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Poor Decision in Sugar Grove, PA

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  • #31
    I would bet that most of the Chief's out here will understand what I'm about to say. The Chief is *not* the boss, I would almost guarantee that he answers to someone else. I may be wrong, but I wouldn't be surprised that there's a policy that the truck can't be driven out of a certain radius.

    We don't know what the background is on his denial. For a long time we had trucks being used to go to lunch at the local diner, to go to library, and it even wound up at a yard sale one day. No one stopped to think that was a public vehicle, the gas in it was bought by tax dollars, as was the maintenance on it. The attitude was the firefighters were doing the community a favor, the least they could do was use the vehicle when they needed it. But no one bothered to look at the local and state law that stated publicly owned property could not be used for personal gain or pleasure.

    I also responded in the other thread, and I'll stand behind my feelings. The five fire fighters knew what they were doing, they knew they could disciplined, and not only did they disregard the trust placed in them by their Chief, they ignored the trust placed in them by their community.

    Five fire fighters could make a big difference in a small department. But knowing your authority was questioned and even ignored could make a bigger difference for the Chief and the remaining fire fighters.

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    • #32
      Sounds like the EX asst chief has an axe to grind with the PRESENT chief.

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      • #33
        Just wanted to post an example of how Chief Oaks seems to like to play with words a bit:

        "The truck that was taken was Sugar Grove's front line truck"

        Let's clear that one up....
        In my years in the dept. our "front line truck" was whichever of our 2 engines got to the scene first

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        • #34
          Jamie, Did the article lie when it said the Chief had denied your request to take the truck?

          Did it lie when it said you and the four others voted to do it anyway?

          Did it lie when it said you were all aware that there would be repurcussions?

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          • #35
            What a different tone this thread than the "Drunk DFD Firefighters" thread. Alot of people wrote in that thread that it was tough to deal with the loss of a brother and that you cannot crucify someone for one mistake. This thread seems to be entirely the opposite.

            Do I feel that the FF who took the truck should have been let go? Do I feel that the Detroit FF should be let go? Personally, I cannot bring myself to a definitive answer on either question.

            Eric

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            • #36
              Big Brother lives!!!!!!!!!!!!

              Do you love Big Brother?

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              • #37
                I'm watching you! Never go against Big Brother.

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                • #38
                  Maybe it was me, maybe I read into the article too deeply, but....Did anyone else get the feeling (from the article) that the Fire Chief is ALSO the President of the BOD? If that's the case, isn't that an extreme conflict of interest??

                  I agree with iwood....sounds like firemanjc may be bitter with his boss....nevertheless....the boss is the boss, and firemanjc disobeyed a direct order, and that's not a question, plain and simple, YES. And if the 5 members took a vote, and knew there were repercussions, then they too were guilty as charged. If I were the chief I would demand a severe punishment, but certainly not dismissal. I can definetly tell you that he wouldn't be my A/C anymore.
                  From reading firemanjc's posts, sounds like there is an internal power struggle????

                  PS- I didn't take any apparatus to Worcester, and I rode on a....ewwwwwwww....schoolbus with about a hundred other guys- but we were there. Just because we didn't show up on a BRT with the lights and sirens and chrome doesnt mean we didnt honor the memory of the fallen brothers!!!!

                  ------------------
                  "Loyalty above all else, except honor."

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                  • #39
                    Eric,
                    You may be right in the similarities of the two situations, but I also think there is a distinction that can't be ignored. Both groups represented their departments, but were both at their respective events as "official" representatives of the fire department?

                    Yes, what the fire fighters did at the Memorial was a direct reflection of their department, but in my opinion it was more of a reflection of them personally. Sure, it had repercussions on the department, as exemplified on this forum, but the lasting effects will be minimal. Whereas, what the five fire fighter's did by disobeying a direct order handed down by the Chief could have a big impact on moral, and the Chief's ability to control. If these five fire fighters are allowed to stay on, I see the potential for the Chief's authority to go right out the window. I can also see the potential for a division in the department, with growing animosity and power struggles.

                    What the fire fighters did at the Memorial was personal, unless they were there as official representatives of the department. And, if that's the case I would look at severe disciplinary actions for them also. The five fire fighters at the funeral, decided among themselves with no thought to the other fire fighters in the department to take a vote (which here would have been illegal), and over-ride what the Chief has told them. They not only directly involved themselves, the Chief, and the department, but they involved the public.

