For many businesses there is a level of cohesion that is incomprehensible to achieve. Every Friday the employees go home to their lives and don’t typically think twice about work. Most firefighters spend between a third to a half of their lives living with the people riding on their truck. This prolonged exposure to each other is enough to force some cohesion but to be a fully bonded group it requires effort. Beyond normal day-to-day activities, the company officer needs to spend some time helping this process.
The days of the Captain coming in and passing down orders through the Engineer are over. Newer generations require hands on interaction and constant feedback. There are several ways to accomplish this but the first thing that needs to happen is the crew needs to develop an identity. This is easily accomplished since most departments are broken down into shifts, companies or units. That is a predefined group image. Establishing roles within the group is another vital step. Typically I find this part easily accomplished by establishing everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. If someone is great at medical calls, they can take the lead; the same goes for those that love to cook or workout. There are so many diverse aspects of our career, that everyone should be able to find a place to fit.
The easiest way to build cohesion is by doing activities together. Responding to calls and training together is great but remembering to instill the family atmosphere can easy the tension. Having holiday meals together, remembering birthdays and other non-job related activities go a long way to establishing a bond. If you treat this job as any other 9-5 job you are failing your crew and robbing them of one of the greatest assets this career has to offer…. Brotherhood (Sisterhood).
Ultimately, living together, working together and enjoying the camaraderie will make your crew come together in a fashion that can only improve their performance both in the station and on the emergency scene.