Station Officer: Dealing with People

Upcoming Courses


Fall 2018 Textbook Information Form

Course description

Prerequisite: None
In this course you will learn some management theory and research principally by reading the course materials. You will demonstrate your learning by applying that theory and research to address issues arising from case studies and issues arising within your own department. In this course, and many others, you will use the Horizon County Fire Service Case Study (also called Horizon County for short). Once you have completed this course you should be better able to analyze some of the problems that arise in a station and be able to consider how to address them. Ultimately your learning will depend upon applying what you learn here to real situations or simulated ones, reflecting on that experience and doing a better job next time. In brief this course deals with:

  • Organization
  • Motivation
  • Discipline
  • Leadership
  • Training

Learning objectives

Unit One

Upon completion of the readings, assignments, and attendance at the seminars, you will be able to:

  • Understand the impact of mutual insurance companies on fire protection in the 1800s.
  • Understand the effect of the steam fire engine on larger Canadian cities in the late 1800s.
  • Understand the effect of World War I on a) the technology of fire suppression, and b) labour relations within fire departments.
  • Understand the effect of the Canadian government’s debt on municipal fire protection.
  • Understand the ambivalence many career officers have toward volunteer firefighters.
  • Understand the effects of increasing safety standards within in the fire service.
  • Understand the effects of increasing litigation.
  • Understand the effect of increasing the diversity of the fire fighting force.
  • Understand that societal conditions and neighbourhood conditions affect how prestigious firefighters are seen by the public.

Unit Two

  • Learn how the 3C’s model is applicable in the fire service and why control, competence, and climate are critical factors in the fire station.
  • Appreciate the value of motivation through training, promotion and identification with the company.
  • Learn to apply:
    •  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
    • Vroom’s expectancy to the firefighters in a station
    • Locke’s goal theory
    • Adams’ and Homans’ equity theory

Unit Three

Learn to apply:

  • Blake and Mouton’s Two Factor Theory
  • Fiedler’s contingency theory of leadership
  • Vroom and Yetton’s normative theory of leadership
  • Situational Leadership Theory

Unit Four

  • Explain why composite fire departments are efficient using McDavid’s research.
  • Describe the attitudes of career and volunteer firefighters towards each other.
  • Identify recommended best practices for officers in composite stations.

Unit Five

  • Understand why a career fire station is like a family.
  • Appreciate the need for active listening skills.
  • Apply sensible criteria when deciding whether to report a rule violated by a firefighter.
  • Understand due process in the application of disciplinary procedures.

Unit Six

  • Apply the vicious and virtuous cycles of causation to volunteer fire departments that you know.
  • Classify different volunteer and composite fire departments according to the Perkins/Benoit Typology.
  • Describe the typical volunteer firefighter.
  • Develop recommendations for recruiting volunteers in your department.

Course suthor

John Benoit, Ph.D.
John Benoit has been an applied sociologist, employing social science research to fire service administration. He obtained his PhD in sociology from the Johns Hopkins University in 1975, writing a dissertation on the effect of information flow on risk taking. He had worked at Dalhousie for 24 years, spending the last 20 as Director, Fire Management Education. During this time he wrote and co-wrote several of the courses, editing others. His principal areas of expertise include fire department-municipal government relations, the volunteer fire service, some aspects of personnel management, and theoretical perspectives on emergency management. In addition to course development, he has conducted research and published in the areas of volunteer fire administration, and disaster management. John recently retired and is now examining the effect of rural volunteer fire departments on the local community, and the impact of courageous experience and social capital on local economic development.



    "I would certainly recommend this course to anyone who has an interest in bettering themselves or their departments in the fire service. I am associated with a very small volunteer fire department. When I first viewed the fire services that the other students were members of I felt I was totally out of place. As the course evolved I found this to be untrue. Big or small, career or volunteer, we all face the same problems in the fire service and I am very glad to have participated in this course."

Chief Scott MacKinnon, Cabot Vol. Fire D. NS