This trend may result in the following advantages or disadvantages to the appointed officers (including the fire chief).
A better informed group of elected officials.
An established line of communications between the “policy makers (elected officials)” and the “policy implementer (appointed officers)”.
A better understanding of community (local government) priorities.
An increased demand for information to be provided by the appointed officers.
A perceived loss of authority or responsibility, by the appointed officers
If the fire protection service is to be provided efficiently and effectively, there must be dialogue and trust between the elected officials and the appointed officers. Both parties have a role to play in finding the basis for consensus and compromise. The elected officials have to balance the priorities of all the services provided to taxpayers. The Fire Chief must be prepared to document and promote the needs of the Fire Service and to function within the limit of resources provided.
The challenge for the Fire Chief is to develop and operate a fire department capable of providing a level of service which is acceptable to: the public it serves, the public officials it reports to, and those who operate the service (particularly the Fire Chief).
Guidelines for the Fire Chief:
Leave policy-making to the elected officials but understand your role in its development.
Develop established (documented) lines of communication between yourself and the elected officials to deal with all matters involving both groups.