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Fire & Life Safety: Soccer Teams and Community-Risk Reduction

As I was thinking about this article this weekend, I was sitting at home watching the Major League Soccer Cup Final between L.A. and New England. It got me thinking about what the fast-growing game of soccer and the emerging trend in the fire service of community-risk reduction have in common. You're probably wondering, "What does this have to do with team building?"

To casual fans or the uninitiated, soccer can look like 22 individuals running around chasing, kicking and blocking a ball. The final score may be 2-nil and many will focus just on the two individuals who scored and the goalkeeper who gave up the two goals.

But like any sport, soccer has dizzying intricacies and variables to consider. Wingers may push too far into the center. Midfielders may lose concentration and possession of the ball.

The team that wins usually does so because everyone involved effectively did their jobs while working to support their teammates around them to help them succeed.

What makes soccer even more challenging is that the game is constantly in motion. Formations drawn up in perfect symmetry in the meeting room begin changing at kickoff. The pace and form the game takes never stops changing until the final whistle.

The key to success in soccer is recognizing when help and support is needed—and when it isn't—in a constantly changing environment.

Like players on a soccer field, employees are the primary assets of every fire department. Your success as an individual is directly proportional to the hard work other employees contribute.

You must work in different and smarter ways and feel motivated to give your best. You must be aware of what your fellow team members are working on and understand what you're supposed to do and how that fits into the overall mission.

In a team-oriented environment, you contribute to the organization's overall success. You work with fellow department members to achieve desired results. Even though you have a specific job function and belong to a specific unit, you're unified with other members to accomplish the organization's overall objectives.

These are the basics to team building.

Like soccer, community-risk reduction (CRR) requires everyone in the department and all team members—from administration and operations to fire prevention and public education—to work together as a team to accomplish the overall objective.

CRR in the fire service is in constant motion and things change instantly every day. CRR programs can help build and improve your team because it gets the entire department involved in prevention and creates synergy as you work to accomplish the organization's overall objectives and goals.

Team building involves a variety of activities and discussions that create a climate that encourages and values contributions of the team members. The goal of team building is to focus your group's energy on problem-solving and task-effectiveness and to maximize the use of available resources to achieve the common goal—and to win the game.

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