1. #1
    wrongWAY
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Question Volunteer Fire Dept. Elections

    Ooooooo NO! For some of us it's that dreaded time of year again. Firehouse elections!

    Just curious as to how your volunteer fire department's by-laws, constitution and etc reads for the requirements for election to line officer.

    For example:

    Do you require the candidate to have met certain minimum training standards?
    Must he or she have a specific number of years of service?
    Do you require them to serve as a Lieutenant for a year or more prior to election as a Captain?
    How many years does your Chief get elected for 1 - 2 - 3?
    Any quirks or loopholes in the way your department handles elections that need fixing?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    E229Lt
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I, for one, wish many departments would give up the status quo. Meaning, once someone gets into the ranks he/she moves up up and away without challenge. I've seen many a good prospect turn into a mistake. But once in, run unopposed through the ranks without challenge.
    In the RARE instance of a challenge, the rank and file NEVER break "tradition" and our mistake moves on up.
    Limited standards are in place:

    5 years and driver qualified on all apparatus before Lt.

    Lt. before Capt.

    Capt. before any Chiefs rank.

    These are fine qualifications, but the intangible ability, (being a leader) is not written or defined anywhere.

    I wish you good luck this election season, hope you don't need a re-count. (grin)


  3. #3
    NTCFD_Lieut
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Here in my department we have come up with a slight twist to the election process. Two years ago we eliminated the elections for all ranks above Captian. Battalion Chief's and Ast Chief's and other "staff" officers are appointed by the Chief and confirmed by our civillian board of directors baised on a minimum level of training and certifications

    Our Chief is appointed to a 4 year term by the board of directors from canidates that seek the office. All canidates must meet certian minimum qualifications before they can be considered by the board for the position.

    Captians and Lt's are elected by the members of each station. The canidates however must meet certian minimum qualifications before being allowed to run. All elected officers then must be confirmed by the Chief.

    This system while not perfect, does and has eliminated a LOT of the hassels and headaches associated with the election process and keeps our more qualified personnel moving up the ranks instead of the good ole "personality" contest that we used to have..

    Just my two cents....... Stay Safe

    James "Doc" Tarpley
    Battalion Chief (Safety Officer)
    North Tooele County Vol. Fire Dept.

  4. #4
    Kelly Tool
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    In our dept we have to "elect" 9 line officers. I use the " " cause most of the time there is only one person running for the position. We also elect admin positions, but i'll focus on the line officers.

    Most of the time, we move people up, if not, every one stays in there spot, and one ballot is cast and every thing is "dandy" If there is more than one running then there is a vote. As for experience needed to a cheif etc. We have SOGs for them, but they aren't really paid attention to. While we have enough guys for positions we have trouble finding people that want to and have the time to fill their positions. I think for a Chief(highest) they must have 3 yr active interior ff, and be a qualified driver. for a Lt.(lowest) they are suppposed to have 2 yr interior exp. and can run the truck they are Lt. of.

    For the 2 years i've been with the department i haven't even voted cause there was no one running against anyone


    ------------------
    Put the wet stuff on the red stuff
    Visit our Dept. Schodack Valley
    Steve Kelly Jr.
    SVFC

  5. #5
    Turk II
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Unfortunately, with most elections comes the "Popularity Vote," where as certain people are elected to positions based on their popularity.

  6. #6
    firenurse
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I see a lot of people complain about the "popularity" aspect about their elections, but not a lot of solutions. With that in mind, what do you think would tighten up the qualifications for officers?

    How about interested candidates submitting a resume or letter on the office they are seeking?

    Instead of complaining how about brainstorming some solutions.

  7. #7
    Sand Creek Lynn
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    We are a very small dept. 16 men. Just revised our bylaws.
    Oficers are chief, asst. chief, 3 captains. Each position has specifc duties assigned both on the fire ground and administratively.
    Minimum training requirements and time on the force for all. [don't recall off hand what they are.]
    Most significant change was going to a secret ballot for nominations and election to eliminate the embarrasment factor of voting against your best friend. Must be at least 2 nominated for each office. If not the chief is directed to nominate the second one.
    Terms of office are 2 years.
    Chief must be approved by township board..

    Lynn

  8. #8
    FF/EMTSPANBAUER
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    The department I spent the previous years in had the following requirements.

    1.) Only elected position was Chief. Chief would be elected for a term of one (1) year, and successfully choose his own officers.

    2.) In order to run for Chief, you had to previously serve as a Lieutenant, Captain, Deputy, and Assistant.

