Thread: Labor Practices
04-22-1999, 03:16 AM #1njnearguruFirehouse.com Guest
[This message has been edited by njnearguru (edited April 30, 1999).]
04-27-1999, 03:10 PM #2smokeaterFirehouse.com Guest
To start with, welcome to the real world.
Not to upset you but I am from a full paid well established fire dept. of 125 people.
I have been passed over for driver 23 times in the past 4 years, out of the 23 times only 6 hade more time on then me. to add salt to the sore, 5 people that did have less time than me have already been promoted to Lt..
I have ten years on and the ones making promotions have between 3 - 4 years on.
Some have never drove a fire truck before.
I am a relief driver and have driven 75 % of the time over the past 7 years.
Just remember that less time does not automaticly mean less ability.
Some are born into leadership others have to work harder to make it.
There are 2 parts of a GREAT TEAM
LEADERS AND FOLLOWERS
work hard, work safe
04-27-1999, 04:52 PM #3Jim M.Firehouse.com Guest
You seem to be implying that because someone is on the job fulltime, they must know more and have more leadership skills than someone who volunteers or is paid on call. If that were universally true, we would still be working with leather hose and horses. Seniority and experience is a tremendous asset but a promotion board is responsible for weighing them along with brains, aptitude, communications skills, etc. Remember, there is always the same alternative available to you that there is to all of us in the private sector - look for another job. That's not a slam http://www.firehouse.com/interactive/boards/redface.gif just something that government employees sometimes overlook. Best of luck in the future.
04-27-1999, 11:12 PM #4njnearguruFirehouse.com Guest
[This message has been edited by njnearguru (edited April 30, 1999).]
04-29-1999, 02:52 PM #5Capt. SkippyFirehouse.com Guest
I am actually appalled to hear that your attitude toward volunteers are based on the "paid-on-call" volunteers serving in your jurisdication. My experience and travels around this country have found the majority of volunteers to be highly dedicated professionals! For example, our Fire Division responds to approximately 500 fire calls per year (EMS is a seperate Division with 2,000 calls per year) covering 15,000 people over 120 square miles. We have a full-time chief, all others (2 Capts, 3 Lts, 19 firefighters and engineers) are "paid-on-call volunteers." Yet 99 out of 100 people in our first due area think that our Fire Division is FULL-TIME CAREER FIREFIGHTERS! Why you might ask? I firmly believe it is due to the dedication and professionalism of the members of this department. Is this a rarity? I do not believe so, at least not from what I have seen around the country. Additionally, attitudes and actions begin at the top of the structure and filter down. If the low end of the structure (the paid-on-call folks)has these attitudes, then someone at the top has either promoted these attitudes, started them or allowed them to exist. It would sound to me that your Chief is the party here who either needs to start leading the department or be replaced!
Best of luck on finding yourself a better position elsewhere, just remember that problems always exist no matter where you go, they just change shape! http://www.firehouse.com/interactive/boards/smile.gif
06-19-1999, 08:34 PM #6custom pumperFirehouse.com Guest
i understand on how you feel about the seniority thing, but in all honesty all that truely stands for in this line of work is who gets vacation and retirement opportunities first. we have a firefighter on the dept i work for who was hired on part-time and 8 months later was hired on full-time when he was still on part-time probation. he passed others with more time and expieriance in the fire service. but the simple fact of the matter was he had a better score on the test then they did, and he was problably the best candidate for the job. so there are other aspects to be looked at in things like what you are saying.
06-21-1999, 03:24 AM #7njnearguruFirehouse.com Guest
Let me reiterate something about my topic. The volunteers on my department are able to work for the other full-time personnel and myself when we are sick or leave for vacation. This illuminates any possibility for overtime.
This doesn't bother me that much! What does bother me is the fact that the other full-time personnel and myself worked very hard to better our education, experience, to get the full-time positions. Everyone on our department had the same opportunity. We took a written exam, oral interview, workshop, medical exam, physical agility, and a chief's oral to get where we are. Our Chief had the ultimate decision and decided we were the most qualified personnel and awarded the 6 of us the job. This was based on our experience, training, and what we had to offer, as well as our performance during the exam process.