                    If they can't be trusted to work as a team, to follow the chain of command, and to follow directions, how can the Chief trust them to back him up or any other fire fighter who disagreed with their action?

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                    • #40
                      ArmyTruck, maybe its just too early, but what is BOD?

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                      • #41
                        Originally posted by SFD-129-3:
                        ArmyTruck, maybe its just too early, but what is BOD?
                        I would assume Board Of Directors, but if I recall an earlier post correctly, Chief Oaks is not on the Board Of Directors. He stated that in order for the truck to go, he would need permission from the town charter? I will check and edit this.

                        From the article:

                        According to Oaks, permission from the borough and the fire chief must also be in the minutes of a borough meeting for the truck to be taken.

                        In the past, according to the Meleens, only permission from the department was necessary.

                        End of copy and paste

                        I would tend to side with Chief Oaks on this one. I know that it is done the same way in my Department. The Chief must obtain permission from the Board of Fire Commissioners to send truck out of district, even for parades, although he has more leeway there, he just has to advise them that we're attending and he can pick the trucks that go.

                        The Chief does not own or insure the trucks, the 'borough' does.



                        [This message has been edited by iwood51 (edited 02-01-2001).]

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                        • #42
                          Comwhite:

                          I must say that you made an excellent point in your response to my comment. I never looked at these situations in that light before. To my untrained eye, I failed to see that critical difference.

                          Eric

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                          • #43
                            Ex. Asst. Chief;

                            So you blatantly challenged the new fire chief's authority one week into his term of office? How special.

                            You and the other four people deserved it.

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Id like to have one of my pat answers ("In my company we..." or "Good policy dictates...", etc.), but in this case I don't.

                              As I see this sort of situation, the decision on what to send (if anything) to a memorial is a judgement call. On one hand, you want to honor fallen Firefighters, and let your personnel have the closure that goes with this. On the other hand, you need to protect your area, since fires really don't care whether there is a funeral going on or not. Judgement calls like this call for an executive decision. Executive decisions ultimately come from the Chief. You may not like his/her decision, and you may not like him/her, but that's what they're there for and everybody's got to accept the chain of command or the organization doesn't work properly when it needs to.

                              There is a time and a place to jump the chain of command. That time comes when an order puts you or others at undue risk that can only be avoided by immediate action (usually because you know something from your position that the commander can't know from his/hers). This isn't one of those times. Sorry.

                              I won't try to comment on the specifics of this case, since I don't know enough to do so. I can only say that, if I was told that a crew that wanted to go could not take apparatus to a memorial nearby, I'd be at least a little ****ed. By the same token, if that memorial were out of response range, I'd only ask to take the Engine (which, these days, is mostly a supply piece, not an attack piece), leaving the squirt & ladder at home to cover our commitments to our own area and mutual aid. If told "no", I'd suck it up and take whoever wanted to go in POV, leaving any further discussion with the Chief for later or for other appropriate times/places. That's the way it works, as I see it.

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                              • #45
                                The decision here by the Chief is a whole nother issue. The fact that once the decision was made, the order was given and the order was disobeyed -- That's the root of the problem.

                                In my eyes, the factors leading to the Chief's decision are really irrelevent. Like I have said in the past and so have many others, unless the order given directly risks your personal safety/life, then it should be followed. If you feel it is wrong, it can be discussed at a later date when emotions are not the driving factor.

                                EX-Asst. Chief -- Let me ask you a question. Say that the year is 2003 and you are no longer Asst. Chief, but instead you are Chief. You make a painful decision and give an order. In turn 5 of your members (inlcuding your Asst. Chief who is supposed to be your 'right hand man') decide they don't like your decision so they are going to do what they want and ignore your order. What feelings are now going through your head and your heart? Would you feel betrayed, let down, disappointed, furious?? Which one?? Make a decision as the Asst. Chief you were and let me know? I will give you my answer. I'd feel each of those emotions and then some, with furious being at the top of the list. If you added calling me a liar on top of it, then I've just gone off the scale -- and I am definitely patient, sometimes too patient for my own good!

                                I am going to stick by everyone else here and say that the 5 members knew they were wrong, chose to do it anyway and now need to step up and pay the price.

                                This is just one of the reminders that being Chief is not all about wearing a white hat and driving one of those shiney, overpriced "Incident Command" Vehicles. It involves many headaches and difficult decisions that many people don't even stop to try and realize. Maybe if these 5 did, they might have a little more respect for the leader in their chain of command.

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