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  • Warm and Fuzzy Fire Chief's

    Am I the only one that is sick and tired of these Politically correct, warm and fuzzy, plastic helmet wearing, dumpster toting Fire Chief's? Let's hear from some of you.

  • #2
    A Chief is supposed to be someone who above all else supports and represents his department members. Though the Chief is also a political position, he or she has many people beneath him that are looking at him/her as their leader. The Chief needs to understand that a happy department is one that will work well and be productive. He needs to be a person thats not afraid to stand up to others and do what is right for "his/her team" even when it's not politically correct.


    • #3
      Yes, you are!
      You know, I wasn't going to do this, but your post begs for some explanation. I would suggest that next time, you pick a more thought-provoking, more intellectually-stimulating topic. Bitching about a white hat is just too easy. Now, let's get to the root of your problem; fight with a significant other? Single? Lonely? Volunteer FD? Got kicked off? Career FD? Got passed over? Reprimanded? Non-union? Wish you were union? Union? Union dues too high? You can chime in here any time.
      Now, to your post. Politically correct; would that be something like, "Young man, you have internalized issues that you need to get out" or would it be "you snot-nosed, pencil-necked, little dweeb, show some respect"? I don't know. That term "politically correct" is pretty subjective. It can mean different things to different people. I have a 50-50 chance of being wrong. I am not that crazy about being political or correct.
      Next, warm and fuzzy. My temp is 98.6. I do have some hair on my back, but I would not characterize me as fuzzy. However, sometimes I do have a problem conceptualizing and my guys will accuse me of "thinking fuzzy". What do they know, right?
      Plastic helmet-wearing; don't tell me that you have one of those real leather helmets that we all dream of having? How about a plastic helmet with a leatherette? Does that get me any points?
      Dumpster-toting; OK, you lost me on this one. As silly as it may sound, due to my limited background, this is a term that I am not familiar with.
      So, I played your little game; I responded when it probably wasn't the most prudent thing to do, but I noticed that no one else had. You got on the board with your first post. Congratulations, but let's use this forum to discuss fire service issues. Here's one; should fire chiefs both volunteer and career be required to take and pass a competency exam in order to hold the rank?
      Get back to me on that one.
      Glad I could brighten your day.
      Stay safe!
      Chief Reason


      • #4
        WOW! Did I step on some toes there Chief? I bet you voted for Gore, cause you sound a little Liberal to me. Actually I think your temp right now is around 104. I think I lost you on more than the dumpster toting. The point I was trying to make until you ran wild with some outrageous lip service was that we are the Fire Dept. We are not the trash collecting, carpet cleaning, customer service rep's of some hotel or resort. We are firefighters! I don't know how many fires you've been to this week, or even in the last ten years (if you're even that old). It is not our job to ensure the house fire we just put out is cleaner when we leave then it was when we pulled our hoselines through it. It's not our job to properly place items in a Fire Dept supplied dumpster when searching for fire or more importantly PEOPLE! You also replied that I should pick a more thought-provoking topic! Well guess what Chief Reason? You replied, didn't you?


        • #5
          Who said it was your job to clean the house? What are you talking about?


          • #6
            R-T, man you are out of line and out of focus. The public you serve are your customers, so yes, you are a "customer service rep". If you don't have enough pride to clean up after yourself, don't come my way. Last thing I would want around after I have lost my most prized possessions and/or family member is some ******* that doesn't have enough courtesy to clean up a little.

            I don't think I would even classify you as a FF, just some hothead that doesn't want to do his job.

            Read your post and I failed to see any semblance of "the point you were trying to make". Just crying and whining to the rest of us. Get real and grow up, you just may be able to become a real FF that takes pride in what he does and gets a little respect from others without having to attack them.

            O.B.T.W.,in case you are wondering; more than likely I've got more time on the crapper than you've got in the service of the public.


            Just my opinions, not my departments. If they are alike, it usually means somethin's gonna happen!


            • #7
              You know how sometimes we talk about that one guy on the dept that everyone makes fun of? The one that probably has all the certifications known to man, but can't even put on his bunkers right? The one that is first to drive, but last to do any work? The one that whines about all the problems, but has no intention of solving them? C'mon, every dept has one. If you can't think of your dept's, I'll bet it's YOU!

              Michael Wood


              • #8
                T MURRAY


                • #9
                  RescueTech... I think I know the type that you're speaking of and I don't plan on chastising you about your distaste for this type of person. I do agree with you that a chief, like any officer, needs to have some "grit" to him but, to be an effective leader he has to balance the grit with positive PR and good public perception of his department. I do disagree with you on the "customer service" bit, this is where the whole public perception bit comes into play. If the people don't think highly of your department and the job that you do, how can you get them to support apparatus purchases (vol depts) or pay raises (career depts) and other such expenses?