The volunteers, many which took the same test but did not do well and did not get hired, either because they were not qualified; did not have as much knowledge or experience; or did not have any thing to offer the department on a full-time basis; complained that it was fixed and failed to look at the one thing that could have made the difference in them not getting the job, (Themselves). Well, now that this has happened they continue to be paid-call, they are able to climb the ladder past us simply by virtue that they are willing to work as a volunteer.
A volunteer captain can work for my captain and be my supervisor and this is the problem. They were not good enough to make it on a full-time basis, but now they are good enough on a volunteer basis to be my supervisor. It's a bunch of crap and I can't see how it can be looked at as being ok? No where have I ever heard of a full-time employee being supervised by a volunteer or part-time employee.
Put yourself in our position, you have been working at YOUR JOB for sometime, and now they bring in individuals on a part-time basis to be your supervisor. They may have less experience and knowledge than you, but were given the job because they are cheaper labor, and/or someone feels sorry about them not getting hired full-time. They come to work once a month, maybe twice if theyíre lucky, make changes to your routine, have to be told how to handle certain situations BY YOU, and basically have to have their hand held the whole way. Now would you be very happy about that?
Another issue that bothers the other engineers and I, are these individuals who can now be our supervisor on a part-time or volunteer basis, have the ability to utilize their position to their advantage. They are very capable of writing the others and I up for disciplinary reasons. Sure, it could earn them the chance of opening up a position for themselves. I believe that the other engineers and I have nothing to worry about because I look at them and myself as being model employees. In a way it does bother us because the pen is mightier than the sword, and in a dishonest mans hands, that pen could be hurtful to the all of us.
I hope this clears my problem up. It is important for everyone to know the others and myself think the volunteers are a wonderful part of our combination department, but we also believe they should only be allowed to supervise other volunteers. The volunteers are here to support whatever operations we as full-time personnel do. They have no place supervising us, further more they have no business taking away from our work environment or our lively hood. I wonder how they would feel if we went to their jobs on a part-time basis and started making unreasonable suggestions about how we could do a better job than them on a part-time basis? I wonder how they would feel if we took away their ability to make a little extra money to help support their families?
Its easy for you guys to say that you canít believe our opinions on volunteers or paid-call firefighters, but when you work a day in our shoes and see what actually goes on, I wonder if your opinion would change. I was a volunteer for 8 years before I got hired as a full-time firefighter, I can honestly say that I would not do anything that would jeopardize someone else's lively hood. I took it upon myself to achieve a full-time position not try and write or scheme myself one.
06-21-1999, 08:26 PM #8Jim M.Firehouse.com Guest
You have deleted your original post so someone jumping into the thread now would probably think you have a point. You don't. If you're unhappy in your work, get another job. If you believe your employer violated any rule, process or procedure in hiring, file a complaint with the appropriate authority in your jurisdiction. No one owes you overtime! Get some counseling or get out of this environment. I wish you the best but right now I would not like to be living in your household.
06-21-1999, 09:31 PM #9njnearguruFirehouse.com Guest
You people just don't get it..My problem is not with overtime, its not with money..but it's with the fact that a volunteer can supervise a full-time employee...Money is not an issue, it's work ethics. You or anyone else would not understand unless you were the one with the problem.
As for my feelings about my job, I love it. I love knowing that everyday I go to work I make a difference, I love knowing that I and the thousands of other people like me, love waking up and going to work.
All I did was ask for some advise on the subject of volunteers supervising full-time employees, and everyone has made me out to be some kind of bad guy.
That's the reason I took the original question off of the board. If all that anyone wants to do is bash another person in these forums, then I believe that they are being carelessly misused.
All I wanted was to see if other firefighters out there had any information they could offer. Obviously the answer was no!
So, I will ask again, if anyone out there has any information that would give me and my fellow firefighters some insight on volunteer captains supervising full-time firefighters and engineers, we would greatly appreciate it. I don't want to know what you think about me or my fellow personnel, why we even asked this question. I don't want to hear your opinion, reply only if you have any useful resources to offer.
