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Thread: Department Officers

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    Default Department Officers

    I'm curious to know how your departments choose their officers. Do they have a term limit and then must be revoted in? What about removal of an officer? Is there SOP/SOG for removing an officer or is it once they are an officer they are there for good? Also are your officers required to have certain certifications requirements for being an officer?


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    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wbensm View Post
    I'm curious to know how your departments choose their officers. Do they have a term limit and then must be revoted in? What about removal of an officer? Is there SOP/SOG for removing an officer or is it once they are an officer they are there for good? Also are your officers required to have certain certifications requirements for being an officer?
    My #1 POC FD votes for the Chief and Assistant Chief and the Lieutenants, Training Officer, and Safety Officer are appointed by the Chief. The Chief and AC serve 2 year terms. There are no requirements for any officer. If we had cause to remove the Chief or ACwe would have to go to the village board to plead our case.

    My #2 POC FD votes for the Chief, Assistant Chiefs, Captain and Lieutenants. The safety Officer and training Officer are appointed by the Chief. I believe it is a one year term. The only requirement is time on to become a Lieutenat, and then progressing through the ranks. In other words you can't be a Captain without being a Lieutenant, you can't be an AC with out being either a Lieutenant or Captain. I have no idea if there is a process in place for removal of the Chief.
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    Our department only votes in the Chief, President, Secretary, and Treasurer.

    The officers are all appointed. This means that the membership has to put a lot of trust into whomever is the chief, because it falls squarely in his lap to make good officer appointments (or removing them as an officer). No matter if I have served as chief or assistant chief (total of eight years as a chief officer), the Chief and AC have collectively decided who the company officers will be.

    We have elections annually. Our President and Treasurer have run uncontested for a decade. I voluntarily gave up secretary two years ago after doing it for 10 years. On average, our Chief serves for 3 years before handing it over to one of the qualified officers, but he serve as long as he wants and keeps getting voted in.

    Our officers do have minimum training requirements, as well as time-in-grade requirements.
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    Chief is appointed by the town selectmen. It changed to that several years ago after the membership was voting on officers and the lack of qualifications were adversely affecting the department. I was not on during that time. Now the chief is appointed/re-appointed every 3 years and they then pick their officers. I don't know about removing the chief, but I'd have to guess that a strong case would have to be made to the selectmen.

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    All of ours are elected. Elections are every two years.

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    Annual Elections.

    Chiefs and the Engineer Foreman are selected by membership - those selections then go to the Fire District as nominations for appointment - the commissioners can, by law, turn down a nomination. It's then up to the department to make another selection. Such a refusal rarely happens, and is usually an indication of deeper problems. The selection process for chiefs in fire district fire departments is codified in state law. Qualifications are not.

    We require at least five years in the department for Chief, plus at least one state level officer's course on top of the base training everyone is required to have.

    Our administrative officers (Prez, VP, Secretary, Treasurer) are also elected by the membership at the same time. The fire district has no say on them.

    Other officers (Captains, LT's) are appointed by the Chief(s) as needed. We used to have truck officers, but our active membership is at a point where if we did that, pretty much everyone would be an officer.
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    Every position is elected every year at the December meeting and installed at the January meeting. The only exception is the trustees. We have 3 and they are on 3 year terms with a staggered term so one is elected every year.

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    Chief is elected by voting members (must make certain number of runs and normal business meetings to be a voting member) to a two year term. Body votes on 1st Asst. Chief then Chief appoints 2nd Asst. Chief. The same goes for Captains and Lieutenants. Treasurer, President, Vice President, Secretary and Trustees are all voted on by the voting body.

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    It's funny to me how little effort goes into deciding who runs most volunteer fire departments. Think about it, most are elected by membership, some have no requirements for training, education, or even time on, all it is is a popularity contest.

    What does the chief of a volunteer fire department do? They set the trend, the attitude, the quality of the department during their tenure as Chief. How can we expect progressive thinking, cutting egde ideas, cutting edge equipment, training, and leadership from people that sometimes have little or no formal training or education in the fire service?
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    It's funny to me how little effort goes into deciding who runs most volunteer fire departments. Think about it, most are elected by membership, some have no requirements for training, education, or even time on, all it is is a popularity contest.

