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  • Handling Discipline

    Wondering how most volunteer companies handle disciplining members according to bylaws or local ordinance.

    1. Is discipline handled by membership at large, trustees, officers, or a committee?

    2. As far as disciplinary charges, what if a member is charged with a misdemeanor or felony:
    a. Is the member suspended pending outcome of case?
    b. If acquitted, can the member still be disciplined or expelled if the activity was witnessed (assuming no bias) or on videotape?
    c. If convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, is the member automatically expelled?

    One company I am involved with has relatively clear procedures that trustees, president and chief handle, and one company has very little in the way of guidance. Neither is clear on what to do if a person is convicted of a misdemeanor or felony.

  • #2
    Our bylaws are very clear on this- There must be a written discipline guideline, which is fair and unbiased for all parties.

    Any member charged with a crime outside of the Company is immediately placed on suspension of all activities, and may not enter the station pending the outcome of the situation. If he/she is found guilty then we begin the process of expelling them as a member. Any attempt to do so by your organization prior to them being convicted of a crime could mean leaving yourself open to lawsuit if he/she is found innocent.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    • #3
      Originally posted by JD1234 View Post
      Wondering how most volunteer companies handle disciplining members according to bylaws or local ordinance.

      1. Is discipline handled by membership at large, trustees, officers, or a committee?

      2. As far as disciplinary charges, what if a member is charged with a misdemeanor or felony:
      a. Is the member suspended pending outcome of case?
      b. If acquitted, can the member still be disciplined or expelled if the activity was witnessed (assuming no bias) or on videotape?
      c. If convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, is the member automatically expelled?

      One company I am involved with has relatively clear procedures that trustees, president and chief handle, and one company has very little in the way of guidance. Neither is clear on what to do if a person is convicted of a misdemeanor or felony.
      In the past this is what we've done. We are volly, paid dept's are likely more harsh.

      1; Discipline is administered by the chief. Depending on the circumstance, the chief will consult with the officers prior to discipline.

      2a; yes
      b; yes
      c; No. Too many variables. Nature of offense, prior history, time in fire service, all are factors.
      My wise and profound comments and opinions are mine alone and are in no way associated with any other individual or group.

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      • #4
        Bylaws, handbook, ect. should serve as a guide. Convictions in civil or criminal court can either be addressed in the bylaws OR they should be outlined in some document so as to not put the department in a legal quandry if multiple FFs are guilty of an offense. Justice should be equal. Litigation by the offended FF can lead to losses by all sides. Clear, loop hole free rules and consequences help avoid litigation.
        A coward stands by and watches wrongs committed without saying a word...Any opinions expressed are purely my own and not necessarily reflective of the views of my former departments

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        • #5
          In my department, discipline is handled through the Chain of Command. That's its purpose after all. Company Officers (Captains) deal with most issues and it moves up from there to the Battalion Chiefs, Deputy Chiefs to the Fire Chief. If necessary, the governing body reviews and either suspends or terminates. In my case, the governing body is my city council.

          As for a criminal charge, they can be placed on leave until the incident is investigated. Usually its a temporary thing; they are back on the job until the courts make a final decision. If the charges are serious enough, the person may be placed on leave until the matter is settled in court. Domestic Assault would be an example.

          If the matter is acquitted or dismissed by the courts/county attorney, the member may still be disciplined within our own organization. If there is video and the violation is serious enough, they could face termination.

          Depending on the charge, there may be automatic termination in my department.

          Our disciplinary actions and department rules are spelled out in our SOGs and in our city employee manuals. We are voluteers but still considered for insurance purposes, city employees. Therefore we still have to abide by their regulations.

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          • #6
            Discipline is generally handled by our volunteer chief. If he suspends you then it goes before a trial board made up of our board of directors/trustees. You're allowed to present your side of the story and so is the chief. Then the board decides your fate.

            If a member is charged with a misdemeanor or felony, the member is suspended pending outcome of the case. If he is acquitted then he/she is permitted back to active status. If convicted and depending on the charge (misdemeanor vice felony) they can be expelled. Generally a felony gets you expelled.

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            • #7
              We operate the same as most, useing the chain of command. However we have an image to the public we have to uphold. With that being said if they turn in the app. with any felony charges, they dont get put on. If at any time they are charged with a felony they are permently removed. Misdemeanors are sensitive. Alot goes in to consideration if someone has or has been convicted of a misdemeanor wether or not we put them on or let them stay on. We operate in the eye of the public.....our tax payers.
              Fire scenes: A well organized cluster F......
              These are my veiws and opinions.....Im just saying

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