01-17-2001, 05:21 PM #1fayette dist #1Firehouse.com Guest
6 volunteer firefighters walk out
In the past few weeks some of you may have noticed my posts about the assault/European firefighting helmets, my safety concerns about them and the chief (forcing) the firefighters into wearing them. Well to bring you up to speed, the chief would not give in and as a result 6 of the frontline firefighters (including myself) resigned. The whole situation could have been averted had he listened to the members and not made comments such as "I don't care what the firefighters think." Any reactions to this would be appreciated and if anyone can make any suggestions feel free to make them because I'm not done fighting.
Former Lt. James Woda
01-17-2001, 05:58 PM #2Mr.MeanerFirehouse.com Guest
My $.02 .....
Your topic: "6 volunteer firefighters walk out"
My question: Who did you "walk out" on?
Or did you walk out on your brother and sister firefighters that look to you, a Lieutenant, for leadership and guidance?
You're a Lieutenant - you worked hard for the hardware on your collars - why throw it all away and resign?
Leadership is best AND easiest done by example - so should everyone resign?
No knucklehead Chief would ever get me to give up what I love and have worked hard at.
01-17-2001, 06:17 PM #3MetalMedicFirehouse.com Guest
Is your face happy now that you cut your nose off to spite it? You still have "approved" equipment. As said before, you have walked out on more than just your stubborn Chief. You can fight the helmet battle another day, but now your department is short 6 people (and you were probably short handed to start with).
I guess if the kind of helmet you wear is more important than your dedication to the "calling" of being a firefighter, you probably should "take your toys and go home." With that kind of attitude, what would keep you from walking off the fireground when something didn't go your way?
Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.
01-17-2001, 06:30 PM #4fayette dist #1Firehouse.com Guest
We walked out because we felt our safety was comprimised because our chief dosen't care what the firefighters think. I was told that when I joined I'd never be asked to do anything I feel unsafe. As for me working for my Lt. position I was looking out for safety concerns and listening to the firefighters concerns and I brought all of them to the officers meeting but as stated earlier he DOES NOT care. So I feel that I no longer need to be affeliated with the orginzation untill there are some changes.
01-17-2001, 07:32 PM #5jdm2267Firehouse.com Guest
Is the root of the problem helmets or uncompromising personalities? You (and 5 others) may have merely proven that you are expendable. How do you handle situations like this in your employment? Walk off every job? Pick up the pieces and go on. It would be one thing if he demanded NO helmets, but a type of helmet? Bite your tongue, put in your time, and maybe one day you will be the chief. And if so, you will be all the wiser in dealing with opinion differences in your department. Good Luck.
01-17-2001, 08:00 PM #6CousinVinny354Firehouse.com Guest
I can understand where you are coming from. I dont think you should have walked out. I think I know what you are going through because my chief in my NY department lovees to fight every point I have and I get frustrated. No one said that this job was 100% great all the time. Politics are a part of the volunteer fire service and career as well. I thought a million times about quitting my company and going to another, but it doesnt pay, the same sh*t goes on everywhere. As far ask not doing anything that you feel is unsafe... what do you as a LT. Do you throw ladders or drive wagons...thats about the only thing "safe" there is...and even that isnt safe... When you signed up you plegded to give your life for your brother or sister firefighter and the total stranger trapped inside. Danger is a part of the job. If the helmet was that unsafe, it would not be in use in your place. My suspicion is that you don't LIKE the helmet. Its not american and not traditional. Be lucky they give you an approved helmet, even if you dont like it... Think back to the days when fireman paid out of pocket for that stuff... My advice, suck it up, go back, do your job that you were sworn to do. If you think that your life is in extreme danger, then i guess you cant go the extra mile. Be a leader and when its your turn with the white euro helmet, change policy as you see fit.
Quitting is the unmotivated persons way out.
