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  1. #1
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    I have 20 years of experience in the volunteer fire and ems field. I also work as a paramedic for a private ambulance service. I am both an EMS and Fire instructor. I recently moved to a new town and joined the volunteer department here. I have been trying to get the fire department to do more on their weekly training night than do vehicle maintenance or work on the pavilion. I also joined the emergency squad here. At a recent EMS meeting I expressed my opinions on a potential new member and have been blackballed since then. The fire chief and the board of fire commissioners say I am creating to much trouble and need to back off because I am creating hate and discontent. We dont even have portable radioes, we dont train, we only have one thermal imager, the mini pumoer has barely any brakes. tahs jsut a short list of issues.
    I undertstand that vehcle maintenance and other maintenance work needs to be done. I offered to do the training here 3 separate times and have been turned down or ignored 3 times. I have some serious safety concerns here and I cant get anyone to listen to me. Does anyone have any ideas that may help convey my message?


  2. #2
    Forum Member RspctFrmCalgary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fireguymel View Post
    I have 20 years of experience in the volunteer fire and ems field. I also work as a paramedic for a private ambulance service. I am both an EMS and Fire instructor. I recently moved to a new town and joined the volunteer department here.
    I have been trying to get the fire department to do more on their weekly training night than do vehicle maintenance or work on the pavilion. I also joined the emergency squad here. At a recent EMS meeting I expressed my opinions on a potential new member and have been blackballed since then. The fire chief and the board of fire commissioners say I am creating to much trouble and need to back off because I am creating hate and discontent. We dont even have portable radioes, we dont train, we only have one thermal imager, the mini pumoer has barely any brakes. tahs jsut a short list of issues.

    I undertstand that vehcle maintenance and other maintenance work needs to be done. I offered to do the training here 3 separate times and have been turned down or ignored 3 times. I have some serious safety concerns here and I cant get anyone to listen to me. Does anyone have any ideas that may help convey my message?
    Let me preface my post, for those that don't know me, by saying I am not in any way, shape or form involved in the fire/emergency services.

    I split the quote into two parts because my first instinct was to post just the words "how recent is recently joined".

    My rationale was that I would be the first to mention it and save everyone else the trouble of asking.

    I'm guessing the next thing certain posters will mention is "no matter how much experience you have had in the past, when you join a new department you are still a rookie and should do/act as any rookies in any department should (something to do with 2 ears and 1 mouth and the ummm is it 4? UPs -Shut Up, Clean Up, Listen Up and .... (ummm..... ok the kahlua just kicked in ... what's the 4th? Stand Up?) and such other rookie rules along those lines).

    Anyway, other than that, I applaud your dedication in trying to improve your department and make sure Everyone Goes Home.

    Oh, and another thing I remember people mentioning when these topics have been discussed before (because that's where I'm getting all the info/opinion I've shared) is to pick and choose your battles. Start small and work up to the big pictue. In other words, find one or two members that think the same way you do and are willing to make the effort to move their department forward by initiating and/or participating in training and all the rest of the things needed to bring your department into the present.

    I would hazard a guess that it is going to be a long, hard battle to bring your department up to the standards that should be mandatory in both our countries in order to keep firefighters safe.

    And just so nobody gets the wrong idea, I am more than aware that departments of this type exist in my country as well as yours.
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
    IACOJ CRUSTY CONVENTION CHAIR
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    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

  3. #3
    Forum Member edge1317's Avatar
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    You're in a rough spot here, you say just recently joined but haven't given how long so I'm assuming VERY recent like a month or a few?

    While you may think that 20 years experience in the field may give you some credibility to your new department it doesn't. These guys have no idea how good or bad of a person you are (there was a member in my previous department that had 40 or so years on and I didn't trust him at all, he was just flying under the radar.) As for working as a medic and being a fire and EMS instructor just as every other profession there is also the good and bad.

    Just think about it from their view, if you were in your old department and a new member joined and started pointing out things they felt were wrong trying to change the way you've been doing things and expressing opinions on hiring another new member, you would probably think "Who the heck does this guy think he is?".

    My advice would be for now just lay off on it, and only address safety issues that need to be addressed. Once you get a little time on look into changing just a couple things and when those are done look into changing a little bit more. Some may bash me for giving this advice and say just keep on it and change it all! While this would be great, this isn't a perfect world and your problem isn't going to change over night, we have to be realistic here.

    I'm currently in your situation also although no safety issues here some things are lacking. Something that will help is don't compare your old dept. to your new. I have probably over 2 years in my new dept. now and I'm slowly working at changing their first response EMS, while there are other concerns I felt this one is more important.

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    Show him the Charleston Report, and how 25 year old tactics & equipment, along with a lack of preperation, got 9 guys killed.
    The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of 'liberalism' they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened. --Norman Mattoon Thomas, 6 time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America

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    MembersZone Subscriber mcaldwell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by txgp17 View Post
    Show him the Charleston Report, and how 25 year old tactics & equipment, along with a lack of preperation, got 9 guys killed.

    Respectfully, that will do nothing but make it worse for him. Dinosaurs are Dinosaurs, and unless they can obtain those revelations from their Peers or real world experience (usually as a close call or worse), you can't change them in a day. I do suggest leaving some good periodicals or case reports like that "lying around" for other to pick up and read, strategically dog-eared to the good parts. Just don't try to push them on anyone.

    I agree with the rest, you have ruffled some feathers, so you will need to lay off for a while until the crew gets comfortable with you, and you can earn some respect as a knowledgeable and capable guy.

    Give them some time, and build some relationships and some allies. Then pick a single small item at a time, and try to slowly work on it. Eventually you may be able to encourage some change, and you may be able to leverage the small stuff into bigger things. Don't give up though, because that Chief and his officers need to be awakened to the realities of the modern fire service.

