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Good ol'e Boy Politics or Social Politics which is the lesser of two evils?

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  • Good ol'e Boy Politics or Social Politics which is the lesser of two evils?

    It used to be that the only way to get on a fire department was to know someone. Fire Departments were known as "White Male Boys Clubs," hence "good ol'e boy politics." You could say that the process was unfair, but if a person could not perform the job, they either didn't get on or they didn't last long.

    Now with affermative action and city quotas, It seems to me that it is no longer about the person ability to perform. I constantly hear "we have to make the job available to everyone," thus standards are dropped. Is this the reason that there are some career firefighters who can't perform simple tasks such as pulling attack lines or throwing ladders? One personel director went as far to tell me that we can't make the physical agilities test too hard.

    I don't know about you guys, but I would rather have a person who trained hard for a year prior to the test so they would pass, than one who could walk off the street in any condition an pass.

  • #2
    Neither is any good. You're setting up a straw man here, though. This mythical "good ole boy politics" that you're talking about doesn't exist, and never did.

    This is a myth perpetuated by those who love affirmative action, can't get enough of quotas, and believe that minorities are inferior and therefore need special accomodations to do just about everything.

    The myth has existed for so long because firefighting, more than any other profession, runs in the bloodlines. For most of the life of this country, there have been an abundance of "firefighting families" - grandfathers, fathers, and sons all in the fire service. That's not "good ole boy", that's tradition.

    Leftists and social experimenters have perverted this history with the reinterpretation you characterized as fact in your original post. The plain and simple fact is that there was not much minority interest in the fire service for many, many years. Now, these same racists (who believe that a minority person is damaged goods) have tried to convince us that somehow it's the "good ole boys" fault that minority representation in the fire service was low in years past.

    Don't believe the hype. Don't fall for this revisionist history, which is created to support a political agenda. EVERY PUBLIC SAFETY PROFESSIONAL, from the small-town volunteer firefighter to the police and fire personnel of New York City, should be absolutely qualified for their job. There can be no exception. To do otherwise is a disservice to the people we protect, and a glaring disrespect to minorities.

    J. Black

    The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone and may not reflect those of any organization with which I am associated.

    [This message has been edited by BucksEng91 (edited 05-22-2001).]


    • #3
      Very nicely put Bucks....I have done my fair share of testing for many a Fire Department, small and big cities, and I have not ran into the 'Good ole boys' club stereotypes, of coarse you hear the rumors that this dept will only hire such and such, but the key here is that it is just that rumors...I have found nothing but tradition and professionalism where ever I Have gone and I hope everyone else receives the same respect...Stay Safe.....


      • #4
        Good Old Boy stuff exists everywhere to some degree.

        In my fire department we require EVERYONE to be a certified FF 1&2 within a certain timeframe of joining.

        In my Rescue Squad you have to be a certified ERT (emergency rsq tech) within a year.

        To get in to the FD you have to prove you want to do the job, the rescue squad requires certain basic certifications (EMT, Dive or Rescue) but to stay you have to be able to perform like everyone else.

        Take the pressure off the officers that don't want to stand up to the old ways and put the requirements in black and white (Rules & Regs). If they don't meet them they don't get in and you can simply say...sorry, it's the rules....Using state or national standards will strengthen your position.

        Susan Bednar
        Forsyth Rescue Squad (Captain)
        Griffith Volunteer FD


        • #5
          It's true the good ole boys exist. From a previous co. I've seen documented legal action from the aclu for a co. rejecting a person for color, this was back in the late 70's for a vol. dept.. In the end the person won and turned out to be a realy good firefighter. This person was the first black firefighter in the co. in it's 90 yr. (at the time) history, this was in a prodominatly black community. It has since gotten better, there have been several minority firefighters. At this time they have 3 women and a couple of "non-white" firefighters out of somewhere around 35 to 40 personal.
          As far as civil service NJ has lowered the testing procedures. It was to increase the chances of all aplicants or something to that affect not sure of the exact wording. So you lowered the standards of one of the toughest jobs around. The fires are hotter now quicker burning but the firefighters slower and weaker. 2 yr.s ago I took the test the only fire related question was 1. Your gauge reads 70psi, you need to get to 100psi, how much psi must you add? Realy boosts your confidence huh?


          • #6
            "Back in the 70s", "I heard one time..."

            It's all either anecdotal, or from a long time ago. This is your "evidence"?

            The mythical "good ole boys" network is an excuse for those who can't make the grade - "Well, I failed the fire academy entrance exam. It must be because I don't 'know' anybody." Waa waa waa. The death of individual responsibility and individualism continues unabated.

            J. Black

            The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone and may not reflect those of any organization with which I am associated.


            • #7
              Bucks..I agree with you...to an extent. A case in point:

              A friend of mine lives in Vermont. The volunteer fire department he lives in had a sign asking for new members to join. He's very community oriented (he coaches baseball and hockey, and his wife teaches school there), so he went in to ask for an application. He was rejected. The reason: he was not "born and brought up in town". Since he's from Massachusetts, he's considered to be a "flatlander" and the Chief said to him "flatlanders need not apply". This is the good old boy network entrenched in place!

