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  • Blowin' Steam (please comment)

    I am a volunteer at a small rural department, where I have called home for the last 13+ years. Our department is strictly volunteer, and we have always had a policy that job & family come first. We now have a chief that is a little gung ho, and has "ordered" us to start responding to more incidents. This chief acts as if he is a hired chief, or a large paid department, rather than an elected chief of a small volunteer department. He forgets that the department as a whole is supposed to make decisions of major purchases, as well as other issues. Recently, we were talking about getting an urban interface pumper, after our station got an add on. He took it upon himself to order a large tanker, that we dont have room for. Now, we have 5 trucks in a 3 bay station. On top of that, he also requested a SUV from the county, so now he has this vehicle in town at his house.
    At a recent meeting, a new member was making suggestions about how our training should be handled, and the chief was going right along with it, as if "thats how it was going to be from now on", and then I spoke up, the chief got mad because he thought I was going against his authority, and then all hell broke loose. The suggestion was to create a committee of people to perform the trainings, then the chief would assign members from that committee to train the other members. Our dept is too small to be having an internal committee on training, and we dont have any members who are qualified to do training. This discussion went on for 30 minutes, in a veryheated manner, and the chief was in total agreement with the other member, and he said "we WILL do this!" At that point, another member made a motion to table the discussion until our first meeting after the first of the year, and the motion was seconded. Then the chief proceeded to say that we will adopt this new policy at the next meeting. I told him no, we have a motion on the floor, so now we needed to vote on it. He said something to the effect that he was the chief and he decided what was what. I said no, we need to vote on the motion. (We always follow Roberts Rules of Order in our meetings, and he has absolutely no idea how to conduct a meeting in that fashion). The other member that had made the original suggestion then had to tell the chief how the voting process worked. Before the voting, another member started in on a little rant about how things needed to be and that we needed to start doing more training. I stopped him, I told him that he sat there and kept his mouth shut during the entire discussion period, and now we were voting so he needed to shut it. That didnt go over to well either. The motion passed 7-4. And the chief STILL said we are going to discuss at next meeting. What a moron. I am not bitching at the suggestion of training, just the manner in which they are going about it. Coincidently, the member that has suggested the training has been to one call since he has joined the department, and is also responsible for burning up a 2way radio, and a power supply, due to failing to install a ground wire on an outdoor antenna.(he told us he was a qualified radio equipment tech, and he seemed to know what he was talking about).
    I dont know what to do now. I dont want to be there anymore with this chief acting like this, (he has a severe case of big-head syndrome). Seriously thinking of quitting the department that I helped to build, I am one of the few remaining original members. Considering going to a local department that neighbors us. I have had a mutual aid agreement with them for several years. Maybe someone has some advice for me.

  • #2
    1. Sounds like you need to either update or create by-laws/SOP's for how your department operates. Without that, it's a free for all...plain and simple.

    2. If you don't have something written somewhere that says you are to follow Robert's Rules...no one has to follow them.

    3. Based on what you have stated above and my guess at #1 and #2 missing...no one is in charge of your department, so therefore it will default to the highest rank.....the Chief.

    4. Based on your post...your department has a lot of work ahead of itself. Good Luck.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

    Comment


    • #3
      After the first several sentences, I stop reading this as it was all running together.

      Why didn't you space some of this moaning and groaning out.

      Hey you guys elected him to be the CHIEF! Vote him out next year.

      In the meanwhile suck it up.
      Stay Safe and Well Out There....

      Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

      Comment


      • #4
        Well, this seems familiar. I went through a recent chief change in a similar department. Change is hard. It is hard for the members and the leadership. I used to be a very active member, and now... to save myself and the hardwork I have put into the department I am just coming in to do my truck checks before my shift and minimum required meetings/trainings.... once I figure out the new chief and how I fit in I will pick the activity up a little.

        Just enjoy your time there, and if you are not having fun... spend less time there.

        Comment


        • #5
          Bones covered it very well. Your by-laws or whatever governing documents you have should spell out the responsibilities and limitations of each position. Withoout those, it's up to the individual to decide how much power he has.

          You don't mention how the Chief is selected. Is it by election, is he appointed by some other authority or what. That makes a difference in what you recourse may be.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Eng34FF View Post
            Bones covered it very well. Your by-laws or whatever governing documents you have should spell out the responsibilities and limitations of each position. Withoout those, it's up to the individual to decide how much power he has.

            You don't mention how the Chief is selected. Is it by election, is he appointed by some other authority or what. That makes a difference in what you recourse may be.


            ....This chief acts as if he is a hired chief, or a large paid department, rather than an elected chief of a small volunteer department.

            I know I had to read his post several times as it ran together a bit.