    Just remember; Rome wasn't built in a day...

    Last edited by mcaldwell; 06-15-2008 at 04:50 AM.
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

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    Good luck.
    Last edited by JD1234; 06-22-2008 at 06:57 AM.

  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber Eno821302's Avatar
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    Unhappy

    All I have to say is: "Wow, and I thought our training back home sucked."

    I can complain a lot about a few similar things- but in the end our entire department infrastructure is organized and pretty well maintained. A credit to the force... even though I've taken it for granted sometimes maybe I'll reconsider.

    As for packing it in- the reality of it is that the fire service is one of those exceptions to the rules of "you shouldn't make a living out of your hobby."

    Problem is, when you are exposed to this degree of incompetence and lack of professionalism it can be really, REALLY draining on your passion.

    I agree with many above when they say "if you're new, be new." I've seen more than my fair share of people who had 1 year of experience 20 times who should keep their mouth shut- but when we're talking about having to stand fast and watch superiors doing things that will in all likelihood get someone killed- or get YOU killed... I don't think it matters if a person has been on the job 10 years or 10 minutes. It's dangerous enough without having to make even the easy things stupid.

    In these days- my suggestion is to take some time while you're onboard to draft up some formal written requests to perform the training, or run it, or experience it. Follow up on it, and make sure you keep copies. Back it up. And if it still doesn't work out, then pack it in and keep your paperwork close-by because when someone does get killed on duty you'll be able to remind yourself that you did everything you could to prevent it.

    Or did you?
    Ian "Eno" McLeod
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    "To me, the charm of an encyclopedia is that it knows and I needn't."

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    That department sounds like one near where i live. Nothing is going to change until someone dies. That's usually how it goes. And i don't know about you but when that happens i wouldn't want my name tarnished if they ever came back and said "we have a fire instructor that did nothing."

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    Walk






    Away

  10. #10
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    Lots of good advice. I also recommend taking it slow and getting to know the politics and who's who. Another suggestion is to be careful about how you word making the suggestions. Telling them that they are doing it wrong and that your last department did it this way or that is bound to turn people off. Try asking why they do the things that they do. You may find out that some of it is well thought out. You may also get a lot of responses that they have always done it that way. If you get them thinking and discussing why they do what they do, you might be able to make them think the change is their idea.

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    In alot of depts especially here, it seems you have to earn your spot. I'm not saying to kiss butt, just ease into things. Alot of folks think that a new guy is a threat to their power, buddy up system, or what have you. It will take some time for you to infiltrate, but hang in there. Dont act like you know it all even if you know more than all of the members there. It will get you no where. Try writing them a FEMA grant, if awarded you may become the most liked guy in the dept. Good Luck

  12. #12
    Forum Member PaladinKnight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fireguymel View Post
    I have 20 years of experience in the volunteer fire and ems field. I also work as a paramedic for a private ambulance service. I am both an EMS and Fire instructor. I recently moved to a new town and joined the volunteer department here. I have been trying to get the fire department to do more on their weekly training night than do vehicle maintenance or work on the pavilion. I also joined the emergency squad here. At a recent EMS meeting I expressed my opinions on a potential new member and have been blackballed since then. The fire chief and the board of fire commissioners say I am creating to much trouble and need to back off because I am creating hate and discontent. We dont even have portable radioes, we dont train, we only have one thermal imager, the mini pumoer has barely any brakes. tahs jsut a short list of issues.
    I undertstand that vehcle maintenance and other maintenance work needs to be done. I offered to do the training here 3 separate times and have been turned down or ignored 3 times. I have some serious safety concerns here and I cant get anyone to listen to me. Does anyone have any ideas that may help convey my message?
    Been there and done that.

    First of all, you can't force change unless you are the "force of change". In this case, you are not. You went to these guys... they did not come to you.

    You are not in a position to tell these guys anything. They are what they are. They might have limited funding or even tight as a tick on a dog's butt when it comes to spending money. They fight fire and train their way. New guys with credentials do not impress them, unless they are from the State Fire School.

    An outsider is not going to change that. When will you be a insider? That is up to you and them.

    Think about someone coming to your house and telling you he was going to change everything about how you live, eat, sleep, work and wipe your butt. That is what you're up against.

    I took an assignment once where many of the issues you name were much the same. But in this situation, it was the County Fire Board that recognized that things had to change. They hired me to bring change. The Chief and rank resisted, but I was committed to what I was hired to do.

    After 2 months, a meeting was held between the Fire Board, the Chief and myself. The Fire Commissioner asked the Chief, "So how is it going Chief... is our new guy getting anything done?" His reply was, "He's causing me alot of trouble. The guys are starting to ask questions and are spending too much time buying into his crap. I want him gone."

    They fired the Chief and asked me if I wanted the job. My reply was, "You hired me to fix things. I do not want his job. He should have his job. I need his help to do my job." They gave the Chief his job back.

    The Chief asked me why I didn't take the job. My reply was "I need you to pave the way for me Chief. Together we can make things click, Sir."

    We became good friends. I was there for eight years, and we fixed many things. I did serve as Chief for two years, but only because the previous Chief gave the board his recommendation. When I was recruited and hired by another department, the crew gave me a shirt to be worn on my first day at the new job that read, "The New Guy". I did wear it... I considered it a high honor; it also helped to break the ice.

    Point is this: Not good for a new guy to come in and change everything when he doesn't have a mandate.

    ----------------------

    You have two options here.

    1) Take your time and don't push anything. At some point, it may be possible for you to find your feet and facilitate change.

    2) Walk Away


    Good Luck.

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