Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Errors of Arrogance

I have received several messages from readers who have found themselves re-reading “The Futility of Our Humility” (http://www.firefighternation.com/profiles/blogs/the-futility-of-our-humility).

Normally, I would be ecstatic that people found my stuff so compelling that they would read it again-a dream come true!

Unfortunately, I think that I have confused the point of my point.

Where I believe that the central issue lies is with the use of “arrogant/arrogance”. Some are reading into the blog that I am pointing the fickle finger directly at THEM.

When I describe a thought or an act that I believe lends itself to what I believe is arrogance, then the only thing that remains is for the reader to decide if it could fit their situation and if so, what has been done about it or what WILL be done about it.

What I did in my previous blog was to describe what I believed were feelings of acts of arrogance. As I have stated on numerous occasions is, “If it applies, then apply it. If not, then disregard”. There is no need to take offense if it is not your situation.

When I write, I want it to entertain, to challenge your thinking and hopefully, to allow you to learn and to offer your perspective.

Often times, I will offer straight-forward opinions that can be agreed or disagreed with or used as a trigger for a discussion point.

In my opinion and in some ways, some in the fire service have been arrogant and in the process, have lost some humility.
Continue Reading The Errors of Arrogance

If that were not the case, then why are we so incensed or surprised that cities are making firefighter staffing cuts?

I never said that I agreed with it and completely understand the many downsides to such kamikaze budgeting, but there is a sense of arrogance in our response back to the city’s, brainless trust and at the expense of other city employees.

Now; this may sound “arrogant”, but I think that we all realize that our self worth and our value as public servants have higher skill sets than, as an example, one who runs the landfill and I am NOT saying that the landfill isn’t important. I am simply saying that, in my jaded opinion, it takes more skill to read smoke and to run HazMat operations.

However; I think that it is wrong to believe that deeper cuts will be made elsewhere to preserve every public safety position.

How can a fire department argue about staffing issues that cannot be seen with the naked eye of the public?

We all know as sports fans what happens to a football team, if they are one man short on defense. The other team will have the advantage, at least for that one play. It could result in a touchdown for one team and spell defeat for the other team.

So; with that example, you have a properly staffed team winning and one that isn’t properly staffed losing.

Another good sports analogy is the hockey power play. The team with more players has the definite advantage.

Now; I am in no way minimizing or trivializing the loss of firefighter staffing with these sports comparisons; I am saying that it is not easy for citizens to know the effects, unless they have been educated on the clear relationship between lower staffing and the safety of fewer firefighters responding.

I am saying that, with these comparisons, the same holds true with fire departments. Unfortunately, the public can’t see it when we are under-staffed. It is not as obvious as the hockey power play.

And simply telling them is no longer effective, but city governments are telling their citizens that they won’t notice a difference and THAT is gaining support, because the public may not know any better.

But, how can this be? If the public thinks that we can get by with less NOW, then they must think that we were over-staffed to begin with.

Well, maybe not according to the NFPA standards, but citizens can’t relate at that level and since it won’t cost anything unless something goes wrong, city managers are willing to roll those dice for the cost savings. This is what I call “uber arrogance” on the part of city governments!

In my opinion, if a fire department allows that very first firefighter to be cut due to budget issues, then another and another will follow. Any chief smart enough to understand manpower requirements would NEVER allow it to happen, because once you lose them; how easy is it going to be to get them back?

A chief worth his weight would not cut firefighter positions to balance a budget. They might instead sweep their various budget funds to the bone, including over-time and maybe re-arrange schedules for staff and administrative positions. HIS humility for where HE came from should weigh heavily on his mind.

But, mayors, city managers and city councils trade their humility for arrogance faster than they can recite their oath of office.

My point is that, either city governments are arrogant to believe that public safety cuts will have little or no effect on service, have little or no effect on the safety of those employees OR are aware of it, but are arrogant enough to believe that the risks are worth the cuts.

My other point is that fire departments may be arrogant to believe that the citizens will side with firefighters based upon our proffered emotional statements rather than accurate examples of increases in accidents, injuries or even death as a result of staffing cuts. Providing information from LODD reports where it was specifically stated that low staffing contributed to the death would be appropriate to use.

It’s hard to be humble when the errors of arrogance are not properly and accurately addressed and it might very well be a failure of our leadership to properly assess the community’s needs and their firefighters’ needs.

TCSS.

The article is protected by federal copyright law under The Adventures of Jake and Vinnie© umbrella. It is written and submitted by Art Goodrich a.k.a. ChiefReason. This article or any other article submitted under The Adventures of Jake and Vinnie© umbrella cannot be reproduced in ANY form without the expressed, written permission of the author. Violations are punishable by applicable laws.
Please visit: www.fireemsblogs.com and my blog www.chiefreasonart.com.
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