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Thread: Questions about officers.

  1. #1
    Forum Member FireInTheShire's Avatar
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    Question Questions about officers.

    Ok first not sure if this is the right area to post so please move if necessary (I'm never sure were to post anything)

    Ok s at my station we have our Chief, 2 Asst. Chiefs (1 Administrative and 1 Operational), 1 Fire Capt, 2 Fire Lts, 1 EMS Capt, and 2 EMS Lts

    All of the above mentioned officers have the same basic powers and are all issued white 1010's with shields for their respective rank, EXCEPT the EMS officers. EMS officers have the same authority and handle their assigned tasks however they are A) not issued a white helmet (unless the person in the position is just EMS then they get a white 360 Rescue) and B) are basically treated like a joke and get 0 respect from anyone.
    This has been an ongoing problem and I'd like to change that (I hopefully will be becoming one of the EMS Lts soon).
    My Questions are:
    How can I go about changing this without massively irking everyone?
    Do you feel that EMS officers who are fire trained be issued a white 1010 with EMS officer's shield just like the other officers?

    Any kind of feedback is helpful. Thank you.


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    sounds like you are top heavy white hat wise

    are all ems, firefighters also?? do people rotate or are they always ems??


    If so should be getting respect fot the postion

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    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    White lids should only be worn by chief officers... with your system, it is too confusing to find out who is in charge on the fireground.
    ‎"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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    MembersZone Subscriber tree68's Avatar
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    I agree with DCG - White hats for chiefs only. What's the practice in neighboring departments? Does it get a little confusing at mutual aid calls?

    Some departments use a different color than line firefighters for Capt's and Lt's, (ie, red or yellow if FF's wear black), some simply use a different colored frontpiece on helmets that are the same color as the FF's.

    Many places use blue helmets for EMS, or blue frontpieces.

    I'm troubled by your statement that "All of the above mentioned officers have the same basic powers." Is there no chain of command? While I agree that each has the same "powers" in appropriate situations, it sounds to me like a command free-for-all.

    I'm almost certain that you'll get significant pushback from the capt's and lt's when you try to take their white hats away.

    I'm not sure that changing helmets will change the culture in your department regarding EMS. A clearly defined command structure, and the support of your command officers will do a lot more.
    Last edited by tree68; 12-27-2012 at 03:24 PM.
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  5. #5
    Let's talk fire trucks! BoxAlarm187's Avatar
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    For those asking about the white helmets for line officers, that's a standard in the Metro Washington Council of Governments (COG) ... virtually every department and locality that his station will run with on a routine basis uses a similar helmet color scheme. It's been that way for years.

    As for the EMS Officers getting zero respect, I'd like to find out what the root of that is. Also, is there a NEED for a set of line officers that mirror the fire side as well? I understand that ambulance service at 508 is busy, but are there some fireground officers that could easily handle both fire & EMS responsibilities - essentially reducing the number of officers while making things more efficient?

    In some departments, it's a purely cultural environment where EMS doesn't get the respect it deserves. A lot of times, that starts at the top. If the chief doesn't give clear expectations of his officers, as well as clear expectations to his members of respect for the company officers and chain of command, it can be very, very difficult for one member to make a change. Even if he is able to make that change, it can take many years for it to occur.
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  6. #6
    Forum Member snowball's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FireInTheShire View Post
    Ok first not sure if this is the right area to post so please move if necessary (I'm never sure were to post anything)

    Ok s at my station we have our Chief, 2 Asst. Chiefs (1 Administrative and 1 Operational), 1 Fire Capt, 2 Fire Lts, 1 EMS Capt, and 2 EMS Lts

    All of the above mentioned officers have the same basic powers and are all issued white 1010's with shields for their respective rank, EXCEPT the EMS officers. EMS officers have the same authority and handle their assigned tasks however they are A) not issued a white helmet (unless the person in the position is just EMS then they get a white 360 Rescue) and B) are basically treated like a joke and get 0 respect from anyone.
    This has been an ongoing problem and I'd like to change that (I hopefully will be becoming one of the EMS Lts soon).
    My Questions are:
    How can I go about changing this without massively irking everyone?
    Do you feel that EMS officers who are fire trained be issued a white 1010 with EMS officer's shield just like the other officers?

