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Title:Fire department organizational culture: A burning need for change?
Author(s):Brauer, Brian R.
Director of Research:Kuchinke, K. P.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Kuchinke, K. P.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Lammers, John C.; Poole, Marshall S.; Huang, Wen-Hao
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Educational Policy and Organizational Leadership
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Organizational Culture, Fire Department Culture, Cultural Change
Abstract:The number of firefighters killed in the line of duty has remained relatively unchanged for the past three decades, despite a decrease in the number of fires occurring, a decrease in the number of civilians trapped in fires, and improvements in technology related to firefighter personal protective equipment. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation has asserted that the organizational culture that has developed among fire service organizations has contributed to many of these firefighter fatalities. An understanding of this culture and how it can be successfully changed can be used to develop safer practices to reduce the number of firefighters killed each year. The purpose of this study is to build a comparison between two points in time for a fire company in the Midwest that experienced a Line of Duty Death and determine if and how that department’s organizational culture changed between the two periods of time. Gagliardi’s conceptual framework for the creation and change of organizational culture is used to analyze how the department changed as a result of the death. A gap exists in the literature for studies that look at if and how fire departments change after an LODD, and sharing organizational culture changes made as a result of the LODD experience can be applied to other departments. This instrumental case study of an Illinois fire department considers the history and traditions of the fire department, membership practices, initial and ongoing training practices, the routines present in the fire station, and the community into which the fire department responds. Two specific time periods were compared 2010 (when a new fire chief was promoted) and 2015 (4 years after the LODD) using Modes of Implementation from Pasquale Gagliardi’s model for the Creation and Change of Organizational Cultures. This model led to the identification of 28 areas of change grouped into seven broad categories. Firefighters and officers of the department were interviewed via semi-structured format to provide information about components of the organization’s culture before and since the Line of Duty Death. The study revealed that the leadership change that occurred in 2010 was a greater driving factor for change while the LODD served as a catalyst and motivator for change. The sustained changes resulted from the new leaders’ vision, empowerment of his staff, and his influence on surrounding agencies.
Issue Date:2016-10-24
Rights Information:Copyright Brian R. Brauer, 2016
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-03-01
Date Deposited:2016-12

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