1. #1
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    Post Volunteer Fire Officers

    I am a member of a small town Volunteer Fire Dept. I was also recently a Lt. Our officers are nominated and voted upon yearly by the general membership. I have ten years in the Fire Service and am very active in continuing my education towards the Fire Service. I lost my Lt. position to a person W/ less than 5 years in with no real expierence at all. I am now focusing my efforts on changing our officer selection process. I am looking for input on how other Depts. go about doing this. I am not whining, but a good number of general members that vote usually are not familiar with the officers up for election. We also have a few members that show up just for the election but we are working on eliminating that.Thanks for the input
    Live Life day to day and enjoy it you never know when your time will come due.

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    Good luck! Its a popularity contest. We have that problem also. We have tried and sort of passed by laws that say the candidates must have so many years on the department in order to be eligable. They are trying to get a percentage of calls made to become part of the rules to. It never passes though.

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    Our Co solved this problem for the most part by changing our by laws in several ways as follows:
    Elected Line Officers must have at least a 1 year active membership status and there are several levels of membership, only the senior line officers are elected, the Lts are appointed by the senior line officers. The biggest thing that might help you is voting requirements for the membership, to vote at our elections the member must have attended at least 10% of the alarms for the previous year or 50% of the Co meetings or helped with 3 fund raising events in the previous year. Now I know the fund raising sounds low but we only do about 6 fund raisers a year so this could be adjusted to suit your Co. We have the same requirements for the Fire Police, but adjusted somewhat lower, for voting rights and to maintain their status at Fire Police. We have found this has discontinued the "loading the meeting" practice at elections and ensures that only the active firefighters have the right to vote for their officers

    Union Fire Co Home Page

    [ 12-22-2001: Message edited by: pres41 ]

    [ 12-22-2001: Message edited by: pres41 ]

    [ 12-23-2001: Message edited by: pres41 ]

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    Cool

    We recently did away with voting in officers. Before, the capt. and lt's were voted in to their position, and it is permanant. Now, there is an application process including oral boards and testing. our newest Lt. has 12 years on. 5 of which are at Crew Chief level. seems to work real well, and completly eliminates the popularity contest. Some would say that this doesn't give the membership the choice of who leads them, but I would be willing to bet they would feel better knowing their officers are qualified.


    oh well, just my $.02


    -Nick

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    My Department only Elects the Chief. ~ That person MUST be qualified and have served as rank of Captain First before being eligible for Chief. Our Chief than appoints his line officers {Lieut. and Capts.}
    ***The Opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not reflect those of the Department to which I am a Member ! ***

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    Our Chief is appointed by the Board of Directors for an indefinate term. All other officers are appointed by the Chief. Has worked out so far. Of course, get a bad Board and you could get a bad Chief and so on, but we haven't had any problems yet.
    Bryan Beall
    Silver City, Oklahoma USA

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    We don't vote for any officers. Our City chief is appointed by the Mayor/City Administrator/City Council. The City chief then appoints District Chiefs at each station, who in turn appoint all other line officers.

    You may not always get who you want in for the position, but it SHOULD be the people who are qualified. Our only problems are with the officers who have been in their positions for years and are only in them because of that. I like the system as long as people are held accountable.......
    The comments made by me are my opinions only. They DO NOT reflect the opinions of my employer(s). If you have an issue with something I may say, take it up with me, either by posting in the forums, emailing me through my profile, or PMing me through my profile.
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    In my vollie sta. it is pretty much line up and see who's knees get red last, and that's the one. We've tried a couple of different things but in the end it is always what the chief wants goes if you argue or stand up you ain't it. Good ole boys rule the house, it wouldn't be so bad if they weren't hippicrits don't think I'm bitter or anything I've just seen a good dept. go down the tubes because the new guys don't know **** with all their training. But i guess that is the way it is.
    the truth never hides for long

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    In our dept. We actually have and stick to a system that seems to work. I totally agree with everyone that believe choosing officers who will lead you into battle, put your life in their hands, should NOT be a popularity contest.

    The system we have is a 3 step process. Firefighters that are interested in becoming an officer must have Wisconsin certified firefighter level I and have minimum of 3 years experience. They do a written test of basic fire knowledge and senarios. Then they do a practical exercise where they are given a certain situation and they are Command. Last they have an oral interview with the Chief officers(Chief and ***'t Chiefs) where they explain their actions in the practical exercise.

    Each applicant is given points based on their performance. Bonus points are given for military service, years of experience, training, certifications, and any degrees someone might have. The one who has the most points is the new officer. The Chief has the final say of course.

