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  • 6 volunteer firefighters walk out

    In the past few weeks some of you may have noticed my posts about the assault/European firefighting helmets, my safety concerns about them and the chief (forcing) the firefighters into wearing them. Well to bring you up to speed, the chief would not give in and as a result 6 of the frontline firefighters (including myself) resigned. The whole situation could have been averted had he listened to the members and not made comments such as "I don't care what the firefighters think." Any reactions to this would be appreciated and if anyone can make any suggestions feel free to make them because I'm not done fighting.

    Stay Safe,
    Former Lt. James Woda

  • #2
    My $.02 .....

    Your topic: "6 volunteer firefighters walk out"

    My question: Who did you "walk out" on?

    Your community?

    Your Chief?

    Or did you walk out on your brother and sister firefighters that look to you, a Lieutenant, for leadership and guidance?

    You're a Lieutenant - you worked hard for the hardware on your collars - why throw it all away and resign?

    Leadership is best AND easiest done by example - so should everyone resign?

    No knucklehead Chief would ever get me to give up what I love and have worked hard at.


    • #3
      Is your face happy now that you cut your nose off to spite it? You still have "approved" equipment. As said before, you have walked out on more than just your stubborn Chief. You can fight the helmet battle another day, but now your department is short 6 people (and you were probably short handed to start with).

      I guess if the kind of helmet you wear is more important than your dedication to the "calling" of being a firefighter, you probably should "take your toys and go home." With that kind of attitude, what would keep you from walking off the fireground when something didn't go your way?

      Richard Nester
      Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.


      • #4
        We walked out because we felt our safety was comprimised because our chief dosen't care what the firefighters think. I was told that when I joined I'd never be asked to do anything I feel unsafe. As for me working for my Lt. position I was looking out for safety concerns and listening to the firefighters concerns and I brought all of them to the officers meeting but as stated earlier he DOES NOT care. So I feel that I no longer need to be affeliated with the orginzation untill there are some changes.


        • #5
          Is the root of the problem helmets or uncompromising personalities? You (and 5 others) may have merely proven that you are expendable. How do you handle situations like this in your employment? Walk off every job? Pick up the pieces and go on. It would be one thing if he demanded NO helmets, but a type of helmet? Bite your tongue, put in your time, and maybe one day you will be the chief. And if so, you will be all the wiser in dealing with opinion differences in your department. Good Luck.


          • #6

            I can understand where you are coming from. I dont think you should have walked out. I think I know what you are going through because my chief in my NY department lovees to fight every point I have and I get frustrated. No one said that this job was 100% great all the time. Politics are a part of the volunteer fire service and career as well. I thought a million times about quitting my company and going to another, but it doesnt pay, the same sh*t goes on everywhere. As far ask not doing anything that you feel is unsafe... what do you as a LT. Do you throw ladders or drive wagons...thats about the only thing "safe" there is...and even that isnt safe... When you signed up you plegded to give your life for your brother or sister firefighter and the total stranger trapped inside. Danger is a part of the job. If the helmet was that unsafe, it would not be in use in your place. My suspicion is that you don't LIKE the helmet. Its not american and not traditional. Be lucky they give you an approved helmet, even if you dont like it... Think back to the days when fireman paid out of pocket for that stuff... My advice, suck it up, go back, do your job that you were sworn to do. If you think that your life is in extreme danger, then i guess you cant go the extra mile. Be a leader and when its your turn with the white euro helmet, change policy as you see fit.

            Quitting is the unmotivated persons way out.

            Cousin Vinny
            Kentland VFD Co. 33


            • #7
              Who finances your department? There has to be someone over the fire chief, and have you exhausted all means to get him to reconsider? Most cities have FIVE, at least, councilors, commissioners, trustees, whatever you call them, have you been before your board with this? And, if you have, then have you tried reaching the citizens in the city you serve, such as a petition?

              Idon't understand why you aren't getting any support from the city administrators, IF you have gone to them, with the information on these helmets. I will tell you if you did go to them, and threatened a "walk out", I'm not surprised they called your bluff. No city official wants to be "held hostage" by any group, volunteer or paid. If you've walked out without talking to them, then my guess would be you didn't impress them any with your actions.

