“The volunteer fire department is truly an amazing thing,” said Grand Island (NY) Fire Company Director Michael Dallessandro during his “Leading the Volunteers” class. The lecture focused on key behavioral patterns, both positive and negative, of past and present volunteer fire department members. According to Dallessandro, identifying these patterns will continue a tradition of positive community dedication and proper firehouse and public behavior, ethics, and values. Dallessandro used situations such as firehouse elections as a litmus test for displaying proper behavior and respect in the face of potentially negative outcomes, i.e. refusing to badmouth those elected ahead of us or in place of our own preferred candidate. He also warned of the increasingly dangerous and escalating amounts of rookie hazing, which has progressed past the quick and harmless pranks of yesteryear to truly become a worrisome fire service dilemma.
Dallessandro said that he hoped students who attended the class and who serve or may one day serve in a leadership position will reassess themselves and pass along the information they learned for future training. “This workshop was all about how the changing world of the volunteer fire service and a new generation of rookies blending in with our long-time veteran members will impact our job as officers and leaders. One department, one mission.”
Dallessandro added, “We are the moral compass for our organizations. The leaders of volunteer and combination departments in the coming years are going to have to not only train individuals to be skilled firefighters but also will to have to show people how to be good members. This class covered some of the key teaching points needed to start accomplishing this task.”
Dallessandro’s most recent article, “Chief’s Cars: Professional or Perk?” appeared in the December 2008 issue of Fire Engineering.