    This seems like a lot of hoops to jump through for a small part-time department but I think it is worth every minute of effort. I'm sure you will agree with me in saying that I would rather have an officer that knows fire and knows the difference between a flashover and a beer fart!

    If you want more info send me an email and I can send you a copy.

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  10. #10
    Ed
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    Here is something to think about for the full timers that are reading this.

    Who would be an Officer on your department if you had to vote on them?

    I know that out of the 9 on mine I'd only vote to keep 3.

    Once someone figures out a solution let me know but I have been on both a volunteer and full time departments and there are problems in both.

    I have run across some excellent Fire Officers that are Volunteers that were elected.

    Just my 2 cents

    [ 12-23-2001: Message edited by: Ed ]


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    I dont doubt that you will find some excellent officers that are in the position because they were voted in.however how can you reassure some of us skeptics that it's not a popularity contest?

    In the department where i'm from,we go thru a test period.
    1.In order to write the exam (which is a pre-qualifier) minimum 5 years in our department.
    2.you then have to pass the exam 65% for Lieuts,75% for Captains in order to advance the next step
    3.then all the other stuff comes into play (qualifications,practise,call attendance etc.)
    This may seem like a lot to some but at least it's fair for everyone.

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    My Company has been in business since Sept. 15th
    1841. Officers are elected the first meeting in Dec. They are voted on the first meeting in Jan.
    The term limit is 2 years. I've been Chief, Asst,
    Chief, Chief Engineer. If a member is elected with less experience we are'nt negative with it we take the opportunity to train him to achieve.
    When pumping the rig I always can answer questions. Life is one learning experience. If someone takes the job. He'll only get better with
    help. Then I won't get re-elected again. Been there done that, gets old after awhile. We has a member pass away who had 82 years service. He held offices for over 40 years. The process verys
    with each Company.
    Out in good time, do good servive, first water....

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    We have the Chief Asst.Chief Daytime capt and safety officer positions appointed by our district.But you will still here how it is a popularity contest cause the chief helps in the decision.Our two capt spots are open to vote and the office lasts for 2 years.I have no problem with the way it works here and a lot of our guys are happy with our officers,so I guess we are pretty much happy with the system. [quote]
    Putting the "FUN" back in DysFUNcyional.

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    Thanks for the responses guys keep it coming PLEASE!!
    Live Life day to day and enjoy it you never know when your time will come due.

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    Airpack, Your dept. has a serious problem! It is a popularity contest! I have no idea about your qualifications, or the new LT., but from the sound of it, the new guy ran his mouth more than you did! My volunteer dept. allows the chief to appoint his officer staff. He appointed the EMS co-ordinator, and assistant chief, the rest were open for applications. This allows everyone to "plead thier case". I was chosen as a LT. because of my qualifications, it just so happens one of my qualifications was keeper of the peace(respect), which makes me popular within the dept. In response to your question, I would make some noise, maybe have a private discussion with your council person. Hopefully they will see how rediculous this system is! The other way is to go about your business, treat your people well, earn their respect, both with your firefighting skills and with your interpersonal skills!

    The last little rant I have about volunteer officers, this may also apply to some of my career officers, but I see it more in the volunteer ranks. Just because you are an officer does not allow you to treat people like sh*t!! If you want to be a leader you need your people to have a little respect for you. #2 be tactful, and fair when dealing with your people. You can be in charge and issue orders without sounding like "I'm the big bad chief, and you do what I say, when I say it". This will get you as far as your meager personality will take you. #3 do not issue any order you would not be willing to execute yourself. Do not put people in extreme danger when you yourself would'nt to the same. #4 Do not discredit the youth. All officers should be able to teach the new people, and teach them well! Make it fun, and they will learn more...

    Just my rants, did I leave out anything???

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    We did away with the problem of popularity issues for the most part. There is no voting on the officers.

    In both my departments, the Chief is selected by the Board and the Chief selects his/her officers. Providing you have a fair Chief that makes selections based on a combination of experience, knowledge, people skills and ability to lead it works out.

    I will say that ALL of these qualities are important - a 'new' person may have all the right skills to be a Truck Captain, a person that's been there longer may have all the skills, experience and knowledge to do anything - but may be so lousy in how they treat people that they can't be considered for a position. A person that has all the certifications and book knowledge may lack the practical experience to lead. It has to be addressed on an individual basis, depending on the need of the position and the person - there is NO magical formula. No ONE of these qualities makes a good officer, ever.

