Fire Chiefs Need to Remember the ‘Home Family’ Too

Patrick J. Kenny shares how fire chiefs can include a firefighter’s family in their department functions.

Patrick J. Kenny 
Jan 5th, 2016 
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Ever hear a firefighter complain about the new generation in regards to the lack of volunteerism and “family” concept? Too busy being by themselves in cubicles with their electronic devices? “I remember the good old days when we would go off duty and leave to go straight to Joe’s house to put on a new roof. Now everybody goes home. Don’t give a damn about their other family.”

The term family is used pretty loosely around the fire service to indicate many different things. Your firehouse “family,” your birth “family,” or your community “family.” All are accurate, but I believe as a service we fail one of those families more often than not. That is the firefighter’s family at home.

I recently took over a small, paid-on-call department after having been the chief of a predominantly career department for over 14 years. While the makeup is quite different, the challenges to include the “birth family” in your department mission are identical. So let’s start with how as the leader do you make this engagement a priority and identify strategies to reach that goal.

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