Effective Management Strategies for Fire Operations

Organizations need managers perhaps more than individuals need leaders. Management is a science, whereas leadership is an art. Management can be studied, learned, implemented, evaluated for its effectiveness, redesigned, and evaluated again. It’s time that organizations are managed like successful businesses.

In a firefighting operation, effective management can make a huge difference in the efficiency of the operation and the number of lives saved. These organizations are also exposed to a number of unique management liability concerns in their day-to-day work. In addition to securing Management Liability Insurance, consider the following strategies to improve overall management.

Recruitment and Retention

Those who join a fire department often crave the strict structure offered by such an organization. As management, it’s important to provide comfort to those who perform a dangerous job, as people feel that following a well thought out process will keep them safe. Individuals must satisfy their basic needs to reach their highest potential. If they feel unsafe, they aren’t likely to remain a member, as they may not believe they will survive or excel.

A well-organized and efficiently managed training program will allow participants to gain valuable skills and confidence to engage in actual emergencies. The same goes for any other managed program; it must have goals, an established process, rules to follow, and an evaluation of its progress.

Theories of Management

Managers should study theories of management and understand their impacts.

  • Division of work: When employees are specialized, output can increase because the employees become increasingly skilled and efficient.
  • Authority: Managers must have the authority to give orders, but they must also keep in mind that with authority comes responsibility.
  • Unity of direction: Teams with the same objective should be working under the direction of one manager using one plan, ensuring that goals are clearly defined and the paths to those goals are properly coordinated.
  • Centralization: Not everyone can have input into every decision, but dividing the organization into different concentrated areas with common goals will permit more people to participate in the decision-making process.
  • Order: The workplace facilities must be clean and safe for employees.
  • Equity: Managers must be fair to staff at all times, both maintaining discipline as necessary and acting with kindness where appropriate.
  • Initiative: Employees should be given the necessary level of freedom to create and carry out plans.


Management must trust others in the organization. Lack of trust in others will result in an unproductive organization, resentment, and failure to take advantage of the potential and skills of the many people. Involving others in an organization’s management will significantly improve morale. Managers must begin to trust those below them and vest others with the authority to make improvements, handle projects, and, if need be, make mistakes.


Know when it’s time to restructure the agency. Break the cycle of managing by rank and begin managing by talent, skills, and experience.

Look at the causes of why people join, quit, or stay. You may find that the answer lies in the science of group dynamics, organizational behavior, and the science of management. Just as the fire service is changing the way it fights fires based on new science, perhaps it is time to review management structures and practices.


About Provident Fire Plus

At Provident Fire Plus, we offer custom tailored packages to best protect firefighters and volunteer firefighters. We understand the risks that emergency response teams are subjected to on a daily basis, and have worked to serve these dedicated professionals for over 87 years. For more information about our products and policies, we invite you to contact our experts today at (800) 447-0360.