Kentland VFD Co. 33
01-17-2001, 08:11 PM #7comwhiteFirehouse.com Guest
Who finances your department? There has to be someone over the fire chief, and have you exhausted all means to get him to reconsider? Most cities have FIVE, at least, councilors, commissioners, trustees, whatever you call them, have you been before your board with this? And, if you have, then have you tried reaching the citizens in the city you serve, such as a petition?
Idon't understand why you aren't getting any support from the city administrators, IF you have gone to them, with the information on these helmets. I will tell you if you did go to them, and threatened a "walk out", I'm not surprised they called your bluff. No city official wants to be "held hostage" by any group, volunteer or paid. If you've walked out without talking to them, then my guess would be you didn't impress them any with your actions.
My suggestion would be; 1. Put your concerns in black and white, with supporting points from research. Have all willing firefighters sign it. 2. Take it to the Chief, and ask him if he's willing to discuss these with you. Try to carry an official with you. 3. If he says no, appear with your research at the next "city meeting", first ask to be put on the agenda, and present it to your commission. 4. If they don't seem willing to listen, tell them LASTLY that you feel the citizens of your city should be informed of what's going on, and you will be back with their response. 5. Begin a petition to have this issue looked into.
I don't know if any of this will help you at all, but if one of my members appeared before the commission with the concern and the potential to involve voters, I'd sit up and listen. Good Luck.
01-17-2001, 08:13 PM #8AdzeFirehouse.com Guest
In my opinion...instead of walking out, you should have had a vote of confidence on your chief....
01-17-2001, 08:50 PM #9Pastor DawnFirehouse.com Guest
Believe it or not, I understand where you are coming from and why you quit. Having the courage of your convictions is a tough thing. I too, have watched talented, commited firefighters and EMS personnel leave various departments because of inter personal conflict. I myself, am not immune. A fellow firefighter wishes me ill because of my profession. It almost sounds as if your Chief had a personality conflict with the six of you and could not be mature enough to listen to a different view point. It's hard when someone like that is in a leadership position, but maybe if you went back after this Chief was voted out, things might get better. How about purchasing your own helmet? Some departments allow firefighters to purchase their own equipment as long as it is compliant with current standards. Anyway, best of luck to you and hang in there!!!
01-17-2001, 09:33 PM #10benford1Firehouse.com Guest
Mybe it's just me,and maybe I am misunderstanding the whole point. But walking out of a department that you have put years of time into and climbed the ladder to Lt just because the chief buys a helmet you don't like is a little childish. The Chief has teh ultimate decision that effects all personnel. They may decide they want to purchase a different style of gear or maybe even a different style of truck.
As far as the helmets go, in order to be sold in the United States, ALL personal protective equipment for firefighters must pass the NFPA test. In this case, the helmets should have a label attached somewhere that reads to the effect "this helmets meets or exceeds NFPA 1971". This means that the helmet has been tested by a third party and has passed or exceeded all test required by NFPA. This means the helmet is safe and is appropriate to wear for firefighting activity.
I, as the Assistant Chief for Rescue and Training in our department, have actually butted heads with members in classes we do with different ideas or techniques. Usually it's the old "we never have done it that way before", or of course "we've done it this way for years. Why change now?"
In the fire service 30 years ago, if you told a firefighter he would be wearing SCBA on every structure fire and going right into the mouth of the fire, he would have said "NO WAY! Not in a million years will I do that!" But here we are in the year 2001, with the most advanced gear ever made, and you want to, as one reply put it, "take your toys and go home" because the Chief has decided to go to a new style helmet that you do not approve of.
If you have a problem with the Chief, you can go to the Directors or Town Council and make a formal complaint to them. They are the ones that take care of him. As for the 6 walking out, if it were my department, attitudes of getting mad and leaving are not tolerated. Like another asked, if you didn't get your way on a fire or a car wreck call, would you get mad and leave your fellow firefighters behind then?
You need to take a look at what you and your 5 other associates have set as an example for the newer generation of firefighters to follow. Don't like a decision, get mad and leave. This is childish and probably puts and even greater strain on an already short-handed department.
