Looks like another Chief became the casualty of a consultant's report. This time it occurred in Gloucester, Mass. On December 14, 2007, Gloucester witnessed their fire department's first 8 alarm fire. As you can infer from the title of this post, it did not go well for the Gloucester Fire Department's Chief.
I'm not writing this post to discuss the Chief, and his department's 'analyzed' faux pas' and misfortunes, respectively; I'm here to 'analyze' the consultant's methodology that led the eventual fir..retirement of a Chief of 26 years.
I am always suspect when I see a typical verb followed by such ambiguous words as 'leadership,' 'unsafe,' etc. Never do the consultant's, and or our 'subject matter experts' (who were in the room or at the steak dinner at a trade show when the call came in for reviewers) leave their clients objective, evaluative competencies to ensure the undesirable actions or decisions never happen again. What do they EXACTLY mean by 'lack of leadership?' If the Chiefs put the costume on with a white helmet, he is the de facto leader of the show in most towns. It's the experience, training and decisions that are made by this individual (Before the fire too) that are never quantified and are the fundamentals of true leadership. Does their fire department ALWAYS stretch the correct size line? Do the companies ALWAYS have to ask where they are supposed to go in the fire building (What? No written SOPs?!)? Do the individuals in these companies ALWAYS take the appropriate tools? There are a million objective competencies that are easily evaluated and measured, however, you won't see them in consultant reports; Because they probably don't know them either. Rather, you see them hide their own flawed methodology and lack of 'best practices' in ambiguous, encompassing words in the report(s).
Like the departments that see people lose jobs, credibility, and occupational dignity, we seem to be always left wanting when we read these reports. Rather than copying, pasting, and correlating the beloved 16 life-safety initiatives to a department's actions, let's get down and dirty and start to critically think and analyze WHY we need a change in Chiefs, policies, etc. I'll bet you'll unearth a few more intiatives too.
However, I think I'm going to be waiting for that report for a quite a while...