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How Do you Deal with Vols. who like to start trouble ?

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  • How Do you Deal with Vols. who like to start trouble ?

    Hello Guys, first let me tell you I'm a Chief of a very small Volunteer Dept only 17 members and about half of them are reserve, (not trained or Wives and such). My problems is, I have this one member that every time a subject comes up he wants to argue about it. Let me give you a little background oh him he's been to State fire School and for the most part has good attendance both to calls and meetings,grade school drop out, about 30 years old. He feels like I as Chief try to, in his words "Boss" everyone around. Every time he gets mad or things dont go he way he says "well i'll just quit".The only reason I said anything about his education is that because of that, I feel like its a factor in why he cant understand why I do things the way I do.I in no way try to be a dictator I open all issues for discussion and we vote on all items as a group, he never has anything to say at meetings, but after he make comments to one or two guys behind my back.Isnt part of the reason why Volunteer Depts. elect Chiefs and Asst Chiefs, Captains, Lts. is so they can do things for the Dept? By the way he's the only one who feels like I'm bossing everyone around, everone else says your the Chief its What ever you want to do.Thanks in advance for any input on this matter I dont want to loose any member of my Dept. Thanks Be Safe out there....

  • #2
    Every time he gets mad or things dont go he way he says "well i'll just quit".
    let him quit, and wish him good luck when he joins his next department. or tell him to quit or stop complaining. if he is that disruptive to you and the rest of the department, then both would probably be better if he wasn't there.
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!



    • #3
      Couple of questions, chief (and these are pretty much rhetorical, I'll address 'em in a sec):
      1) Is his bad attitude poisoning the others? Do they just ignore him when he starts blowing off?

      2) What is the basis for his opposition? Is it because he doesn't like being bossed around?

      3) Is he trying to build up a power base to try and unseat you as chief (I assume from your comments that you are elected by the members)?

      4) Are you operating under any state laws or departmental by-laws? Are they written, or is it past-practice ("We've always done it this way." [I'm not bashing if that's the way it works. Lot's and lot's of places run just fine that way.]) If you have written by-laws, do they address problem children?


      Some thoughts: I'm not sure how the law works in TN, but in IL the chief is ultimately responsible for every aspect of the deaprtment: personnel, training, compliance with local, state, and federal laws (particularly in regards to workplace safety), planning, etc., etc., etc. As such, it is your JOB to boss. Many chiefs delegate some or all of these responsibilities, but that dude with all the bugles is still the one who has to own up. You can boss without being bossy; but it takes a little politicing. Maybe you rubbed this chump the wrong way once, and now he's got it in for you.

      If his bad attitude is poisoning the department, get rid of him. If it's in your by-laws, follow your rules (he could actually sue for wrongful discharge if you just tell him, "Get out."). If you have no rules or guidelines in place, and he needs to go, write some rules, get 'em approved by your governing board and make it clear to him that he must abide by the rules; if he can't he's out. This business of "any warm body" is counter-productive if he brings everything down and doesn't bring anything to the table to help the department.

      If his problem is that he doesn't like being told what to do, then you've got a little finessing to do. The Fire Service is a paramilitary organization; that is, when the boss says jump, you had better do it, unless jumping will get you hurt or killed. Having said that, some people do much better if you say, "Hey, I think things would work well if you jump here, don't you?" than just a simple, "Jump 'cause I said so." Some people do just fine with, "Jump 'cause I said so."

      If he's trying to get everyone turned against you so he can run for chief, this will test your leadship skills. The best thing is to run your department fairly and evenly; if you are doing well, the membership won't entertain a change.

      Is this guy worth saving? Maybe he needs a sit-down with you to talk about why he's so negative about things. Maybe he has some misunderstandings about the way the fire service or your department is run. A good give-and-take session, where he can see the need for a leader, and for guys to follow that leader may be the best thing of all. He gets happy and stays, and you don't loose a guy.

      If that doesn't work out, and you need to get rid of him, be careful. As I said before, ya better make sure there are rules or by-laws in place that can dictate how a dismissal occurs. If you do get rid of him, it's worth while to set the story with the membership, so they understand the descion, and don't reverse it again as they have been.

      Good luck.
      Omnis Cedo Domus



      • #4
        Ditto Jaybird... gotta have a heart to heart with him to get to root of the matter. If something is policy and he doesn't like it, he needs to propose something new for the governing body, or consider leaving. The one rotten apple can spoil the barrel, unfortunately. Good luck with the problem child!

        Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong
        Dennis Miller


        • #5
          Sometimes you need to grip the 'Bull by the horns' and sit the person down and explain life to them. It may be difficult to undertake but it might clear the air. It is alright for us to make comments but without seeing the whole story the advice might make things worse.

          Personnel need to get on together and if it is only a small team then they need to get on better and work as a well oiled machine would. A loose cannon on deck can sink the whole team in time. If the person does not get on with the others and is causing you and the others pain then open the door and let him walk.