Last word for you 6.....
Grow up and learn to live with it! Give the helmets a chance, you just might like them!
*****The opinions expressed are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of my department********
[This message has been edited by benford1 (edited 01-17-2001).]
01-17-2001, 11:12 PM #11M GFirehouse.com Guest
No personal attack meant by this but...
You said: (In other posts)
1. Our department has a problem with our chief. First off he is only in town two days out of the week for about eight hours in which he watches TV and leaves the work to the rest of us (me). Anyways for the past year now I've been trying to fight these new European style helmets that our chief ordered. The helmets are the Assult helmets made by Lion Apparel
He bought four of them for us to try and we told him that we didn't like them because of the lack of the brim on the back to keep tar and hot water off the neck (nevermind they look goofy).
2. Since I got burned I switched back to my old bullard fire dome others have too, but now I have a conway leather (5 others have bought one too). Now he has tried to prevent us from wearing the leathers. But as far as that goes he lets members wear their own gear so I say whats the diffrence.
The helmet isnt unsafe or they wouldnt market it and it wouldnt be approved. I believe you dislike the helmet and wanted something more comforting to you. I personally feel they (euro-helmets) should all be collected and burned ceremoniously and never marketed in the USA again. I like my traditional helmets,
You probably didnt quit over a helmet, this I know. You probably didnt quit because of safety concerns. you probably quit because you couldnt get along with your fire Chief.
You will likely regret your decision and soon realize posting this here will draw much criticism to your point. If I had a dollar for every time I was frustrated and wanted to walk out, I d be rich. Im still plugging along. I'm sorry to hear that your 6 man protest just kicked your community in the balls. We dont know the entire history here but judging from the sound of things this is sad. As a remider, it's not in your best interest to debate department issues with your name and district attached to your messages, it doesnt help your case. Why did you join to begin with anyway? Think it over.
The information presented herein is simply my opinion and does not represent the opinion or view of my employer(s) or any department/agency to which I belong.
[This message has been edited by M G (edited 01-17-2001).]
[This message has been edited by M G (edited 01-17-2001).]
01-18-2001, 09:10 AM #12Jim M.Firehouse.com Guest
James, I think that MG probably summed it up best. Good advice.
This situation happened in our dept some years back. No one is even sure what the "straw" was that prompted it but several members quit and raised much havoc in the community.
After the dust settled, each of them privately admitted that they were wrong to walk out and that change can only occur from within. Because their voices were no longer being heard, the changes they wanted were longer in coming.
My suggestion would be the same as the others, go back to work. Trust me, no one ever died from eating a little crow. The body that chooses your Chief (fire company, trustees, Selectmen, etc) needs to have reasoned, intelligent feedback on his performance. If your prior posts are correct, his term should be up shortly.
[This message has been edited by Jim M. (edited 01-18-2001).]
01-18-2001, 09:39 AM #13AdlerFirehouse.com Guest
Did you go to the city council?? I agree with pretty much everyone above. I would hate to know what the community thinks of this situation. It is going to a big p*#sing match when it all boils down. No one is going to benefit from your decision. The department will still keep the helmets, the chief looks like still be short staffed, your community will suffer response times, and the biggest one to me, is that you all probably look like quitters and babies. This is a sad day, a sad day indeed. I am not judging you, because this happens all over the country. But, it does not and will not solve anything.
01-18-2001, 09:56 AM #14JMP17Firehouse.com Guest
Well this is just my .02 cents worth, but in all, this sounds like the "Leather for Ever" crew fighting technology. From what I've seen, these hemets are per say, state of the art. They may look "goofy" as you stated Bro, but, suck it up! Close your collar the right way and you won't get crap down your back.
And I wonder if you may have taken the boss out of context when he saud he doesn't care what the Firefighters think.I've had some sqaubles with the big guy myself, even lost the Lt. spot probly because of it, BUT! I'm still here, because there's Brothers and Sisters who caunt on me, as well as Joe Citizen. Firefighters don't run from adversity, they meet it head on, adapt, work for change, and overall,,Suck it up and Drive on!
