Comment by Haley
Equipment and services. These are two important building blocks of any fire and emergency service. This month we again publish our popular annual Buyers’ Guide, with listings from hundreds of fire and emergency services dealers, suppliers and manufacturers. It includes all of the up-to-date contacts as well as their product information
December 17, 2007
By Jim Haley
Equipment and services. These are two important building blocks of any fire and emergency service. This month we again publish our popular annual Buyers’ Guide, with listings from hundreds of fire and emergency services dealers, suppliers and manufacturers. It includes all of the up-to-date contacts as well as their product information. This is the one you will want to keep by your telephone year-round.
If you are faced with the problem of excessive absenteeism in your department, Fire Chief Len Garis of the Surrey (B.C.) Fire Service may have a tool for you. His fire department was faced a couple of years ago with increasing absenteeism among its full-time staff, to the point where it had difficulty on some occasions maintaining minimum staffing levels. To alleviate this problem, research was soon underway by a senior fire officer, who found a program in the United Kingdom that – modified for Surrey’s particular circumstances – looked like it might just be the right tool.
With its progressive, five-step approach, Garis notes it has succeeded in helping employees better recognize the importance of reliable attendance and he expects it to produce “long-term operational benefits including manageable absenteeism levels, greater productivity and increased morale.
“Key to the collaborative process was an underlying assumption that employees’ absences are legitimate and that the program is in no way an attempt to identify or punish sick leave abuse,” says Garis in the article explaining the Surrey program, which begins on page 81. “The union was initially reluctant to legitimize the project, but bought in after recognizing its objective approach … The department saw a marked improvement in attendance immediately after adopting the program.”
Another tool for chief fire officers in providing your communities with the most effective fire and rescue protection is a Master Fire Plan. Most if not all major fire departments have one in place and I am sure they can attest to its value, particularly when advising CAOs and municipal councils as to the necessary level of protection – not to mention justifying their budget requests. Retired Fire Chief Tom Powell, a long-time proponent of such “pre-planning,” explains the ins and outs of a master fire plan in this issue. His report begins on page 32.
By this time, thoughts are turning to upcoming conferences and similar education events. We strongly suggest that if you do not usually attend your provincial chiefs’ conferences, or any of the national or international events, to seriously rethink your decision. These can be invaluable to any officer for their learning and networking opportunities. I try and attend as many as possible to increase my knowledge of the emergency services world, to meet you and listen to what issues are most important to you, as well as finding the go-to experts to address these issues through the magazine.
In recent years I have found the organizers of these conferences and learning symposiums working harder to provide more worthwhile educational tracks with different voices, more diverse trade shows, along with ample time to meet with your peers and network. The various associations have listened to their members well and worked at scheduling them for more convenient times and venues. As well, many now offer pre-conference seminars and other events for specific groups, so as not to take away or thin the main program for those who may only be able to attend for a couple of days rather than close to a week.
If you are not planning on attending any of the many conferences available this year, I would ask that you reassess your decision. You won’t regret it. They are more invigorating and informative than ever.
(Special thanks go to Barb Comer, who so ably compiled our Buyers’ Guide section, which begins on page 43. For information regarding inclusion in future editions, please contact our publisher/national sales manager, Martin McAnulty, 1-800-265-2827, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Yours in fire service safety and education,
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