4 Steps to Conflict Resolution and Why It Matters As You Begin Your Fire Service Promotion Process

When people live and work together and interact with the public there is one guarantee, conflicts will arise. So before you begin your firefighter promotional exam prep, let’s go over the basics of conflict resolution to ensure you will succeed in your new officer role. 

Conflict Resolution Techniques

  1. Listen & Identify the Conflict

The first step in conflict resolution is to figure out what the conflict is even about in the first place. Did one firefighter eat someone else's food, another firefighter slacked on the scene of an incident and made another angry, or is your entire crew fighting over politics? It is key to identify the source of any crew member conflict by talking to them individually. Even if you don’t agree with someone’s perspective, it is important that they know you are listening to them and trying to understand them. Once the reason behind the conflict has been determined, you must put yourself in the shoes of all parties involved in the conflict.

  1. Have a Respectful Discussion

After the source of the conflict has been resolved, let those involved in the disagreement talk in a safe environment where they can speak their mind to each other without judgement. You want to avoid any sort of escalation of the situation and just give those involved the opportunity to say what they need to say in a respectful manner. It is very important that you do this as soon as there is any word of conflict, so it can be resolved as soon as possible and there is no damage done to the overall teamwork and morale of your crew. 

It is your job as the supervisor and leader of your crew and the conversation to remain impartial. If someone breaks a rule that is a different story, but in the case of a workplace disagreement impartiality is key. 

  1. Come to a Resolution

It is important that at the end of the conflict discussion some sort of resolution is determined. This could be as simple as one party agreeing not to eat the other's food out of the fridge or as extreme as one party switching shifts because they see it as the only way they can avoid the conflict. Sometimes you will be forced to make tough decisions for the overall safety of your crew and community.  

  1. Get Them Working Together

Once a discussion has been had between the competing sides one of the best ways to get a conflict resolved is get those in disagreement to work together. Plan team training sessions and encourage and motivate your crew as much as possible, especially those that are conflicting. It is important for the members of your crew to be reminded how important it is to work on a team and understand what a huge safety hazard it is if they do not work well together for themselves, their crew, and members of the community. Nothing gets people on the same page more than working toward a common goal. 


Once you have the job in your new rank it is critical to have conflict resolution skills, but these skills may come into play earlier in the promotion process as well. Your assessment center test, oral interview or even the written test may have conflict resolution components to them as well so it is a good idea to get a head start on learning these skills.. 

The Takeaway

Promoting in the fire service is a huge decision. Your new rank doesn’t come with just a new job title and bigger paycheck, it comes with a lot more responsibility. Even if you do ace the written exam, there are other important factors to consider before you make the decision to promote, such as your ability to manage conflicts among your crew.