I belong to a volunteer fire department. At our last business meeting, our firechief resigned. There were no hard feelings between him and the fire department. The question that I have is what to do now? We refered to our by laws and there is nothing that addresses this situation. There seem to be two options. One is to elect a new firechief and have all of the junior officers adjust to him. The other option is to move all of the other officers up one postition and elect a new lieutenant. I was just looking for some input on this subject.
DO you have a fire board or anyhting from the County? You could call your Attn. for the Dept. or your state Fire Mars.
I'm in Indiana, so I won't pretend to know how the Fire Companies in PA are regulated.
My advice is to first get your attorney to guide you according to your state's codes. The second thing would be to take a very close look at your By-Laws. If they do not cover the replacement of the chief, I wonder what else they lack. We all hate to pay attorney fees, but pay what it takes to do it right.
Do you currently have an assistant chief or deputy chief? They should take over as acting chief. If it is not addressed in your by-laws, you probably could do what evey you wanted. The proper thing to do would be to have an election so that the body can have a say as to who the new chief is. The current assistant chief or deputy should run , since they will probably be next in line. I would create a by-law ASAP to cover this type of situation.
I suggest hold another election and let the company pick another chief. If the AC gets the position, then elect another AC. It would seem that you are within the legal limits of the consitution and by-laws since it is not covered. Does your By-laws state that you go by "roberts rules of order"? In that case it is covered there I believe. Ours state that in the event an issue is not covered in the constitution and by-laws it will be handled according to "roberts rules of order"
I used to live in PA, and know that just about every department has different policies. I would agree with those who favor moving the AC or DC up to be acting Chief until either an election or the next senior officer is affirmed as Chief.
Theoretically, if the Chief did his job well, his next in line is groomed and prepared to take over, no matter what the situation (resignation, chief on vacation, etc.). This should hold true for any officer; be prepared to move up. Officer positions, other than possibly lieutenant, shouldn't be tokenisms or favoritisms. The people in those positions should be ready to do the work. The reason I singled out lieutenant is that it could be considered an officer-in-training position, an introduction to the world of officership. However, this probably only works in smaller departments.
Every department should always be prepared for the loss of anyone in leadership, for any reason. To not be so is dangerous for the department. Let's handle the emergencies OUTSIDE of the department, not inside.
Do it right, do it safely, do it once.
We have only lost 1 line officer in the time I have been withthe department.
We lost our Assistant Chief to a non-lodd. I'm not sure if it's actually written in our by-laws or SOP's anywhere, but we just moved every other position up one level. (1st Lt to Asst. Chief, 2nd Lt to 1Lt. etc).
It just so happened close enough to our annual elections that we opted not to fill the vacant Seargents position - his duties were just absorbed by the general membership during the intrum.
I'm not going to make any suggestions as to what I think you should do, thats for your group to decide. Just letting you know how we did.
Take Care - Stay Safe
We went through something like this back in 1982. At that time, the Chief resigned in mid-term. There were no provisions in the by-laws for this, so the procedure was worked out ad hoc by the general membership at the next business meeting:
1st Assistant Chief became acting Chief
2nd Assistant Chief became acting 1st Assistant.
2nd Assistant Chief's position was left open until the next elections were held.
The current procedure is written, and we simply move up the people in the existing senior or junior positions (depending on what position was vacated), and the Chief (or acting Chief) needs to decide whether to leave a position open or choose a successor for the vacated position. If the vacant position is 2nd Assistant Chief, that position needs to be elected by the active firefighters, then confirmed by a general business meeting. If that vacant position is 2nd Lieutenant, the Chief can choose to appoint or hold an election for that position just among active firefighters. The by-laws require election and confirmation for the 3 chiefs' positions, so there can't be an automatic move from Captain to 2nd Assistant Chief.
There is very little state-wide regulation of fire companies in PA, and none regarding issues like this, so you can't turn there for guidance.
26DC, I can't believe your thoughts on Lt's are officers in Training! On our dept. and most depts. nation wide Lt's are company officers in charge of a Truck,Engine,or Rescue with a crew of people under them, that they are in charge of and responciable for on the fire ground or in the station!
To pick a person to be a officer in the volunteer ranks because they are well liked or for some other reason is a death wish when things go bad. Well trained and experienced officers are required be it payed or volunteer in todays fire service. The days of electing someone to office because they purchase more beer are long gone, or at least I thought they were!
I agree with Truck 2...a Lieutenant should not be considered "an officer in training" or be chosen with "tokenism and favoritism". I am with a career Department and in my firehouse I oversee my own Engine and a Ladder. I studied hard for two years for the exam and took the Fire Officer One certification course In my department, the Lieutenants can work out of grade as acting Captains.
A Lieutenant is ultimately responsible for the safety of his personnel. Career or volunteer, the officers ranks should reflect professionalism, knowledge and pride in the job, not a personality contest!
We boldly go where no one else dares...
take care and stay safe
Truck 2 and Lt. Gonzo et al,
My remarks were not in amy way meant to disparage all the hard working lts. out there. I've been one, too, on my way up. One of the departments I ran with did, however, view the position as such. It was a small department, and on many calls, the number of officers equaled or outnumbered black hats. In such an environment, the lieutenant position was an OJT position.
Was it right? Perhaps not, in your situation. Did it work for them? Yes. Does that make it right? For them, yes. Additionally, the Chief and Asst. Chief both worked in the town, and had access to leave work to respond to calls. With the Chief always there, how does a Lt. grow?
In my current department, being a Lieutenant takes a minimum of years in the department, plus certain schooling and certification, plus driving certification on most of the apparatus. That's just to be on the eligibility list. But we are a large combo department, manning 3 stations out of 6 in the city. Just to be able to drive various apparatus takes several years with our training process.
As with most of what we read and discuss in this forum, your mileage may vary. But there are always more than one right way to do things. And, as for me, just because I report it doesn't mean I endorse it.
Do it right, do it safely, do it once.
We had the same thing happen to my department back in 1993 execpt that it was the Assst.chief who resigned and we just left that spot open till our dec.meeting and then moved some people around since our by-laws stated that you must be a captain for a minium of 3 years before you can put up for a chiefs slot.
The chief of our department is rotated bewteen our two companies every three years and each company has a chief a capt.and a lt.
so by you become chief you must have served at least 4 years as a asst.chief plus the years you served as line officers.
I would also have your township lawyer take a look at your by-laws or at the very least take a look at some by-laws from of the towns that are around you to see if you folks may have over looked something else.
I know because I was on the the comm.that rewrote our by-laws and it took us about 18 months to re-do ours.
Good luck hope this helps
We just went through an officer transition with a 1st Lieut moving out of the area and resigning. We do not have anything in the by-laws that pertains to this type of situation. We are working on all of the by-laws at this time. I made a suggestion that we move the 2nd Lt to the 1st Lt position and nominate somebody for the vacant position. This worked, however it needs to be in writting so everybody knows what to do should this happen when we are all retired.
First you can have a re-election for the position. In some states the person to fill that position needs to be certify or have the proper training. Second, you could move everyone up but again everyone must have the proper training. Good Luck and Be safe out there.