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  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    Cheffie... it's a non issue with the BFD, too.

    According to Steve McDonald, the BFD's PIO...


    The boat washing pic was taken at Engine 41/Ladder 14 at 2300 hours (11:00 PM) by a "concerned citizen" on a cell phone as he drove by...

    He felt it wasn't right as "they just got a "big raise"....

    A raise that was the result of 4+ years without a contract....

    So you consider it unreasonable for a taxpayer to get upset? You don't think that after getting, what, 17%, if you have a boat- which most taxpayers can't afford- it's unreasonable to ask the guys to keep them at home and wash them there? You don't see a public relations problem? A little lack of common sense and sensitivity to the community perhaps?

    You're a PIO, Chief. I know you can see the other side of it. Try to take off the union glasses for 30 seconds or so, and just admit it.

    I'm not saying they shouldn't have gotten a contract, or even a raise. I'm just saying that there's no such thing as "out of the public eye" anymore. Technology has come too far, and the public is under too much economic strain to not notice and not get upset by these things.
    Last edited by emt161; 06-19-2010 at 12:00 PM.


  2. #42
    the 4-1-4 Jasper 45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScareCrow57 View Post
    Or perhaps someone in danger of losing their home to taxes
    Or perhaps someone unemployed because the business couldn't afford the taxes
    Or perhaps it was a citizen who was told he can't use this same equipment for his own use.

    Maybe, but probably not. The loud mouths who usually squawk about issues such as this one, are bitter, jealous and woefully misinformed about the compensation and benefits packages most city employees have. In fact, many sound just like you, which is to say they are grossly misinformed.

    They love to spout off about our "Cadillac" pensions that allow us to retire in our early forties at 100% of our salary. They love to slam us about our lucrative health care for life, free of charge, etc... none of which are true.

    Most reasonable people don't care about an issue such as this, unless washing the boat somehow hindered their response time, which I would bet a paycheck it did nothing of the sort. Most reasonable people realize that there are some perks associated with every job. When I worked for a Miller beer distributor, we were able to to buy beer at about a dollar per case. And don't give me the garbage line about tax dollars blah, blah blah. Just because we draw our salary from tax dollars, that does not mean we have to wipe your *** anytime you want us to. We are employees tasked with performing a job, no different than any other line of work, except for what we are expected to do.

    There is a segment of society that is going to bitch and moan no matter what we do.
    All I know is that there are a lot of people who are damn glad to see us show up and do our thing, irrespective of the weather, time of day, or the neighborhood they live in.
    Last edited by jasper45; 06-19-2010 at 04:49 PM.

  3. #43
    the 4-1-4 Jasper 45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emt161 View Post
    So you consider it unreasonable for a taxpayer to get upset? You don't think that after getting, what, 17%, if you have a boat- which most taxpayers can't afford-
    In my neighborhood, I am probably the only one who doesn't own a boat. None of my other neighbors are public sector employees, either. I'm willing to bet that a good chunk of the general public owns a boat if that is important to them.

    And yes, public relations is a huge issue that needs to be thought of. But there is a segment of society that is going to find something to be ****ed off about, and create a stink. Last month it was where an engine company was shopping for food, today it was washing a personal boat. Who knows, maybe next month they'll complain about having to provide a parking lot at the house, or complain about us showering at work.

    There is a segment of society that thinks because a budget comes from tax money, that they are owed whatever they want on demand. Those people will never be satisfied, no matter what.

  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by emt161 View Post
    So you consider it unreasonable for a taxpayer to get upset? You don't think that after getting, what, 17%, if you have a boat- which most taxpayers can't afford- it's unreasonable to ask the guys to keep them at home and wash them there? You don't see a public relations problem? A little lack of common sense and sensitivity to the community perhaps?

    You're a PIO, Chief. I know you can see the other side of it. Try to take off the union glasses for 30 seconds or so, and just admit it.

    I'm not saying they shouldn't have gotten a contract, or even a raise. I'm just saying that there's no such thing as "out of the public eye" anymore. Technology has come too far, and the public is under too much economic strain to not notice and not get upset by these things.
    Was this guy who "complained" even a taxpayer in the City of Boston, or just another crapstirrer?
    Please do tell... inquiring minds want to know.
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  5. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by jasper45 View Post
    Maybe, but probably not. The loud mouths who usually squawk about issues such as this one, are bitter, jealous and woefully misinformed about the compensation and benefits packages most city employees have. In fact, many sound just like you, which is to say they are grossly misinformed.

    They love to spout off about our "Cadillac" pensions that allow us to retire in our early forties at 100% of our salary. They love to slam us about our lucrative health care for life, free of charge, etc... none of which are true.

    Most reasonable people don't care about an issue such as this, unless washing the boat somehow hindered their response time, which I would bet a paycheck it did nothing of the sort. Most reasonable people realize that there are some perks associated with every job. When I worked for a Miller beer distributor, we were able to to buy beer at about a dollar per case. And don't give me the garbage line about tax dollars blah, blah blah. Just because we draw our salary from tax dollars, that does not mean we have to wipe your *** anytime you want us to. We are employees tasked with performing a job, no different than any other line of work, except for what we are expected to do.

