1. #1
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    Default Someone help me with this one...

    Am I reading this right? A FF calls in a false alarm and the only thing that happens to him is a demotion in a volunteer FD? And the chief says its OK because he is "out answering calls"? Please tell me I am missing something.

    W. Va. FF Demoted for False Call



    Courtney D. Clark and Jackie Ayres

    -

    The Register-Herald, Beckley, W.Va.


    Posted: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 00:35
    Updated: Fri, 01/08/2010 - 00:37 ..




    --



    Jan. 7--Police say a Sophia Area volunteer firefighter has been charged with reporting a false emergency and, as a consequence, has been demoted within the department.



    Raleigh County Sheriff's Deputy R.A. Cox said Zachary Andrew Robinson, 20, of Sophia, knowingly reported a false emergency on Oct. 16.



    Cox said he was dispatched to a three-vehicle accident on Tams Mountain with possible entrapment and ejection.



    "I asked the EOC to call the number back that reported the accident in order to find it," Cox said in a criminal complaint.



    "EOC advised me that they had called the number back several times, but no one would answer. They also advised me that the caller was hesitant to give his name ..."



    After driving to Ury and then eastward to Coal Fillers searching for the accident, Cox said he noticed an SUV parked on the side of the road.



    "One of the males (which he later found to be Robinson) asked me if I could shine my spotlight over the hill into the field to see if there was a truck that had wrecked over the hill," Cox said.



    "He stated that a friend of his ... had sent a text to a female telling her that he had just wrecked ..."



    When Cox asked the man for his name, he did not answer, only stating that he and the other man worked for Station 115 and were one of the units looking for the Tams accident, Cox wrote in the complaint.



    The deputy added he later found the number from which the accident was called in belonged to Robinson.



    A warrant was issued and Robinson was arrested Dec. 29 by Sophia police Sgt. Mark Larkin.



    "I remember when the call came in," Sophia Police Chief Tim Sweeney said. "He pulled a night in jail and was arraigned the following morning of arrest."



    As a result, the firefighter was bumped down from his position as lieutenant, Sweeney said.



    "He has been out answering calls, so he's not suspended," the chief said, "but he did lose rank."



    State Fire Marshal Sterling Lewis said what happens next is strictly a law enforcement matter.



    "It's up to the fire chief of the department," Lewis said. "My recommendation would be to remove the firefighter from the department.



    "Anyone that would do that need not be associated with a fire department," he continued. "They not only put the other firefighters' lives in danger in a response, they also endanger the citizenry with those trucks responding to something that did not happen."



    Sophia Area Fire Chief David Robertson could not be reached for comment.



    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    This just makes no sense at all.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    George.. here is the problem...
    As a result, the firefighter was bumped down from his position as lieutenant
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    George.. here is the problem...
    The Chief is part of the problem as well.
    Last edited by babcusar5; 01-08-2010 at 06:37 PM.

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    Chief's last name is different. Its Robertson. However that makes it no less perplexing how a 20yr old is a line officer.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nmfire View Post
    Chief's last name is different. Its Robertson. However that makes it no less perplexing how a 20yr old is a line officer.
    It is really not that uncommon in smaller rural volunteer departments. I was 21 when I was appointed a Lieutenant with my volunteer department.
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    That is messed up.

    I believe it's a maturity level, experience, and training instead of age. I was promoted to Lt. when I was 23, I was a full time Chief (ARFF dept.) at 24.

    It is quite common in small departments. You have to work with what you got but I think they probably could have done better than this kid.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dickey View Post
    That is messed up.

    I believe it's a maturity level, experience, and training instead of age. I was promoted to Lt. when I was 23, I was a full time Chief (ARFF dept.) at 24.

    It is quite common in small departments. You have to work with what you got but I think they probably could have done better than this kid.
    You hit the nail on the head, Jason.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dickey View Post
    That is messed up.

    I believe it's a maturity level, experience, and training instead of age. I was promoted to Lt. when I was 23, I was a full time Chief (ARFF dept.) at 24.

