Bridging the Gaps Among the Generations

Issue 4 and Volume 162.

BY PAUL H. STEIN AND ETTORE BERARDINELLI The tension caused by the differences among the generations of firefighters in today’s workplace has been the subject of much discussion. The combination of several generations working together and the influx of women, minorities, and people with varying sexual orientations have made things interesting for today’s supervisors and challenging for the historically conservative fire department culture. The populations born between 1940 and 2000 have more names than a typical phone book: traditionalists, baby boomers, Generation Xers, Millennials, X-Boxers—however you want to label them. In many cases, these people do not always get along. We once heard a very experienced fire captain say about the new breed of firefighters: “I don’t understand them. How can they think that way? They have no work ethic. I just don’t like them.” Today’s fire service workforce consists primarily of four generations. Each generation has its own values,…

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