          Hope all goes well and you get it sorted soon.
          Kindest regards & keep safe,

          Sprinkle (UK)


          • #6
            If your the Chief ...be the Chief!..he is not worth the trouble he is causing or is going to cause. People who operate out of the command structure have a way of getting other people injuried or killed. You need to get to assemble the upper ranks (chiefs and president) of the department and come up with a plan on how to deal with this guy before something happens.....and somthing will happen !
            IACOJ Membership 2002

            Mike IAFF

            The beatings will continue until the morale improves


            • #7
              God knows I've heard these words before but just tell him to "count the bugles". You have 5 for a reason, on the other hand, he has none, probably for a reason too.


              • #8
                Your best option is to sit him down and have an honest, open discussion with him about his perceptions and attitude. You can't fix it if you don't know about it. If what he perceives as "bossing around" on your part is simply him grousing about very vague issues, then explain the facts of life to him. Tennessee is probably like most other states. The ultimate responsibility rests on your shoulders as Chief. Let something go wrong, and see if he steps up to the plate to share responsibility with you.

                I was Fire Chief of my old vollie department, and had a couple of people with similar attitudes when I took the job. As I made changes, they bitc...ooops, "groused" about any change I made. When I took over we had only about 20 or 25 active members. To make a long story short, I told 'em to either get with the program or take a hike. I needed people to work within the structure of the department; not a bunch of whiners. Three of them left, and I had 2 discharged after I rewrote the departments regs and had them approved by the Trustees. A couple of others straightened up after they saw that I wasn't backing down. As long as you follow the procedures in your rules and regs, you can get rid of people.

                Initially, I had people tell me that they thought I was nuts getting rid of people when we were so short. It turned out that over the next 2 or 3 years, we increased or staff to around 80 people. People got along, they hung out together, and they brought all kinds of people to the station to join. If people are exposed to constant negativity, they are usually pretty predictable. Usually, they either stay away unless they absolutely have to be there, or they start to take sides. In any case, it's terrible for morale. If I am interested in joining a department, one of the first things I want to find out is about morale. If it sucks, why? More importantly, why do I want to get involved in that kind of an organization?

                Sometimes you just hafta be an *** to be Chief. Your people will respect you in the long run. Do what's right for your department. That's what you're there for; to run the department. It may sound egotistical, but it is your call. After all...you're the Chief.
                Steve Gallagher
                IACOJ BOT
                "I don't apologize for anything. When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes


                • #9
                  Don't make it personal.

                  As a former chief and now a trustee, I can tell you that you can't make it look personal to this guy. And if you come at him with the attitude "because I'm the chief; that's why", then you lost him. It will be personal.
                  So, you have to approach it from a "for the good of the department" angle. If he can't work within the framework where everyone else does what they are told, then he must leave. If he can't function as a "MEMBER" of the team, then he has to leave. If you say anything that resembles "look; you have to change your attitude because I don't like it", then again, you have made it personal.
                  Apparently, he lacks the understanding that others are telling you what he is saying behind your back. That puts him on the outside. Either bring him back in, or wish him well as the store hits him in the butt as he leaves.
                  Whatever the case, you have to deal with it for the good of the department and the community.
                  Good luck, chief.
                  Visit www.iacoj.com
                  Remember Bradley Golden (9/25/01)
                  RIP HOF Robert J. Compton(ENG6511)


                  • #10
                    I am the Chief of a small Independent Company but fortunately I have a plan if there is to be any "troublesome" members.First I take him/her privately to explain that command is here for a reason and that we cant have "more Chiefs than Indians".I would also tell them that if termination was to come to be that it would not be personal...but on a safety level and that there are rules that must be followed not only for that members safety...but the safety for others as well.
                    Fortunately I have not had to deal with this simply becuase all of my members know exactly who thier "command" is and until that member is promoted to some sort of command status...rules as a standard member are to be met.

                    Donna C
                    Fire Chief
                    Bridge Canyon VFD


                    • #11
                      Perhpas I am old school, and perhaprs I have this whole situation read wrong, but...

                      This guy sounds like he has the "good ol' boy" syndrome. He would challenge you or anyone else in your position simply because of the ego and power trip he gets when he does it. To me, you need this guy like you need a left-handed spanner wrench.

                      You can try all that text book management crap on him, or you could do things a little differently.

                      1. There are good jobs and bad jobs in the fire service. He could get all the bad jobs. He should get the message.

                      2. When you get wind that he is complaining about something, assign him to a task to change it. My motto, "Don't complain about a problem unless you have a solution".

                      3. You have already stated that he is the only one who feels this way. That means you must have some allies. Have several of the younger, larger, more physically fit members pull the member aside (say to the parking lot behind the fire house) and have a "discussion" with him.

                      4. The next time he says that he will quit...do not give him an opportunity to change his mind. He only does this so people ask him to come back. This only reinforces the behavior. Let him go. Something tells me your FD would survive.


                      • #12
                        Nah, Time to go.......

                        Time to send this one on his way. Having "been there, done that" I can tell you that something WILL happen. The trick will be to make whatever happens, happen in a manner so YOU benefit and your opposition doesn't. I would explain just how I see the problem, and how I intend to fix the problem. He shapes up or ships out. Stay Safe....
                        Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
                        In memory of
                        Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
                        Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

                        IACOJ Budget Analyst

                        I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.



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