    It is quite common in small departments. You have to work with what you got but I think they probably could have done better than this kid.
    Please don't take offense but where could one get experience enough in their 20's to be chief over someone in their 40's with the same start age(both starting at 18+)? I have 23+ yrs as a career FF and 10+ volunteering and in my recent promotion to Capt. I stepped back a bit to ask myself if I was ready?
    Last edited by LT2387; 01-08-2010 at 09:40 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LT2387 View Post
    Please don't take offense but where could one get experience enough in their 20's to be chief over someone in their 40's with the same start age(both starting at 18+)? I have 23+ yrs as a career FF and 10+ volunteering and in my recent promotion to Capt. I stepped back a bit to ask myself if I was ready?
    They can't, but as was sort of mentioned already, in far too many smaller departments "experience" isn't a primary factor nor even a requirement in selecting officers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LT2387 View Post
    Please don't take offense but where could one get experience enough in their 20's to be chief over someone in their 40's with the same start age(both starting at 18+)? I have 23+ yrs as a career FF and 10+ volunteering and in my recent promotion to Capt. I stepped back a bit to ask myself if I was ready?
    It is easy to see how a career firefighter could attain more fire expirience in a shorter amount of time than a volunteer, depending on the department. For example, I have ran more structure fires with my career department in 3 years than some of the guys on my volunteer department have in 10. Couple that with the fact that i recieve more training with the career department than they do, and it is easy to see how on paper I may have been a better candidate for an officer position.

    That being said, I always have the attitude to learn. Everyone can learn something from someone else.

    The days of time in grade only promotions should be over in the fire service. Too many other variables to consider.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LT2387 View Post
    Please don't take offense but where could one get experience enough in their 20's to be chief over someone in their 40's with the same start age(both starting at 18+)?
    I agree with you, to an extent. I will pick on myself for example. When I was promoted to Lt., I was 23 years old, with 4 years on the FD, and 1 year of the explorer post so you could count that as 5 years. Yes, I had fire experience, not like FDNY fire experience but I was starting to get seasoned. At the time, it was between one other firefighter who was 30yrs old. The officers chose me over him because he did not do ems, he didn't have a good attendance record, and didn't mentor much or show an interest in teaching. The "old salty dogs" didn't want the position. There were basically 4-5 crusties that didn't want it, but sure griped when I got promoted. It was hard to prove myself to them but I did eventually. After a while I got there confidence and they totally supported me until one by one they retired. What made the difference I think is that I realized that hey, there are guys here that have been doing this for as long as I have been alive and I am supposed to be their leader now? I asked these guys for help and didn't get a chip on my shoulder about it. I earned their respect by not making stupid mistakes and what ones I did make, I learned from them. The case that George posted seems not the case.

    When I got promoted to Chief at the local airport fire department, of the 4 of us who worked there, I was the one with the most experience at the time dealing with aircraft emergencies, even though I was young. Don't get me wrong, It was one P-19 crash truck, 4 guys and an $84,000 budget at a small Class B airport...but Chief is Chief. It was a great learning experience and I left the department better than when I came in so it wasn't so bad. The airport manager and the airport commission picked me to be Chief so I must have impressed someone someplace.

    Sometimes departments have to do the best that they can with what they got. If I had to choose between a 24 year old with 4-5 years experience vs. a 33 year old with 2 years experience....it would be tough. I would have to look at everything like training, maturity, experience, how they handle pressure, leadership ability, etc.

    So....to answer your question LT2387....sometimes they don't have the experience. I was ready for it, I had some fire under my belt but nothing like some of the guys so I used them to my advantage and asked for their opinions. If they would have applied for the position and I got it over them, there should have been a damn good reason for it. I guess I didn't turn out too bad....but I'm sure there are some that don't agree with that idea...
    Last edited by Dickey; 01-08-2010 at 09:58 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FireMedic049 View Post
    They can't, but as was sort of mentioned already, in far too many smaller departments "experience" isn't a primary factor nor even a requirement in selecting officers.
    No one area can be the sole determing factor for what qaulifies one to be an officer. I has to be a combination of expirience, time and training. Not just one in itself.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dickey View Post
    I agree with you, to an extent. I will pick on myself for example. When I was promoted to Lt., I was 23 years old, with 4 years on the FD, and 1 year of the explorer post so you could count that as 5 years. Yes, I had fire experience, not like FDNY fire experience but I was starting to get seasoned. At the time, it was between one other firefighter who was 30yrs old. The officers chose me over him because he did not do ems, he didn't have a good attendance record, and didn't mentor much or show an interest in teaching. The "old salty dogs" didn't want the position. There were basically 4-5 crusties that didn't want it, but sure griped when I got promoted. It was hard to prove myself to them but I did eventually. After a while I got there confidence and they totally supported me until one by one they retired. What made the difference I think is that I realized that hey, there are guys here that have been doing this for as long as I have been alive and I am supposed to be their leader now? I asked these guys for help and didn't get a chip on my shoulder about it. I earned their respect by not making stupid mistakes and what ones I did make, I learned from them. The case that George posted seems not the case.

