Guest Column: Fairness

Spokane Valley Fire Chief Bryan Collins

As a leader in the Spokane Valley Fire Department (SVFD) I often reflect upon those critical characteristics that have contributed to our success as an organization over decades. One of the most important, “fairness” is a character trait that is embedded in the core value set of the employees here at SVFD. I would like to take the opportunity to illustrate how both, internal to our organization such as how we hire, promote, reward, and treat each other, and external in how we deliver high quality professional emergency services to the public the concept of “fairness” is critical to earning the trust and respect of others.

As an example, SVFD employees more than 200 people working in diverse areas from Fire and Emergency Response to Information Technology, Finance, Human Resources and so on. Employees within the organization desire to feel that they are being treated in an equitable and fair manner in matters such as how much they are paid, their hours of work and employment conditions, and as importantly that their contribution in the way of ideas and suggestions are being given fair and equitable consideration. Employees understand that in a diverse working environment there are times when people are treated differently based on the circumstances. So long as employees feel that the situation was considered and handled in a “fair” manner, in most cases they are very understanding, and thus develop a level of trust and comfort that the organization respects them and their ideas and concerns.

When SVFD firefighters and paramedics respond to emergencies on a daily basis, they deliver high quality care and compassion to each and every individual without regard to who they are, their social or economic status, whether they support us or they don’t, it doesn’t matter. As a core value we respect and treat all of those in need in a fair, and compassionate manner.  We like to say that we treat each and every person we come in contact with as if they were a member of our own family. This approach has garnered SVFD with the public trust and confidence that has ensured our success since 1940.

Organizationally, the SVFD has been providing emergency services here in the Spokane Valley for nearly 80 years now. We are privileged to do so, and are granted that opportunity by those in our community who receive a ballot, and a vote, to either support their fire department or not every four years. To date, we have always been successful in that endeavor, to a large degree because our public understands that their direct support of their fire department is the “fair” and just way to protect our communities. It is a “fair” and equitable way to deliver service to those that need it, when they most need it.

I would ask that as we approach this holiday season and New Year that we pause to ask ourselves and reflect upon this important characteristic. Are we practicing this in our personal and professional life? Are our relationships supported by a foundation in which we treat ourselves and others in a “fair and just way” in everything we do?

From everyone here at SVFD, I hope that answer is a resounding YES! And we all wish you and your families a happy and safe holiday and New Year.

Spokane Valley Fire Chief Bryan Collins began his service as Fire Chief with the Spokane Valley Fire Department in March of 2013 and has nearly 35 years’ experience in Fire and Emergency Services. Chief Collins promotes a community focused service philosophy where public agencies collaborate, share and work together to best meet the communities’ needs and to add public value.

Chief Collins holds a Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Studies and Organizational Development, a Master’s degree in Emergency Services Administration, and is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government – Senior Executives in State and Local Government program.