    Any kind of feedback is helpful. Thank you.
    Would you like a glass for that?
    FireInTheShire likes this.
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    I'm not sure if I am "hearing" (or reading) the question in the original post.

    I first thought that is was possibly about issues with the command structure (or lack thereof). A second review of the original post reads as if someone is upset over the "type" of white helmet the officers are issued to wear.

    I hope my second impression is entirely off-base due to my misinterpretation of the post but, IF the issue(s) involve what type of white helmet certain ranks of officers get to wear, I assure you that the problem here is ALOT deeper than that.

    Food for thought:

    1) Are all of the officers trained to the same standards? Said another way, are the EMS Officers "EMS only" or are they firefighters as well?

    2) Does your department have established job descriptions for each rank? This would be from the tail-board Private all the way to the Fire Chief.

    3) From your original post, it appears that an clear chain-of-command does not exist in your department. Piggy-backing on the first two "food for thought" comments, does your department, as part of it's training program for tenured personnel (and introductory training for new people), teach and stress the importance of the chain-of-command? If it does and personnel are not adhering to it, that is an issue for your department's leadership to address.
    DFW



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    Forum Member HeavyRescueTech's Avatar
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    I know it's a DC metro thing to give all officers white helmets. I agree it makes things confusing, but its how they do it, so whatever.

    couple of questions:

    1) are the EMS officers fire trained, and are they able to function as the officers of apparatus in the absence of fire officers?

    2) what are their roles, when compared to fire officers? and what authority do the fire officers have on ems calls?

    a line officer, is a line officer, is a line officer. every line officer should get a white helmet, with the appropriate shield. If you get a crew of 4, and the EMS Lt is the ranking firefighter, they should be riding as officer.

    Change starts at the top: if the EMS Lt says something, the Chief of the Dept should back what they say, just like they should for a fire officer. Your departments leadership as a whole need to address how firefighters respect their EMS officers.
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    sounds like the kids in your house need to have the senior man break his foot off on several azzes. I have no time for lack of respect for any officers; whether they fall within your chain of command or not. They are OFFICERS, you and the other children do not get to choose whether you respect them or not. Yes repect is earned as a person, and you dont have to respect the person, but YOU HAVE TO RESPECT THE RANK whether you like the person or not. Anyone disrepecting an officer in my house is going to be in the office with me having a one-way conversation with me doing the talking. That pretty much handles the disrespect issue.

    As for the other issues- do they fall within your chain of command? Do your SOP's, guidelines or policies allow them to operate as firefighters and issue orders as company officers (or higher) on firegrounds? If so, then once again the children are wrong and do not get to choose what orders they get to follow or not. Orders are orders whether they come from a lowly EMS Loot or from the King Fire Commissioner of the High Court of all thigs Fire for your jurisdiction- if it comes from someone within your chain of commmand that is giving a lawfully issued order, you carry it out to the best of your abilities as quickly and efficiently as you can- no iffs, ands or buts about it. To do otherwise can and may result in an another one of those one-ways in the office with the door closed.

    As for the helmets- get the fook over it. Most departments in suburban Philly also do the same thing- white helmets for everyone from a lowly Loot to the Boss himself. It doesnt matter- if you see a white helmet, it's an officer and you know to respect and obey. Its that simple.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    So let me get this straight...you are 20something year old volunteer who is maybe becoming a EMS Lt and wants to become a paid f/f sometime but you don't like the helmet they will issue to you if you become an EMS Lt. Do you thinks it's a wise idea to come on here and and cry about it ?
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  11. #11
    Forum Member dfwfirefighter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FireInTheShire View Post
    How can I go about changing this without massively irking everyone?
    If people perceive that you are "taking" something away, whatever that may be, you must ensure that they understand why it is being done. If it is a rule- or policy-based change, part of the battle is done for you unless you are the one changing the policy or rule. For example, enforcing an existing rule or policy is alot different from creating and enforcing a new rule or policy. With the former, you will get the usual "well... our last (insert rank here) didn't make us follow that. With the second example, you'll get the "he's trying to change the world and make a name for himself" response.

    Furthermore, if you involve them in the process (to the greatest extent possible), that'll go a long way in facilitating a change. When people perceive a change as "disruptive" (and not "constructive), they will be unhappy and many folks will go out of their way to ensure you know it.

