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Chicago Fire Officers Association

Competency vs. Complacency

To all executive board members,

                 The November Meeting of the Chicago Fire Officers' Association executive board will be held on Tuesday Nov. 25th 2014 at 7:00PM. I hope you all can make it and have a Happy Thanksgiving.


Notice: Due to the Chicago Fire Dept's new sharepoint program, all pertinent General Orders, Memos, Directives etc. can be accessed online through the city's website and will be current. Therefore it is no longer necessary for the Chicago Fire Officers' Association to continue to upload them to our website.

All older orders, tranfers, memos, directives, etc. will be available online as an archive but may not be current. Thank you.... the Board of Directors.


Competency vs. Complacency
By Gene Callahan

In this day and age with the abundance of technology (omnipresent television, cell phones, internet, PDA's, GPS, etc) and the speed of everyday life, we have created a society where doing enough to get by has become the standard mode of operation. There is too much to do and too little time for reflection on how to become better as a team or as an individual.

I have been retired now from the CFD for more than 10 years, and as I reflect back upon my time on the job I find myself contemplating two words which are critical to defining the future of the CFD, competency and complacency.  When I consider the word competency, I wonder if we ask ourselves often enough if we are competent in our particular role on the CFD.  The CFD is one of the world's leading fire and rescue services because our committed members have repeatedly asked how we can grow; improve and become more proficient for our community's safety and security. Complacency can also play a major, albeit negative, role in the future of the CFD.  Just as we must continually ensure that we are growing more skilled everyday, equally important we must protect against becoming too content with performing our duties. 

Questions to ask ourselves

  • Do I follow the SOPs set forth by the CFD?
  • Do I listen and consider others alternative ideas, instruction and suggestions?
  • Do I offer alternative ideas and suggestions based on the knowledge I have acquired on the job?
  • Do I learn from watching others' successes and failures?
  • Do I take the time to share what I have learned openly and unselfishly with others?

Based on your response to these questions, you will quickly be able to gauge if you are improving the CFD and leaving behind a legacy for others to follow. 

An incident from many years ago illustrates the role competency and complacency play in the CFD.  A tanker of gasoline developed a large leak of its product.  The CFD responded and immediately lead out a 3" hose line as a watch line to keep the product flowing away from the tanker.  A chief officer arrived on the scene and, listening to subordinate suggestions, agreed to implement a unique solution. A blue shirt suggested pulling the tanker over to a gas station located about 100 yards from the scene and emptying its product into its underground tanks.  With the owner's permission, they moved the tanker to the gas station.  When they got to the site, the fittings were not compatible.  They used one of the street pylons (used for holding traffic up) as a funnel and were able to empty the product into the underground tank until the leak was repaired, keeping the 3" watch line in place until the operation was completed.

Now, I ask you, would this chief officer have been more competent by implementing his own plan without regard to others' ideas? Would the blue shirt have been more competent by remaining silent instead of sharing an innovative solution to the situation? This example shows that the most competent are those who are not complacent and are willing to make changes and grow for the betterment of the current situation and the long term reputation of the organization.

As I reflect upon the fine men and women of the CFD in my retirement, I am reminded of the late John F. Kennedy asking, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."  To spin this phrase, I ask, "Ask not what the Chicago Fire Department can do for you, ask what you can do for the men and women of the CFD."

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Charlotte, N.C., Aerial Overturns
An aerial in Charlotte overturned early Sunday morning one firefighter suffered a hand injury.
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Off-duty St. Louis Firefighters Rescue People From Burning Car
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Iowa Homeowner Arrested After House Fire
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New Policy For Ohio Dept. Limits Firefighter Speech, Movement
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Four Teens Die in Fiery Head-on Pa. Crash
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One Dead After Crashing Into Ambulance in Conn.
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Posted on Sun, 21 Dec 2014 14:30:13 GMT

St. Louis Firefighters Find Body in Burned Car
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Ky. School Bus Rolls Over, Eight Students on Board
A school bus belonging to the the Knox County Public Schools had its work day cut short, after it overturned early Friday morning while taking students to class. One student required hospitalization for evaluation.
Posted on Sat, 20 Dec 2014 22:36:00 GMT

Infant Dies in S.C. House Fire
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Firefighters in Hawaii Rescue Eight From Ocean Current
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Posted on Sat, 20 Dec 2014 22:27:16 GMT

South Carolina Fire Claims Two Boys, Injures Firefighter
A fast moving fire in an apartment building killed two children and displaced 10 families in Greenville. A firefighter also suffered a leg injury.
Posted on Sat, 20 Dec 2014 22:22:26 GMT

Decision on Embattled R.I. Fire Chief's Fate Deferred
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Posted on Sat, 20 Dec 2014 16:47:19 GMT

Wash. Fire District Secretary Charged With Embezzling
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Chicago Firefighter Hurt in South Side Blaze
A firefighter was injured while battling a blaze in the Cottage Grove Heights neighborhood on the Far South Side early Saturday morning.
Posted on Sat, 20 Dec 2014 16:31:12 GMT

N.Y. Fire Kills Retired Farmer, Woman Rescued by Firefighters
A fast-moving fire early Friday killed a retired farmer and critically injured his wife in their ranch home in the Genesee County community of Byron.
Posted on Sat, 20 Dec 2014 16:24:52 GMT

Men Jump From Fatal Ind. Apartment Fire, Help Save Others
Four men jumped the second floor to escape a fire in a Lebanon, Ind., apartment and then helped people get out of the building that was quickly becoming engulfed in fire. One man was killed in the blaze.
Posted on Sat, 20 Dec 2014 16:01:48 GMT

Long Island, N.Y., Firefighter Remains Critical After Fire
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Posted on Sat, 20 Dec 2014 15:46:00 GMT

Calif. Crash Kills Three, Hurts Three in Highway Wreck
At least three people died and three others were injured Friday in a collision on the 15 Freeway near Escondido.
Posted on Sat, 20 Dec 2014 15:00:04 GMT

N.Y. Ambulance Service Closing, No Medical Director
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Posted on Sat, 20 Dec 2014 14:48:01 GMT

Donated N.C. Fire Gear Returned From Mexico Due to Shipping Error
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Posted on Sat, 20 Dec 2014 14:41:32 GMT

Maine Firefighters Rescue Woman Trapped on Balcony
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Pa. Dept. Recalls Support During Dark Days, Returns Favor
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Posted on Fri, 19 Dec 2014 22:00:01 GMT

Off-Duty Md. Firefighter Dies After Falling Through Roof
A 21-year veteran and officer with the Anne Arundel Fire Department has died after falling through a roof in Edgewater.
Posted on Fri, 19 Dec 2014 18:57:22 GMT

Two Dead in Explosion, Fire at Oklahoma Oil Rig
An explosion and fire early Friday morning killed two people and critically injured two others at an oil rig in southeastern Oklahoma.
Posted on Fri, 19 Dec 2014 18:54:26 GMT

Woodmere 3 Alarm House Fire

Posted on Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:13:18 GMT

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