    There is a segment of society that is going to bitch and moan no matter what we do.
    All I know is that there are a lot of people who are damn glad to see us show up and do our thing, irrespective of the weather, time of day, or the neighborhood they live in.
    Amen, Jasper.

    One day I had a call from Fire Alarm telling me they were transferring a call from an irate woman who demanded to speak to the "person in charge"....
    who happened to be yours truly.

    The woman was screaming into her phone and said wanted to file a formal complaint about the Rescue truck speeding through her neighborhood. I thought this was odd... since we were well over an hour into the tour of duty and nobody in any of our three stations had turned a wheel. I asked her when this alleged "incident" happened.. she said "just now, you idiot...

    Well, I don't take well to people insulting me over the phone, so I told her that her comment about me was uncalled for. She then went into a tirade about "I can talk to you any way I want... I pay your salary... blah blah blah... I hung up the phone....

    Where do people get off thinking that they can treat us like crap?
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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  6. #46
    Forum Member JayDudley's Avatar
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    This is without a doubt a PR thing. We even used this situation on our oral board. You should have heard the answers we received.
    Those of us who are firefighters understand the situation it puts us into. Those who are "Bean Counters" do not comprehend this situation.
    Respectfully,
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  7. #47
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    Wow... scarecrow making more inane and stupid comparisons... what a shock.

    I think that the department needs a policy and then it needs to be followed. Period.

    Right or wrong is not so easy to peg on this one.

    However, I think that using the bay in a career house to take care of personal business might be pushing things a bit, especially a boat. At some point, there is a limit, no?
    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.

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  8. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefKN View Post
    Wow... scarecrow making more inane and stupid comparisons... what a shock.

    I think that the department needs a policy and then it needs to be followed. Period.

    Right or wrong is not so easy to peg on this one.

    However, I think that using the bay in a career house to take care of personal business might be pushing things a bit, especially a boat. At some point, there is a limit, no?
    Ken... the practice is allowed with the permission of the company officer.

    Are we going to allow John and Jane Q Public to dictate Department policy to us, whether it be using an empty bay or using lights and sirens on calls?
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    Ken... the practice is allowed with the permission of the company officer.

    Are we going to allow John and Jane Q Public to dictate Department policy to us, whether it be using an empty bay or using lights and sirens on calls?
    I think there is a difference between the two examples you give.

    However, let's be real here, the public already have influenced or dictated certain policies. This practice seems like a minor issue not worth fighting for.
    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."

  10. #50
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefKN View Post
    I think there is a difference between the two examples you give.

    However, let's be real here, the public already have influenced or dictated certain policies. This practice seems like a minor issue not worth fighting for.

    If the news story in question revolved around a volunteer firefighter who was using the bay in the VFD firehouse to wash a boat, would there be as much controversy?
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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  11. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    If the news story in question revolved around a volunteer firefighter who was using the bay in the VFD firehouse to wash a boat, would there be as much controversy?
    The situation would be unchanged.
    #1: The guy who complained would still be ****ed off since this probably isn't about the boat (as illustrated in several posts above.
    #2: Most everyone else (on here, in the dept, most elsewhere) would see it as a non-issue.
    A lot of PR would be spent by #2 to undo the perception caused by #1.
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  12. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    If the news story in question revolved around a volunteer firefighter who was using the bay in the VFD firehouse to wash a boat, would there be as much controversy?
    We have had a complaint when someone saw a member washing his car on the ramp behind the firehouse. It didn't make the news though...

    You are right, there are obvious differences in how the public perceives a career house and a volly house.

    It's probably also no coincidence that this story follows the story from a few weeks ago about raises the union negotiated.
    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."

  13. #53
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    Having read a majority of the post on this thread, it reminds me of the time a "concerned" citizen called saying that an ambulance was blocking the road she took to go home. I of course was the unfortunate person who she talked to. I tried numerous times that I could not come and get the ambulance since I was the only one at the station but it seemed to go over her head. Finally, I informed her to contact our communications if she wanted to register a complaint. I gave her the number, and politely hung up.

  14. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    If the news story in question revolved around a volunteer firefighter who was using the bay in the VFD firehouse to wash a boat, would there be as much controversy?
    No! well at least not at our Dept. Heck free water and soap to wash your truck along with that free t-shirt and hat are all we get for all those long hours away from our families.
    Stay Safe
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  15. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    Was this guy who "complained" even a taxpayer in the City of Boston, or just another crapstirrer?
    Please do tell... inquiring minds want to know.
    How about not evading the question with hypotheticals?

  16. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    Are we going to allow John and Jane Q Public to dictate Department policy to us, whether it be using an empty bay or using lights and sirens on calls?
    I think there's a difference between response policy and allowing on-duty personnel the use of city property for activities that could potentially cause the department a public relations problem. Especially when said activities might demonstrate a level of income or comfort that John and Jane Q Public may not be able to afford or even dream about the way things are going.

