Your Workspace: A Peek into Fire Station #1 | Business
What’s your desk look like? Is it messy or clean? Do you keep photos of your family or print out your favorite quotes? Every week on KXLY, we’re going to feature a different workspace in the community. You might recognize the names of the people highlighted, or know of outcome of their work.
Last week we spoke with the Inland Northwest Blood Center about their communal treadmill desk, but here’s another workspace that shows another perspective of office life.
Brian Schaeffer is the assistant fire chief for Spokane Fire Department. That’s the number two position in the organization and he’s responsible for the executive leadership for the chief. He’s also the main contact for media in Spokane, though it’s not part of his job description. Eight-years-ago, he took it up to be assertive with media and give them the information they need to help keep the community informed.
On a normal day’s work he’s responsible for the day to day operations and the training division. He has a mobile office in his work vehicle, but also a casual side to his Fire Station 1 office. Complete with a couch, Shaeffer keeps his workspace comfortable for himself and to the people he collaborates with.
If you scroll to the bottom of the story, we also have photos of Schaeffer's office with little notes to explain what everything is in there. Simply hover over the photo to read the caption.
What makes your workspace yours?
Schaeffer: “What I’ve traditionally had, or what the fire department traditionally has had, is the bureaucratic desk that separates not only the room, but the one person one side and the person on the other side. That’s seen as authoritarian power style - to separate yourself from the person you’re talking to. Essentially to put distance between you and them and that’s not the way I’m wired. That’s the one thing I’ve never liked about government and traditional leadership models.”
How does your workspace affect your colleagues?
Schaeffer: “At the end of the day, I’ll make a decision on the people I work with. The space helps that happen. You can be a lot more relaxed. We’re just sitting around the kitchen table. I bought a personal couch. Instead of them delivering it to my home, I had them deliver it here. If I leave, I’m taking it with me. It’s really remarkable if you have to give somebody bad news or work out a problem, you’re just helping them feel comfortable. It’s a little cheesy, but it works.”
Why is your office so clean?
Schaeffer: “I think you can go to any of the other offices and you’ll find a heap of papers and a heap of stuff. You just accumulate stuff. That’s against my religion. I’m not a stuff accumulator.
It’s just like pockets. You know where pockets came from. Somebody thought it would be neat to put something in it. Same thing with desks. Put one row of drawers in, then you evolve to the two rows of drawers with stuff. It accumulates and it serves no purpose but to hide things. I like to stay ahead of the curve. I like to take care of the existing problem or solve the problem or finish the project and move on.”
What was it like when you moved into this office?
Schaeffer: “There were binders and binders of history like papers including minutes from bargaining in 2002. I took it to the scanner, sucked it in and made a .PDF.”