Nozzlehead lying, harassment, and workplace violence prevention
task group that has produced some excellent materials
and videos. More on that later.
Your chief, your officers, and your township leaders
need to wake up and understand what is and what is
not morally and legally acceptable. And, the fact that
you raised the issue, it is clear that their handling of it
was based on protecting their butts and not at all about
doing what needs to be done to fix the problem. Since
you mentioned them, where are your uncle and stepfather in this? I hope they are involved and are standing
up as both fire officers and family. I hope this is not a
case where they are “brave, tough firefighters” but are
cowards when it comes to facing real issues.
SNIFF, SNIFF. I smell policy-less and untrained
cowards who blew an opportunity to make things
better for you personally, for the offenders, and for
the organization as a whole. I smell untrained and
unqualified “investigators” who are so close to the
problem that they couldn’t possibly see clearly the
facts or propose appropriate resolution. A fair and
legal policy-based investigation ensures that the
accuser and the accused are treated fairly.
So, where do you go from here? There is much to
talk about, from your retaining an attorney to your
confronting those who wronged you (with a chief
present; that would be leadership on their part) to
the accused genuinely apologizing with clear steps
forward. I hope one of those can be considered.
REIGNITING THE FIRE. Since I can only write
about what you have sent me, I will assume you DO
want to stay at that fire department. Then stay. But
stay and push for some sensible level of short- and
long-term resolution. I am not sure what happened
(probably the Internet) but years ago (and some of
us still do it), we would actually take people in a
room and TALK about a problem with resolution as
the goal. Since they asked you to “let it go” (which
was BS), you still have an opportunity to go back to
them and state, “OK, I would like to move forward,
but here is what I need from you,” and that would
include personal and organizational resolution.
Personal: The jerks need to talk to you face to face
and apologize, and there need to be systems in place
to make sure their apologies are backed by behavior
Professional: The department and township need
• 91 percent were from men and nine percent were
to read the information below and use the IAFC
Toolbox. They probably ought to speak with their
attorney on your issue specifically as well as risk man-
agement for the township and the fire department,
because this is a very significant RISK that needs
management and leadership.
Rest assured, you are FAR from alone. A friend of
mine did an informal fire service survey with more
than 4,000 responses. Of those responses:
from women (interesting because only three per-
cent of the fire service are women).
• 76 percent were career, 21 percent were on-call,
and six percent were volunteers (interesting because
the fire service is more than 70 percent volunteer in
• 63 percent were chief officers; the remainder were
firefighters, lieutenants, and captains.
Here are some of the results:
1. Have you ever been bullied in your career?
Yes: 70 percent; 28 percent have been bullied in the
No: 30 percent.
2. Who has bullied you?
Chief officer: 39 percent.
Line officer: 27 percent.
Coworker: 25 percent.
3. Has bullying changed your interactions and
productivity at work?
Sometimes: 17 percent.
The remainder answering this question said they’ve
never been bullied.
4. Is bullying a problem in the fire service?
Yes: 66 percent.
Nearly 50 percent said their employer did nothing
to respond to an identified problem.
Sounds slightly familiar. I am again reiterating
that you google “IAFC bullying” and it will bring you
to the totally free fire service “Bullying and Workplace Violence Prevention Toolkit.” You should read
through it. Your chiefs must read through it. Your
township officials must read through it.
This phenomenal toolkit is a collection of policies,
tips, tools, and resources for fire and emergency service departments about the prevention of bullying in
the workplace. This resource is a mix of existing and
new resources from the IAFC, other fire service organizations, private industry, and local model practices
and standard operating procedures. They range from
simple, no-cost, commonsense solutions to those that
are more resource intensive.
SNIFF, SNIFF. I smell policy-less and untrained cowards who
blew an opportunity to make things better for you personally,
for the offenders, and for the organization as a whole.