    If you want to stay tone-deaf to the community, fine. But stop bitching about them when they send cellphone video of you doing so to the press, or vote down your bond referendums unless you're willing to curtail unnecessary actions and behaviors that only exacerbate the situation.

  17. #57
    MembersZone Subscriber Chief_Roy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emt161 View Post
    I think there's a difference between response policy and allowing on-duty personnel the use of city property for activities that could potentially cause the department a public relations problem. Especially when said activities might demonstrate a level of income or comfort that John and Jane Q Public may not be able to afford or even dream about the way things are going.

    If you want to stay tone-deaf to the community, fine. But stop bitching about them when they send cellphone video of you doing so to the press, or vote down your bond referendums unless you're willing to curtail unnecessary actions and behaviors that only exacerbate the situation.
    Well put, and that's basically what I've been trying to say. But clearly it depends on the community and the department. I could have raised a stink over the Mayor stopping the daily visits to the store with the ladder truck, but it wasn't worth it. The next question would have been why they couldn't bring their food to work with them in the morning like most people do with their lunch. Not to mention the original problem which was people complaining that we were asking for millions to hire more personnel on the basis that we were getting killed with call volume and yet our crew somehow still found the time to show up at the grocery store every day at 4:00 pm. Weird how that ladder truck and its crew never seemed to be needed at 4:00 pm. I wasn't about to have a grocery store visit kill our hiring of more people, and that's what could have happened.

    In my old department it was definitely about money. A firefighter could easily make 6 figures with a little overtime, and this wasn't an expensive place to live either (average home price $170K). When people (very few who made over $50K) would read about those salaries in the paper, and then see our guys sitting out on benches and waving at girls or out back washing trucks, etc, you can imagine what that did to some of them. Yeah, it's jealousy and it's petty but you also need to be willing to deal with the consequences if you ignore the complaints.

    On a slightly related noted, I was just reading an online newspaper article from where I used to live and they had an article about how 8 firefighters might be laid off from the local fire department due to budget cuts. Rather than the "save our firefighters!" I was expecting to see in the comments I saw one that said, "Quit threatening it and just fire them! Nobody cares about lazy public servants with taxpayer-funded pensions!" And then a subsequent comment basically agreeing with the first, albeit in a nicer tone. A third comment said they didn't want to see firefighters lose their jobs, but there was no way they were paying more taxes to keep them. Depressing that these are the times we're living in.
    Last edited by roykirk1989; 06-20-2010 at 11:34 AM.

  18. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    Ken... the practice is allowed with the permission of the company officer.

    Are we going to allow John and Jane Q Public to dictate Department policy to us, whether it be using an empty bay or using lights and sirens on calls?
    Gonzo
    Above statement is ridiculous and I'm sure you know it. Yes the public will and should be involved in FD policies regarding use of public owned and maintained equipment. Its the old "Golden Rule" They who control the gold, will make the rules. Operations are governed by a large number of agencies, but use of public owned property should be under the auspices of the public. Washing a boat while duty or off is not part of any intended use of a fire station, unless said boat is also owend by the FD.

  19. #59
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    A policy regarding washing boats and cars or where firefighters are allowed to hang our around the station smoking or chatting is not about operations, but it is about public perception, and public relations.

    I don't think anyone is saying allow the public to dictate how you respond (though that Federal Q at 3AM on an empty road may be overkill), but we do need to consider public perception, especially in areas where there have been citizens showing hostility towards the department or the members.

    There is no doubt that part of it is the economy, but I think there is also an element that is watching how tax dollars are spent far more closely than they have been watched in the past. The fact is our downtime is not accepted by the public as it once was, and because of that, we need to take the downtime in areas where it is not visible to the public.

    It's really not that hard to say no more car washing or no more sitting in front of the station. In the long run, it may make a difference in terms of public relations.

    In our case, it was a simple as moving the smoking area to the side of the building and moving the car washing area out of the public view. Even though all of the car washing is done by volunteers or career members on their off time, taking it our of public view removes the perceptions.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 06-20-2010 at 02:11 PM.

  20. #60
    Let's talk fire trucks! BoxAlarm187's Avatar
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    We once had an elderly gentleman drive up on the ramp at the station, and he politely asked to have his car washed. Obviously he read the look of confusion on our faces and explained that he'd seen us wash our cars on the ramp, and the least we could do is wash his also since he lived in our response district.

    Wadda ya do?

    We washed the guys car for him. Was it right or wrong? Who knows - sure, maybe we ran the risk of setting a precedent that we'd wash everyone's car that asked. Maybe he wanted to prove a point. Nevertheless, he was thankful for what we did, has never come back to see us, and our Sunday afternoon was interrupted for a whole 30 minutes.

    It was certainly a not-so-subtle reminder to us that sometimes perception is reality.
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