Many of us join the fire service because we’re drawn to the idea of being part of a team. Most everything we do in the fire service revolves around the team concept; from fighting a fire to running a medical aid call to something as simple as cooking dinner. The bottom line is firemen are well versed in teamwork and it’s the core of what makes firefighting such a great job.
But effective team work isn’t something that happens by accident; in fact, it takes a tremendous amount of effort, planning, communication and willingness to make it work. One thing I’ve realized after being part of several different types of teams over the years is that there’s no such thing as a “perfect” team.
All teams have flaws, experience conflicts and some sort of drama; which sometimes seems to become attached to a team like a parasite. I know people can use several different analogies to describe a marriage; even the term “Team” itself has been used. My favorite one is the concept of firefighting.
One of the best analogies is a line used in the movie “Fire Proof”. In the movie one of the main characters, the fire chief, is scolding a fireman for having left his partners side in a fire. He’s words were “You never leave your partner, especially in a fire”. Now what does that mean for a couple?
That means even when things get tough, bills, mortgage or teenagers you stick by each other. So many people find themselves in search of the perfect relationship and there is no such thing. What people should be looking for is trust. People need to be able to trust that their spouse will work alongside them when trouble comes and as a team they will meet the stress head on.
Teams can be broken down into two very basic groups: functional and dysfunctional. A functional team is able to work through differences, communicate honestly, recognize and effectively deal with challenges (both internally and externally), and focus on the results of the team.
The opposite can be said of a dysfunctional team. One interesting observation of many dysfunctional teams: They don’t realize they’re dysfunctional, often because they’re too close to the problem, they’re part of the problem, the members are in denial or they’ve never been part of a functional team, so they don’t know the difference.
This is where the trust in a relationship begins to break down. If a team doesn’t have trust, everything they do (or don’t do) suffers and ultimately revolves around or is in some way connected to the absence of trust. It’s impossible to function at a high level without trust.
We can fake it, or pretend to trust one another, in order to keep the peace in the “firehouse” or when we’re out in public, but that tactic isn’t going to cut it on the fire-ground. We are the only ones who really know if we trust our team members or not. When we don’t trust our team members, we also hesitate to ask for help or input because we’re afraid of the possible negative outcomes, which can lead to mistakes being made.
But fearing the reaction of a team member is never a good way to conduct a relationship. We should be able to ask for help and/or input without thinking twice about a teammate’s reaction. Do you and your spouse trust enough to reach out to each other? Trust is a precious commodity within our relationships.
It’s sometimes difficult to acquire and relatively easy to compromise. It’s also the basis of our team structure and as such, needs to be constantly looked after. Trust is truly the cornerstone of any relationship and team. Without it, the team will always fail to reach their potential; and in case of a fire, that could be fatal.