    What does the chief of a volunteer fire department do? They set the trend, the attitude, the quality of the department during their tenure as Chief. How can we expect progressive thinking, cutting egde ideas, cutting edge equipment, training, and leadership from people that sometimes have little or no formal training or education in the fire service?
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    ...all it is is a popularity contest.
    Or a matter of who's willing to take the job...
    What does the chief of a volunteer fire department do? They set the trend, the attitude, the quality of the department during their tenure as Chief. How can we expect progressive thinking, cutting egde ideas, cutting edge equipment, training, and leadership from people that sometimes have little or no formal training or education in the fire service?
    We're back to social clubs that fight fires - and you've described them perfectly.

    All too often, though, such organizations don't look to the chief for leadership. He (or she) is simply the figurehead. They may run incidents (or try), but they don't run the organization.

    That honor is claimed by the "opinion leaders." If the opinion leaders don't buy in, it doesn't happen. Training, fundraising, you name it.

    As a rule, the opinion leaders don't run for office - they prefer to have their authority without the responsibility.

    Another thread discussed cliques - the opinion leader is the head of it.

    Eventually, the opinion leaders move on, retire, or die. If there are still any motivated members in the department (and the clique doesn't have a succession plan), they can start to work toward the department they should have. And that does happen.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tree68 View Post
    Or a matter of who's willing to take the job...

    There is some truth to this. But, I can tell you this, it does not bode well for an organization if no one wants to lead it. On my #1 POC FD I was Chief for 6 years, Assistant Chief for 11 years, captain for 2 years, and a Liuetenant for 1 year. I have also been Training Officer for 4 years. We have other officers that have been in their position, or various officer positions, for years.

    We're back to social clubs that fight fires - and you've described them perfectly.

    Perhaps, but I have seen some elected officers do a good job. But I would still prefer a standard of training or education to qualify you for an officer's position.

    All too often, though, such organizations don't look to the chief for leadership. He (or she) is simply the figurehead. They may run incidents (or try), but they don't run the organization.

    I guess I have never been on an FD like this.

    That honor is claimed by the "opinion leaders." If the opinion leaders don't buy in, it doesn't happen. Training, fundraising, you name it.

    As a rule, the opinion leaders don't run for office - they prefer to have their authority without the responsibility.

    Another thread discussed cliques - the opinion leader is the head of it.

    Eventually, the opinion leaders move on, retire, or die. If there are still any motivated members in the department (and the clique doesn't have a succession plan), they can start to work toward the department they should have. And that does happen.

    But a strong chief can shut these people down. My biggest gripe is with chiefs that let things go and go and go until like a festering boil they blow and things go all to hell because of the bury your head in the sand leadership style.
    To me, the leadership issue in volunteer FDs is as big a problem as the image that some places hold of their volunteer firefighters. Good old boys, poorly trained, no discipline, poor or not existent leadership...
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    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    nice -----------------
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    To me, the leadership issue in volunteer FDs is as big a problem as the image that some places hold of their volunteer firefighters. Good old boys, poorly trained, no discipline, poor or not existent leadership...
    I don't remember the author, but I like the quote - something to the effect of "the best leader in the world is nothing if nobody follows him."

    And in social organizations that call themselves fire departments, being chief (and trying to do things that would improve the department) sometimes makes them something of a pariah. Been there.

    As I noted, in organizations like that, the chief says "let's do this" and the "in crowd" snickers and gets back to their beer (or whatever). If the opinion leader says "let's do this," it's Katy-bar-the-door.

    Unfortunately, the opinion leader's projects seldom have anything to do with making it a better fire department...

    That's not to say that good leaders don't occasionally slip through the cracks, and maybe have the support of the opinion leaders.

    For a choice example of that, look up the story of the fire department that canned their president because he got rid of the beer machine... (and no - that wasn't us)
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    Quote Originally Posted by tree68 View Post
    I don't remember the author, but I like the quote - something to the effect of "the best leader in the world is nothing if nobody follows him."

    And in social organizations that call themselves fire departments, being chief (and trying to do things that would improve the department) sometimes makes them something of a pariah. Been there.

    As I noted, in organizations like that, the chief says "let's do this" and the "in crowd" snickers and gets back to their beer (or whatever). If the opinion leader says "let's do this," it's Katy-bar-the-door.

    Unfortunately, the opinion leader's projects seldom have anything to do with making it a better fire department...

    That's not to say that good leaders don't occasionally slip through the cracks, and maybe have the support of the opinion leaders.