                  I am proud to say that as recently as last night my chief was threatened with a suspension (by the mayor) for speaking up at a town meeting regarding firefighter and occupant safety concerns at a local development. The developer, who's project this is, made a good investment and bought about 51% of the politicians in town. He's gone so far as to actually HIRE planning board members as "consultants"! So, needless to say the chief's position was somewhat unpopular but he stated our concerns, consequences be damned. Also, to show the amount of respect we have for our chief we have decided that if the town DOES go through with this suspension, every piece of fire apparatus and every ambulance in town will be in the town hall parking lot for the next meeting. We can't sit idly by and watch a developer with too much money and influence put lives (firefighters and citizens) at risk for the sake of the almighty dollar. Every once in a while the politicians need to be reminded that firefighters vote too! We figure 100 or so members at a town council meeting should have an impact or at least make them think twice.


                  • #10

                    You know the side of the Chief that is your boss, let me *try* to show you the other side of that Chief.

                    If you, or one of your comrades does something wrong, you only answer to the Chief. The Chief has to answer to the City/County manager, and/or City/County Commissioners. Your Chief has to be "politically correct", his job depends on it. If a citizen calls a Commissioner saying you left the house fire with glass everywhere and in a hazardous condition, guess who that Commissioner is gonna come down on. AND, if that Commissioner gets enough flak about it, they may try to instill a new law that says you must clean up before you leave, then you have no choice. I would imagine that warm and fuzzy Chief of yours has protected some of his firefighters a few times before his bosses.

                    Think about your job depending on the personalities of from 3 to 7 individuals. Think about trying to persuade those same 3 to 7 personalities that you run a good department, when you've got a group of citizens questioning their competency. Think about how you would tell those same 3 to 7 personalities it's not your job make the citizens happy after their house burns.

                    Warm and fuzzy? No, I doubt it, but he better be cool and collected. Politically correct? Might be an asset to you, especially since he has to deal with politicians to keep your department going.

                    Here's a suggestion, the next time you feel this way about your Chief attend one of those meetings with him, and see him in action. Might be an eye opener.


                    • #11
                      I get sick of the politically correct and the warm fuzzy thing sometimes. Their is time to be politically correct and a time not to be. Sometimes for the crews sake the chief has to have some b*#* and do the right thing, regardless if it's politically correct or not. People sometimes lose respect for a officer who has to be politically correct all the time. ...... This warm and fuzzy thing is starting to get WAY out of hand. I feel your pain R-T. I joined the fire department to go to fires. Their are other necessary evils that I don't like to do but I tollerate it, but they're taking it to far. I think chiefs do the warm & fuzzy "community-oriented, customer service" thing to make themselves look good, and if it makes the dept. look good that's good to. What did we call "customers" 3 years ago ? THE PUBLIC, A CITIZEN That's what they are. If a "customer" calls 911 nine times a month are they then called a "good customer"? Maybe they'll get a "customer of the month award". I'm sure some idiot chief will steal this one and run with it. What does the public really care about ? When they called 911, the FD got here fast and they took care of my problem quickly and professionally. If you want to better "customer service" (public relations 3 years ago), work on improving your response time, manpower, or train your people better. In my dept. they placed a 4-man engine out of service for 6 hours to handle a customer service event, hosing out rear alleys. They were not permitted to respond to emergencies. I guess next we'll be going to the home improvement place, get supplies and completely rebuild their house. Seems like most of this NEW customer service stuff is a bunch of B.S.

                      [This message has been edited by oz10engine (edited 04-18-2001).]


                      • #12
                        I can't even believe this is a topic! Anybody who got on the fire department "just to fight fires" has more than likely set more of them than they've fought. The fire service is about helping people and saving lives and property, this includes cleaning up after yourself, and helping out a person or family who because of their loss isn't able to clean up for themselves. You and your glory boy attitude need to go, you're making the rest of us sick.


                        • #13
                          I see where R-T is coming from. Every fire chief is "warm and fuzzy" at some point in their career as a chief, whether we as firemen see it or not. Unfortunately, they have to deal with politicians and all the crap that goes along with that. On top of that, they have to deal with the firemen and our wants/needs. They get it from both ends, and that has to be stressful.

                          One thing that I don't like is this customer service idea. I don't know who coined that phrase, but I feel it's incorrect. Our job at fighting fires hasn't changed over the decades. Yet someone, somewhere thought it important to do a little more, attatch a little phrase to it, and claim that this is what the "customers" are wanting. Has there ever been a poll taken to see what the public expects? Or did somone just speculate.

                          Now don't get me wrong. I'm all about doing an excellent job. Part of that job is to clean up my mess, not the owners mess. As for those residents that would complain about broken glass after they lost part of their house/business to fire are ungrateful and unhappy people anyway. And if it wasn't the broken glass they would've complained about something else. You can't please everybody.

