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More of What We Know...
and What We Want You to Know!
Each year, top management should set the organizational goals
and have the division directors establish their goals for their individual programs, which further the department’s overall goals.
While members are busy with their tasks, no one should be overwhelmed. Proper management requires ensuring that all goals are
obtainable and that the individuals have the time to accomplish their
goals. If one division had too many goals, the chief and the division
director must prioritize the goals and reduce the workload. If one
person has too many assignments, the assignments must be prioritized or some of them must be delayed. Nothing stops progress like
a sense of failure, and the inability to accomplish any goals because
of being overwhelmed will lead to feelings of failure. It is better to
accomplish fewer goals than to set too many and accomplish little.
Individuals are learning how to manage their own programs and
are gaining experience that will assist them in managing larger
aspects of the department. Moreover, members are gaining valuable
skills that they can place on a resume for advancement within this
department and in their own careers outside of this organization.
Since members are vested with the authority to run their own
program or task as they see fit, the members can be creative, innovating, and daring. This in turn creates a sense of ownership in the
department and a trusting relationship between the member and
Failure is accepted and not criticized. Blame is not permit-
ted, but personal responsibility is encouraged. From the chief on
down, the department views poor results as a chance to learn and
improve. As a result, people are willing to take chances by engaging
in tasks that may be beyond their present skill set. Since new ideas
are always welcome, people are willing to step forward.
Emergency service organizations need to consider a new method
of structuring their management. These organizations need to
break the cycle of managing by rank and instead start managing by
talent. We need to educate our members in the science of management and adopt well-known principles of management. As many
volunteer departments struggle to recruit and retain their members, we must look at the causes of why people join, quit, or stay.
We may find that the answer lies in the science of group dynamics,
organizational behavior, and the science of management. Just as
the fire service is changing the way it fights fires based on new
science, perhaps it is time for the service to review our management structures and practices.
1. Brooks, David, “How to Leave a Mark on People,” New York Times, April 18, 2017.
Bradley M. Pinsky is chief of the Manlius (NY) Fire Department. He is an attorney
representing more than 500 emergency service entities. Pinsky has a master’s degree
in health administration, which provided him with extensive education in the topic of
management of health systems. He is a frequent lecturer at FDIC International and
other conferences throughout North America and lectures frequently on both legal
and management topics. Pinsky is the author of the Fire Department Law & Management Resource Manual. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.