I wash my own car
Every shift I wash the Battalion car. After all it is the car I will use for the shift. Now when I say I wash the car it is exactly as I say “I” wash the car. When I first got to the shift the guys would try to take the wash brush out of my hand. They were under the impression that the BC washing his car is not supposed to happen. I assured them that I did not want help. I explained to them that I like washing the car I called it my time. Time, I did not have to answer the phone or answer emails even thought it was only for 20 min. it was still me time. This went on for several shifts of me wrestling the soap bucket and brushes from their hands. I told my wife (who is the smartest person I know) of my small ongoing dilemma, she tried to explain to me that they were showing their respect. I explained to her that I don’t feel the need for them to wash my car to show respect. In some way I felt guilty that they were washing my car, I felt as though they felt an obligation to wash the car. I explained to my wife that these guys clean the firehouse every day. They empty my trash when I am out of the station, they vacuum my office and dust when I am out on station visits. The cook dinner and invite me to eat with them, so yes, I feel a little guilty. So, in my wife’s wisdom she asked, “did you explain it to them that way”? suddenly the light bulb slowly got brighter. So, the next shift I sat the officer down and explained it to him. I told him that there is no obligation to wash my car. I told him that the best way they repay me is going out and train. I told him I feel the respect when they perform on the fire ground. You see when they do a good job it is a positive reflection on me.
Now it is a running joke in the station with the firefighters when they ask, “hey chief you need help washing your car?” They get a laugh. I also clean my own officer before I go out on station visits, after all it is my office and my mess.
I have made 1 change in my car washing policy. On a rookie’s first day I have him come out and help me wash my car. I ask him questions to get information about him and his personal life. Ask him why he wanted to join the fire service. I finish my conversation with one final question. I ask him/her “do you know why we wash our apparatus every day?” I explain to the rookie that the apparatus belongs to the public and we have an obligation to make sure it looks good. All the equipment on the apparatus belongs to the public as well and it is imperative that it is accounted for and in good working order, because that is what the public expects. I end the conversation telling him that he belongs to the shift and the public and it is vital that he is in good working order this means PT and basic skills training.