    Sometimes departments have to do the best that they can with what they got. If I had to choose between a 24 year old with 4-5 years experience vs. a 33 year old with 2 years experience....it would be tough. I would have to look at everything like training, maturity, experience, how they handle pressure, leadership ability, etc.

    So....to answer your question LT2387....sometimes they don't have the experience. I was ready for it, I had some fire under my belt but nothing like some of the guys so I used them to my advantage and asked for their opinions. If they would have applied for the position and I got it over them, there should have been a damn good reason for it. I guess I didn't turn out too bad....but I'm sure there are some that don't agree with that idea...
    Once again Jason, VERY good post. Your situation is pretty much the one I am still in with my volunteer department. It is all in how you conduct yourself.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

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    There is a big difference between a 20 year old and a 24 year old. There is a LOT of growing up done between 20 and 24. And assuming like most places, this wierdo joined when he was 18 (explorer/junior aside), that gives him two years of experience, the first few months of which was training. A 24 year old has 6+. Big difference.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dickey View Post
    ...at a small Class B airport...
    I don't think there is a such thing. I think you're giving yourself too little credit.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider245 View Post
    No one area can be the sole determing factor for what qaulifies one to be an officer. I has to be a combination of expirience, time and training. Not just one in itself.
    True, but my point was more that in too many smaller departments "politics" have more to do with officer selection than things like experience and training.

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    Default False Alarm

    If all evidence points to this member reporting the false alarm, he should get the boot.

    Whether an officer or not, character counts and he does not possess it. Being in the fire service, you are depended on to protect lives and property. You are entrusted to DO THE RIGHT THING!

    He didn't and should be booted. The department in no way should keep him!

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    Quote Originally Posted by nmfire View Post
    I don't think there is a such thing. I think you're giving yourself too little credit.
    Oh balls... I meant a class C airport....regular scheduled commercial passenger carrier service with aircraft 40 passengers or less and limited larger aircraft.

    Class C......we had a total of 277 cases in 1998 when I left so not so busy.

    Sorry for the typo.
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    Ok, that makes a little more sense.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    How in the world did this turn into a career vs. volly thread? What the hell is wrong with you guys?

    This is a thread about a friggin' scumbag kid who should have been charged with a crime but their idiot Chief thought that it was more important for him to answer calls.

    This goes in the "We are our own worst enemy" file. Why the hell would anyone take this FD seriously after this?
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    I agree, George.

    GTRider and Dickey... I feel that you are "exceptions to the rule" as far as leadership qualities go.
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    Seems like the problem here is the state... West Virginia seems to be having quite the problem finding firefighters who are capable of using the head on their shoulders for more than a hat rack.

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    Post Yep...........

    I'm with George. A False Alarm is a False Alarm. Here, he'd have been suspended until a Court of Law heard the case and ruled on it. A finding of anything less than Dismissal would be reason for permanent removal. With us, a Departmental Investigation is done in concert with the Law Enforcement Agency having Jurisdiction.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cozmosis View Post
    Seems like the problem here is the state... West Virginia seems to be having quite the problem finding firefighters who are capable of using the head on their shoulders for more than a hat rack.

    Depends on where you go, there's some Good outfits out there that go about their business quietly and have an outstanding track record. Ten of those are easily overshadowed by one of the type that is the subject of this thread......
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    I know that on my department it is an automatic removal from the department if you call in a false alarm. Far as I know that's how the by laws were written when the department formed 125 years ago.
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