Make this page my home page
  1. Drag the home icon in this panel and drop it onto the "house icon" in the tool bar for the browser

  2. Select "Yes" from the popup window and you're done!

Print Comment RSS

Fire News in Focus
by Adam K. Thiel

Vilifying labor or management is bad for both

Given the current budgetary pressures, it is as important now as ever for fire department labor and management to strive for compromise and civility

By Adam K. Thiel

Editor's note: Chief Adam K. Thiel knows full well how difficult labor relations can be; he also knows that labor and management can and do get along in the fire service. 

My guess is that there's a lot more to this story and we probably don't have all the facts of the matter.

From what's reported in this article, however, it's probably correct to assume there is, or has been, substantive disagreement between labor and management on a variety of topics.

Labor-management discord is nothing new in the fire and emergency services. The continued fiscal challenges facing many fire departments today can make it especially difficult to reach agreement on wages, hours, and working conditions — whether specified in a collective-bargaining agreement or codified in another way.

While we often think of labor and management as being on different "sides" of these issues in an adversarial process, I would suggest that there are many positive examples of cooperation and collaboration between labor unions and management in fire departments, and other industries, across the United States and Canada.

This is not to say it's easy, especially with the current economic climate. But my sense is that, now more than ever, both fire chiefs and labor leaders need to seek common ground — or at least strive to keep their relationships from turning sour.

The International Association of Fire Chiefs and the International Association of Fire Fighters jointly provide resources to fire chiefs and local unions under their Labor-Management Initiative. And in the interest of full disclosure, I am an IAFC/IAFF Labor-Management Initiative facilitator.

Stay safe!

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel FireRescue1's editorial advisor is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.

FireRescue1 Offers

Fire Department Management
Fire Department Management

Sponsored by

Connect with FireRescue1

Mobile Apps Facebook Twitter Google+

Get the #1 Fire eNewsletter

Fire Newsletter Sign up for our FREE email roundup of the top news, tips, columns, videos and more, sent 3 times weekly
Enter Email
See Sample