My fellow firefighters and I are not above being wrong, and this is one of the reasons we have reached out for help in answering some of our questions. We donít know if this is right or if it is a legal or standard practice. As I said earlier in a post I have never heard of any employer letting a volunteer or part-time employee supervise full-time employees. If any body would like to know more about this topic please feel free to email me and I will be more than happy to give you the full details. Also, you can visit our departments web page @ www.santapaulafire.org
06-22-1999, 11:28 AM #10PhredFirehouse.com Guest
Look in the Web Links for the sites of the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. -- many of those suburbs have combination Career and Volunteer Firefighters and Officers. They certainly have procedures and policies that could be borrowed or modified to fit your departmental situation. http://www.firehouse.com/interactive/boards/wink.gif
06-22-1999, 03:42 PM #11KNOBMANFirehouse.com Guest
KEEP TRAINING AND TRYING YOU WILL GET TO THAT NEXT STEP. LOOK INTO GETTING SOMETHING PUT INTO YOUR CONTRACT ABOUT THE AUTHORITY OF YOUR LOCAL VOLLEYS.
UNION AND PROUD OF IT!
06-25-1999, 11:31 PM #12custom pumperFirehouse.com Guest
hey heres the hard cold facts on reality, the fact of volunteers supervising full-timers seems to be a major issue with you. the fact of the matter is what is the big difference? the job is the same right? the risks are the same right? you wear the same uniform right? then who the hell cares who is supervising who? just do your job man thats what you are there for. it sounds more to myself like you are on some sort of power hungry mission like you have something against volunteers and think just because you are full-time you should get speacial treatment. well my brother i am a full-timer and a part-timer on another dept. at both depts we have full and part-time and we dont have half as much crying about who has what authority. the simple fact is the guy with the horns and the vehicle that says "CHIEF" is the guy who has altimate authority. so relax,do your job and dont worry who has more authority.you will soon drive yourself and others insane with your whinning
06-28-1999, 04:33 PM #13njnearguruFirehouse.com Guest
You are very correct in noticing that my counter-parts and I do have a serious issue with volunteers supervising full-timers. You asked what the big difference is, well I have an opinion but I donít think you would like it. I want you to know I agree with you that the jobs are the same, no doubt. The risks are the same as well. We do wear the same uniform, oh yeah the same kind of turnouts too! But that has nothing to do with the issue.
As far as who cares, my counter-parts, many local county firefighters, many of the other local fire personnel, as well as our cities police union and I have concerns about this issue. So to make this very clear, I am not the only one who has asked the question, how can volunteers or part-timers be able to supervise full-time personnel?
As for me doing my job, I believe you donít know me, you have never worked with me, therefore you canít presume an opinion on whether or not I am doing my job. To answer your question, I am neither foolish enough nor irresponsible enough to let a problem debauch my level of professionalism. My counter-parts and I take our jobs very serious, we provide a very high level of professionalism to our department, along with a very high level of experience and knowledge.
If it sounds to you that we are on a power trip, you are greatly mistaken. I agree with you that no one should be afforded any special treatment. I believe that special treatment is very close in relationship to discrimination. We are not asking for any special treatment, we are simply asking for information regarding a local labor practice.
After examining your response in detail, I am curious to know how your department handles the interaction between full-time and part-time employees? I am also curious about the level of training that your volunteers receive. The reason I ask, our volunteers receive 72 hours of training each year. Often times they are in a hurry to get home during a drill because of other personal reasons. Not all of them are that way. We have a select few that are very dedicated and no matter what, they put in the time and effort to know their job. As for the ones who donít, this says a lot about their motivation level in regards to learning. In regards to your statement that you donít have half as much crying about who has what authority, I am very happy to see that you donít have the same problem we have. I would remind you that each individual, department, and the problems associated are each very different.
The simple fact that the guy with the horns and the vehicle that says ďCHIEFĒ is the guy who has ultimate authority is very true. However, remember that Chiefs are human, and subject to poor decision making, motivational problems, and even illegal activity. Just because they get the job doesnít always imply that they will do the best job. I would like to know what background, training, and type of Chief your department has? For example, ours was a lawyer while on the fire department as a volunteer. He served as volunteer firefighter, engineer, captain, and was then voted in as volunteer chief. During his time as volunteer chief, he wrote a letter to our city council suggesting that they hire a full-time fire chief. He quit his law practice after receiving the job. The one thing that stands out with our chief is the fact that he has only viewed the fire service from the standpoint of a volunteer. This would be ok if we had a completely volunteer department. He often makes operational decisions based on the needs of the volunteers. He has no experience as full-time firefighter and has no idea what other full-time departments do in regards to their employees. The point I am trying to make is a person can only make good judgment based upon what they are familiar with. This is very evident in our department.
