1. #1
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    Default Challenge Safety, or Challenge the Chief?

    In my 8 short years in the fire service (volunteer, civilian, and federal) one phrase has been beaten into my head in every training session, formal class, and conference. That one thing is the saying “That everyone is a safety officer, and everyone goes home.” A statement that I whole heartedly agree with.

    But in the past few weeks in my “house “I have seen some very disappointing actions on the fire ground, and even more disappointment in the incident critique. I am a firm believer in safety, for the simple fact that I am willing to put my life on the line every day, but tomorrow morning I am going home.

    These issues have been weighing on my mind for a few days now, and I have run them up the chain of command. My issue is how do you fix a broken system with a chief who is not willing to accept that fact that they system is broke, and when you have brothers and sisters who are willing to complain and badmouth the chief on the incident, but will leave you standing with a butchers block full of knives in your back when you ask about the issues.

    Never in my life have I seen a room full of firefighters be so quiet you could hear a pin drop. The chief asked if anyone had any issues. Me and two others were the only ones to stand up, with no support.

    So what do you do when you see safety issues, you voice them, the chief is not willing to accept it, and your people are not willing to back you up when it’s laid on the table?

    It feels like it’s going to take a black band, a folded flag, and someone’s last ride to get things changed.
    Last edited by VincentEng2; 05-15-2010 at 12:57 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VincentEng2 View Post
    It feels like itís going to take a black band, a folded flag, and someoneís last ride to get things changed.
    Typically, that's exactly what it takes. Stay safe.

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    Well, I know one thing, we don't all agree on many "safety concerns". It's hard to help when we don't know what you're talking about. Some here, would tell you to fight to the end if your Chief won't make everyone breath bottled air when they're within a block of the fire building, while others still make excuses not to wear seatbelts. What are we talking about, a few guys not doing up their waist straps or poor tactics leading to dangerous fireground conditions, or somewhere in between?

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    Im talking more along this lines of operations, tactics, and communications.

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    Not enough infomation to form an opinion. T.C.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VincentEng2 View Post
    In my 8 short years in the fire service (volunteer, civilian, and federal) one phrase has been beaten into my head in every training session, formal class, and conference. That one thing is the saying “That everyone is a safety officer, and everyone goes home.” A statement that I whole heartedly agree with.

    But in the past few weeks in my “house “I have seen some very disappointing actions on the fire ground, and even more disappointment in the incident critique. I am a firm believer in safety, for the simple fact that I am willing to put my life on the line every day, but tomorrow morning I am going home.

    These issues have been weighing on my mind for a few days now, and I have run them up the chain of command. My issue is how do you fix a broken system with a chief who is not willing to accept that fact that they system is broke, and when you have brothers and sisters who are willing to complain and badmouth the chief on the incident, but will leave you standing with a butchers block full of knives in your back when you ask about the issues.

    Never in my life have I seen a room full of firefighters be so quiet you could hear a pin drop. The chief asked if anyone had any issues. Me and two others were the only ones to stand up, with no support.

    So what do you do when you see safety issues, you voice them, the chief is not willing to accept it, and your people are not willing to back you up when it’s laid on the table?

    It feels like it’s going to take a black band, a folded flag, and someone’s last ride to get things changed.
    When it comes to my fire department, it appears that the higher you go, the most incompetent you become. It is very strange, but something happens when you make the leap from bossing a company to riding around in car under the new name of "management".

    Not all, but many hell raising firefighting Lieutenants get promoted to BC and within 6 months they become Kool Aid drinking yes men.......to everything. It is as if they actually become brain washed or something. They become unrecognizeable from the person they had been for the previous 15 years on the department. This sad fact is the same everywhere, my department, yours, and all the ones in between and beyond. Because of that, you are fighting a losing battle. You are a mere firefighter who is not worthy of expressing an idea that was one other than a Chiefs.

    The best thing you can do is to take care of yourself and those around you. It's actually all you can do.

    I will ask you this however. You say that you will risk your life every day, but WILL be going home the next morning. You have to pick one or the other brother. If you are really willing to put your life on the line, you may not make it home in the morning.
    RK
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    Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.

    "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

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    Your right, but if I go down I want it to be rightous, that freak accident that no one expected, not cause some close minded chief made a stupid call.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    When it comes to my fire department, it appears that the higher you go, the most incompetent you become. It is very strange, but something happens when you make the leap from bossing a company to riding around in car under the new name of "management".

    Not all, but many hell raising firefighting Lieutenants get promoted to BC and within 6 months they become Kool Aid drinking yes men.......to everything. It is as if they actually become brain washed or something. They become unrecognizeable from the person they had been for the previous 15 years on the department. This sad fact is the same everywhere, my department, yours, and all the ones in between and beyond. Because of that, you are fighting a losing battle. You are a mere firefighter who is not worthy of expressing an idea that was one other than a Chiefs.