            Comment


            • #7
              Look across the table at him at the next meeting and say in a calm clear voice...

              "I guess you don't much care about being re-elected do you?"
              Crazy, but that's how it goes
              Millions of people living as foes
              Maybe it's not too late
              To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Jonnee View Post
                ....This chief acts as if he is a hired chief, or a large paid department, rather than an elected chief of a small volunteer department.

                I know I had to read his post several times as it ran together a bit.
                Thanks, missed that the first time around.

                Comment


                • #9
                  What part of this do you have control over?

                  If your department is run by consensus then how many agree with you?

                  It sucks to have an all powerful chief (aka firegod) in control. Grow some as a group and vote him out,or find middle ground,or live with it, or leave. You may have other options but chief-o-cide is likely not one of them.
                  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

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Now, lets hear the Chiefs side of this.
                    ?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I agree with just about everyone else on this subject. As a department you have to do what is best for your department. If that is to vote this guy out then so be it. I also agree that your laws need to be S-P-E-L-L-E-D out. We just did a complete make over of our bylaws this last year because I found them to be extemely behind the times and quite vauge. If you don't have a good set of bylaws I would be happy to share a copy of ours for you to get an idea of how they should somewhat be laid out and spelled out.

                      Now, as for the comment... "we are JUST a small town volunteer fire department" , "we are not a paid full time department" ... Here is my take on that statement. Shouldn't we as Volunteers be held to the same standards as the paid guys? After all we do the exact same job. I hope that no one looks at their department as "JUST small town volunteer" because whether you like it or not we are ALL firemen. Volunteers volunteer to become a member, after that you are a FIREFIGHTER! At least that is the way I see it. You should be required to respond to calls, otherwise you will only have half your department doing anything. The other half will be sitting at the coffee shop talking bout what the pager or radio said at the last call at that is useless!

                      Man up, and stand up for what you believe in, but from my expirence... handling issues like this in a calm collected manner will get you much farther than Bi&ching and moning. You owe it to our community, your citizens, and your fellow members (past and present) to get the organization back on track and back to "the brotherhood" it should be! Good Luck Brother!

                      Stay Safe,

                      FD5
                      "EVERYONE GOES HOME... ALWAYS"

                      "Let no mans ghost come back to say his training let him down."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Two words

                        Para Graphs
                        I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

                        "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

                        "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          While "Chief Napolean" may be the chief, he still needs to present himself as "business like" at meetings.

                          If he is pushing his weight around, see if he is doing that with authority. Your by-laws should stipulate (or even your city, fire district, etc. policies, etc.) on how money is spent. If he is pushing through purchases without legal approval, there will be trouble ahead.

                          Best to confront him before this turns into a bigger problem. If he violates any policies, document it. Cite any approved law, policy, etc. that he violates. Show it to other affected members and confront the chief. If he refuses to back down on purchases without the legal way to do so, seek his removal.

                          I would assume you are spending taxpayer money and their must be a formal way to approve purchases (bidding, etc.).

                          While it may be hard to change management, you may have to do this!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by GVFD5 View Post
                            Now, as for the comment... "we are JUST a small town volunteer fire department" , "we are not a paid full time department" ... Here is my take on that statement. Shouldn't we as Volunteers be held to the same standards as the paid guys? FD5
                            No, in my opinion. For several reasons.

                            For volunteers, firefighting won't pay the rent, feed the kids or make the spouse happy. Expecting a volunteer to jeopardize their family or job is unreasonable. Try this tactic and watch your membership dissappear.

                            Holding a volly to the same standard as a paid ff would likely require him\her to have 2 careers. Would you EXPECT a paid FF to also be a journeyman full-time carpenter or plumber or electrician or ??? Some may be able to pull it off, but not many. Especially those with families.

                            A small town FD can go for days or even weeks without a call. No need to staff the firehouse.

                            As a volunteer, I respond when I can. While rare, I have skipped calls for a variety of reasons. Hopefully there are enough able bodies in the district to respond at any given time. I have also been on calls where we've been short-handed and that's just the way it goes sometimes.

                            The original post stated that their policy is family\job first. That is our policy also. Nothing wrong with that. His concern was that they were being required to respond more. I would say that they should review who is and who is not responding and find out why on an individual basis. If a person has a legit reason to not respond regularly, maybe a newborn or long work hours etc. then that's ok. But, if a person is continuously absent for no reason then they should be given an ultimatum. Either participate or quit.

                            Increasing the membership can also increase response numbers. Suggest a recruitment drive. Advertise for volunteers, etc.
                            My wise and profound comments and opinions are mine alone and are in no way associated with any other individual or group.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              You refer to the Chief as "chief napolean" --- have you met him ? Again there are 3 sides to every situation.
                              ?

                              Comment

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