I'm a station captain in a massive, rural, mostly forested, volunteer department in the Colorado foothills. Some firefighters are going on strike to protest the actions of our Board of Directors. The Board was wrong, but I cannot bring myself to ignore a call for help. I'd love some advice.
In March 2007, the firefighters voted to replace the long-time chief (whose only current cert was a Red Cross first aid card) with a new one. The old chief got elected to the Board of Directors in May 2007, and has attempted to be chief from there, gettting his friends paid administrative and maintenance positions, and constantly interfering in operations. The Board promoted the wife of another Board member to full-time business manager, and moved her position out from under the chief's chain of command (she reports to the BOD). Two months ago, she plead guilty to "Official Misconduct". Monday night, the new chief asked the BOD to place her under his authority in the chain of command. Instead the BOD removed the new chief, and has refused to punish her for her crime. The judge tried to remove her from office, but could find no provision in the law that allowed him to do it. Two of the judge's comments from her sentencing:
"I think under all the circumstances which have been shown here today, there certainly is predicate support for the fire district removing you as business manager. But, I will not order it because there is no expressed requirement that an employee of a special district who is convicted of official misconduct must of necessity be directed to lose his or her position.But, given the dishonesty with which your [the business manager's] behavior is fraud, there certainly is predicate basis for the fire district relieving you of your duties."
"your [the business manager's] behavior is not something that was done by oversight and I reject those parts of the letters and the statements that suggest that it is. It’s a crime and crimes deserve punishment."
The new chief has done a spectacular job. He set up automatic mutual aid agreeements with surrounding districts. He got us safe bunking gear. He got us new and new/used trucks to replace trucks from the 1970s and 1980. He's gotten us training opportunities, and we're actually getting certifications. He's an unpaid volunteer.
Here are more details:
My mother is 80 years old and lives in the district. She's acutely aware of the importance of the responses of the volunteer firefighters. She says I should strike, that in the long run, the residents of the district will be better served. I can't do it. The people calling 9-1-1 need help, and I cannot ignore that.
Should I strike?