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  1. #1
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    Default Volunteers right to develop SOG?

    I'm a member & president of a all volunteer fire co. in southern NJ. We are currently running into some issues with the governing body wanting to write the fire company's SOG regarding to vehicle responding to emergencies as well as the use of the chiefs vehicles for personal use. They feel the vehicle should be used when the chief is on duty; the problem my fire co. is having is convincing the governing body that the chief is volunteer, and is "on duty" 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week. If, and when, we get beyond this stumbling block, my fear is that they will want to rewrite our entire SOG as they see fit. What boggles me is that no member on the governing body has a stitch of emergency service experience. Is there any statutes, laws, guidelines or anything that would help to back a fire company in a situation like this?


  2. #2
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    Smile

    I don't know much if anything about the laws or regulations in your state, but in WV the state allows the counties to manage themselves when it comes to independent entities such as fire departments, the state just says what the basic requirements are to be considered a fire department and a firefighter. Some counties have what we call 'fire boards' that make all decisions for every fire department including SOGs, finances, and discipline. In my county, we govern ourselves. Each department is responsible for developing their own SOGs and so forth. As far as that goes, if a fire department is part of a city, where the city funds the department and so forth, the city has the right to appoint the department's fire chief and develope SOGs that govern the fire department in all aspects EXCEPT those SOGs pertaining to emergency calls for service. But, if the city is paying for the fuel in your vehicles, then they have the right to say, if you're not responding to a call or not doing the fire department's business, then stay out of our vehicles. That's the bottom line here, maybe you should try looking into the fire laws in your state. They should be available online or you can check with your county's courthouse, they should be able to get you a copy of the laws or direct you to which libraries carry these materials. Hope this helps!
    Be safe!

  3. #3
    Piney Power PineyPower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie3 View Post
    I'm a member & president of a all volunteer fire co. in southern NJ. We are currently running into some issues with the governing body wanting to write the fire company's SOG regarding to vehicle responding to emergencies as well as the use of the chiefs vehicles for personal use. They feel the vehicle should be used when the chief is on duty; the problem my fire co. is having is convincing the governing body that the chief is volunteer, and is "on duty" 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week. If, and when, we get beyond this stumbling block, my fear is that they will want to rewrite our entire SOG as they see fit. What boggles me is that no member on the governing body has a stitch of emergency service experience. Is there any statutes, laws, guidelines or anything that would help to back a fire company in a situation like this?
    I don't know of any legalities for using the Chief's or Assistant Chief's vehicle for personal use, but our company (also located in Southern NJ) is also having some problems with our Assistant Chief using the AC's vehicle for personal use. Now, personally, I don't have a problem with it, but our AC sometimes goes overboard and gets defensive when asked to use the AC's vehicle for a fire-related function or to get something done. Remember that the AC's vehicle is not their own, but the fire company's, which belongs to the township we are firefighters in.

    I don't think we're at the point where we are talking about changing our SOP's, but it has been a problem since our AC has been elected the AC for the past two years including this year.
    Pinewald Pioneer Vol. Fire Co. No. 1 Sta. 20
    "Piney Power"

    Berkeley Emergency Response Team (B.E.R.T./Haz-Mat/WMD/CBRNE) Station 85
    Berkeley Township, New Jersey 08721

  4. #4
    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    Very carefully read the ordinance your town has that covers the Fire Department. Yes, they have one in there somewhere. That will, most likely, explain who has the right to create what policies.

    My bet would be that the Fire Chief has that right, with approval of the Town Council.

    Yes, it's stupid for the Council to get so involved with the FD details, but sometimes it is necessary.


    If the Town is looking into controlling the use of the "chiefs vehicles"...there is an issue that they are looking to address. Truly look into how the vehicles are being used.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

  5. #5
    Forum Member BrianB35's Avatar
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    Our department the Chief and the officers make up the SOP and SOG. The only time the city, state, whatever get invloved is when we have to meet a law or policy. IE: Sexual harassment policy from city, MIOSH, etc.

    Being on city council the only thing the Chief comes to us is for budget and public safety.

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber dmleblanc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dfdlt109 View Post
    But, if the city is paying for the fuel in your vehicles, then they have the right to say, if you're not responding to a call or not doing the fire department's business, then stay out of our vehicles.

    Yeah, I'd have to agree with that. Whatever governing body provides the vehicle and the fuel should have some say-so in what it does (and does not) get used for.

    Consider yourself fortunate your department even HAS a chief's vehicle. I don't. Any running around I do for the fire department is with my own vehicle burning my own gas. I would love to be faced with your "problem"

    I think as long as the chief is staying within the district, there shouldn't be a problem with him being in the chief's vehicle, since he is technically "on duty" all the time. He should also be allowed to use it to go outside the district on fire department business only. But I think it's reasonable to expect him not to take it out of the district on personal trips. My opinion only. Like I said, I wish I had such a problem.....

    I also feel that if he's only going to be driving it around town for personal use, and somebody else needs transportation for FD purposes (say, to attend a training class out of town or something like that), then he should be reasonable enough to give up his "free ride" for the day, unless your department has additional vehicles for stuff like that.
    Last edited by dmleblanc; 05-28-2008 at 09:13 AM.
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

  7. #7
    Back In Black ChiefKN's Avatar
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    Couple of things:

    Like Bones said, find out how you are mentioned by ordinance. This will tell you a lot about your "rights".

    Who owns the equipment, the vehicles? If the department or district does, they have no say. If the town does, then you might have troubles. I would recommend looking at how the police chief is using his car as a good place to start.

    Don't fail to mention the delay it would take for the Chief to respond home, get the vehicle and then proceed to the scene. I know I kept a variety of resources in the vehicle. Maps, pre-plans, books, radios (a lot of radios), gear, yadda yadda yadda.

    I would find a way to work on this behind the scenes, standing up and debating at a council meeting about it probably means you've already lost.

    Also, if it is your vehicle, write an SOP on your own. Try to address the council's concerns. Was someone abusing the use?

    I wrote an SOP that the chief officers may only use the vehicles if they are able to respond and can only take it one town away while on personal business. We own the Chief's Vehicles.

    When i was Chief, I wouldn't even drive the vehicle if my wife was with me, even though I could've responded. I just felt that sent the wrong message.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

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