“It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.”
How many times have we heard that refrain in our lives?
Yet horseplay still happens at the firehouse, and yes, firefighters do get hurt due to horseplay. Do any of us want to be involved in a situation where our brother/sister firefighter suffers a horseplay-related injury that causes lost workdays, or even worse, the loss of the dream of being a firefighter? Your answer to that question better be a resounding “No!”
WHEN someone gets hurt (notice I use the word when not if) at the firehouse due to horseplay, officers and firefighters are responsible and accountable for they’ve done (or not done) to contribute to the injury. The obvious question is: “What are some things officers can do to eliminate horseplay at the station?”
#1 – Set The Example
The first step is simple: set the example. If you participate in horseplay, you condone horseplay, so don’t participate.
#2 – Communicate
The second step is also simple. Clearly communicate to your crew(s) that they should not horseplay.
#3 – Going Nuclear
Of course, eliminating dangerous horseplay might not be as simple as steps one and two. Step three – the “nuclear” option – will take considerable effort and at least several hours of your time.
In step three, we concerned leaders have already gone to the internet to scour through the abundant information about all the bad things associated with workplace horseplay. We’ve found the statistics about injury and death; we’ve found the scary data about criminal prosecutions.
We’ve used this information to build an incredibly long and unbearably tedious slide presentation about workplace horseplay. At the first sign of horseplay in the station, we simply get on the station intercom and “invite” all personnel to the training room for a “short” training session. And then for the next hour (or two) we use our best monotone voice to thoroughly examine each of our 80+ slides! Fun!
If there’s one thing we firefighters dislike, it’s sitting through boring, tedious, lengthy slide presentations. If horseplay happens again, guess what? That’s right – another session with your favorite slideshow. You might even require the offending “horse-players” to develop and deliver their own slideshow.
After one or two of these training sessions, the message will get through, and the horsing around will likely dwindle away as we find less-dangerous ways to share camaraderie and affection at the firehouse.