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Monday, December 14, 2015

PGFD Chief Message to His Personnel About "Safety, Violence and Leadership"

Ladies and Gentlemen of the PGFD. I want to take a few moments with you to discuss some recent incidents that have challenged the publics trust in our capacity to provide professional service in our communities.

This past Saturday I sent a broadly distributed email which was also shared over the station printers. This message addressed my extreme disappointment with the actions of some of our personnel, ultimately resulting in a physical and verbal altercation between career and volunteer members on the scene of an active house fire.  

These actions and behavior are absolutely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.  I will not tolerate violence in the workplace in any way shape or form.

It is incumbent upon each of us to ensure we take all steps necessary to correct this kind of behavior and restore both the Departments and Publics trust in our abilities to maintain a professional level of service.

After reviewing the preliminary Violence in the Workplace investigative details, it is fairly clear there is a pattern of activity needing immediate attention. There are no excuses or counter claims that can justify any of what I have learned in the preliminary investigation of this matter.

The investigation continues, however I announced the following immediate actions in the email Saturday:
1.   First arriving unit officers will no longer have the option to PASS command.  In concert with the impending release of the revised General Order 6-1 "Passing Command" will no longer be acceptable.  First arriving unit officers will either establish "Command" (a fixed command post) OR establish "Tactical Command" (performing the 360 and a forward position with their crew).  All subsequent operations will be in support of "Command" or "Tactical Command".

2.   If "Tactical Command" has been established, the first arriving command officer is expected to "Assume Command".  Upon assuming "Command", the Incident Commander shall immediately obtain a "CAN" (Conditions, Actions, Needs) report from the "Tactical Command".

3.   All personnel are hereby directed to cease the practice of charging attack lines from a second or successive piece of apparatus until that units primary mission is achieved (ie: water supply to the first engine).  That second line will normally be expected to be deployed from the first arriving engine.  The practice of routinely running a long line and charging it before water supply is established must stop!  In any case, that second line will support and backup the initial attack line OR will be deployed as directed by "Command" or "Tactical Command".  All successive operations will be in support of "Command" or "Tactical Command".

All chief officers and supervisors must ensure the personnel under their charge receive this information and understand it loud and clear. 
  • Any deviations from the directive above will result in the immediate operational removal of the personnel involved, pending further review by the Emergency Services Deputy Fire Chief
I will not tolerate any environment that results in verbal or physical altercations and/or violence in the workplace of any kind.  We cannot and will not tolerate competitions to "get to the fire first", which ultimately compromises the safety of everyone involved and the integrity of our operations.

Our mission to provide service to our communities in Prince George's County as safely and efficiently as possible will only be accomplished with a professional and cohesive team approach. Providing fire and emergency medical services is not a competition and is not a turf battle. Providing service IS our primary mission, which the public expects we will deliver professionally - not one time have I heard someone from the community say "send me your second best". They expect us, and the deserve for us to respond with our 'A' game and our 'A' team EVERY time.  This cannot and will not involve out personnel struggling over any actions on a scene.

Compliance is not optional – for the majority of our folks who do the right thing day in and day out, I thank you – our communities thank you.

I assure each and every one of you that as the investigations continues, that appropriate actions will be taken as warranted when all of the facts have been investigated.  This is not a volunteer or career issue - this is a safety, violence, and leadership issue which we must not allow to adversely impact out operations.  Our Department, our Personnel, and our community expect and deserve better.

Let's ensure we are providing the most timely and professional service possible, while ensuring Everyone Goes Home safely.