    Being a boss is easy if you take care of your folks. Most just want to be led by capable, fair, and consistent leaders. Still there are those who do not want their apple cart turned over under any circumstances (even if their apple cart is full of rotten apples).
    DFW



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    Quote Originally Posted by don120 View Post
    So let me get this straight...you are 20something year old volunteer who is maybe becoming a EMS Lt and wants to become a paid f/f sometime but you don't like the helmet they will issue to you if you become an EMS Lt. Do you thinks it's a wise idea to come on here and and cry about it ?
    There's a helpful response.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    There's a helpful response.
    Agreed. Hope none of his co-workers read this forum for his sake.

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    Forum Member FireInTheShire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HeavyRescueTech View Post
    I know it's a DC metro thing to give all officers white helmets. I agree it makes things confusing, but its how they do it, so whatever.

    couple of questions:

    1) are the EMS officers fire trained, and are they able to function as the officers of apparatus in the absence of fire officers?

    2) what are their roles, when compared to fire officers? and what authority do the fire officers have on ems calls?

    a line officer, is a line officer, is a line officer. every line officer should get a white helmet, with the appropriate shield. If you get a crew of 4, and the EMS Lt is the ranking firefighter, they should be riding as officer.

    Change starts at the top: if the EMS Lt says something, the Chief of the Dept should back what they say, just like they should for a fire officer. Your departments leadership as a whole need to address how firefighters respect their EMS officers.
    1) Some are, some aren't
    2) They handle EMS related training, EMS supplies, PPCRs, EMS records, certifications and EMS licenses and other tasks as assigned by the chief

  15. #15
    Forum Member FireInTheShire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by don120 View Post
    So let me get this straight...you are 20something year old volunteer who is maybe becoming a EMS Lt and wants to become a paid f/f sometime but you don't like the helmet they will issue to you if you become an EMS Lt. Do you thinks it's a wise idea to come on here and and cry about it ?
    Ahhh yes I was looking forward to this post, A) Please tell me how my age matters? I'm trying to figure out a way to better my department... B) I won't lie in some way yes I am complaining about issued helmets for EMS officers or in this case lack there of, sadly it has gotten to the point were only the officers actually issued a white helmet get any respect as an officer, so it would be a small small step in the right direction (yes I know it wont change everything but it would be a start). And as for me "crying" about it, sorry but no. Just seeking advice from people I thought could help. I thought my original post sounded good but yes I can see I could have added a LOT more info. Thank you for your response and have a nice new year and stay safe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FireInTheShire View Post
    A) Please tell me how my age matters?
    To start with, you are young and inexperienced enough to think that the color of a helmet is what gains respect. Or, perhaps you could explain what you mean by "get any respect."

    Secondly, you should be having this conversation with some of those white hats on your department. They just might have some valid reasons for the system you aren't aware of. The system didn't just appear on its own.

    Lastly, do you guys walk around with your helmets on all day? If not, how do you know who to respect? Actually, every member should be showing every other member some respect regardless of the color of their gear.

    As for chain of command, anybody not properly responding to legitimate instructions from their designated superior is not showing disrespect, they are being insubordinate and should be canned if they continue the practice.

  17. #17
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    FireintheShire...

    Respect cannot be demanded... it has to be earned. I am reminded of a scene from the movie "Down periscope" where the Captain of the USS Stingray, (Kelsey Grammer) gets into a discussion with Rear Admiral Yancy Graham (Bruce Dern)...

    Rear Admiral Yancy Graham: You watch yourself, Dodge. You are addressing a superior officer!
    Lt. Comd. Dodge: No, merely a higher ranking one. Catch us if you can!
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    Quote Originally Posted by FireInTheShire View Post
    1) Some are, some aren't
    I think that right there is a big part of your problem. If you want the EMS officers to have the same respect as fire officers, then they should meet the same requirements as the fire officers.

    Agree with FWD too. If the officers are not being given respect as officers, there is probably a problem higher up. I've seen EMS used as a way to give people seeking a title a place, and take care of admin that others don't want to do. That rarely results in repect for the position from the tailboard firefighters.

    The type of helmet issued is probably the least of the problems you are dealing with.
    Last edited by Here and there; 01-01-2013 at 06:16 PM.

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