              My suggestion would be; 1. Put your concerns in black and white, with supporting points from research. Have all willing firefighters sign it. 2. Take it to the Chief, and ask him if he's willing to discuss these with you. Try to carry an official with you. 3. If he says no, appear with your research at the next "city meeting", first ask to be put on the agenda, and present it to your commission. 4. If they don't seem willing to listen, tell them LASTLY that you feel the citizens of your city should be informed of what's going on, and you will be back with their response. 5. Begin a petition to have this issue looked into.

              I don't know if any of this will help you at all, but if one of my members appeared before the commission with the concern and the potential to involve voters, I'd sit up and listen. Good Luck.


              • #8
                In my opinion...instead of walking out, you should have had a vote of confidence on your chief....


                • #9
                  Believe it or not, I understand where you are coming from and why you quit. Having the courage of your convictions is a tough thing. I too, have watched talented, commited firefighters and EMS personnel leave various departments because of inter personal conflict. I myself, am not immune. A fellow firefighter wishes me ill because of my profession. It almost sounds as if your Chief had a personality conflict with the six of you and could not be mature enough to listen to a different view point. It's hard when someone like that is in a leadership position, but maybe if you went back after this Chief was voted out, things might get better. How about purchasing your own helmet? Some departments allow firefighters to purchase their own equipment as long as it is compliant with current standards. Anyway, best of luck to you and hang in there!!!


                  • #10
                    Mybe it's just me,and maybe I am misunderstanding the whole point. But walking out of a department that you have put years of time into and climbed the ladder to Lt just because the chief buys a helmet you don't like is a little childish. The Chief has teh ultimate decision that effects all personnel. They may decide they want to purchase a different style of gear or maybe even a different style of truck.
                    As far as the helmets go, in order to be sold in the United States, ALL personal protective equipment for firefighters must pass the NFPA test. In this case, the helmets should have a label attached somewhere that reads to the effect "this helmets meets or exceeds NFPA 1971". This means that the helmet has been tested by a third party and has passed or exceeded all test required by NFPA. This means the helmet is safe and is appropriate to wear for firefighting activity.

                    I, as the Assistant Chief for Rescue and Training in our department, have actually butted heads with members in classes we do with different ideas or techniques. Usually it's the old "we never have done it that way before", or of course "we've done it this way for years. Why change now?"

                    In the fire service 30 years ago, if you told a firefighter he would be wearing SCBA on every structure fire and going right into the mouth of the fire, he would have said "NO WAY! Not in a million years will I do that!" But here we are in the year 2001, with the most advanced gear ever made, and you want to, as one reply put it, "take your toys and go home" because the Chief has decided to go to a new style helmet that you do not approve of.

                    If you have a problem with the Chief, you can go to the Directors or Town Council and make a formal complaint to them. They are the ones that take care of him. As for the 6 walking out, if it were my department, attitudes of getting mad and leaving are not tolerated. Like another asked, if you didn't get your way on a fire or a car wreck call, would you get mad and leave your fellow firefighters behind then?

                    You need to take a look at what you and your 5 other associates have set as an example for the newer generation of firefighters to follow. Don't like a decision, get mad and leave. This is childish and probably puts and even greater strain on an already short-handed department.

                    Last word for you 6.....

                    Grow up and learn to live with it! Give the helmets a chance, you just might like them!

                    *****The opinions expressed are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of my department********

                    [This message has been edited by benford1 (edited 01-17-2001).]


                    • #11
                      No personal attack meant by this but...

                      You said: (In other posts)

                      1. Our department has a problem with our chief. First off he is only in town two days out of the week for about eight hours in which he watches TV and leaves the work to the rest of us (me). Anyways for the past year now I've been trying to fight these new European style helmets that our chief ordered. The helmets are the Assult helmets made by Lion Apparel
                      He bought four of them for us to try and we told him that we didn't like them because of the lack of the brim on the back to keep tar and hot water off the neck (nevermind they look goofy).

                      2. Since I got burned I switched back to my old bullard fire dome others have too, but now I have a conway leather (5 others have bought one too). Now he has tried to prevent us from wearing the leathers. But as far as that goes he lets members wear their own gear so I say whats the diffrence.

                      I say...