    3.) Qualifications:
    LT: 2 years in Department.
    Firefighting basic courses of:
    -Essentials of Firefighting (NFPA 1001)
    -Structural Burn (NFPA 1403)
    Also classes that covered the following areas
    -Firefighter Safety and Survival
    -Bulding Construction
    -Basic Ropes class
    -Pump Operations
    -Haz-Mat Operations Class (or above)
    -Incident Command
    -Incident Safety Officer
    -Basic Vehicle Rescue
    -Forcible Entry

    Captain:
    Served 1 term as LT. + classes covering:
    -Advanced interior structural firefighting
    -Arson Investigation

    Deputy / Assistant:
    Served 1 term as Capt. + classes covering:
    -Legal Aspects
    -Advanced Management Class
    -Blue Print Reading

    ------------------
    --Stay Safe, and Remember our Fallen Brothers and Sisters.

    John Spanbauer
    Firefighter / EMT-B / Dispatcher

  9. #9
    BlazeDog
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Cool

    I won my Captains position in our election process due to I bought 2 cases of beer for all my fellow firefighters at our annual meeting....JUST KIDDIN' I'M ONLY JOKING !!!
    But anyway the point I'm trying to make is that I totally disagree with the body of firefighters voting on who becomes officers. Every year it becomes a popularity vote and the best candidate may not get the promotion. I've seen where alot of officers are afraid to give orders of disipline a member due to fear of being voted out. Sure we have a set standard of training for members to become officers but that is no biggie. I feel the department Chief who is totally responsible for his department should be the one who appoints his officers, I know if I were the chief I would wantto put the ones I felt were the best officers candidates in that position. I can tell you one thing if an officer made a mistake out in the field or in the station our board of trustees are not going to question the body on that officers actions, but the chief will sure have some expalining to do.

    Thats my bone to throw out !!!

    The Dawg

  10. #10
    firefighter26
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Time after time my chief has faught to keep the members vote alive. We had a situation a few years back when the chief was tripping on the power. Along with some heavy political reasons behind him he was a huge safety concern. (ordering members to ride the tailboard, performing "repairs" on our trucks rather then taking them in, keeping SCBA's from the 70's in service, etc.) In this case, if it were not for the vote, he would still be in command.
    Our current chief believes that if the members do not want him, or any other officer in that position, they have the right to do something about it. This right spawned a new elections system that seams to work out alright.

    - Any member has the right to apply for the position of Chief or deputy
    - Applicants must submit a resume outlining their qualifications and proving that they meet the min. qualifications.
    Min. Qual. include:
    - 5 years experience within the department
    - Some type of First aid with CPR
    - Fire Command Training or background
    I am sure there are more, but since I never applied I never really looked.
    - Then they must undergo an interview from a panel. I am not sure who sits on it, but I assume that the local government rep, a cheif from a nearby department and someone from personel.
    - From this point, as long as the qualifications are met, the member's name is on the ballot.

    Terms last two years. Captains are oppointed by the chief and deputy. The object of all the hoop jumping is to make a short list of possible officers. However, the most we have ever apply for on position is three, and that was for deputy (they all made it onto the ballot).

    ---------
    Don't quote me, I may be wrong... but I'm right I reserve the right to say "told ya so." :-)

  11. #11
    NFDLT55
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Talking

    Personally I think that Firehouse elections are a horrible idea. It basically gets the popular guy a Captains or Lt's spot. This may be good thing as you need an officer to be liked by the members, but who's to say that this guy is an idiot on the fireground and should not in anyway be in charge of a people, especially in situations that may endanger a life. To keep this from happening, my department set up several fail safe systems to put the best guy into the officers spot. Every three years we elect new officers. In order to run for office, you must have served 3 years in the department. You must have excellent attendence, flexability, people skills, and knowledge of fireground operations and safety. In order to get an officers spot you must pass through an oral board which determines if you should be an officer or not. The person with the highest score is basically garunteed a spot as an officer. We also allow the company to evaluate the member running for office. If he/she gets favorable opinions from the company members, he/she is going to be an officer provided that he/she scored well on the oral board review. It works really well. Its a great system which gives EVERYONE the equal oppertunity to become an officer..Reguardless of popularity. It also eliminates bias and descrimination. Its a very fair system.

  12. #12
    APG1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    We make our wanna-be officers run naked through the streets with the squirrels. If they survive, they get in. If they don't, well, we get to practice our EMS.

