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  1. #1
    ccc530
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    Default Vol. Fire Officers: elected, appointed or hired?

    From the topic: "Volunteer fire fighters, what really burns you", comes this topic. I have already stated some of my thoughts there. However, I want to explore this further. I am wondering about your experiences and your thoughts. How does your system work? Do you elect? How long do they serve? Do you have term limits? Is your chief hired or elected? Are your B/C's, Cpt's. and Lt's appointed or elected? Are they accountable and to who? Let's hear it! The good and the bad.


  2. #2
    pjackson
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    Hi ccc530
    I belong to a small town dept.We just recently hired a part time/full time chief which brought together our three stns.Up to that point all three halls kind of did their
    own thing, two voted their Captins in and the third did an oral exam.We found that the Captains that were voted in were GREAT GUYS but their firefighting skills left alot to be desired! Now we are all doing exams and the caliber of officers has improved greatly.

  3. #3
    Gill
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    I came from a big vol department, made up of 16 stations. The Chief of the department is appointed by the county commission. The Asst. Chief is appointed by the Chief and approved by the commission...both are paid full time.

    Each station has a BC, a Capt, and at least on Lt. They are all voted in by the members of the station, annually.

    This kind of poses a problem, because by voting officers in, some of them...all of mine recently, are incompetent fireground leaders, and their firefighting skills are lacking. I would also point out that our voting system isn't always the way officers are "voted in". Some members have been told by the chief officers that certain people need to be made officers.

    So I guess in reality, our chief officers pick who the officers will be, and we vote annually, so that we feel like we have a say in things.

    That's how it is done in my world. I like the idea of having to test for officer positions so that elections don't turn into popularity contests.

    Stay safe.

  4. #4
    WESTPLATTEFIRE
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    Our FPD has 1 sta., 3,000 pop. and growing and we elect our Chief and 2 asst. each year. Requirements are only being on the dept for 1 year. Our board hired a EMS sup to manage ALS amb. and delegated some chief responsibilities to her. Needless to say it is a popularity contest and the chief etc. do not have abilities. Hope is this will change soon.

  5. #5
    NMFD33
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    im only a junior, but here in new milford, nj all the officers are elected by the membership. juniors like myself dont have a vote. from Lt to Chief they are voted on.

    ------------------
    Chris Kerrigan
    Junior FF,New Milford, NJ
    Chief/Pres Fire/Ems Post 402


    ...KNHS 714 to the New Milord Fire Department, we have a report of a fully envolved house fire at...


  6. #6
    Toma
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    ccc530 I just read your comments on election and appointments of officers. It has been my experience that popular vote is the way our officers are elected on an annual basis. Unfortunately it doesn't matter what you know or how well you perform because of the predominate good old by theory and most chiefs are elected at the local bar (Station 2) and by inuendo and slander the dispose of anyone they are afraid of. I have been an instructor for 30+ years and have very seldom seen a change in these tactics in volunteer depts. There are however a few that test and update annualy and they are to be commended

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  7. #7
    Aff
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    Our Chief is fulltime hired by the city but all are officers are a result of testing and oral interviews. Not only are the interviews done with inhouse personnel, our mutual aid departments are encouraged to send a representitive. This all provides for compitent officers. The only elected position is the deputy chief, and has a very stringent list of minimum qualifications to be selected. This eliminates a popular person that has been around forever but has not done anything to boost his career. This provides a good alternate to the fulltime chief and lets the rank and file have a say. ...be safe

  8. #8
    ccc530
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    Our Chief is paid and reports to city manager, who reports to the city commission. Lt, Cpt, B/C mus t meet certain qualifications. But you can't rule out politics. They will play in the oral boards. Next question: What do you do when you have minimum qualifications and testing, but have no qualified individuals, and you need an officer?

