to work another shift, are they glad to see you or are you the storm cloud?  You may not know what they think of you and there are a lot of people that really don’t care.  If you are the one that doesn’t care, have a nice day and don’t bother reading any further.

It all comes down to one simple question.  “Does your presence bring up the department?”  Bringing the department up or down is an everyday thing, but it is more noticeable to a shift when someone new is added.  Take a few minutes, stop everything and really think about how you affect the shift.  If you are the one they dread working with, maybe you want to try and change that.  If you bring some positive energy, good for you.  So, which one are you?

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