01-18-2001, 02:06 PM #15iwood51Firehouse.com Guest
Vetersn posters may or may not remember a thread a while back that discussed, I believe, 13 members wanting to turn in their pagers. The response was the same. Good Riddance. There's no cryin' in baseball and there's no quitting in firefighting. Firefighters are not quitters. If they are, they're in the wrong business. I've been doing this for 17 years now and have butted heads with the worst and the best of them. As someone else said 'I probably lost the LT position because of it'. I am now an Ex-Captain and the white hat that I butted heads with the most is now the Chief. Did I take my ball and go home? No. I'm active as I can be, and work with/for the Chief to the best of my ability. You may not like the man, but you have to respect the position. When the bell makes noise, he's the MFWIC. At other times he's still the boss, but you have time to approach situations a little differently. As is your case. If there is a big problem, you need to address it with his boss, who, as others have said, may be the Town Council, the Board of Fire Commissioners, the Mayor.
Side note to Azde
In my opinion...instead of walking out, you should have had a vote of confidence on your chief....
I'm assuming this is a volunteer department, so would have bylaws probably following the guidelines of Robert's Rules of Order, unless their bylaws specifically address it, there is no such thing as a vote of confidence, or even a vote of no confidence as it is sometimes referred to.
If he's paid and the union's involved, that's a different story.
01-18-2001, 04:42 PM #16hfd12316Firehouse.com Guest
I had a situation about helmets about 10 years ago. When we went from the old Cairns New Yorker to the NFPA approved style they stopped making custom sized helmets. My head is size 8 1/8 so I couldnt wear the new one without it looking like a derby hat! Well one of the guy's won a complete set of gear at the Expo in baltimore. He didnt like the helmet so the Chief at the time decided to save some money and give it to me. I personally was very tradition minded Leather forever and all that B.S. The helmet was a Morning Pride Light Force IV. Darth Vader black and it looked just awful to me. Let alone what the brothers thought when I showed up wearing it, compassionate souls that they were! I got some gas about it and boy did I give some to the Chief.The battle raged for his whole term of office. That was 10 years ago and I wouldnt give up that light weight easy to adjust helmet for anything. And boy do I love the probies who beg for a leather helmet and come back a month later asking for a plastic one. It sounds like the situation is:
1- you aren't wearing your turnout gear properly if you got tar down your neck.
Sorry that's just the way I see it. I have read some of your previous posts. The conflicts you present arent all that different from ones in every department. I wouldnt air my dirty laundry in a public place such as this. Remember one thing. The chair doesnt change. Just the butt sitting in it. Nothing lasts forever.
01-19-2001, 07:33 AM #17Hsar1Firehouse.com Guest
Duty is heavy as a Mountain, Death is as light as a feather...
Personally as hard as it is to get on a department, I'd say leaving one is pretty easy. At leasy you can say you were on a deptartment. What you say about your chief goes against what a chief should act like, true. Personality plays a part true, like everyone says. Helmets might of been the last straw in alot of things. But I would put the your community before yourself, and just wear your helmet of preference so long as it is safe. Thanks for protecting others and I hope you can be open and solve your problems. In the future you might want to share your problem in such a manner that your organizations name is not revealed. Or your name. Just an idea for legal stuff ect.
01-19-2001, 12:39 PM #18AdzeFirehouse.com Guest
iwood: The bylaws of my FD do not specifically address a vote of confidence or no confidence or anything....however, back in 1996 we held a vote against our chief. I know since then other volunteer FD's in CT have also done the same thing, but I do not remember the names of the FD's.
01-19-2001, 01:12 PM #19snowballFirehouse.com Guest
James, you shouldnt' have "walked off" that was a bad career move. Can you go back? All equipment eventually fails in some respect.