              Here is where I agree with you:
              A friend of mine is a firefighter in Metro Boston. He is of African-American ancestry... When he took the fire department entrance exam, he left the race designation blank (it did not have to be filled out, it's optional). He scored a very high mark on the exam and passed the physical agility test. When he went for his interview with the Personnel Department and the Fire Chief of this community, he was asked why he did not say he was black when he filled out the applications. His answer was "I want the job on my own merits...not because of my skin color".

              Firefighters: Today's heroes protecting everyone's tomorrows!
              Captain Gonzo

              [This message has been edited by Captain Gonzo (edited 05-23-2001).]


              • #8
                Gonz -

                Thanks for the comments. But I don't see how we disagree, necessarily. What you describe, first of all, is again completely anecdotal (you heard it from a friend of yours - I'm not impugning his honesty, just pointing out that it's ALWAYS "somebody I know" or "a friend of mine"); and secondly, it is not a symptom of some extensive, planned, and wide-ranging system of exclusion - it's an assh*le chief. We've all dealt with them.

                I still don't see some huge "network" as described in the original post. Sure, there are assh*les everywhere, but is there a systematic effort to exclude anyone who doesn't fit the "good ole boy" mold? I just don't buy it. It's an excuse, plain and simple, for those who expect to be handed things gift-wrapped without having to work for it.

                Bravo to your friend. He gets it. Affirmative action and lowered standards are slaps in the face to any self-respecting American, minority or not.

                J. Black

                The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone and may not reflect those of any organization with which I am associated.


                • #9
                  Good points guys.

                  Maybe the term "good ol'e boy" was not the right way of putting it. But I do feel that this method of getting places within the FD still happens. More so in smaller communities I think. In larger ones we deal with affirmative action.

                  I personally believe that a person should be hired and even promoted on their merit not because they knew someone or were the right sex or race. Just like a resume, after you prove your qualifications then you list references. After a person goes through the process and they prove themselves, then I think recommendations supporting either side of the coin can come forward. But let us not change our standards or hold seperate ones so people in either group can get ahead.

                  Thanks for the comments. FYI... I'm not looking for a job. Just some thoughts.


                  • #10
                    Hey guys,
                    I've worked in public safety (police and fire) for five years, and I can tell you from my own experience that the good ol' boys club sure does exist. One of my fire departments (volunteer) had a "no tolerance" policy for alcohol - if you have been drinking, don't come to the call. Come to find out, the Assistant Chief told a certain group of firefighters that they could come to calls if they had been drinking as long as they did not drive the apparatus. There was all kinds of stuff - the training officer "couldn't find" the written tests for apparatus for the female firefighters, but was qualifying the guys on the same truck left and right. The women would order gear of a certain size only to find when it came in that they mysteriously had boots three sizes too big, or gear made for men rather than women.

                    As for career departments, I have a hard time believing that, during a physical agility test, a person's uncle or "old family friend" acting as a proctor or timer would allow him (or her) to fail if they could possibly help it(I've heard of a family member acting as a timer - I think that is inappropriate). And I've had the frustrating experience of completing a physical agility test mostly blind because the department I was testing with didn't have helmets small enough - I missed the time by only a few seconds and had spent about thirty seconds dragging the dummy around, with my helmet over my eyes, trying to find the target to drop the dummy in. Finally I shook the helmet off, finished the evolution, THEN had to go back for my helmet. I was told by the BC that it had been my responsibility to fit the helmet even though I had been told that I would have to "live with it" since that was as small as the helmet harness got. What do you think would have happened if a guy had appplied whose head was too BIG for the helmet? They would have found something for him - not just made him perch the helmet on the top of his head and "live with it".

                    Guys, I'm not complaining because I didn't pass the test. I can't say for certain that it would have gone my way had I had properly fitting equipment. All I wanted was a fair shake in that instance, and that's not what I got. And in law enforcement, it's even worse. The good old boys network is not always obvious. Sometimes it has taken a while for me to catch on. But it's there.

                    You're right, EVERYONE should be qualified for the job. End of story. But, I think sometimes qualified people get pushed aside by the good ol' boys. I just do what I can and try not to take it personally. On the other hand, not taking action or pointing out the discrepancies isn't doing anyone any favors. So, do I take my lumps and swallow the injustice? Or do I make an issue - and enemies at the same time? A girl just can't win....

                    Just my 2 cents,



                    • #11
                      My idea for physical agility tests is to require all active firefighters and line officers on a department to pass the same test given to the applicants once a year. That way we can be assured that the tests are fair - at least to a certain extent...



                      • #12

                        \\My idea for physical agility tests is to require all active firefighters and line officers on a department to pass the same test given to the applicants once a year.\\

                        I guess you're saying you're a fan of attrition based hiring.


                        • #13
                          I'm a fan of hiring the best candidates.



                          • #14
                            i don't care what color a person is as long as their still their when it heats up and the poopoo hits the fan. if their scared to get in and take care of business then they don't need to be their.

                            i,m the asst. chief on a volly dept.. my community is about 70% minority but my dept. is 1/12. go figure.

                            One foot in Hell and waiting on water !!!


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