    The best thing you can do is to take care of yourself and those around you. It's actually all you can do.

    I will ask you this however. You say that you will risk your life every day, but WILL be going home the next morning. You have to pick one or the other brother. If you are really willing to put your life on the line, you may not make it home in the morning.
    I have known guys like that to. We had a fire-medic that was one of the best people to be on the bus with. After he became a capt. you couldn't stand to be around him at all, No one was ever right about anything but him...

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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    When it comes to my fire department, it appears that the higher you go, the most incompetent you become. It is very strange, but something happens when you make the leap from bossing a company to riding around in car under the new name of "management".
    Laurence Peter wrote a series of books about that very phenomenon. He called it the "Peter Principal."

    The core of the Peter Principal is that in a hierarchy (which the fire service definitely is), a person tends to rise to their level of incompetence.

    It can happen at various levels. As you point out, a great LT turns out to be a crappy BC. It could even be a great FF turning out to be a lousy LT.

    There are lots of variations. F'rinstance, the "Lateral Arabesque," wherein someone gets what looks like a promotion, but is really just a move sideways - say from suppression to code enforcement. The "percussive sublimation" occurs when someone gets "kicked upstairs." In our world, that would be when somebody makes LT in no small part because dad is a BC.

    All of the "Peter Principal" books make a good read. You'll think he was writing specifically about the fire service when you finish.

    As for the situation at hand - sometimes people refuse to recognize or act on a situation because that would mean acknowledging that they've been doing a less than stellar job. The solution for that may well be to look for ways to assuage that guilt. That doesn't mean transfering the guilt to someone else, rather it means that a way has to be found to enact changes without making it look like someone screwed up.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VincentEng2 View Post
    but will leave you standing with a butchers block full of knives in your back
    You must have a huge back. Like, at least three times normal size.
    Logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tree68 View Post
    There are lots of variations. F'rinstance, the "Lateral Arabesque," wherein someone gets what looks like a promotion, but is really just a move sideways - say from suppression to code enforcement. The "percussive sublimation" occurs when someone gets "kicked upstairs." In our world, that would be when somebody makes LT in no small part because dad is a BC.
    Comment very true, but come on now you cant be useing those big words around me. Its puts the wet stuff on the red stuff, or else its gets the hose again. ITS DOES WHAT ITS TOLD.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VincentEng2 View Post
    Im talking more along this lines of operations, tactics, and communications.
    I am with 101. Not enough to form an opinion. We would also need to know the size of the department - is it a major metro department, or a 20 member VFD. Makes a difference in your attack.

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    I agree as well, not enough information on department size and the situation.

    I will say that even the Chief has a boss and there should be a complaint system in place to make complaints against the Chief. Just be wise with that...have your ducks in a row and do your homework. Is it really a legit complaint??
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dickey View Post
    Is it really a legit complaint??
    Given the usual tenor on this forum, I suspect that if he put one of the issues he's having on the table here the posters would probably be split 50-50 as to whether it was even a problem...
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sweetpete View Post
    Typically, that's exactly what it takes. Stay safe.
    I agree. That's what it takes to get that long needed stop sign put up, the bullying laws enforced and enough people to take their safety seriously.

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    Is this a volunteer or career department?

    What were the specific issues involved?
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by tree68 View Post
    Given the usual tenor on this forum, I suspect that if he put one of the issues he's having on the table here the posters would probably be split 50-50 as to whether it was even a problem...
    It's that whole opinion statement, they are like *********s, everyone has one!!
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    whats the issue??

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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    I will ask you this however. You say that you will risk your life every day, but WILL be going home the next morning. You have to pick one or the other brother. If you are really willing to put your life on the line, you may not make it home in the morning.
    excellent point.


    I think you need to post a specific example, right now we don't know if its a legit safety concern. You could be right, or a whiney safety sally for all we know.

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    As the incident is still under investigation I can not give specifics. But I can say this. I could usualy give a crap less about a lot of "petty" safety issues, and in 8 years this is the first time ive realy had a safety issue bother me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VincentEng2 View Post
    As the incident is still under investigation I can not give specifics.
    So then why even bother to create a post then??

    Some people's kids.....mother should have ate ya when your bones were still soft!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dickey View Post
    Some people's kids.....mother should have ate ya when your bones were still soft!!


    she only will eat hard bones

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    Boom.

    Headshot.
    Logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VincentEng2 View Post
    It feels like it’s going to take a black band, a folded flag, and someone’s last ride to get things changed.
    unfortunately that is usually the case. If its a major issue then it cannot be the first time its ever happened either. Try to find a LODD report with a similar situation occuring and try and use that. It sucks that someone has to pay a heavy price to initiate change in the fire service, but YOUR dept specifically may not have to pay as heavily if you can honor someone elses sacrfice to help your guys out.

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