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Safety & Health: “Be Nice”

With the deeply sad news of Chief Alan Brunacini’s untimely passing, I got to thinking about his impact on the fire service. His contributions number too many to even comprehend!

But I was thinking about some of his more impactful contributions and how they relate to the safety, health and survival of our firefighters. We all know the impact that Blue Card has had for the fire service, RIC training and implementation and many others.

I always keep coming back to one of his most simple yet hugely impactful innovations. Chief Brunacini told his firefighters to “Be nice.”

Two simple words that, when we really think about their meaning, are timeless and impactful every day. And it doesn’t matter where we apply it: in the board room, “Be nice.” In negotiations, “Be nice.” In public, “Be nice.”

It works everywhere!

Well, except to each other. We haven’t gotten the message of “Be nice” when it comes to each other. Bullying and harassment in the workplace—our workplace—is out of control!

We smile at the little old man we’re helping back to bed for the third time this week, we smile at the mayor and councils as they slash our budgets. But we get back to our stations and treat each other with disrespect, meanness and bullying.

Now don’t get me wrong; Bruno wasn’t a coddler! He was an inspirer. He would talk to the newest kid on the job just as he would a beloved grandchild. He was never demeaning and never dismissive. He had a genuine love for everyone in the fire service, and bullying and harassing behavior bothered him deeply.

We (the fire service) will all miss Chief Bruno very much. What better way to honor his legacy than to eliminate harassment and bullying in our beloved fire service?

Visit IAFC.org and the VCOS website to learn more about how each of us can do our part in ending harassment and bullying in our fire service.


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