Risky Business: Consent Safety and Fire Fighting Culture Essay

This case study introduces us to the risk, safety measures, and issues involved in fire fighting. The title of the case study is Risky Business: Consent Safety and fire fighting Culture. The case discusses the Bay City fire fighting department which is known “as one of the most advanced in the country” (2010). The case highlights the fact that though the department has one of the most highly trained fire fighters in its team, the chief is concerned about some security issues which were due to result of negligence and disobedience on the behalf of the firefighters.

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There are several examples given in the case which include deaths of both the fire firefighters and the clients who they are supposed to serve and rescue. The management staff believes that these incidents could have easily been avoided if the fire fighters would have been a little more responsible on their behalf by not violating policies and rules that are set forth for them.

“In the culture of the fire service, a disfigured helmet is a sign that one is a “real” firefighter because he or she can “take it””. 2010) Therefore, more than the traditional physical and technical training, these fire fighters also need to learn the fact that putting themselves into unnecessary dangerous situations they are not only risking their lives and the lives of the fellow firefighters, but also the lives of those they are attempting to save. The organizations communication style, the classical method, is pretty straight forward and there are no such problems in directing or receiving orders from the top. However, the problem lies with the responsiveness from the fire fighters.

The chief gives out orders to the fire fighters and issues policy and rules, the fire fighters are supposed to obey all orders that they get from the chief, and if they don’t, communication cannot be blamed for that. It is obvious that the training process is one of the best in the country as far as this organization is concerned, but, when training fire fighters, mental and psychological training is also necessary to make these fire fighters realize that putting themselves in danger will not earn them “legendary hero” status that come associated with organizational myths, stories, and metaphors.

Rather, it puts them and many other lives associated with them in danger as well. They actually need to realize the opportunity cost of their behavior that has to be shared by many others. The directness in which the policies and procedures are given to the firefighters shows the seriousness in which the management staff is taking things. Yet the ‘resistance’ to follow these organizational rules is taking place and resulting in loss of life. Thus the communication problem lies at the point where the trainers need to shape the behaviors and attitudes of fire fighters towards their jobs.

The need and the solution to this problem is to conduct a “transformation’ of sorts on the “Ideology” of the Fire Station. “The term transformation highlights how local social movements attempt to “effect large-scale, collective changes in the domains of state policy, corporate practice, social structure, cultural norms, and daily lived experience”. (2010) While “the term ideology refers to our basic, often unexamined, assumptions about how things are or ought to be”. 2010) By working with the firefighters and reestablishing roles in the fire house, the Fire Chief will be able to effect change on a large scale throughout the house, thus allowing the day to day basic rules to be carried out on a peer level. Though change would be implemented the firefighters need to understand that they are disobeying the organizational rules that they have to follow in all circumstances, plus, when they are doing such acts, they are not only doing it for themselves, but for the future they will motivate others.

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