August 2017 Issue Number 205
Is a monthly electronic newsletter which links current events and issues to the daily challenges faced by fire and emergency services managers. Current topics in the areas of leadership development, workplace diversity, change management, and conflict resolution will be discussed.
We hope that you find the information here useful and provocative.
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The IAFF Human Relations Conference will be held January 28-31, 2018 in Orlando, FL.
Now available! On
the Line: Women Firefighters Tell Their Stories by Linda
F. Willing. This book features interviews with over 35 women
firefighters from the United States and Canada. The book is available
from major online booksellers, and signed copies may be ordered through this website.
Why is On-duty Sex So Bad?
A fire department in Massachusetts recently imposed discipline on four members for engaging in sexual activity while on duty. The discipline included lengthy suspensions and at least one demotion. Those involved included one officer, two firefighters, and a dispatcher.
This is not the first time such behavior has made the news. And unfortunately, it almost certainly won't be the last.
News accounts give the impression that the activity was probably consensual. And there was no evidence that response capability was compromised because of it.
So some might ask, what's the problem? This question has been raised during classes I have taught on sexual harassment. If everyone is okay with it, and service doesn't suffer, what difference does it make?
I sometimes respond by asking how that person would feel if the hygienist and dentist were having a quickie in the backroom while you're waiting to have your teeth cleaned. Would that be okay?
Everyone responds the same. It's not okay. It's unprofessional, not to mention the "ick" factor.
And that is the most essential problem. You're at work, not at home. You're expected to be focused on the job. Your employer can make reasonable demands on you in the workplace, and not having recreational sex on duty certainly qualifies as a reasonable demand.
The town manager put it well. He said the situation "has been a significant drain of resources and attention from the more important business of the town."
When I looked up this town's fire department online, news articles about the scandal were the first thing that came up. In the foreseeable future, this situation will be what this fire department is known for, not its response capability, not the admirable actions of the majority of its members, but the selfish, unprofessional acts of four people.
This is never okay. And no one should stand for it.
Source: The Lowell Sun, June 21, 2017