What is the big difference between volunteers and full-time personnel? Well, as I said earlier volunteers and full-time personnel have very little difference at all. The heat of the fire and the types of calls we deal with are the same. But the amount of experience, training, and knowledge in my opinion, is very different. As a full-time firefighter, I have no other job outside the department. I am able to focus 100% of my efforts and time to the fire service. In our department the part-time personnel are not able to focus 100% of their efforts and time to the fire department. The reason is very simple, the fire service is not their career. Many of our personnel have to leave department training, response to an emergency call, and other department functions, to attend to their actual full-time employment. This often times causes the finer details of the fire service on their part, to be over looked. They always seem very rushed when trying to complete an assignment. This rushed idiosyncrasy carries over into their firefighting ability and shows on the fireground.
I believe that as a person you have to ask yourself this question, ďhow good do I really want to be?Ē Often timeís human nature takes over, and we sometimes donít do something unless we are motivated by something or someone else to do it. I also believe that it is up to each of us as individuals to find our personal motivation and utilize it to help us reach our personal goals. When I say personal goals, I am talking about goals that should benefit the department, public, and the individual, not the individual only.
As a full-time engineer, I am motivated to learn every aspect and fine detail of my career, because I know people depend on me to know my job. Lives are at stake, I would hate to learn that someone died or was seriously injured because I didnít know what I was doing. What I have seen with our part-time personnel in regards to training and personal motivation is a heavy reliance on the other full-time personnel and myself. They often times pay no attention to the details of specific training topics because they know that we will always be there to offer our expertise and pull them out in a bind.
I have given you my opinion, and gotten off of my original topic. But please when you respond to forum posts in the future, get all of the information before you lash out and give your opinion. I want to ask you one question before I end this post. Picture one of your family members needing to receive medical attention. Letís say they are going to have surgery. This surgery is life threatening and is very serious. You have the option of having a part-time surgeon, or a full-time surgeon perform the surgery. The part-time surgeon receives 72 hours of training each year and performs surgery maybe once or twice a month. The full-time surgeon receives over 500 hours of training each year and performs surgery nine to eleven times a month. Who are you going to want perform your family members surgery?
Thanks for your post and stay safe!
"Turn the Wheel Safely"
06-28-1999, 10:32 PM #14KNOBMANFirehouse.com Guest
NJNEARGURU.....GO GETTEM' AT LEAST SOMEONE KNOWS WHERE I AM COMING FROM!
UNION AND PROUD OF IT!
[This message has been edited by KNOBMAN (edited June 29, 1999).]
07-02-1999, 03:35 PM #15ConSpaceTLFirehouse.com Guest
It does not matter:
I have worked in the fire service for 15+ years. I have been a captain on an all volunteer force and a fire fighter in a combination department. I currently work for a full time paid department as an engineer. I will work for or follow any person who is qualified for and does the job.
For example: My brother is a deputy chief on a small all volunteer department in Idaho. He resently responded to a brush fire as mutual aid and ended up being the IC because he was the only person on the scene with initial attack IC on his red card! Although he is a volunteer he had several full time federal, state, and county crews under his command as well as a helo, smoke jumpers and other aircraft. Disaster did not occur and the fire went out just the same. (He did spend 7 years working for the BLM and Forest Service prior to this) Looks, badges, and paychecks may be decieving. The fact that you are full time does not make you any more qualified to do your job. Many volunteers are more experienced and better trained that some full time departments!
I feel that your problem is ego related. Just relax and take care of business. I am reminded of a chief I once knew who thought that more bugles on his colar made him smarter. The sad but true statement is that niether more bugles nor more pay makes you any better at the job than anyone else.
My advice is: Do your job, Be proffesional, Save lives, Etc. and stop worrying how much money that person sitting next to you on the engine is making or whether they are making any money at all. It has absolutly nothing to do with their qualifications.
P.S. There are departments in my area where volunteers out rank full time personnel
Carl Austin, Engineer, China Lake Federal Fire Div.
