How Teamwork Makes Fire Departments Stronger

The band of brothers that is formed within a firehouse is hard to recreate anywhere else

The band of brothers that is formed within a firehouse is hard to recreate anywhere else, even within the confines of an actual family. That’s because firefighters put their lives on the line daily, and realize that the only reason they make it out each time, is because of the men and women beside them. And, of course, there are the tragedies – when a fellow firefighter doesn’t live to fight another day. It is during these moments of solemnity that we, as a world, bear witness to the level of camaraderie found within a fire department. Firefighters from across the country, and globe, come to these funerals and memorials, to pay their respect to the fallen hero, in part because it’s their duty, but also because they know that at any given moment, they could be next. It is human nature to protect ourselves, and to avoid danger at all costs. How, then, can firefighters throughout North America, Australia, and New Zealand, cast their human instincts aside for the greater good of humanity? While it has to do – in part – with their selfless heroic nature, it also has to do with their ability to forget that they are one individual, and remember that they are one team – one team focused on one goal.

Establishing teamwork and trust within a firehouse

Whether you live in New Zealand, Australia, or in North America, we all carry the same level of awe and respect toward firefighters. Firefighters save lives, as part of their job, just like a programmer enters code all day. They put their lives in danger, go home, kiss their kids goodnight, and repeat the process again the following day. But the only way that firefighters can successfully fulfill their job is if they each believe in a teamwork mentality. When it comes to firefighters, teamwork saves lives. Fire chiefs and department heads have their work cut out for them, however, when trying to establish the level of trust and teamwork required to make a fire station safe. By nature, firefighters often posses a level of “against-the-grain immortality” belief that often transcends toward authority. True, firefighters will do anything for their brethren; however, they often respond negatively to nagging orders and what’s known as “faceless systems.” Faceless systems are procedures and processes put into place by a faceless authority, someone who doesn’t have boots on the ground nor understands the dangers a firefighter faces daily. How, then, can the leader of a fire station create a safe environment without coming across as faceless or authoritarian? It comes down to connection.

In order to be the leader of a team, you have to be a part of that team.

While fire chiefs and other department heads have other responsibilities on their plates, they are still a part of “the team.” As such, they’ll earn the respect of their subordinates by showing that they’re willing to put their life on the line if duty calls. While other leaders are quick to assign others to various (and often dangerous tasks), it speaks volumes when a fire chief takes on an unexpected role. Take, for example, during a fire emergency. A simple act such as covering for a fellow firefighter, or scouting the scene for hot spots, will tell your crew that your as much a part of the team (good or bad) as they are. But it doesn’t always have to be life-risking behavior. Each of the men and women in the department have certain jobs, including cleaning up the fire station. When was the last time you cleaned the bathrooms or hosed the trucks? If it’s been a while, it’s about time you roll up your sleeves and join the team. This, then makes it easier to do the more administrative part of your job. By earning the respect of your crew, you can then begin to implement the necessary procedures that will encourage the teamwork your firehouse needs.

You can’t do it alone

Once you establish trust by your crew, they’ll be open to your ideas and suggestions. Despite being a good leader, you’re likely not skilled in the art of motivation and team building. No one expects you to be. You’re not expected to know all the answers – you just need to know where to look. When looking to enhance and improve the teamwork of your firehouse, you need the expertise of a team building expert. Trainers, such as AACT-NOW, provide seminars and programs throughout Australia, New Zealand, and North America, customized to each audience. Your firehouse wouldn’t benefit from the same type of team building presentation as a software company. We understand that, which is why we adapt our training programs to fit your specific needs.

A training seminar to establish teamwork in your fire house

Many places that enlist the services of a team-building firm don’t face the same level of life-risking circumstances that a fire department faces. That’s why it’s even more important that fire departments throughout North America, New Zealand and Australia begin to look outwardly for support. AACT-NOW focuses specifically on helping all workplaces (from offices to fire stations) become (and stay) safe and sane. We can help you improve the level of teamwork among your team, so that each individual lives to fight another day. Photo Credit: Creative Commons: