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Battalion Chief James Scott of the Lynchburg Fire Department
Isabella, Lynn A.; Forbes, Ted; McMillen, Sheila Case OB-0625 / Published February 24, 1997 / 17 pages.
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Product Overview

James Scott, one of two sector commanders at the Lynchburg (Virginia) Fire Department, is about to retire. Since Scott had been promoted to this position, he had tried to inculcate a new management style in the department. Where there had once been a rigid, paramilitary hierarchy, Scott had attempted to create a team-based environment that empowered each fire fighter to do his or her job without having to report to their immediate supervisor first. The story of Scott's management style is interwoven with the story of an actual fire that took place in Lynchburg in 1996. This story reveals the high degree of stress, uncertainty, and danger to which a fire fighter is subjected. The environment of the fire ground is very different from that of the station house; the fire fighters must immediately make the transition from the relatively relaxed and informal milieu of the latter, where individuals are free to question the decisions and actions of their colleagues, to the highly structured and hierarchical environment of the former, where both civilians' and fire fighters' lives hang in the balance. The decision points in the case explore Scott's philosophy and the changes he has made, and challenge the student to consider how to sustain the momentum of such changes.

  • Overview

    James Scott, one of two sector commanders at the Lynchburg (Virginia) Fire Department, is about to retire. Since Scott had been promoted to this position, he had tried to inculcate a new management style in the department. Where there had once been a rigid, paramilitary hierarchy, Scott had attempted to create a team-based environment that empowered each fire fighter to do his or her job without having to report to their immediate supervisor first. The story of Scott's management style is interwoven with the story of an actual fire that took place in Lynchburg in 1996. This story reveals the high degree of stress, uncertainty, and danger to which a fire fighter is subjected. The environment of the fire ground is very different from that of the station house; the fire fighters must immediately make the transition from the relatively relaxed and informal milieu of the latter, where individuals are free to question the decisions and actions of their colleagues, to the highly structured and hierarchical environment of the former, where both civilians' and fire fighters' lives hang in the balance. The decision points in the case explore Scott's philosophy and the changes he has made, and challenge the student to consider how to sustain the momentum of such changes.

  • Learning Objectives