You can always use the excuse "I lost it in the fire". I have an idea for you and the
5 others, meet in your garage with your new helmets, get a ball-peen hammer, hit yourself on the head twice, once with the helmet on and once with it off and see which one is more tolerable.
Seriously though remember, the Chief's position is usually the last stop before retirement. You will be there after he is gone. Go back to work, dont be a quitter.
Good luck to all of you.
01-22-2001, 02:09 PM #20iwood51Firehouse.com Guest
Azde, I didn't/don't want to get off topic here, but just because things have been done and precedents set, does not mean they're right. I would love to discuss this further, but not under this thread. I even suggested a forum for bylaw/RONR/administrative issues, but nothing ever came of it. I had even talked to a Parliamentarian that would have assisted in moderating the forum as long as the workload didn't get too much.
02-21-2001, 02:16 PM #21xenophon13Firehouse.com Guest
The way I see it is like this. If you are childish enough to leave your brothers and your comunity in a bad situation over a silly looking helmet, then what good are you to the dept anyway. If I was in your dept. I personaly wouldn't want you to come back, for the simple reason that if you left because of something trivial like that, there is no way in h*ll that I would trust you with my life on a fire ground. You just need to learn to "suck it up and walk it off"
02-21-2001, 10:20 PM #22fayette 1Firehouse.com Guest
An update to the situation and to give some background. I'll start by saying that when I started the post I'd just had gotten home form that meeting and was admittingly very ******ed off. As for the comments as to weather my complaints were really about the safety of the helmets, they were. I had fought for months against them and when he told me "if you don't like them there's the door" I naturally got a little hot headed and did so. I did not tell or ask anyone to fallow me, the fact that they did was strictly a decision they made for themselves. Now for the update, after a cooling off period I returned to the station and sucked it up (I'm not afraid to admit I was wrong) and apologized to the members for the way I had acted but stuck by my cause. I had found out that after I walked out the chief offered a compromise (I feel because of my actions). So I accepted and we no longer are required to wear the helmets that I fought against. So I feel that my actions did make a substantial difference in the final outcome. And as for the others, 5 of the 6 are back thanks to the compromise on both sides of the fight.
All of this occured two days after the walk out. I couldne post it sooner cause my account is messed up and i couldn't log on.
Reappointed Lt. James Woda
02-22-2001, 09:54 AM #23RS225Firehouse.com Guest
listen up man, first of all i noticed someone said you give up your bars well as a vol. you dont get bars just a title. and you did what you thought was right i;m behind you all the way to hell with the naysayers.
now that your free to do what you want go to the mayor himself(or herself)and tell whats going on thats where the final say so for money comes in.
my thoughts are my own
02-22-2001, 08:20 PM #24DFD132Firehouse.com Guest
Hey I know where your coming from I spent over $500.00 on a lightbar when the current chief was there he said it was ok. Then when MR. HIPICRIT Chief came in he said no more Full lightbars. Why is it when a Chief comes into office they think there GOD. With out men and woman firefighters there ain't no Chief just another Knucklehead playing God with redlights
02-24-2001, 02:01 PM #25ALSfirefighterFirehouse.com Guest
I reallly wanted to stay away from this one, but I figured I throw my 2 cents in, being that I had a similiar situation a few years back when I was a vollie.
While I believe that career or volunteer you should always conduct yourself professionally and have a set of rules, regulations and/or "guides." I also believe that there comes a time when knowledge supersedes authority. As far as walking out, I wouldn't have done that. You didn't accomplish anything but high blood pressure and the loss of something you apparantly enjoy and care about. I would have refused to wear the helmet you don't like, because, (don't take this the wrong way guys) I'm doing this on my time as a vollie. They can't cut my pay for not following a practice which I deem unsafe, when I don't get paid for doing it. I have the luxary that if it was something a few of us didn't like, we could take it to the union. I'd go back, and I'd buy my own helmet, and find out who else doesn't like it, but are too timid to stand up with you.
The above is my opinion only and does not reflect that of any dept./agency I work for, am a member of, or deal with.
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