1. #1

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    Default Volunteer FF on District Board

    We are a volunteer department in a Special District governed by a five member elected Board of Directors. The Chief, soon to be the only paid employee, answers to the Board and runs the daily operations of the Department.

    The Board has asked department members to express an interest in being on the Board, up to two of the five positions. While the argument is that they volunteers need a voice on the Board, they already have input through the Chief, as well as the opportunity to come to and paticipate in any and all Board meetings.

    I feel strongly a volunteer cannot be both the Chief's boss, as a Board member, and his 'employee' as a volunteer firefighter. This subjects the Chief to undue pressure and second guessing of his decisions by that volunteer/Board member. If the Chief does something the Volunteer does not like, even if perfectly legitimate and justified, then that volunteer has the power to affect the Chief's employment.

    How can one individual be the Chief's boss and at the same time be subject to the Chief's authority? Opinions? Anyone have a sample SOG or legal opinion that addresses this? Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Dec 2005
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    Louisville, KY USA
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    Here is how KY is legally setup

    We have
    3 People who are County Judge/Executive (County Administrator) appointed for 3 year terms.
    2 are Property Owners in the district that are voted on by other people in the district (no FF's can vote in this) and serve 4 year terms.
    2 are Firefighter Representatives which can be 2 Paid, 2 Volunteer, or 1 and 1.

    This is the only setup allowed in KY. A Board member is not the Chief's boss, the board as a whole is the boss.
    Josh Ball
    FF/EMT - Zoneton Fire Protection District
    PSO II - Louisville International Airport
    Deputy - Bullitt County Sheriff's Office

  3. #3
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    It depends on the make-up of the board. Our old board members were all cronies of the former chief. He could do whatever he wanted to. That was not good for anybody. He was replaced by the current chief. The same board members made our chiefs life a living hell every time he wanted to spend money.
    IE, 'why do we need to spend big money, when a 10 flashlight from walmart works just as well".

    Now all the board members are also FF. I am a senior member of the fire dept, as well as President of the fire board. Now the FF get together and decide on what equipment to buy. Since we use it, we know what we need.

    Does this put extra pressure on him, with me being there at fires, watching for his screw up's. YES. But I'm the president, so I don't care about that.

  4. #4
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    Default Volunteer

    Our main Fire District is made up of five fire districts. Each has a commissioner and our president is a volunteer at our Station #5. There are no problems with this arrangment and it works quite well.
    Respectfully,
    Jay Dudley
    Retired Fire
    Background Investigator
    IACOJ-Member
    Lifetime Member CSFA
    IAFF Alumni Member

  5. #5
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    In my experience, the Board of Directors acts as a whole and only makes decisions as a whole.

    The Chief is not an employee of any single member, only the board as a whole.

    When a board member is acting alone they are only speaking for themselves. Therefore, when the firefighter is not acting as part of the board he is just a firefighter.

    The Chairman of our Board is also a new volunteer firefighter and that is basically how the lawyer described it to us. We have not had any problems yet and would not change anything unless we started to.

    Hope this makes sense, I had a little trouble putting it into words. If I can clarify let me know!

  6. #6
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    As a Fire Commission we have five Commissioners. The Fire Chief reports to us and when there is a vote the Fire Chief has no vote. We the Commissioners make and vote on all matters to be solved. The Volunteer who is a Commissioner wil vote but he know that when it comes to any votes that pertain to volunteers he will obstain from voting.
    Respectfully,
    Jay Dudley
    Retired Fire
    Background Investigator
    IACOJ-Member
    Lifetime Member CSFA
    IAFF Alumni Member

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