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RFD officers learn about employee evaluation methods

Fire Chief Joe Mansell is moving toward implementing a change at the Russellville Fire Department – he wants to add employee evaluations to RFD operations.

“My goal is, if we do evaluations and let the officers evaluate the guys, it would give us a better opportunity when we go for promotions to actually have these evaluations to help go off of,” Mansell said.

Evaluations would give the Civil Service Board a clearer understanding of a firefighter’s achievements, strengths and weaknesses, resulting in more advancements of worthy candidates. Evaluations, Mansell said, will also benefit those being evaluated.

“How does anybody know how to get better if you’re not letting them know the areas they need to try to improve in?” Mansell pointed out. “If you’re not doing evaluations, you’re not helping the guys grow.”

But at the same time, he’s always been hesitant about evaluations.

“The fire and police service, we work so closely with each other, it’s more of a brotherhood. You become a family,” Mansell said. That brotherhood can make it hard to deliver criticism. “If you don’t give a true evaluation on somebody, it’s really a waste of paper.”

So Mansell and his officers recently participated in a training class on conducting evaluations, led by Chief Ron Tyler of the Florence Police Department at the AW Todd Centre.

“It was a great program,” Mansell said. “He was able to share experiences from places he worked and how evaluations really benefited them and how they worked out.”

With Tyler’s recommendations and advice in mind, Mansell said he is ready to soon begin implanting a process of firefighter evaluations, to help ensure fairer promotions and make achievements more visible. He said he had an important moment of understanding, through Tyler’s class.

“I saw where, throughout the years, I might have not been doing all I could be doing to better the department and move it forward,” Mansell said. “We’re always wanting to keep moving forward and keep doing better.”