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Need Advice

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  • Need Advice

    I'm a volunteer for a County FD and have been for several years. Our Dept has paid EMS and volunteer fire, with the county split into fire districts. Each district has a district chief who pretty much oversees the stations within the district with little to no oversight. The chief of the department is a paramedic with no fire experience.

    Our district chief, a firefighter of a couple decades, has been on a downward spiral for about a year. He doesn't show up to meetings or calls and our request never get submitted to the county, such as equipment repairs, etc. Instead, he comes back and tells us that the county doesn't like us and won't replace our equipment because some other station is getting a new flat screen tv or something ridiculous. Because of his constant lying, we are told that we are not allowed to speak to other firefighters or EMS employees.

    Additionally, we haven't trained in years. Morale sucks. The chief has his of cronies who don't associate with the rest of us. Our volunteers,who are held to no standards, don't show up for months at a time. We have a handful.of newer members who love fighting fire but are terrified to go on calls for fear of the chief showing up. Another handful have to beg the fire officers for training, and they try to make it happen, but the chief will.just show up and derail whatever is going on.

    Because morale is crap, our response times are garbage. Our city is just over one square mile and most of our members love within a 2 minute drive to the station. Recently, we averaged 14 minutes just to get a truck out the door. 20 and 30 minutes to get trucks out is a normal thing. And the chiefs response? "We're just volunteer."

    This is all manageable, however, coincidentally, our fire station sits next door to one of two bars in town. A few months ago, we were dispatched to a house fire. It took 11 minutes for a truck to get out of the station. Chief shows up on scene in the engine and smells like alcohol. He cancelled all responding units to a fully involved mobile home fire. Never asked anyone to disconnect utilities. Had his firemen walking around with live downed power lines and putting water on them. Everyone told.him we needed to catch a plug, but he ordered everyone not to. Eventually, long after we ran out of water, a city FD from another county showed up and did things right. As a result of cancelling everyone and refusing to secure a water source, the neighboring home was almost lost. There was definitely significant damage that shouldn't have been there.

    After the fire, we find Facebook pictures of him in the bar and receive dozens of complaints about the fire chief running out of the back door of the var and getting in a fire truck. The chief denies any of this happening. The county said they can't prove anything so won't do anything about it. The county also informed us that volunteers have no governing standards. Simply put, we have no rules to break.

    I have 16 years in the fire service and won't come here to bash one of my brothers, but I'm at a total loss. I need advice before I'm.forced to back out of the service all together. The last thing I want to see is the community suffering more than they currently do.

  • #2

    What state are you in??

    Sounds like you all need to get to the people that pay the bills, and let them know what is going on.

    If the chief shows up alcoholed, ask a nice police officer to do a field sobriety test.


    • #3
      I take it the Chief is unpaid, but how is he appointed or is he elected, and by whom? If things are as bad as you say, then the questions I would ask first are:

      1) Who has the authority to remove the chief, and what is that process?
      2) Who is qualified, able and willing to take his place?
      3) What written rules/regulations need to be established to prevent this from happening in the future?

      Every community can be a little different, but you may want to reach out to a neighboring department/district that seems to have their act together, and ask them how they did it, and how they do it, and maybe they can help you, and provide some guidance that will work where you are at.


      • #4
        Start documenting EVERYTHING. Have those you TRUST that want the dept. to become better, do the same. If what you say is true, it needs to be CRUSHED, and you need to have your ducks in a row to do it. You need to show how your dept. is not meeting all the standards that need to be met, how service is not being given efficiently, and how it is affecting the taxpayers. And speaking of them, work to get them behind you. If you can hit the problem from both sides, it will be much better. Quietly find your allies, and then get your ammo stored up.


        • #5
          I'm in Florida.

          I' a loss for words. A few months have gone by and I have been documenting everything, and submitting it to.the county. Our paper trail is long, however, the county continues to refuse to do anything. I still find beer bottles in the garbage cans of our station.

          I guess at this point, it just is what it is. Sucks to have to back out of the fire service after so many years just because some drunken clown wants a cool place to hang out.


          • #6
            So have you made use of the advice already given.

            The media is always looking for a story!!! And you do not have to give them your name.


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