04/27/10 318 W - + 9 - 3 Hazing Again, Shall We?

Two interesting items on the subject of hazing, which we successfully discussed and even conducted a poll about a few weeks ago. First item is this firehouse.com recap of an FDIC session. Firehouse Pranks or Professionalism? The L.A. Story, and the damaging effects of those incidents at LAFD. Relevant quote: "How much hazing is acceptable as opposed to zero tolerance? A little hazing can lead to a $1.4 million lawsuit over someone eating dog food because it was just a little bit of hazing." Would love to read a session summary of that one.

Second item is from Baltimore, from what looks like a government watchdog site. Constant Conflict - Did Poor Leadership Lead To Fight at Baltimore’s Smokestack Hardy Firehouse? The story of a station crew, some behaviors therein, and emotions that escalated to a near knife fight. The Inspector General of the city reviewed the incident and cited a failure of leadership. Relevant quote: "The report also found the types of humiliating pranks and taunting that colleagues said later contributed to [the incident] were at least tacitly encouraged by supervisors, if not in some cases facilitated by them." Seems like a balanced article, though there are second sides to all stories. Maybe we'll see discussion on the Baltimore Watch Desk, or coverage and discussion from Dave Statter.

What does it all mean? Well, the firehouse is still a second home, and with all the challenges of living with others. That's as old as time. But the people are changing and perhaps faster than the traditions. Education levels. Work experience. Cultural diversity. Leadership expectations. The world they serve is all-new, too. The old ways aren’t always appreciated. There might be methods to the madness—the rough and tumble play serves particularly purposes—but the line seems to be getting finer than ever.

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