  9. #9
    Scott Clark
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    Boy Carl you really know how to complicate things! Actually that last question you asked was a good one and is what many FD's face every election year. I don't think though it is that they don't have the qualified individuals, as much as they have the individuals but they don't want to put up with the headache's of the position's so they don't run for office. The problem as I see it is that it all comes back to training and attitudes. For some they can't be bothered to train. I find those who oppose training the most have the biggest ego problems. As I mentioned in a earlier forum "our department's are only a reflection of our administrations". If you have lazy egotistic managers (you notice I didn't use the word "leader") you develop a sluggish enviroment in your department that prohibits firefighters from developing themselves in to tomorrows leaders. So the cycle of bad training and poor development continues because the new member that comes in doesn't know any better and the veteran gets tired of the "everday ego battle" and just gives up. It's a lose, lose situation. The thing is though, I feel sorry for the civilians. The poor people have no idea what is happening to their emergency service units. What needs to change is that all officers need to be held accountable. As a past Deputy Chief "I walked my talk". And if Was inappropriate my under-officers were allowed to call me on it as I was with them. It was always done professionally and with respect. Remember anyone can be a manager of a fire department, but only those who put their subordinates needs ahead of their own wants will only then become a true leader.

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    If we stand united.... We will never fall.

  10. #10
    Greg Chow
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    Hi cc.I come from a Dept. of 35 members.We have a paid Chief,Asst. Chief.Our system mandates that you must have minimum standards before you are able to write the officers exam.we go by rating system.ie.practise attendence,fire call,able to operate all equipment,and then at the very last is seniority(if required).the officers then will undergo a annual evaluation by the 3 top senior officers.if an ifficer cannot keep up with those standards then he should step down,or will be forced to by the rest of the officers.I feel if you let the firefighters do this it would turn into a popularity contest.

  11. #11
    ccc530
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    Yes it is complicated. It takes a combination of knowledge, leadership, guts, determination, courage, etc. But how do you test for all of that? Also, is your problem with your leaders a personal one? Is it one of style or proceedure? Or is it that the "good o' boy" just doesn't know his spanner from his hydrant wrench. Let me say this: 30 years in the work place and I can say it's the same thing no matter where you go. 10% of the people do 90% of the work. 10% fo the people are enthusiastic and willing to learn and improve. 90% just want to cruise. That is why there are so few leaders. Ever notice that when milk is churned, the cream rises to the top. Not everyone will be a leader. Those who are, must press on regardless. Unfortunatly, sometimes leaders do get tired and become faint of heart. That is why we must encorage our leaders. Encorage those who DO know what they are doing to continue to lead. We must also be humble enough to receive criticism and instruction from those former leaders. It all boils down to additude and purpose. Why are you there, and why you are doing it. Think about this: Have you have noticed that a train engine is either pushing or pulling; while ALL of the cars are "going along for the ride".

  12. #12
    Cdaileym@netscape.net
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    Here in small town Canton,ME our officers are all elected by the dept yearly and the selectmen must approve new chief. Our chief of 16 plus years just resigned last fall due to health reasons. His asst took over and he has followed in a good leaders footsteps. We have had our elections and he is now chief with one of capts. moving up to 2nd asst chief. They are all very experienced in FF and are great teachers and leaders. We try to rotate some officers so that all get a chance to show their stuff. Most of the time it works out well. We also have seperate rescue officers who hold positions in both. Our rescue is also an excellent fire LT. and safety officer. We lost asst. rescue chief due to health reasons and voted to leave the position vacant for 6 mos to one year. We just use seniority and experience if the chief can't be there and no one argues. I believe that the 2 chiefs get a small stipend from the town yearly but that is all.Definitely volunteer all the way. We have tried to come up with pay per call attended plans but the townspeople are tight, budget wise. If only they would show their appreciation more. But when they need help we better be there or we hear about it. When we try to hold fundraisers, we get alot of comments about how they paid enough in their taxes already. Oh, well. That's our story. Hope to hear more. Moe D.

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  13. #13
    ccc530
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    Question-who or what are "selectmen"?
    Comment-Pay per call can be a blessing and/or a curse. If the community thinks they are "paying alot of taxes" now when you are volunteer, then how much MORE will they pay if all of the volunteers get discouraged and the city HAS to hire fulltime PAID firefighters! Sounds like you need to do a little public educating there!

