Public Safety Directors
Anyone have any first hand experience working under a Public Safety Director vs. a Fire Chief? It appears some of our city councilors are hot on this approach as a savings measure and we're highly skeptical to say the least. Our chief is retiring in May and this could be the direction our administration takes without some strong opposition backed by real world issues and data.
It's an up and coming model with smaller departments in Michigan. Almost invariably they implement it as the fire chief retires, and place the police chief in the new director position. Shortly thereafter comes the push to train the police as PSOs, and reduce the FD. Bay City and Port Huron are two of the larger (40-80 member) MI FDs that have been gutted in this process. Benton Harbor went PSO and the new Director/former police chief got caught faking his way through the fire academy. http://articles.wsbt.com/2013-07-19/...arbor_40685668
The mayor will claim that it is all about reducing costs, and that the Director will be administrative in nature while relying on the deputy police/fire chiefs for operational issues. BS. They don't come to fires, but they drive the consolidation effort and control the resources. Fight it to the death.
Seen most of the time the FD becomes the step child
Police administrator favors police
Makes one wonder if anyone has ever had the police chief retire and used the fire chief as the "public safety director..."
Have seen that
Originally Posted by tree68
Not to often
"A servant cannot serve two masters. No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other."
We're certainly under no illusion that one dept or the other will be the step-child. In our case, it looks like if this came to pass, the current police chief would be made PSD and would control the budget, then the rest of the Fire Chief's duties would be spread amongst the assistant fire chiefs (3, 1 per shift). I see this as starting a trickle effect where everyone absorbs some more duties, and pushing a few down, until the bottom tier, and then something ends up not getting done.
We're not in a situation where they're looking at combining duties of firefighters and cops, but just a chance to save the retiring fire chief's salary and bennies.
One of our strongest arguments is our lack of staffing. If we run any significant job, the COD comes out (when not on his 9-5) and takes command, allowing a senior A/C to take another position, which functionally adds one firefighter to each shift 80% of the time. With a PSD, the duty officer will be forced to remain as IC and there will be one less member to re-assign to any other position (interior eyes, rear, RIT officer, etc.
That's the other thing if police is head of dept, they normally do not understand how a FD works
I despise lawyers as much as anyone, having said that, the only way you can break the bean counters from sucking eggs, is for any injury, or large scale loss. Lobby for a lawsuit which will bring the "safety director's" training and experience level into question under oath.
Just down the road a little south from you is Westbrook public safety.
They went to a combined chief after all the turmoil there a few years ago.
After all the lawsuits and firings that happened , the mayor brought in a trouble shooter/ problem solver to head all of the public safety divisions.
Police, Fire/ Rescue, & Communications are all under one boss man.
Fight any move towards this model with every man and every woman to the very last one.
I have worked under two departments which were setup as public safety. Both served smaller sized towns. One was mostly career and the other was mostly volunteer.
In both instances the fire department took a back seat to law enforcement. They were both ran by police chiefs who inherited the fire department during consolidation. Police chiefs are not fire chiefs. You may have a chief now who wants the fire department under his wing. He may even have some experience fighting fire. What about when he retires? You will more than likely hire a new “director” AKA police chief who wants nothing to do with fire services. The fire department will take an even further backseat position to law enforcement when it comes to staffing, budget issues and making sure the voice of the men is heard.
The only saving grace to this whole circus of a operational plan was that it showed how bad of an idea PSD admins are. We successfully split the department back to traditional police and fire in February 2013. This was at my current volunteer department. The other department I mentioned is still technically public safety, but basically in admin roles only. They have done a good job of increasing fire department staffing and no longer need the PSO staffing.
I have been in the situation before of having to get a sign off for budgeted purchases from a PSD who not only didn’t know what I was asking to buy, but didn’t know how much money was even in the budget. It is a joke.
This WILL be the first step to convincing everyone cross training of line personnel is a good idea.