    For a choice example of that, look up the story of the fire department that canned their president because he got rid of the beer machine... (and no - that wasn't us)
    It's funny I guess. I spent the years listed above as a chief and an assistant chief, I guess now I fill the role of opinion leader. But not in a let's get back to the beer type. I push and pull the chief and the troops to be better. Heck, I risked a heck of a lot to push through the no beards with scba policy last year. I was so strict I said as training officer I wouldn't even train people with beards how to use scba because that was, in my mind, tacit approval to use scba.

    So I don't necessarily believe ALL opinion leaders are bad for the fire department. To me a strong minded, positive influence, opinion leader can correct or force corrections that the chief is unwilling to make for the better.

    Both of my POC FDs got rid of beer/alcohol decades ago. So that isn't an issue for us at all. The fact that the FD you mention removed a member for trying to eliminate beer from the station should set off all kinds of alarm bells in the heads of the town board / fire board and the citizens of that area.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    So I don't necessarily believe ALL opinion leaders are bad for the fire department. To me a strong minded, positive influence, opinion leader can correct or force corrections that the chief is unwilling to make for the better.
    Absolutely. If you can win over an opinion leader to the 'right' side of a cause, a lot of good can happen. Sometimes that's the hardest problem to deal with - the politics.

    Both of my POC FDs got rid of beer/alcohol decades ago. So that isn't an issue for us at all. The fact that the FD you mention removed a member for trying to eliminate beer from the station should set off all kinds of alarm bells in the heads of the town board / fire board and the citizens of that area.
    The story has been listed alongside this forum and covered by most of the rest of the fire service press. And it wasn't just a member, it was the duly elected president of the fire company. I'd have to believe the local community leaders have taken notice.

    Several times in my career here there have been measures that I (as chief at the time) took single-handed to improve operations. While the "clique" and the opinion leaders never came out publicly and supported them (they'd have been more likely to publicly condemn them), they embraced them nonetheless. Kinda makes one chuckle.
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    Our Chief is appointed by the city manager. He is the only full-time member of the department.

    The Chief then appoints the Deputy Chief and the two Assistant Chiefs.

    The chiefs then get together and appoint two captains and two lieutenants.

    Edit: Forgot to mention that all officers are re-appointed every year, including the Chief. Obviously, officers who served the previous year and reapply are given preference.

    I like this system because it eliminates the 'popularity contest' aspect of the leadership in our department. My Chief isn't afraid to implement policies that the good old boys won't like, because his authority comes form the municipality, not the membership. That same authority flows down the the other officers, and while people may complain about things I have never seen an issue where people were refusing to follow orders or ignoring rules. Actually once, but that guy was gone so fast I can't even remember his name.

    Things might be a bit different in my department because we're a city department and we're all part-time employees of the city. I'm not sure if that's common in the volunteer fire service nation-wide, it is not common in my area.

    Cheers
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    Quote Originally Posted by KarnaughAtlas View Post
    Our Chief is appointed by the city manager. He is the only full-time member of the department.

    The Chief then appoints the Deputy Chief and the two Assistant Chiefs.

    The chiefs then get together and appoint two captains and two lieutenants.

    Edit: Forgot to mention that all officers are re-appointed every year, including the Chief. Obviously, officers who served the previous year and reapply are given preference.

    I like this system because it eliminates the 'popularity contest' aspect of the leadership in our department. My Chief isn't afraid to implement policies that the good old boys won't like, because his authority comes form the municipality, not the membership. That same authority flows down the the other officers, and while people may complain about things I have never seen an issue where people were refusing to follow orders or ignoring rules. Actually once, but that guy was gone so fast I can't even remember his name.

    Things might be a bit different in my department because we're a city department and we're all part-time employees of the city. I'm not sure if that's common in the volunteer fire service nation-wide, it is not common in my area.

    Cheers
    So basically, a politician controls your FD and you think that's a good thing. I am assuming (and hoping) there are requirements and such to hold any of the appointed positions. I'd hate to see that 1 city manager hate the FD and run it down with his appointees. Hope it never happens to you.
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    My first department, when I was on it many years ago, was set up where the members elected the officers. This was in Indiana. The township trustee had the ultimate say though, since by state law the trustee is responsible for providing fire protection. While I was on the department the trustee always approved the memberships selections. However, a few years after I left the department there was some internal turmoil in the department (I'll leave it at that since I wasn't there) that caused the trustee to remove the sitting chief and install a new chief. It was not an uncontroversial issue to say the least. A new trustee has since been elected and I don't know how the officers are now selected.

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