  14. #14
    Aff
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    In reply to ccc530, I can attest to this. Due to expansion, politics, and ect., we in Oakdale had to build a new station. There where people at the city council meeting that accuses the department of building a 1.5 million dollar garage. What would they say if new taxes are levied to pay for a fulltime staff?

  15. #15
    ccc530
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    We have gotten off of the subject a little but P.R. is so important these days. We must educate the public about who we are , what we do and how much we are saving the taxpayers. Something is wrong if the public thinks that they just paid for a $1.5M "garage".

  16. #16
    Scott Clark
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    To get your forum back on track Carl, I would answer your original forum question with.......PAID! As much as I don't want to see this happen, I'm discovering that the department that has consistant leadership that is not put in to office by the popularity vote seems to run better. I have three forums going now about management issues, COMBINATION FIRE DEPARTMENT - FRIEND OR FOE?, VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER - WHAT REALLY BURNS YOU? and WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM YOUR LEADERSHIP?. From these forum responses I have found that departments with paid leadership seem to fair better. I know Carl you have commented in these and I wonder what you think? I do believe though volunteer leadership could survive if our system of the officer selection process was just re-organized or designed with a merit type system. (That just got my wheels turning....I'll post something to this nature in a couple of days!)

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    If we stand united.... We will never fall.

  17. #17
    Dalmation90
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    CCC:
    In New England, pretty much all local government is town gov't with very limited counties (Indeed, no county gov't in Connecticut or Rhode Island, and Massachussetts has disbanded half their counties, and probably will disband the rest within a couple years).
    And most towns are governed by a Board of Selectmen. Typically the Board of Selectmen (usually 3 to 5 in number) are the Chief Executive Officer of the town, with the First Selectmen serving as the Chief Administrative Officer. The Town Meeting is the legislative body of the town that passes ordinances, budgets, etc. Between the First Selectman, the Board of Selectmen, and the Town Meeting are the powers normally held by a Mayor and Town Council in most of the country.

    And trust me folks, if you think politicing can produce some weird results in a fire hall election, you've never seen what can be done in an open Town Meeting where every elector in a town is allowed to vote and only a few hundred usually show up

  18. #18
    ccc530
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    Scott- I conceed the fact that consistant leadership seems to work the best. Our department (volunteer fire supression), appoints officers who must meet certain standards and appear before an oral board. It's not perfect, but it does keep things stable. Every year the officers performance is reviewed by the Chief. The Chief can remove the officer at any time. It's just too bad that we can't seem to maintain a humble additude. That works the best!

  19. #19
    JAY FROM OHIO
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    Hi. I am from a small department where the chief and assistant chief have been elected (since the beginning of time I think). Within the past year and a half, the decision was reached to appoint a chief by the township trustees (our bosses. In turn the Chief appoints his assistant chief. There are no length of appointments. We've had varied success with this. The first chief that was appointed, did well for the first six months and then seem to lose interest in the job. It took A LOT to prove to the trustees that he wasn't doing a responsible job of providing protection to the community we serve. There came a period of time where, approximately half the department was ready to leave because there was no leadership and it was a free-for-all. We since had a new chief appointed (incidently the guy everyone wanted as chief in the first place), who has cleaned the place up. Morale and attendence is up.
    When our officers were voted in, there were people who attended meetings (at election time only), that most people thought had fallen off the earth. It was not the best man for the job, but the guy who could kiss the most butt the month before elections.
    Officers should be appointed, in my opinion, IF there is a review system in place that will keep the officers in check.
    A fire department can only be as good as it's leadership.
    Jay

  20. #20
    BVFD
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    I have never heard of electing officers, and quite frankly, the idea scares me! Our Chief is appointed by council. The Asst. Chief is appointed by the Chief, and confirmed by council. Capt. and Lt. ranks are decided on after written and oral exams, then approved by the village council. I don't know if I would stay on the dept. if officers were elected. I wouldn't feel safe!

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