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HELP!!! Your ideas may save our Fire Dept.

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  • HELP!!! Your ideas may save our Fire Dept.

    This will be a lenghty question, but we need help, our Department is falling apart and we need to safe it now, any ideas would be greatly appreciated. I will try to give you some basics of the origin of the problem, this is an internal problem that has affected the entire dept. personnel, we are at wits end.
    This a volunteer dept in a rural area of the United States, we have an active roster of 12-20 firefighters. As with most volunteer depts. we barely get by on budget everywhere and struggle during daytime calls withe personnel being at work. We have two engines, brush truck and 2 tankers, we respond mutual aid and receive likewise.
    I wish I could better discribe but for now this is the best I can give you, for I need to get the question out.
    We have had a change of command in recent history, with the replacement of cheif, eversince this has happen this dept has been haywire with no control. We still conduct ourselves as professionals on the seen of any call as far as anyone outside the dept. can see but each member of this VOLUNTEER dept has felt like they have had enough. The problem stands between members of the board and firefighters, Cheif and firefighters, and everyone againist each other. Most members have been in dept. for amny years and a few new ones only a short time, but everyone is very head strong on their thoughts and not very willing to bend. We can not even have a meeting without an explosion and people walking out, as far as I know no one has quit yet (knock on wood) but on the road were on now it is inevitable. I wish I could tell you more about myself but I cannot for the sake of privacy of this matter. I fight fire. Thanks in advance of any help that you might share.

  • #2
    one last time.....

    My *wonderful* computer keeps rebooting and I've replied to you three times tonight....I'll do the reply in stages!


    I can certainly appreciate the position you are in. I belong to a VFD as well, and it certainly is tough at times. It's just so easy to say 'You know...I'm not getting paid for this, and I have better things to do than put up with the likes of you!'

    These are just my two cents, and it's late, so take it as just an opinion.

    I'm not quite sure what kind of structure your FD/area has, but it seems to me like you need to start at the bottom and work your way up.

    You'll need to take hold of the situation and work your way up the ladder one step at a time. First step would be to get together with as many of the volunteers as you can and start off by telling everyone that things have to come to a head and they all need to think about the future of the FD. Tell them that things are benefitting no one at the moment and problems need to be addressed. Get everyone's take on what they have issues with, write them all down, make sure you have as much detail as you need, see what everyone agrees on, what they don't agree on, don't make any judgements or give any opinions. Just be a note taker and encourage everyone to voice their opinions.

    Step two is to take it to who needs to see the majority of these problems. Is it purely an inside thing where the Chief needs to be spoken to? Is it at a point where the Board Members need to be in on it to make major decisions?

    Again, sit everyone down (most places have a monthly meeting, I think..try and get as many people involved in the next one after you have sat down with the volunteers) and start off by telling them that you'd like to address the major concerns which will impact everyone there, and huffing, puffing, eye rolling, walking out, yelling and anything else negative will not help anyone or resolve anything.

    to be continued....


    • #3

      Go through the list of everything you wrote down and compiled, and address the major issues the volunteers are having. Is it poor leadership? Are things not organized well? Are certain people not getting along?

      When people start to get rowdy or huffy, try to calm them down and say that you understand their viewpoint, and you understand their anger (even if you don't), but you all need to find solutions to rectify the problems, not just for them to be debated and shouted louder and louder. Try and keep your opinion out of the entire thing. Be as neutral as you can be.

      Hopefully everyone will understand that if they don't turn their testosterone level down, at least for the meetings, then things won't get handled properly and you will all suffer because your FD will suffer.

      If/when things go a little smoother, then you can all get along, for at least an hour or two, and try to work on fixing problems that seem to be the key points of your crumbling FD. Keep in mind that people tend to react bad if they are being accused of something so things like "Well, it seems the majority of the volunteers think the current chief sucks, and he needs to lose his attitude" won't get you very far. Try using "The volunteers feel that more organization is needed, and we can all appreciate the job the Chief is doing, but perhaps we can have some more defined guidelines..." etc etc.

      Well....this could have all been just some rambling bull, but maybe it will give you an idea or two. Good luck with your VFD.

      I hope I didn't jump the gun or anything here....this was the second thread I read on this site and signed up to reply to it. I hope no one minds a short time listener/first time caller jumped in and wrote such a rambling post!

      Remember to eat your vegetables!


      • #4

        Like I said anything has got to help, these ideas will be considered.


        • #5
          Sounds like you need a general membership meeting where everyone can voice their concerns and clear the air. We do this once a year. It also sounds like everyone needs to step back and remember the real purpose of a VFD and what you are there for. It's important that the membership feels comfortable voicing their concerns and the meeting must also discuss solutions to concerns if it is not to become a giant bitch session where nothing positive results. Ground rules need to be set up for the meeting and adhered to during the course of the meeting. Be prepared for a long one.

          You will always have the response issues, but if you don't have a positive atmosphere at your station where members feel welcome, your team work and cohesiveness as an effective fire department will suffer and your department will not be successful in your mission.
          Last edited by CJMinick390; 10-09-2003, 09:35 AM.
          Chris Minick, P.E., Firefighter II
          Structures Specialist, MD-TF 1

          These statements are mine and mine alone
          I.A.C.O.J. Building crust and proud of it


          • #6
            Take the next chiefs exam!! write your local congressman and say that your chief would be an excellent candidate for the Bagdad international airport fire department.

            A dose of nerve gas will fix his little red wagon!!

            Seriously, Get a core of guys together who truely want to salvage your dept. Get a majority who can stand up to the minority. Stay positive and don't give in to the negative crap. Negatiity is like cancer, it spreads rapidly!


            • #7
              Recuit as many new members as fast as you can. This tends to dilute the bad attitudes and even things out.

              Next ignore the trouble makers. They will either give up or get out.

              Next, put the loudest critic of the chief in his shoes. See how he fairs, then he will know.
              -Brotherhood: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
              -Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of you life is to serve as a warning to others.

              -Adversity: That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable.

              -Despair: Its always darkest before it goes Pitch Black.


              • #8
                Turn your eyes to GOD!

                A little bit of prayin' never hurt anything!!!

                All things I say...while not always making sense are ALWAYS my opinion and only mine. They do not reflect the opinions of any department of which I am a member.


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