                      The helmet isnt unsafe or they wouldnt market it and it wouldnt be approved. I believe you dislike the helmet and wanted something more comforting to you. I personally feel they (euro-helmets) should all be collected and burned ceremoniously and never marketed in the USA again. I like my traditional helmets,

                      You probably didnt quit over a helmet, this I know. You probably didnt quit because of safety concerns. you probably quit because you couldnt get along with your fire Chief.

                      You will likely regret your decision and soon realize posting this here will draw much criticism to your point. If I had a dollar for every time I was frustrated and wanted to walk out, I d be rich. Im still plugging along. I'm sorry to hear that your 6 man protest just kicked your community in the balls. We dont know the entire history here but judging from the sound of things this is sad. As a remider, it's not in your best interest to debate department issues with your name and district attached to your messages, it doesnt help your case. Why did you join to begin with anyway? Think it over.

                      The information presented herein is simply my opinion and does not represent the opinion or view of my employer(s) or any department/agency to which I belong.

                      [This message has been edited by M G (edited 01-17-2001).]

                      [This message has been edited by M G (edited 01-17-2001).]


                      • #12
                        James, I think that MG probably summed it up best. Good advice.

                        This situation happened in our dept some years back. No one is even sure what the "straw" was that prompted it but several members quit and raised much havoc in the community.

                        After the dust settled, each of them privately admitted that they were wrong to walk out and that change can only occur from within. Because their voices were no longer being heard, the changes they wanted were longer in coming.

                        My suggestion would be the same as the others, go back to work. Trust me, no one ever died from eating a little crow. The body that chooses your Chief (fire company, trustees, Selectmen, etc) needs to have reasoned, intelligent feedback on his performance. If your prior posts are correct, his term should be up shortly.

                        Good luck.

                        [This message has been edited by Jim M. (edited 01-18-2001).]


                        • #13

                          Did you go to the city council?? I agree with pretty much everyone above. I would hate to know what the community thinks of this situation. It is going to a big p*#sing match when it all boils down. No one is going to benefit from your decision. The department will still keep the helmets, the chief looks like still be short staffed, your community will suffer response times, and the biggest one to me, is that you all probably look like quitters and babies. This is a sad day, a sad day indeed. I am not judging you, because this happens all over the country. But, it does not and will not solve anything.


                          • #14
                            Well this is just my .02 cents worth, but in all, this sounds like the "Leather for Ever" crew fighting technology. From what I've seen, these hemets are per say, state of the art. They may look "goofy" as you stated Bro, but, suck it up! Close your collar the right way and you won't get crap down your back.
                            And I wonder if you may have taken the boss out of context when he saud he doesn't care what the Firefighters think.I've had some sqaubles with the big guy myself, even lost the Lt. spot probly because of it, BUT! I'm still here, because there's Brothers and Sisters who caunt on me, as well as Joe Citizen. Firefighters don't run from adversity, they meet it head on, adapt, work for change, and overall,,Suck it up and Drive on!
                            Be Safe!


                            • #15
                              Vetersn posters may or may not remember a thread a while back that discussed, I believe, 13 members wanting to turn in their pagers. The response was the same. Good Riddance. There's no cryin' in baseball and there's no quitting in firefighting. Firefighters are not quitters. If they are, they're in the wrong business. I've been doing this for 17 years now and have butted heads with the worst and the best of them. As someone else said 'I probably lost the LT position because of it'. I am now an Ex-Captain and the white hat that I butted heads with the most is now the Chief. Did I take my ball and go home? No. I'm active as I can be, and work with/for the Chief to the best of my ability. You may not like the man, but you have to respect the position. When the bell makes noise, he's the MFWIC. At other times he's still the boss, but you have time to approach situations a little differently. As is your case. If there is a big problem, you need to address it with his boss, who, as others have said, may be the Town Council, the Board of Fire Commissioners, the Mayor.

                              Side note to Azde

                              In my opinion...instead of walking out, you should have had a vote of confidence on your chief....

                              I'm assuming this is a volunteer department, so would have bylaws probably following the guidelines of Robert's Rules of Order, unless their bylaws specifically address it, there is no such thing as a vote of confidence, or even a vote of no confidence as it is sometimes referred to.

                              If he's paid and the union's involved, that's a different story.


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