                          I understand that we're trying to please the public and present a positive image. They do donate money to volunteer departments and can support career departments when they seek raises, etc. Now this may sound bad, but they're just citizens, not customers. They can't shop around for another fire department that might do the job better. Nor do we have discount rates on chimney fires during the Christmas Holidays. Their tax dollars go towards fire protection, not a seat on the "Fire Department Board of Directors". They won't shut the department down. And if they do get the taxes lowered so that less money goes to the FD, they're just hurting themselves.

                          Just as bad Public Relations can hurt you, good P.R. can help you. Start a P.R. program. Have pamphlets to hand out in front of the local grocery store explaining what the job of a fireman entails. Have video to show what the job entails during station tours. Do this a few times to several times a week, so that people understand what we do. Not only do we get the right message out, but we also show them that we care about them. This may save us from feeling as though we have to kiss citizens' butts when we're doing our job (which wasn't in my job description).

                          I think I've gone side track. I'll get back to the topic on the fire chief. Politics can be a nasty, silly game sometimes. It's something the chief has to deal with or participate in if he's going to hold his position and work with politicians. That's just the way the job goes. As long as the chief uses his politicing skills to look out for his firemen's best interest, then it's all good.

                          I LOVE THIS JOB!


                          • #14
                            R-T I feel your pain. I think that some of the attacks made by others where made by people who are not quite as well-rounded as they think they are.

                            This customer-service thing has gotten way out of hand. And it isn't the Citizens who demanded this either. It was OUR own construct.

                            Does anyone really think some citizen said "Hey why don't you do give me a dumpster and do all the work my homeowners insurance policy covers!" Sheeesh!

                            I think that the Chiefs that R-T speaks of proliferate todays top-brass because we have gotten away from our roots. We are and should be a Para-Military organization. We are an army that should be built to fight a war.

                            However, There have been changes in the fire service that have changed that. We now demand college educations for all officers in many places. While I agree that it is a good thing.(I have a degree) It comes with some problems.

                            Many requirements for time in grade(which is a standard taken from the military) have been shortened or dropped all together from promotional requirements. This has happened because of the Management concepts brought over from the Private Sector. For years it was mandatory that a guy spend years working up through the ranks so he is well rounded and knoledgable about all aspects of the Dept when he is promoted to Chief. Well, thats not how the Private Sector works...There, as we all know they can take a kid right out of college and put him in charge of 20 guys all who have more years on their respective job than this kid has been alive.

                            How has this been translated into the fireservice....We have taken away most if not all time-in-grade requirements and made it so the newest and "brightest" young fireman with a degree can shoot up the ranks.

                            Thus when he gets to the top(in lets say 10 years), his leadership abilities have been comprimised because he lacks the technical knoledge of the job. He lacks the abstract skills to determine how a policy will affect the Dept. because he never spent enough time with the men and saw how policies operate in the real world. And he lacks the human relations skills because he never spent time as one of the boys on the bottom.

                            He reads books and papers that speak of new concepts in Management and "customer service" writen by young guys trying to make a name for themselves...
                            while leaving the Strategies and Tactics" books written by experinced Chiefs and firemen such as Bill Clark, Dunn, Montagna, Coleman, Carter, Norman and Emanual Fried to collect dust in a corner.

                            So when it comes time to argue to the city council why they need 4 men on a rig or they need a Ladder Company, They don't have the ability to argue why. So they comprimise for a 3 man Quint and then expect them to do the job as safely and efficently as they did when they had a 4 man Engine and 5 man Truck Co.

                            I disagree that one should clean a house completely using a dumster as some have mentioned. There are things in that pile of filth that although to you or me may look like trash...to the citizens who's house just burned that old sweater or smoke and water damaged picture is all they have left.

                            Look at some film footage after a tornado has swept thru a town...what do you see? People rumaging thru their demolished house looking for what ever they can find. By you throwing all of the contents into a dumpster you have made damn near impossible for that person to find any belonging of theirs.

                            Also Before you tear out all the walls (You know the ones that are only smoke damaged) remember that not everyone in your community is as well off as you. Some might just repaint the walls because they can't afford any better.

                            What do you think is better "customer service?"...tearing out all the sheetrock and throwing all the houses interior in a dumpster or Learning how to conduct proper Salvage and Overahul? Equiping your men with the best training and equipment or Dumpsters and shovels?

                            And who's fault is all of this???? Ours because we let it happen.

                            That is what I think of "Warm and Fuzzy" Chiefs.

                            Two cents from a fireman.


                            • #15
                              Thanks OZ, GILL, and FRED! I'm glad to see there are still some firemen out there. I think the "Customer Service" thing was born into the Fire Department because someone else had to think of a new subject. Haz-mat, Incident Command, and Confined-Space are old to us now, and some Chief had to come up with a new class that everybody just has to have. I think you all misunderstand me. I agree that we should try to leave the house in as good of shape as possible when we leave. However, I strongly agree that the customer service thing is going way to far. One famous Chief would like to see a fire called a "Customer Service Event". Give me a freak'n break! A fire is a fire is a fire! And Junior boy from Zelienople, watch your language please.


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