  13. #13
    D.SCHWER
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs down

    I'll agree fire co. election of officers are only a popularity contest.

    What is worst is when there are minimum qualifications and the membership waives them to get to who they want.

    I know of a fire company that voted out a captain with more training than the chief and asst't chief.


    I hate to see it come to this, but if there is not a qualified person the position should go unfilled. Why give someone the title if he or she can't do the job?


    ------------------
    The views and opinions expressed herin are my personal views and opinions and not those of any organization, department I may belong to or represent

  14. #14
    sgtdave2002
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs down

    Heres a hoot,


    The neigbooring Department just had a promotion interview, they had two officers position open.. only one person received the promotion, the command staff felt that they would lose their "apple polishers" if they promoted the second person-- this person had more qualifications and experiance than the others in the race (save the person who was peomoted), but less seniority... well it goes to show that many volunteer departments still look at who will remain "status quo" and not look at the future of the department. And we all wonder why WE LOOK LIKE LOCAL HICKS ON FIRE SCENES RUNNING AROUND LIKE CHIKENS WITH OUR HEADS CUT OFF..LISTENING TO OFFICERS AND SENIOR FIRE FIGHTERS WITH LITTLE TRAINING AND THE CHIEF'S PRIVATES IN THIER MOUTH..

    Don't get me wrong, there is not much more enjoyment than giving back to the community that you live in than being a firefighter..but WAKE UP CHIEFS....LOOK AT YOU TROOPS MORE CLOSELY... THE APPLE POLISHER YOU PROMOTE TODAY BECAUSE THEY ARE YOUR BUDDIES OR FIND WAYS TO GET EVERYONE ELSE IN TROUBLE, WILL ONLY TURN ON YOU WHEN YOU FIND SOMETHING WRONG WITH THIER METHODS..BOTTEM LINE...YOU NEED TO WATCH YOUR BACKS OR LOOK AT THE REAL FUTURE OF THE DEPARTMENT..NOT YOUR BUDDIES..

    Good luck to all and come home safe..

  15. #15
    pwc606
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Qualifications? What are those? Are they what make a person marketable for a position? It really steams my posterior to see someone win the annual popularity contest with all these promises and never follow through because they are to concerned with what is best for them and how to hold on to there office. The other thing that I have yet to comprehend is how can someone that took their training over ten years ago think that they are still up to date on issues that have changed since then and refuse to go back for training because they are an officer. They feel that they do not have to train because they have a white hat and already know it all. Don't get me wrong, I have been a white hat before. But in all my years I have never seen such an ignorant thing in all my life.

  16. #16
    bmfpd821
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    We are changing our by-laws now because of the "popularity contest" problem. We have three stations in our district. We will have a Chief, 1 or 2 ***'t Chiefs. There will be a Captain and 2 Lieutenants in each station.

    The Chief is appointed by the board. He appoints the Asst. Chiefs and the station Captains. The Lieutenant positions will still be filled by the election process.

    It is believed that this will keep the ranks happy by allowing them to choose Lieutenants as officers, but the Chief still has the authority to end promotion of unqualified officers with Captain appointments.

    The only qualifications needed for Lieutenants will be 3 years service. Captain and above need 5 years service.

    This adresses the "Popularity Contest", but still leaves holes in training qualifications. Hopefully those will be adressed before everything is finalized. It seems like a good set-up at this time, but only time will tell how it works.



    ------------------
    Stay safe and Have fun
    Rob

  17. #17
    ngr1f3
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Question

    I believe the solution is fairly simple not flawless but simple. Qualified officers (keyword qualified) that meet your Dept.needs hold their positions until they either do not want it anymore or they no longer meet the annual minimum standards (training attendance , conduct, call attendance) set forth by the department approved by the selectmen or council. A board of review could be used to review the annual requirements if needed. When there is a vacancy post it, take applications, match applicants to minimum qualifications your department has set, look at the applicants past history working at or handling incidents. From these applications an interview board made up of the town manager,Selectmen Chief, Deputy Chief, an out of town Chief. Two out of town Chiefs if you are filling a chiefs position in your own department.This board would make the descision as to who should fill the position based on fact, qualification,and interviiew information. An offer is made, and the person may accept or decline.
    Even volunteers are hired, they fill a position of responsibility to the customer,our firefighters and the town they serve. We often forget that we owe our customers the best service from highly qualified personel.
    Summary: qualified persons as officers, a method to remove them if needed, no more popularity contest! There are not many problems with a system like this. If there are popularity and lack of qualifications are definitely not included.

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