07-05-1999, 10:15 AM #16FJSpinelliFirehouse.com Guest
Well, I see that this subject has been beat to death over the last few months. Back to the original subject matter (I think?). I am a career fire fighter in a combination department. Our department has a volunteer roster of 10 members. Of those, there are:
1 Asst. Vol. Chief
1 Vol. Captain
2 Vol. Lieut.
There are 39 Career members of our department:
1 Chief, 4 Deputy Chiefs and 4 Captains.
The Chain of Command is as follows:
Asst. Vol. Chief
Senior Paid member on scene
The fact of the matter is that the majority of the volunteer officers will ask for advice or follow a paid members suggestions/actions in an emergency. The volunteers have very little day to day authority in our lives. There is a career officer on duty at all times, no exceptions. There are seven paid men on duty at all times, no exceptions. (Crews usually consist of ten paid men on each tour) If we go mutual aid to a volunteer department and they have an officer on scene and he/she is the incident commander they are in charge. Period. Volunteer officers in our department are not supervisors in our daily operations.
A volunteer or volunteer officer could not be hired to fill an open slot in the schedule for one of us.
I will not get into a discussion on who is qualified for a position of authority. The fact of the matter is that training in the fire service is widely different. A volunteer where I work is not trained or motivated in the same way that a volunteer where I live is. There is only 36 miles between the two departments, but for training purposes, equipment and tactical operations we might as well be a 1000 miles away.
I hope I am on the right track here, Email me if I can be of assistance. Fspinelli@Worldnet.att.net
07-20-1999, 10:50 AM #17jpmFirehouse.com Guest
YEA PUTNAM COUNTY VOLUNTEERS ROCK
07-25-1999, 11:00 AM #18pikepoleFirehouse.com Guest
I feel for you njnearguru, what a can of worms. I am a career tech. (engineer) in a combo dept, and have many of the same feelings you do. It is quite frustrating to have the Capt. take off and have a professional bookkeeper take his place because he cost the city nothing.
My dept. decided that with the last promotional test, the vols. that were interested in becoming officers would have to take the same tests as the career guys. This was a big improvement over the old system of appointment by the vol chief. However, when none of the vol candidates passed the test they decided that this wasn't going to work and made them officers anyway. This was done with the ok of the career chief, who out ranks the vol chief.
I, like you love the job and my dept. Just not the injustice of this practice. As far as the legality of this system I don't know the answer.
Good luck and don't let it get you down.
07-25-1999, 12:06 PM #19Truckie from MissouriFirehouse.com Guest
I viewed your department's web site with interest. Nice site, by the way. I see that there are to organizations to represent operational employees, one for full time, and one for part time.
My question is related to the SPPFFA: Is the association union, and is it affiliated with IAFF? The web site doesn't clarify. If not IADD, I would suggest teh SPPFFA affiliate with them. If you are, then may I politely suggest that be mentioned, and also proudly show the Local number.
IAFF has many resources available to assist you with your negotiations.
Just my thoughts...
Proud Member of IAFF Local 3133!
07-26-1999, 11:44 AM #20snake_eng313Firehouse.com Guest
Im in a combination dept. This topic is not a problem for us. I couldn't begin to tell you what we are doing right or wrong. Goodluck to youk,
07-29-1999, 08:41 PM #21The Snake ManFirehouse.com Guest
Just stopped in to see how you where weathering with the situation at your station? Have things gotten better or worse.
The Snake Man!
Keep it above the water line!
07-29-1999, 11:40 PM #22njnearguruFirehouse.com Guest
Well, I want to Thank everyone for your responses, even if you don't agree with this topic. Receiveing both positive and negitive feed back is a good way to learn how to deal with specific situations.
Everything is about the same at our department, my fellow full-timers and I did receive some good news, we will soon be getting our local status from the IAFF. We were contacted ealier in the week and this will hopefully help us in our negotiations with the city, and with some of our issues.
We are preparing to deal with this issue and many others through negotiations. Also we have a meeting with one of local State representitives on Aug 5th, to discuss SB402 regarding binding arbitration. I would encourage everyone to keep an eye on this bill. Till the next time everyone stay safe.
"Turn the Wheel Safely"
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