There is a great deal of emphasis on the senior firefighter as it relates to mentoring and leadership in the firehouse and on the scene. I could not agree with this more. In some occasions I came in from the outside as a chief and I often looked to the senior member and officers for some guidance of what is and what was normal.
However, in talking with departments lately, I am hearing of a disturbing trend. The senior firefighter who has checked out or given up. My favorite term for this is ROAD….Retired on Active Duty!
This “giving up” can be for a variety of reasons, all of which may be important, but what is the real challenge is to be able to re-motivate them into becoming productive again. They need to again realize how important they are to the organization and how they need to realize what example they are setting for others.
Leaders cannot lead alone, they need their officers and their senior people.
The first thing is to recognize and realize that this is happening. The second thing is to try and determine the reason, try to fix it if you can.
I think that in many cases, the senior firefighters are the backbone of your agency, but in some cases when they disengage, they can be a problem that even they don’t realize.
Work hard, make sure they know you need them and more importantly make sure they know the organization need them.