    I would suggest that some type of selection process be implemented; this could eliminate the 'buddy' system at least.
    Susan Lounsbury
    Winston-Salem Rescue Squad
    Griffith Volunteer FD

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    Thanks again for all the info. SHED376 when I was an officer I was well respected for my knowledge, personal skills, and practical abilities. I fully understand what you are saying about treating people like you know it all. I have been treated this way many times and I swore if I ever made it to being an officer I would never do that and I have not.Like everyone else has said this is nothing more than a popularity contest. I hope in the near future things will change thanks to the input from all of you.

    Thanks again
    Airpack
    Live Life day to day and enjoy it you never know when your time will come due.

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    What do you suppose are the chances of getting someone who is both popular AND qualified? Not to make light of your situation, but if you don't like the system, change it. On our department, I am elected. The officers are selected; by me. Obviously, if I make poor choices, I am odd man out. Democracy - get some!
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    Anymore info out there before I go state my case at next months fire meeting??
    Live Life day to day and enjoy it you never know when your time will come due.

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    Our company does the same thing, and we have come across the same problem. We do however have rule that says you have to make a certain percentage of fires, drills, and meeting. Fall short of this percentage and you cannot vote.

    Another idea (and this is not my company's policy, just my personal view) institute a company policy that says you must have certain certifications, not just classes, but the actual paper from your state, before being able to hold any officers' position.
    It's just a permanent reminder of a temporary feeling.

  21. #21
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    In my department (all-volunteer) the chief is elected annually by the general membership (active firefighters only, not "knife-and-fork" members). There are no term limits, he remains chief until he is either voted out or steps down. In my >12 years with the department, under 3 different chiefs, we have never had one voted out, have only had them step down. Following the annual election, the chief appoints his officers (2 assistant chiefs and 4 captains, one of whom is EMS captain). This system seems to work pretty smoothly for us. Everyone is usually OK with the chief's appointment of officers and it has not caused any friction that I have seen. That's the firefighting side of it. On the administrative side, we also annually elect a 9-member Board of Directors who controls the budget, etc. The Chief and the two assistant chiefs are automatically on the Board of Directors, so really we only elect 6 more members from the active membership. It's a good system for us.
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream and I hope you don't find this too crazy is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
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  22. #22
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    First, let me explain our system:
    We have 6 line officers: Chief, 1st Asst Chief, 2nd Asst Chief, Capt., 1st Lt., 2nd Lt.
    You have to be elected to the position of 2nd Lt. by the general membership. For that position you must have completed a list of requirements which include classes such as engine co. operations, truck co. operations, incident command, etc...you must also have been an active firefighter for at least 3 years in our dept. You must have obtained at least 60 % for the previous years calls. Once elected you hold each position for 1 year. As you move to each new position there are advanced classes you must have taken to move to the next position. These include command classes and fire instructor courses. The chief is charged with overseeing the officers under him and has to reccomend they advance if they have fulfilled all their requirements each year.
    That is our system, and by far is not the best. we have discussed ways of changing it because we fell that the officers need more time in their position to accomplish goals. we have thought of adding a second Capt, or making each term 2 years, etc...there are no best ways...we have a popularity contest for the 2nd Lt. position too, but to be qualified to run you have to have some training, experiance, and be active so it weeds out alot of the loud mouths....
    I would love to hear how other depts do it so we can also get ideas on making our system better...good luck with u'r situation !!!

  23. #23
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    I don't think that officers should be voted on. I think that it makes it a popularity contest, qualifications should be taken into acccount along with experience. Lets not forget management skills, maybe the most important skill that is usually overlooked. This is the ability to deal with different attitudes, personalities, styles, people in general, and to make them work for you and get the job done.(if I forgot anything feel free to add) You can give anyone a title,(Lt, Capt, CHIEF, Engineer) if they don't perform they should not be in the postion. The Chief should hold them accountable,do the job or the rank should be taken away. The problem in probably most volunteer departments is the "good ol boys club". The DINOSAURS need to step aside, let the department grow. Not to knock on the old-timer but, some not all need to go. You all know who they are. Take a long look at your Chief, he is probably the answer.

  24. #24
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    Our department votes on Chief, Asst. Chief, Secretary, and (new this coming year) Treasurer.
    These people are also our President, VP, sec, and treasurer for the Corporation, that is the FD.

    The Chief is XX-01, Assistant is XX-02, Sec-treas is XX-03. I don't know what we're going to do this year with the split of the sec/treas, cause we already have an XX-04.
    The Chief appoints 2 captains and any other officers that he thinks we need, like training and safety, PR, etc...
    Patrick
    18-03
    Orleans Fire
    www.orleansfire.com

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